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Forensic Hardware

To support multiple simultaneous imaging sessions and other forensic tasks running on its 18 ports at top speeds, TaskForce hardware unit is built on extremely robust, high-capacity components that include a server-grade motherboard, 8-thread Xeon CPU 3.7 GHz and ECC RAM. To ensure high quality and efficiency of our tools, we test them on hundreds of storage devices.

TaskForce forensic hardware. Left side

This forensic hardware unit is designed for various types of digital investigations. It can be used in the lab and in standalone mode.

Ports, indicators & switches

Ports:

Backside of TaskForce forensic hardware

Source/target switch on each of 18 ports enabling hardware write protection in source mode:

LED indicators: two indicators for each of 18 ports. One indicator is located next to the port’s source/target switch and lights up when source mode is enabled.

Two 10Gb Ethernet ports

Other ports: Serial RS232, IDE power, VGA, RS-232, DC IN 24V

Supported hard drive interfaces: SATA I/II/III, SAS3 (12Gb), USB 2.0/3.0, IDE

Power switch

Forensic hardware: touch and IP screens

Flash card support via card reader attached to any USB port of TaskForce.

Displays

Main display: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

IP display: OLED (20x2 characters)


Forensic hardware

Physical / Environmental

Other specs

  • Internal OS: Linux running a custom kernel
  • Control interface: web-based TaskForce application
  • Detachable 250 GB SSD for internal case management database
  • Detachable WiFi 802.11n 150 Mb/s adapter in access point mode for easy connectivity

Inside TaskForce forensic hardware unit

Forensic hardware unit. Internals

TaskForce forensic hardware unit is essentially a small server-grade computer running Linux. But because neither BIOS, nor Linux kernel was designed to handle hard disk failures, Atola engineers have invested a significant amount of research and development efforts to build a highly customized and fine-tuned Linux kernel that fully overcomes these issues and handle damaged media properly. Additionally, this kernel features:

TaskForce hardware also features Atola's proprietary circuitry for ultimate drive's power control:

Forensic hardware unit - angle view

These features are a must for proper handling of damaged drives.

For instance, low-level control of the SATA, SAS, USB and IDE ports allows TaskForce to handle the devices that do not properly initialize, have many bad sectors, or frequently freeze due to internal (mechanical) failures. SATA PHY control allows resetting a frozen hard drive without a power cycle, thus saving time during imaging, and reducing the chances of further hard disk degradation and failure. Current sensing allows TaskForce to diagnose a failed drive even if it has electronic or mechanical damage.

Overcurrent protection detects when the drive draws abnormal current and stops it to prevent any further damage. Overvoltage protection circuit ensures that in the unlikely event of the forensic hardware malfunction, the attached drives are not damaged in any way.

TaskForce hardware forensic unit is fully controlled by the software via Chrome browser, therefore no Linux experience is required to operate it.