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A Windows Batch script and a Unix Bash script to comprehensively collect host forensic data during incident response.


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ir-rescue is composed of two sister scripts that collect a myriad of forensic data from 32-bit and 64-bit Windows systems (ir-rescue-win) and from Unix systems (ir-rescue-nix). The scripts respect the order of volatility and artifacts that are changed with the execution (e.g., prefetch files on Windows) and are intended for incident response use at different stages in the analysis and investigation process. Each are described as follows:

  • ir-rescue-win is fully written in Batch and can be set to perform comprehensive and customized acquisitions of specific types of live data and of historical data from available Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) copies. ir-rescue-win makes use of built-in Windows commands and well-known third party utilities from Sysinternals and NirSoft, for instance, some being open-source. PowerShell and the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) are not used in order to make ir-rescue-win transversally compatible.

  • ir-rescue-nix is written in Bash (v4+) and makes use of built-in Unix commands. Some commands used might not be POSIX-compliant and therefore might not be available on some Unix-like systems or variants, especially on older operating systems.

ir-rescue is designed to group data collections according to data type. For example, all data that relates to networking, such as open file shares and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connections, is grouped together, while running processes, services and tasks are gathered under malware. The acquisition of data types and other general options are specified in a simple configuration file. It should be noted that the scripts launch a great number of commands and tools, thereby leaving a considerable footprint (e.g., strings in the memory, prefetch files, program execution caches) on the system. The runtime varies depending on the computation power, disk write throughput and configurations set. Disk performance is especially important if secure deletion is set and when dumping 64-bit memory (usually 8 GB in size), which can take a considerable amount of time.

ir-rescue has been written for incident response and forensic analysts, as well as for security practitioners alike, and is used in companies such as Cisco, PepsiCo, SaskTel, Praetorian and Counteractive Security. It represents an effort to streamline host data collection, regardless of investigation needs, and to rely less on on-site support when remote access or live analysis is unavailable. It can thus be used to leverage the already bundled tools and commands during forensic activities.

Dependencies and Usage

ir-rescue relies on a number of third-party utilities for gathering specific data from hosts. The versions of the tools are listed in the last section and are provided with the package as is and, therefore, their licenses and user agreements must be accepted before running ir-rescue. Note that Sysinternals utilities cannot be redistributed for others to copy according to the Sysinternals Software License Terms. Because of this, ir-rescue is no longer published along with Sysinternals utilities, and so all entries enumerated in section Third-Party Tool List and References must be downloaded from the Sysinternals Live Repository and moved into their appropriate folders in order for the script to run.

The descriptions and organization of the toolset are given below, with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows tools included adjacently, if applicable:

  • tools-nix/: third-party tools folder for ir-rescue-nix:
    • ascii/: text ASCII art files in *.txt format;
    • cfg/: configuration files:
      • ir-rescue-nix.conf: main configuration file for ir-rescue-nix;
      • nonrecursive-(hidden|md5sum).txt: hidden files and md5sum non-recursive locations;
      • nonrecursive.txt: non-recursive locations for multiple tools;
      • recursive-(exec|hidden|md5sum).txt: executables, hidden files and md5sum recursive locations;
      • recursive.txt: recursive locations for multiple tools;
    • mem/: memory tools:
      • AVML-0.21 (64-bit ELF): dumps the memory;
  • tools-win\: third-party tools folder for ir-rescue-win:
    • activ\: parsing tools for user and system activity artifacts;
      • exiftool.exe: parses Link (LNK) files;
      • JLECmd.exe: parses automatic and custom destinations jump lists;
      • LastActivityView.exe: displays a mini-timeline of user and system activity such as logons and logoffs;
      • rifiuti-vista[64].exe: parses recycle bin files;
      • USBDeview[64].exe: lists previously and currently connected USB devices;
    • ascii\: text ASCII art files in *.txt format;
    • cfg\: configuration files:
      • ir-rescue-win.conf: main configuration file ir-rescue-win;
      • nonrecursive-(acl|iconsext|md5deep).txt: accesschk[64].exe, iconsext.exe and md5deep[64].exe non-recursive locations;
      • nonrecursive.txt: non-recursive locations for multiple tools;
      • recursive-(acl|iconsext|md5deep).txt: accesschk[64].exe, iconsext.exe and md5deep[64].exe recursive locations;
      • recursive.txt: recursive locations for multiple tools;
    • cygwin\: Cygwin tools and Dynamic Linked Libraries (DLLs):
      • tr.exe: used to cut out non-printable characters;
      • grep.exe: used to filter date with regular expressions;
    • disk\: disk tools:
      • EDD.exe: tests for disk encryption software;
    • evt\: Windows events tools:
      • psloglist.exe: extracts Windows event logs;
    • fs\: filesystem tools:
      • tsk\: The Sleuth Kit (TSK) tools and DLLs:
        • fls.exe: walks the Master File Table (MFT);
        • mcat.exe: outputs the contents of a partition;
        • mmls.exe: shows information about disk partition tables (DOS, GPT);
      • AlternateStreamView[64].exe: lists Alternate Data Streams (ADSs);
      • ExtractUsnJrnl[64].exe: extracts the C:\$Extend\$UsnJrnl (NTFS journal) file without the sparsed zeroes;
      • md5deep[64].exe: computes Message Digest 5 (MD5) hash values;
      • ntfsinfo[64].exe: shows information about NTFS;
      • RawCopy[64].exe: extracts data at the NTFS level;
    • mal\: malware tools:
      • autoruns[64].exe: dumps autorun locations to the autoruns binary format;
      • autorunsc[64].exe: lists autorun locations;
      • BrowserAddonsView[64].exe: lists plugins and add-ons from multiple browsers;
      • densityscout[64].exe: computes an entropy-based measure for detecting packers and encryptors;
      • DriverView[64].exe: lists loaded kernel drivers;
      • handle[64].exe: lists object handles;
      • iconsext.exe: extracts icons from Portable Executables (PEs);
      • Listdlls[64].exe: lists loaded DLLs;
      • OfficeIns[64].exe: lists installed Microsoft Office add-ins;
      • pslist[64].exe: lists running processes;
      • PsService[64].exe: lists services;
      • sigcheck[64].exe: checks digital signatures within PEs;
      • WinPrefetchView[64].exe: displays the contents of prefetch files;
    • mem\: memory tools:
      • winpmem_1.6.2.exe: dumps the memory;
    • net\: network tools:
      • psfile[64].exe: lists files opened remotely;
      • tcpvcon.exe: lists TCP connections and ports and UDP ports;
    • sys\: system tools:
      • accesschk[64].exe: lists user permissions of the specified locations;
      • logonsessions[64].exe: lists currently active logon sessions;
      • PsGetsid[64].exe: translates between Security Identifiers (SIDs) and user names and vice-versa;
      • Psinfo[64].exe: displays system software and hardware information;
      • psloggedon[64].exe: lists locally logged on users that have their profile in the registry;
    • web\: web tools:
      • BrowsingHistoryView[64].exe: lists browsing history from multiple browsers;
      • ChromeCacheView.exe: displays the Google Chrome cache;
      • IECacheView.exe: displays the Internet Explorer cache;
      • MozillaCacheView.exe: displays the Mozilla Firefox cache;
    • yara\: YARA tools and signatures:
      • rules\: *.yar rules folder;
      • yara(32|64).exe: YARA main executable;
      • yarac(32|64).exe: YARA rules compiler;
    • 7za.exe: compresses files and folders;
    • nircmdc[64].exe: features extensive functionality, among of which taking screenshots;
    • sdelete(32|64).exe: securely deletes files and folders;
  • data\: data folder created during runtime with the collected data:
    • <HOSTNAME>-<DATE>\: <DATE> follows the YYYYMMDD format:
      • ir-rescue-win: folder for ir-rescue-related data
        • ir-rescue-win.log: verbose log file of status messages;
        • ir-rescue-win-global.log: global log file with ir-rescue-win commands run in the past;
        • screenshot-#: numbered screenshots for ir-rescue-win only;
      • folders named according to the data type set for collection.

ir-rescue-win needs to be run under a command line console with administrator rights while ir-rescue-nix needs to be run under a command line window with root privileges. Both require no arguments and make use of a respective configuration file to set desired options. As such, executing the scripts simply needs the issuing of the files as follows:

  • ir-rescue-win-v1.w.x.bat, or
  • ./

Some tools that perform recursive searches or scans are set only to recurse on specific folders. This makes the data collection more targeted while taking into account run time performance as the folders specified are likely locations for analysis due to extensive use by malware. The locations for recursive search and non-recursive search for Windows and Unix systems can be changed at will in the respective text files under the configuration folders. Some of the tools have dedicated files with specific locations in which to and not to recurse. These are named recursive-<tool>.txt and nonrecursive-<tool>.txt, with <tool> being changed to the tool name. Each file must have one location as full path per line without trailing backslashes or forward slashes.

During runtime, all characters printed to the Standard Output (STDOUT) and Standard Error (STDERR) channels are logged to UTF-8 encoded text files. This means that the output of tools are stored in corresponding folders and text files. Status ASCII messages are still printed to the console in order to check the execution progress. A temporary folder created under %TEMP%\ir-rescue-win or /tmp/ir-rescue-nix is used to store runtime data (e.g., memory dump drivers and links to VSS copies) and is deleted upon completion. Data folders are created as placeholders for data during initialization. After collection, empty folders may be deleted if no data was collected (e.g., empty browsers cache). In the end, data is compressed into a password-protected archive and is accordingly deleted afterwards, if set to do so.

Configuration File

The configuration file of each ir-rescue-win and ir-rescue-nix are mostly composed of simple binary directives (true or false) for the general behaviour of the scripts, for which data types to collect and for which advanced tools to run. Lines preceded by a hash sign (#) are considered comments. These are used to briefly describe what each option does, to enumerate folders, files or registry keys important to provide some context, as well as to list relevant tools. The descriptions below applies only to ir-rescue-win, but they serve as an example to understand the overall approach and the configuration file of ir-rescue-nix.

For ir-rescue-win, data is grouped into the types given by the following directives:

  • activity: this option sets the collection of user activity data;
  • disk: this option sets the collection of disk data;
  • events: this option sets the collection of Windows event logs;
  • filesystem: this option sets the collection of data related with NTFS and files;
  • malware: this option sets the collection of system data that can be used to spot malware;
  • memory: this options sets the collection of the memory;
  • network: this option sets the collection of network data;
  • registry: this option sets the collection of system and user registry;
  • system: this option sets the collection of system-related information;
  • web: this option sets the collection of browsing history and caches.

On the one hand, the usage of advanced tools set by the sigcheck, density, iconsext and yara options is independent of the configurations made to the collection of data types. On the other hand, directives under the respective main options of the data types are tied to them, meaning that they are disregarded if the main ones are set to false. For example, memory-dump=true, the option that instructs the tool to dump the Random Access Memory (RAM), is ignored if memory=false. The same goes for the <option>-all option, which sets all options of a certain data type to true for convenience, except <option>-vss. The script supports retrieving data from all available VSS copies by creating hard links to the copies via the Windows kernel namespace, a feature that can be turned on with vss=true. Each of the main options has its own <option>-vss option, which enables or disables the acquisition of VSS data for that particular data type. Note that the data collected by the malware-startup and web-(chrome|ie|mozilla) options is password-protected too, with the password being "infected" without quotes. All options not found or commented in the configuration file are set to false during runtime, including the password for the final compressed archive.

Further note that the iconsext option is useful to look for binaries compiled with unusual frameworks that set PE icons (e.g., Python). Moreover, YARA rules need to have a *.yar file extension and to be put in the tools-win\yara\rules\ folder. The output of all advanced tools are stored under the malware resulting folder.

Below is a minimal example of the configuration file setting the collection of the RAM, including the live and historical paged memory, the system registry and Windows event logs in text format, as well as the compression of the final data folder with password "infected" (without quotes). Note that this configuration skips the collection of historical system registry files.

# ir-rescue-win configuration file
# accepted values: 'true' or 'false' (exclusive)

# general

# modules


# events

# memory

# registry

Third-Party Tool List and References


  • Sysinternals: the Sysinternals tools have been mostly developed by Mark Russinovich and are free to use under the Sysinternals Software License Terms. The full list of tools used by ir-rescue-win is accesschk[64].exe (v6.02), autoruns[64].exe (v13.62), autorunsc[64].exe (v13.61), handle[64].exe (v4.1), Listdlls[64].exe (v3.2), logonsessions[64].exe (v1.4), ntfsinfo[64].exe (v1.2), psfile[64].exe (v1.03), PsGetsid[64].exe (v1.45), Psinfo[64].exe (v1.78), pslist[64].exe (v1.4), psloggedon[64].exe (v1.35), psloglist.exe (v2.71), PsService[64].exe (v2.25), sdelete(32|64).exe (v2.0), sigcheck[64].exe (v2.52), and tcpvcon.exe (v3.01).

  • NirSoft: the NirSoft suite of tools are developed by Nir Sofer and are released as freeware utilities. The full list of tools used by ir-rescue-win is AlternateStreamView[64].exe (v1.51), BrowserAddonsView[64].exe (v1.05), BrowsingHistoryView[64].exe (v1.86), ChromeCacheView.exe (v1.67), DriverView[64].exe (v1.47), iconsext.exe (v1.47), IECacheView.exe (v1.58), LastActivityView.exe (v1.16), MozillaCacheView.exe (v1.69), nircmdc[64].exe (v2.81), OfficeIns[64].exe (v1.20), USBDeview[64].exe (v2.61), and WinPrefetchView[64].exe (v1.35).

  • The Sleuth Kit (TSK) (v4.4.1): the TSK is an open-source forensic tool to analyze hard drives at the file system level, used by ir-rescue-win to walk the MFT with fls.exe, to dump disk boot sectors with mmcat.exe and to show disk partition table information with mmls.exe.

  • winpmem_1.6.2 (v1.6.2): the Pmem suite is part of the open-source Recall memory analysis framework, used by ir-rescue-win to dump the memory.

  • md5deep[64].exe (v4.4): the md5deep utility is open-source and is maintained by Jesse Kornblum.

  • EDD.exe (v2.0.1): the Encrypted Disk Detector is a free tool from Magnet Forensics that tests for specific disk encryption software.

  • exiftool.exe (v10.55)]: ExifTool is a free metadata parser and editor of several file formats such as LNK files, authored by Phil Harvey.

  • JLECmd.exe (v0.9.6.1): JLECmd is an open-source, MIT-licensed parser for automatic and custom destinations jump lists with support for Windows 7 thru Windows 10. This utility is developed by Eric Zimmerman and requires .NET v4.6.

  • RawCopy[64].exe (v1.0.0.15) and ExtractUsnJrnl[64].exe (v1.0.0.3): RawCopy (essentially, a combination of ifind and icat from TSK) and ExtractUsnJrnl are open-source NTFS utilities to extract data and special files developed by Joakim Schicht.

  • rifiuti-vista[64].exe (v.0.6.1): Rifiuti2 is an open-source parser for the recycle bin released under the BSD license.

  • densityscout[64].exe (build 45): the DensityScout utility to compute entropy was written by Christian Wojner and is released under the ISC license.

  • YARA (v3.5.0): YARA is an open-source signature scheme for malware that can be used to perform scans of specific indicators.

  • Cygwin: the Cygwin project is open-source and is used by ir-rescue-win only to filter outputs with the GNU tr.exe (v8.24-3) and grep.exe (v2.21) utilities, using the 32-bit DLLs.

  • 7za.exe (v9.20): 7-Zip is an open-source compression utility developed by Igor Pavlov and release under the GNU LGPL license.


  • AVML-0.21 (Acquire Volatile Memory for Linux): AVML is an X86_64 userland volatile memory acquisition tool written in Rust, intended to be deployed as a static binary. AVML can be used to acquire memory without knowing the target OS distribution or kernel a priori. No on-target compilation or fingerprinting is needed. AVML was compiled as described, on an Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS VM. The binary should run on many systems and kernel versions.

Change History

  • ir-rescue-win-v1.4.4: moved some filesystem options to a new disk option that also includes the new disk-encryption that tests for a variety of disk encryption software.

  • ir-rescue-win-v1.4.3: process arguments are now filtered from the output of malware-dlls into a separate file, replaced filesystem-table with a more comprehensive option (filesystem-info) that retrieves disk and partition information, swapped LECmd.exe (v0.9.2.0) with exiftool.exe (v10.55) for parsing LNK files, and added a few more commands.

  • ir-rescue-win-v1.4.2: removed RegRipper (registry-parse) (too heavy and best to post-process registry hives).

  • ir-rescue-win-v1.4.1: added the collection of application crash dumps (memory-appdumps), added the text export and parsing of registry hives (registry-text and registry-parse), added the dump and parsing of the boot sector (filesystem-boot and filesystem-table), and made some general improvements.

  • ir-rescue-win-v1.4.0: restructured the data collection order and output, extended functionality with configurable options (outpath, rm-glog, vss-limit and drives-limit), and added NirSoft BrowserAddonsView[64].exe and a less verbose global log file.




A Windows Batch script and a Unix Bash script to comprehensively collect host forensic data during incident response.








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