Monday, September 18, 2017

Interpreting volume info from FXDesktopVolumePositions

On a mac, if you wanted to get a list of all connected volumes, you would typically lookup FXDesktopVolumePositions under the file (for each user). This is available under /Users/<USER>/Library/Preferences/  The volumes listed here can include anything mounted, a CD, a DMG file, a volume from external disk, network mapped volume or anything else that mac sees as a mounted volume/device.

Figure 1: Snippet of 'FKDesktopVolumePositions' from

The above snippet shows every volume connected to one of our test machines. What's strange is the way the volume information is stored. Ignoring the icon position data (which resides a level below not shown in that screenshot), all that's available is a string that looks like this:


Studying this a bit, it appears that the random looking hex number after the name is not really random. It represents the 'Created date' of the volume's root folder (for most but not all the entries!). The date format is Mac Absolute Time (ie, number of seconds since 2001).
The picture below shows the breakup.

Figure 2: Interpreting volume info from FXDesktopVolumePositions entry

The first part of the entry (till the last underscore) is the name as it appears in the Finder window. The next part ignoring the period is the created date. This is followed by p+ and then a decimal number (usually 0, 26, 27, 28 or 29). I believe that number represents a volume type. From what I can see in some limited testing, if volume type=28, then the hex number is always the created date.

Large external disks (USB) that identify as fixed disks and most DMG volumes will show up as type 28. All USB removable disks show up under type 29 and here the hex number is not a created date, it is unknown what this may be. Sometimes this number is negative for type 29, and a lot of volumes share the same number.

There is still some mystery about the hex number. For type=28, sometimes it is less than 8 digits long, and needs to be padded with zeroes at the end. This does produce an accurate date then. Also, sometimes it is longer than 8 digits! In these cases, truncating the number at 8 digits has again produced an accurate date in limited testing. It is unclear what those extra digits would denote.

Following this discovery, mac_apt has been updated to parse this date.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Releasing mac_apt - macOS Artifact Parsing Tool

Over the last several months, I've been developing a tool to process mac full disk images. It's an extendible framework (in python) which has plugins to parse different artifacts on a mac. The idea was to make a tool that an examiner could run as soon as a mac image was obtained to have artifacts parsed out in an automated fashion. And it had to be free and open-source, that ran on windows/linux (or mac) without the requirement of needing a mac to process mac images. 

Here are the specifics:
  • INPUT - E01 or dd image or DMG(not compressed)
  • OUTPUT - Xlsx, Csv, Sqlite
  • Parsed artifacts (files) are also exported for later manual review.
  • lzvn compressed files (quite a few on recent OSX versions including key plist files) are supported too!

As of now, there are plugins to parse network information (ip, dhcp, interfaces), wifi hotspots, basic machine settings (timezone, hostname, HFS info, disk info,..), recent items (file, volume, applications,..) , local & domain user info, notifications, Safari history and Spotlight shortcuts. More are in the works.. Tested on OSX images from 10.9-10.12

The project is currently in alpha status. Let us know of bugs/issues, any feature requests, ..

The project is available on GitHub here.

Some motivations behind this project:
- Learn Python
- Learn more about OSX