The NIST National Software Reference Library (NSRL) contains hashes of files that are found in operating systems and software distributions. These files are known to be good in that they came from trusted sources and are typically on authorized systems. When processing files in the image, this database can be used to ignore files because they are assumed to be known and therefore uninteresting. The location of this database is configured when Autopsy is installed. The NSRL must be obtained from NIST at www.nsrl.nist.gov.
The Ignore Database is a database that the investigator must create. It is similar to the NIST NSRL in that it contains files that are known to be good and can be ignored if the user chooses to do so (only applicable when in File Type Category Analysis). Examples of files in this category include system binaries for standard builds. See Database Creation for information on creating this database. Its location is configured when the host is created and can be edited in the host configuration file.
The Alert Database is a database that the investigator must create. It contains hashes of known bad files. These are the files that an investigator wants to know about if they exist on the system. Examples of this include rootkits or unauthorized photographs. When using the File Type Category Analysis, these files will be saved in a special file. See Database Creation for information on creating this database. Its location is configured when the host is created and can be edited in the host configuration file.
Autopsy uses the hfind tool from The Sleuth Kit to do the lookups. This tool requires the database to be indexed so that it can perform a fast lookup using a binary search algorithm (instead of a slower sequential search that a tool like grep would do). When ever a hash database is updated (or created), it must be indexed. This can be done in Autopsy in the Hash Database Manager (Note that the database must already be configured though).
The NIST NSRL obviously does not have to be created, but it does have to be indexed before it is used.
To make a hash database, we will create a file with the same format
as the md5sum command uses. This is just the MD5 hash,
some white space, and the file name. For example:
Make a file with this format for every line (it does not have to
be sorted). For example, if you have a trusted system then you can make
a hash database of its system binaries using the following:
# md5sum /bin/* /sbin/* > bin-md5.db
After creation, hash databases must be indexed and sorted (this
includes the NSRL). Databases will be indexed by using the
hfind tool. The NSRL database would be indexed with:
# hfind -i nsrl-md5 PATH_TO_NSRL/NSRLFile.txt
A database made by md5sum would be indexed with:
# hfind -i md5sum bin-md5.db
Or, if Autopsy has this file configured from when the host was added, then it can be re-indexed from the Hash Database Manager.
These entries can be edited at any time.
The NSRL database is configured in the conf.pl file in the
directory where Autopsy was installed. It has the $NSRLDB variable.
$NSRLDB = '/usr/local/hash/nsrl/NSRLFile.txt';
It can be edited, added, and removed at any time (but you must restart Autopsy).