Sandman ? Read The Windows Hibernation File
Sandman Read the Windows Hibernation File
Have you ever wondered what happens when you put your Windows computer into hibernation mode? Where does all the data in your memory go? And can you access it later for forensic analysis or data recovery?
The answer is yes, with Sandman you can. Sandman is a C library that aims to read the hibernation file, regardless of Windows version. Thus, it makes possible to do forensics live analysis on the dumped file.
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What is the hibernation file?
The hibernation file, also known as hiberfil.sys, is a file that Windows creates when you choose to hibernate your computer. It contains a snapshot of the contents of your RAM, which is the memory where all your running programs and data are stored. By saving this snapshot to your hard disk, Windows can restore your system state when you turn on your computer again.
The hibernation file is usually located in the root directory of your system drive, such as C:\hiberfil.sys. Its size depends on how much RAM you have, but it is usually about 75% of your total RAM. For example, if you have 8 GB of RAM, your hibernation file will be about 6 GB.
How to read the hibernation file with Sandman?
To open the hibernation file with Sandman, you can either drag and drop it onto the Sandman window or use the File menu and select Open. You will see a progress bar indicating that Sandman is decrypting and decompressing the file. This may take some time depending on the size of the file and your system performance.
Once the file is opened, you will see a tree view of the memory regions that Sandman has identified. You can expand each region to see its details, such as its address, size, type, and flags. You can also view the raw hex data of each region by double-clicking on it.
Sandman also provides some useful features to help you analyze the hibernation file, such as:
Searching for strings, hex values, or regular expressions in the memory regions.
Exporting selected regions to a separate file for further analysis.
Comparing two hibernation files to see the differences in memory.
Applying filters to hide or show regions based on their type or flags.
Using plugins to extract specific information from the memory, such as passwords, encryption keys, or network connections.
How does Sandman work?
Sandman is based on the research of Matthieu Suiche and Nicolas Ruff, who reverse engineered the format and compression of the hibernation file. They published their findings in a paper called "SandMan: Reversing the Windows Hibernation File" .
The paper explains that the hibernation file consists of a standard header, a set of kernel contexts and registers, and several arrays of compressed data blocks. The header contains information such as the signature, the version, the checksum, and the number of pages. The kernel contexts and registers are used to restore the CPU state when resuming from hibernation. The compressed data blocks are encoded using a proprietary algorithm called Xpress, which was undocumented until Suiche and Ruff cracked it.
Sandman implements the Xpress algorithm in C and uses it to decompress the data blocks into memory pages. It then scans the pages for recognizable patterns and structures, such as page tables, process lists, heap segments, or PE headers. It uses these structures to reconstruct the virtual address space of each process and identify its memory regions.
Why use Sandman?
Sandman is a useful tool for anyone who wants to access and analyze the data stored in the hibernation file. It can help you with tasks such as:
Recovering deleted or unsaved files from memory.
Extracting sensitive information from memory, such as passwords, encryption keys, or browser history.
Detecting malware or rootkits that hide in memory.
Investigating system crashes or errors that occurred before hibernation.
Understanding the behavior and performance of your system or applications.
Sandman is also an open-source project, which means you can modify it to suit your needs or contribute to its development. You can find the source code and documentation on GitHub .
The hibernation file is a valuable source of information that can reveal a lot about your system and its activities. Sandman is a powerful tool that can help you read and analyze the hibernation file in a simple and efficient way. Whether you are a forensic analyst, a security researcher, or a curious user, Sandman can help you discover new insights and secrets from your hibernation file.
If you want to learn more about Sandman, you can check out the following resources:
The official website of Sandman , where you can download the latest version and read the user manual.
The paper "SandMan: Reversing the Windows Hibernation File" , where you can find the technical details of the hibernation file format and compression.
The GitHub repository of Sandman , where you can find the source code and documentation of the project.
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