Automated Digital Forensics

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community


Simson L. Garfinkel
Naval Postgraduate School


Despite what you may have seen in the movies, today the primary use of digital forensics is to demonstrate the presence of child pornography on the computer systems of suspected criminal perpetrators. Although digital forensics has a great potential for providing criminal leads and assisting in criminal investigations, today's tools are incredibly difficult to use and there is a nationwide shortage of trained forensic investigators. As a result, computer forensics is most often a tool used for securing convictions, not for performing investigations.

This talk presents research aimed at realizing the goal of Automated Digital Forensics — research that brings the tools of data mining and artificial intelligence to the problems of digital forensics. The ultimate goal of this research is to create automated tools that will be able to ingest a hard drive or flash storage device and produce high-level reports that be productively used by relatively untrained individuals.

Many of the tools and much of the data that we will discuss can be downloaded from the author's websites: and

About the Speaker

Simson L. Garfinkel is an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. His research interests include computer forensics, the emerging field of usability and security, personal information management, privacy, information policy and terrorism. He holds six US patents for his computer-related research and has published dozens of journal and conference papers in security and computer forensics.

Garfinkel is the author or co-author of fourteen books on computing. He is perhaps best known for his book Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century. Garfinkel's most successful book, Practical UNIX and Internet Security (co-authored with Gene Spafford), has sold more than 250,000 copies and been translated into more than a dozen languages since the first edition was published in 1991.

Garfinkel received three Bachelor of Science degrees from MIT in 1987, a Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia University in 1988, and a PhD in  Computer Science from MIT in 2005.