How to Solve Network Forensics Investigation Assignment: A Comprehensive Guide

September 09, 2023
Monica M. Warren
Monica M. Warren
Network Forensics
Monica M. Warren is a dedicated instructor of Network Forensics. She has done Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Master of Science in Network Forensics from Harvard University.

The field of network forensics is a critical aspect of modern cybersecurity. Network forensics professionals help safeguard sensitive data by identifying vulnerabilities, intrusions, and unauthorized activities within a network. For students and professionals alike, mastering the art of network forensics often involves in-depth assignments that test various skills.

In this blog post, we'll walk you through the best approach to solve a Network Forensics Investigation Assignment, specifically tailored to meet the criteria set by the grading rubrics, which include:

  • Collection and Preservation of Digital Evidence
  • Analysis of Network Artifacts
  • Identification of Intrusion and Attack Patterns
  • Documentation and Reporting
  • Correctness and Clarity of Analysis
  • Collection and Preservation of Digital Evidence
How to Solve Network Forensics Investigation Assignment

Understand the Scope

Before you start collecting digital evidence, understand the scope of the investigation. Is it limited to a single machine, or does it across multiple systems or even networks? Create a checklist and document your steps to ensure you cover all the bases.

Data Collection Tools

Utilize industry-standard tools like Wireshark, tcpdump, or FTK Imager to collect data. Ensure that your collection methods are forensically sound, meaning they don't alter the data while capturing it.


Before and after you copy any data, use cryptographic hashing functions (e.g., SHA-256) to generate a hash value of the original and copied data. This ensures the data's integrity is maintained throughout the investigation.

Chain of Custody

Maintain a Chain of Custody document that records all the individuals who have accessed the evidence, along with timestamps. This is crucial for establishing the reliability of your evidence.

Analysis of Network Artifacts

Packet Analysis

Packet capturing tools like Wireshark can help you review individual data packets moving through the network. This may help you identify malicious or abnormal activities such as port scanning or data exfiltration.

Log Analysis

Examine system and network logs for irregularities. Logs often contain details that can indicate an attack or unauthorized activity. Tools like Logstash or Splunk can be used to consolidate and analyze logs.

Data Correlation

Correlate data from various sources to create a cohesive timeline of events. This will aid in understanding the sequence of activities leading to the incident, facilitating a more effective analysis.

Identification of Intrusion and Attack Patterns

Signature-Based Detection

Many intrusions have known signatures — patterns that are indicative of a particular type of attack. Use IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems) like Snort to detect these signatures.

Anomaly-Based Detection

Identify deviations from established baselines as potential security incidents. Anomaly-based detection tools can help you uncover previously unknown threats by monitoring network behavior.

Threat Intelligence

Employ threat intelligence services to compare your findings with known attack patterns, malware signatures, and IP addresses.

Documentation and Reporting

Executive Summary

Include a concise summary for upper management detailing the scope of the investigation, key findings, and recommended actions.


Document your methods in a step-by-step format so that another professional could replicate your investigation.

Findings and Recommendations

Document your findings in detail, providing evidence to support your conclusions. Follow this up with actionable recommendations for mitigating the vulnerabilities you've identified.

Legal Compliance

Ensure that your documentation is compliant with local and international laws, especially if personal or sensitive data is involved.

Correctness and Clarity of Analysis

Your documentation should be proofread for grammatical errors and technical inaccuracies. Ensure that all data points, citations, and evidence are accurate and can be verified.

Peer Review

Before submission, have your work reviewed by someone with expertise in the field. This provides an additional layer of verification and can help you refine your analysis.


Your report should have a conclusive section that summarizes the investigation, highlighting key findings and recommended actions.

Network forensics investigation is a complex, intricate field that combines technical skills with critical thinking. By paying close attention to the grading rubrics and employing a methodical approach, you can deliver a comprehensive, high-quality assignment that not only meets academic standards but also prepares you for real-world challenges in cybersecurity.

Key Takeaways

  • Be methodical in your data collection and preservation
  • Use a multi-pronged approach for artifact and intrusion analysis
  • Document thoroughly and clearly, following legal and ethical guidelines
  • Ensure accuracy through hashing, chain of custody, and peer review
  • By mastering these elements, you'll be well on your way to excelling in network forensics investigations.;

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