VMWare Analysis Update 1


The VMWare Analysis team is researching the differences between a Windows 7 machine and Windows 7 virtual machine (VM) as well as the changes between a Windows 10 machine and VM. The end goal for this project is a quad comparison between the both operating system versions and their respective VMs.  

VMWare/Physical Machines Used

Three VMs have been set up for this project: a Windows 7 VM; Windows 10 VM; and a SANS SIFT VM running Ubuntu. The SANS SIFT is a free VM built by SANS DFIR (Digital Forensics and Incident Response). It has a variety of Digital Forensics tools, such as Volatility and Bulk Extractor. This VM is being used for memory forensics analysis of the four machines. The VMWare Analysis team is going to be extracting, analyzing, and comparing Windows artifacts. These include Prefetch files, LNK files, Jump Lists, and Windows Memory.


Thus far, the team has completed datagen and analysis of the Windows 7 machine and Windows 7 VM. Both machines used the same data generation process to keep the results consistent. There are a few specific things that we analyze for the comparisons. One is network information within the registries. Another is what changes VMware tools makes to the virtual machine. And the last is general information on artifacts. This includes where the system stores them and what information they reveal about the system.


The team was having troubles generating Prefetch data for Notepad, Notepad ++, and Adobe Reader. After a few minutes of troubleshooting, the team discovered that the Prefetch folder only allows up to 168 “.pf” files at one time. The folder had reached capacity and could not fit files for those applications.


So far, the only identified difference between the VM and the Machine is in the prefetch files. The Windows 7 Machine had 140 prefetch files, while the VM only had 114. It is also noted that the VM image contained a prefetch for VMware (VMTOOLSD.EXE-CD82EC13.pf). The physical machine did not.


In the upcoming weeks, the VMware analysis team is planning on starting the Windows 10 physical machine and VM. Once we complete data generation and analysis, we’ll start comparing differences between the virtual machine and physical machine. We’ll also compare Windows 10 and Windows 7.

Like the Leahy Center for Digital Investigation (LCDI) on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get notified of more project updates.

More Research Projects
The Leahy Center Inventory Project
Social Media Footprint Awareness
My Experience on The VPN Comparison Team