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Automation and Scaling of Digital Forensics Tools
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aarontp Add evidence path to metadata file (#501)
* add evidence path to metadata file

* fix tests
Latest commit 725412f Feb 10, 2020



Turbinia is an open-source framework for deploying, managing, and running distributed forensic workloads. It is intended to automate running of common forensic processing tools (i.e. Plaso, TSK, strings, etc) to help with processing evidence in the Cloud, scaling the processing of large amounts of evidence, and decreasing response time by parallelizing processing where possible.

How it works

Turbinia is composed of different components for the client, server and the workers. These components can be run in the Cloud, on local machines, or as a hybrid of both. The Turbinia client makes requests to process evidence to the Turbinia server. The Turbinia server creates logical jobs from these incoming user requests, which creates and schedules forensic processing tasks to be run by the workers. The evidence to be processed will be split up by the jobs when possible, and many tasks can be created in order to process the evidence in parallel. One or more workers run continuously to process tasks from the server. Any new evidence created or discovered by the tasks will be fed back into Turbinia for further processing.

Communication from the client to the server is currently done with either Google Cloud PubSub or Kombu messaging. The worker implementation can use either PSQ (a Google Cloud PubSub Task Queue) or Celery for task scheduling.

More information on Turbinia and how it works can be found here.


Turbinia is currently in Alpha release.


There is an rough installation guide here.


The basic steps to get things running after the initial installation and configuration are:

  • Start Turbinia server component with turbiniactl server command
  • Start one or more Turbinia workers with turbiniactl psqworker
  • Send evidence to be processed from the turbinia client with turbiniactl ${evidencetype}
  • Check status of running tasks with turbiniactl status

turbiniactl can be used to start the different components, and here is the basic usage:

$ turbiniactl --help
usage: turbiniactl [-h] [-q] [-v] [-d] [-a] [-c CONFIG_FILE]
                   [-C RECIPE_CONFIG] [-f] [-o OUTPUT_DIR] [-L LOG_FILE]
                   [-r REQUEST_ID] [-R] [-S] [-V] [-D]
                   [-F FILTER_PATTERNS_FILE] [-j JOBS_WHITELIST]
                   [-J JOBS_BLACKLIST] [-p POLL_INTERVAL] [-t TASK] [-w]
                   <command> ...

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -q, --quiet           Show minimal output
  -v, --verbose         Show verbose output
  -d, --debug           Show debug output
  -a, --all_fields      Show all task status fields in output
  -c CONFIG_FILE, --config_file CONFIG_FILE
                        Load explicit config file. If specified it will ignore
                        config files in other default locations
                        (/etc/turbinia.conf, ~/.turbiniarc, or in paths
                        referenced in environment variable
                        Recipe configuration data passed in as comma separated
                        key=value pairs (e.g. "-C
                        key=value,otherkey=othervalue"). These will get passed
                        to tasks as evidence config, and will also be written
                        to the metadata.json file for Evidence types that
                        write it
  -f, --force_evidence  Force evidence processing request in potentially
                        unsafe conditions
  -o OUTPUT_DIR, --output_dir OUTPUT_DIR
                        Directory path for output
  -L LOG_FILE, --log_file LOG_FILE
                        Log file
  -r REQUEST_ID, --request_id REQUEST_ID
                        Create new requests with this Request ID
  -R, --run_local       Run completely locally without any server or other
                        infrastructure. This can be used to run one-off Tasks
                        to process data locally.
  -S, --server          Run Turbinia Server indefinitely
  -V, --version         Show the version
  -D, --dump_json       Dump JSON output of Turbinia Request instead of
                        sending it
                        A file containing newline separated string patterns to
                        filter text based evidence files with (in extended
                        grep regex format). This filtered output will be in
                        addition to the complete output
  -j JOBS_WHITELIST, --jobs_whitelist JOBS_WHITELIST
                        A whitelist for Jobs that will be allowed to run (in
                        CSV format, no spaces). This will not force them to
                        run if they are not configured to. This is applied
                        both at server start time and when the client makes a
                        processing request. When applied at server start time
                        the change is persistent while the server is running.
                        When applied by the client, it will only affect that
                        processing request.
                        A blacklist for Jobs we will not allow to run. See
                        --jobs_whitelist help for details on format and when
                        it is applied.
  -p POLL_INTERVAL, --poll_interval POLL_INTERVAL
                        Number of seconds to wait between polling for task
                        state info
  -t TASK, --task TASK  The name of a single Task to run locally (must be used
                        with --run_local.
  -w, --wait            Wait to exit until all tasks for the given request
                        have completed

    rawdisk             Process RawDisk as Evidence
    googleclouddisk     Process Google Cloud Persistent Disk as Evidence
                        Process Google Cloud Persistent Disk with an embedded
                        raw disk image as Evidence
    directory           Process a directory as Evidence
    listjobs            List all available jobs
    psqworker           Run PSQ worker
    celeryworker        Run Celery worker
    status              Get Turbinia Task status
    server              Run Turbinia Server
    config              Prints out config file
    testnotify          Sends test notification

The commands for processing evidence specify the metadata about that evidence for Turbinia to process. By default, when adding new evidence to be processed, turbiniactl will act as a client and send a request to the configured Turbinia server, otherwise if server is specified, it will start up its own Turbinia server process. Here's the turbiniactl usage for adding a raw disk type of evidence to be processed by Turbinia:

$ ./turbiniactl rawdisk -h
usage: turbiniactl rawdisk [-h] -l LOCAL_PATH [-s SOURCE] [-n NAME]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -l LOCAL_PATH, --local_path LOCAL_PATH
                        Local path to the evidence
  -s SOURCE, --source SOURCE
                        Description of the source of the evidence
  -n NAME, --name NAME  Descriptive name of the evidence

Status information about the requests that are being or have been processed can be viewed with the turbiniactl status command. You can specify the request ID that was generated, or other filters like the username of the requester, or how many days of processing history you want to view. You can also generate statistics and reports (in markdown format) with other flags.

$ turbiniactl status -h
usage: turbiniactl status [-h] [-c] [-C] [-d DAYS_HISTORY] [-f]
                          [-r REQUEST_ID] [-p PRIORITY_FILTER] [-R] [-s]
                          [-t TASK_ID] [-u USER]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -c, --close_tasks     Close tasks based on Request ID or Task ID
  -C, --csv             When used with --statistics, the output will be in CSV
  -d DAYS_HISTORY, --days_history DAYS_HISTORY
                        Number of days of history to show
  -f, --force           Gatekeeper for --close_tasks
  -r REQUEST_ID, --request_id REQUEST_ID
                        Show tasks with this Request ID
                        This sets what report sections are shown in full
                        detail in report output. Any tasks that have set a
                        report_priority value equal to or lower than this
                        setting will be shown in full detail, and tasks with a
                        higher value will only have a summary shown. To see
                        all tasks report output in full detail, set
  -R, --full_report     Generate full markdown report instead of just a
  -s, --statistics      Generate statistics only
  -t TASK_ID, --task_id TASK_ID
                        Show task for given Task ID
  -u USER, --user USER  Show task for given user

Other documentation

Obligatory Fine Print

This is not an official Google product (experimental or otherwise), it is just code that happens to be owned by Google.

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