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How to determine if a file has been changed or not in windows SBS 2003

Posted on 2008-06-14
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Last Modified: 2013-11-05
Dear all,
I'm asked to assist a lawyer this to check following:
A company, i'll call it the buyer, bought an accounting software 2 years ago.  They claim it never worked as it should have and never payed it. The company that created and sold the software, the seller, décommissioned it and claim that the package needed just some tuning. They had remote console access to the sbs server.

The buyer has found a text file (.txt)  that ought to have contained parameters but contains in fact a very large list of known bugs. They say it was dropped there by the seller but the seller denies it.

This is what is known around this file
1° The creation date and modification date are the same. They match a date of an email, the seller admits to have send, mentioning  a new parameter file that was dropped.
2° the user of the file is the group Administrator, to which the remote login user belongs of the seller and only the main operator of the buyer belong. I don't remember how but in some history it is proven no changes has been made to administrator group since before that event.
3° In the event log we detected that each time someone opens the remote controle an event is created about a printer that can't be connected. On that date of the creation of the file, a remote connection occured twice, one of which is around the date of the creation of the file.

First the seller denied that he created the file, then he admitted he did but said the content of the file was changed, not his.

My questions are :
1) Can we find out in some way, via active directory information or other if the file really was not changed afterward, as modification dates can be manipulated (as far as i know)?
2) the creator of the file is a system user group, is there a way to find out who the effective user was that last changed the file?


The purpose is to know if the content of the file was per accident transmitted by the seller or manipulated by the buyer.

Kind regards,
Henri Biron
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Question by:Henri_Biron
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 21786679
You can enable detailed auditing but unfortunately not after the fact. The file creation, modified, and last accessed dates are the best you have to go by at this point. Hard to believe someone would place the file and then to bury their track modify the dates, rather than delete it, or is it they that are accusing you of modifying the dates. No chance Volume Shadow Copies is enabled? If so you can right click on the file, choose properties, and the should be a tab "previous copies". This would show multiple copies and the manipulation dates. But this too has to be enabled and configured beforehand.

If interested, the following articles outline how to enable and analyze the results:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/814595/
http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles/Understanding_Windows_Logging.html
http://207.46.19.60/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/maintain/monitor/logevnts.mspx
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by:Henri_Biron
ID: 21787076
Thx, for this solution and information. No i myself am not accused of anything, i'm helping the customer of a lawyer that asked me for help. It's the customer of my lawyer who is accused of that. We looked at the property of the file to find the author, creator and all possible information. Didn't find what you called by volume shadow copy though.

Any other help would be welcome if something else exists.

Otherwise i'll close this case in the near future.
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Rob Williams earned 2000 total points
ID: 21787085
>>"No i myself am not accused of anything"
Sorry, I did understand the question, and didn't mean to imply that.

No afraid I have no other suggestions. As mentioned there a few things you can turn on for future use but not much you can do about past use. The "Previous Versions" tab would be very obvious if enabled. It seldom is, but a very useful feature for recovering previous copies, not just for forensic purposes.
I usually enable a custom logon script for all remote users. It keeps a log of who logs on, when, to what machine/s, and from what IP. If that is any help for future, let me know and I can post.
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 21790486
Thanks Henri.
Cheers !
--Rob
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