Forensic Imaging Station – Steampunk Edition

I’ve worked remotely for the past 6 years which means I spend a lot of time in my home office.  Last year we moved into a new house with much better space for my office, and I’ve been shaping it more and more to my tastes.

I do a lot of forensic imaging. I’ve got a pretty basic but rock solid setup that works for me (see Forensic Imaging a Microsoft Surface Pro).  Since I use it frequently I’m hesitant to put it away, but at the same point I don’t like looking at a pile of wires and devices when not in use. That brings us to the latest home office update, the Forensic Imaging Station (Steampunk Edition).

For this project I grabbed a small wooden box from Hobby Lobby.  A good cigar box will also work.  That was going to be my first choice but the only spare box I had on hand said “Corona” on the face and… you know. This box looks nice but it’s composed of mostly particle board, so go slow drilling.

I drilled four holes in the box. A 1/2 inch hole on the front face under the locking clasp for the USB-C cable, and three 5/8 inch holes – 2 on the side and one on the back, to accommodate the rest.

Inside the box I’ve arranged a USB hub connecting:

  • Paladin flash drive
  • External WD hard drive 
  • Keyboard (USB)
  • RF dongle for mouse.
  • Pass through for “universal” laptop power adapter
Cheap wood makes for messy holes.

This box had plenty of space to arrange the components. The laptop power adapter comes in the back of the box and then back out on the side.  The USB connector for the hub is also passed through the side. The cable for the keyboard passes through the front.

The finished set-up

The setup is completed with an Azio Retro Compact keyboard, (with replacement copper-edged keys) and a sort of matching mouse.

When it’s time to image, just sit the laptop on top, connect the USB cable and power, and you’re good to go.

Forensic Imaging a Microsoft Surface Pro


UEFI Configuration:

Make sure the device is fully powered down (not in standby state) by holding down the power button (15-30 seconds) until the screen goes black.

Remove the Surface Pro keyboard and disconnect any accessories

Boot to the UEFI configuration (BIOS) by holding down the Volume-Up button while pressing the power button. Release the power button and hold the volume button until you see the Surface logo.

Under Security turn off Secure Boot

UEFI Security

Under Boot configuration select “USB Storage” and drag to the top of the list.

UEFI Boot configuration

Power off the device again.

Booting with Paladin

Connect the USB hub to the Surface Pro.

Attached to the USB hub you should have:

USB hub and peripherals

PRO Tip – if the USB hub has power buttons for the individual devices make sure all the ports are powered on. 😉  Yes, I did spend about 10 minutes troubleshooting this. (Mondays)

Hold down the Volume-Down key and press the Power button. Continue holding the Volume-down button until you see the Surface logo.

System should now boot to the Paladin USB

Booting from Paladin USB

Select the default (top) option – Sumiri Paladin Live Session – Forensic Mode

Boot menu selection

Once booting is complete, you will be presented with the Paladin Desktop.

Paladin Desktop on Surface Pro


Click on shortcut for  Paladin Toolbox

Note the Warning about Dates/Times and click OK

Date/time warning

Select the Source Device. In this case I’m choosing /dev/sda which will be the entire disk (3 partitions) on the host hard drive.

Specify the image format: Expert Witness Format, EWF (E01)

Populate the case details for the EWF based on case requirements

Populate E01 Case Information

Specify the image Destination

Specify Destination Drive

Label: $hostname of asset

Check Verify after creation

Click Start

Imaging in process

A full disk image and verification will take several hours. When completed you will see Image completed and Verification completed in the green text at the bottom.

Click on the shield in the left corner and select the power button icon to shut down.

Disconnect the bootable USB drive and your destination USB drive.

Verify files/folders created by mounting the external USB drive to your examination system.