Cyber Forensics

USB Forensics: Detection & Investigation

Universal Serial Bus flash drives, commonly known as USB flash drives are the most common storage devices which can be found as evidence in Digital Forensics Investigation. The digital forensic investigation involves following a defined procedure for investigation which needs to be performed in such a manner that the evidence isn’t destroyed. So, let us get started with the Forensics Investigation of USB.

Table of Contents

  • Detecting last attached USB flash drives in the Windows system
  • Using Registry Editor
  • Using PowerShell
  • Using USBDeview
  • Detecting last attached USB flash drives using Metasploit
  • Investigating USB flash drives for deleted files
  • Creating Disk Image
  • Analysing Disk Image

Detecting last attached USB flash drives in the Windows system

The usage of USB drives in place of work may let nasty employees remove sensitive or confidential information from a system without any authorization. To resolve this issue, forensic examination of systems comes into the picture. So, let’s start investigating;

To detect the artifacts of the USB in the windows machine, we can use the manual as well as automated methods.

Using Registry Editor

It is a manual method to easily list the information of the last plugged in USB storage devices. Press ‘Windows+R’ and type Registry Editor.

This information can be found in the Windows registry at:


The details like last plugged in USB devices, the vendor of the USB, name of the product, serial number, and version name can be seen.

Using PowerShell

This a manual method to find artifacts. The same path can be used in the PowerShell to get the information on last plugged in USB, with the following command;

Get-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SYStem\CurrentControlSet\Enum\USBSTOR\*\* | Select FriendlyName

Using USBDeview

To use an automatic method to find artifacts, you can download USBDeview. This tool gives you an automated and a graphical representation understanding of what USB devices were connected to the system.

Detecting last attached USB flash drives using Metasploit

When the USB flash drives history need to be investigated remotely, we can make use of modules in Metasploit in the Kali Linux This module will enumerate USB Drive history on a target host. To use this module, switch on your Linux machine, start msfconsole, and type command;

use post/windows/gather/usb_history

Set the session number and exploit. Here you will be able to see a history of various USB connected previously.

Now you have also obtained the meterpreter session, so in order to use the powershell remotely to get the history of USB flash drives connected you can use the following command;

load powershell

Once the PowerShell is loaded, you can type,

Get-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SYStem\CurrentControlSet\Enum\USBSTOR\*\* | Select FriendlyName

You can hence see the list of USB Flash drives connected to the system remotely.

Investigating USB flash drives for deleted files.

After we have detected all the USB connection to the system and if the USB Flash drive is available at the scene of the crime. It can be carefully collected in Faraday Bag and now the forensic investigator can investigate the evidence.

At first, it is important to create an image of the USB flash drive that was retrieved from the crime scene. To create an image and to analyse, we can use FTK® Imager, which can be downloaded from here.

Creating Disk Image

Step 1: Install and run AccessData FTK imager

Step 2. Create a disk image of the USB Drive

A disk image is a bit-by-bit or a sector-by-sector copy of a physical storage device like USB Flash drive, which includes all files, folders and unallocated, free and slack space etc.

Step 3: As it as USB Flash drive, select Physical Drive and its source to create an image and click on finish.

Step 4: Add the destination of the image file, check the box which say verify images that are created.

Step 5: After adding the destination of the image file to be created, type the name you want to give to the image file and click on finish.

Step 6:  You can see that the image destination is ready, then click on Start to begin imaging.

Step 7: You see that the image of your USB flash Drive is being created.

Step 8: After the imaging is completed, you will be prompted with MD% image verification details where a compared and verified hash is generated.

Here the imaging part is over, so we can now move to the analysis of the USB Flash Drive.

Analysing Disk Image

Note: Investigation is to be performed only on the Disk image of the original evidence.

Step 9: Click on add evidence item and add the source of the created image file.

Step 10: Here you see that an evidence tree is created and the root folder has deleted folders. Here we will try to retrieve them by clicking on ‘Export files’

Step 11: You see that the deleted folder and the contents of the deleted folder have been retrieved.

Author: Jeenali Kothari is a Digital Forensics enthusiast and enjoys technical content writing. You can reach her on Here