Improving the Reliability of Chip-Off Forensic Analysis of NAND Flash Memory Devices

Wednesday March 8, 2017
Location: CIC Panther Hollow Room
Time: 4:30PM

Aya Fukami (CMU & National Police Agency of Japan)


Digital forensics investigators often need to extract data from physically damaged devices.  In such cases, investigators turn to chip-off forensic analysis, which uses a thermal-based procedure to physically remove the NAND flash memory chip from the device, so that raw data can be directly extracted from the chip.  The first half of this talk will present issues related to chip-off analysis, examining the errors introduced in NAND flash memory in the time between device seizure and data extraction, as well as the errors introduced by the thermal-based chip removal process itself.  In order to mitigate the various errors observed during the chip-off analysis process, we evaluated the effectiveness of read-retry, a hardware-based mechanism implemented in modern NAND flash memory chips. The second half of this talk will explain how investigators can leverage read-retry mechanisms in order to improve the reliability of chip-off forensic analysis.


Aya Fukami is a visiting researcher at Carnegie Mellon University CyLab.  She is also a digital forensic scientist at the National Police Agency of Japan, where she has been conducting low-level data recovery from digital devices for criminal investigations.  Her current research interest is in NAND Flash memory reliability, especially how temperature affects the device-level operation.  She received a BSc in Computer Science from Kitakyushu University, and an MSc in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University, respectively.

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