Thursday, January 01, 2009

LiveView - boot up a static disk image

I just found this tool a few days ago and I haven't had time to fully test it, but it looks really cool.  Basically, this tool (which is Open Source under GNU) will use VMWare to mount a dd-style disk image.  I haven't really discussed dd on this blog, but it's kind of a Ghost like tool that takes a sector by sector image of a disk and stores it in a single (or set of) disk files.  My favorite way to do this is by livecd like Helix or Knoppix-STD. Anywho, back to LiveView....

Here is the short and simple description right from their website:

"Live View is a Java-based graphical forensics tool that creates a VMware virtual machine out of a raw (dd-style) disk image or physical disk. This allows the forensic examiner to "boot up" the image or disk and gain an interactive, user-level perspective of the environment, all without modifying the underlying image or disk. Because all changes made to the disk are written to a separate file, the examiner can instantly revert all of his or her changes back to the original pristine state of the disk. The end result is that one need not create extra "throw away" copies of the disk or image to create the virtual machine.

Live View is capable of booting

  • Full disk raw images
  • Bootable partition raw images
  • Physical Disks (attached via a USB or Firewire bridge)
  • Specialized and closed image formats (using 3rd party image mounting software)

Containing the following operating systems

  • Windows 2003, XP, 2000, NT, Me, 98
  • Linux (limited support)

Behind the scenes, Live View automates a wide array of technical tasks. Some of these include: resolving hardware conflicts resulting from booting on hardware other than that on which the OS was originally installed; creating a customized MBR for partition-only images; and correctly specifying a virtual disk to match the original image or physical disk. "

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I expect this tool to be great for security situations, but heck it's just as useful for daily admin tasks.  For example, if your company had a policy to take and store a dd image of each departing persons hard drive you could theoretically boot that image at a later date without worry about compatible hardware and see the machine in the state it was the day they left the company.  Even better, dd each person's machine before a rollout or rebuild.  Then get back to their image if something isn't working after the changes.

Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!

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