AOL Webmail Forensics: Path To Discover Hidden Evidence
AOL Mail deployed by AOL Inc. is a web based email client that gives the users more flexibility to personalize their emails. The first free service of this web mail was launched in 2005 and is compatible with all the web browsers available. The beneficial and interesting feature of AOL Mail is its space to hold large number of mails i.e. has unlimited storage capability. Moreover, the client has strong protection for spam mails, virus etc. However, similar to other web clients, it is also used for illegal purposes.
Nowadays, the rate of criminal activities such as, cyber bullying, distribution of pornographic images, spoofing etc. is increasing and web based clients are the main platform for these. This demands a thorough study of AOL Mail client as well.
For any criminal cases, forensics is done and the pieces of evidence collected are marked as the ultimate evidence by the Court of Law. This call pushes investigators to know more on each platform. This blog will help you to perform AOL webmail forensics and describes tool that will help on the way of investigation.
Email Header: Main Root To Evidence
Email Header is remarked as the best source of evidence. It contains the name of the sender, receiver, info of the body, return path of the mail, if undelivered and much more. By examining a header, an investigator can get the loopholes for resolving the case. Moreover, a well-trained agent can come to the conclusion that, whether the mail is manipulated or not. Forensic analysis on email gives out credible piece of evidence for the agent. Investigator can find the path through which the mail has traversed, making the investigation easier.
While conducting AOL webmail forensics, similar to other web based mail client, AOL Mail contains deleted item folder, spam folders etc. Agent can go around each folder and look for evidence to make a lead for the investigation. However, investigator should keep in mind that, the emails deleted by the suspect that resides in the deleted folder can get removed if it is older than 7 days. This may create some problems.
Another important point to be noted is that, chances of outage can create severe problems, for example; missing of emails, attachments etc. In-order to carry out proper and fine investigation on the mails, agent will have to backup the emails.
Backup AOL Email Folders – How To?
Backing up the emails will help the agents to go through the mails when they require and also avoid the loss due to outage or accident deletion of emails. During AOL webmail forensics, Backup of the email folders can be done either using the AOL desktop application or third party tools. AOL Inc. also provides AOL desktop email client so, one can download the emails to it and save it as backup.
However, suppose if the application supported in the system of the agent is Outlook and agent want to view the file in Outlook then, AOL Backup tool can sort out the issue.
Secure AOL Mails For Safeguarding With AOL Backup Tool
The software renders an efficient backup of the AOL mails by backing the mails to PST/EML/MSG/MBOX file formats. This support to different file formats allows forensic agents to work with the mails in any of the desktop email clients such as, Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird etc.
The application enables the user to make a selective backup of the items without any loss to the data and attachments, if any. During the downloading of the emails from AOL Mail, the Meta data is preserved; read or unread mails are marked the same. The benefit obtained out of the tool is its support over the deletion of emails from server after downloading it. Moreover, the tool not only helps to conduct AOL webmail forensics but also allow the users to manage the bandwidth of downloading thus, preserves the bandwidth consumption.
Forensic investigation has become an inevitable part of investigation since the evidence collected is recognized as the truthful and final by the Law. As many new applications are coming up, a careful study on each is mandatory and there are many tools available in the market to help in investigation. However, the great threat hides in selecting an appropriate tool for collecting evidence. Only proper tool can help in the way of finding the loopholes.