What is the Windows Registry?
The Windows Registry contains the configuration settings and information for the software and hardware and security settings within a Windows operating system.
The Registry is automatically updated in the background whilst the system operates and most users would be unaware of its existence within hidden system folders.
It is possible to change system settings within the normal Windows user interface as a standard user, however, it is also possible to access the Windows Registry using the Registry Editor application that is built into Windows by default. It is possible to export parts of the Registry using this application by right clicking any key within it and selecting Export.
What Files Form the Windows Registry?
The Registry is made up of different areas that are normally referred to as ‘hives’ and have a prefix ‘HKEY’, however, each database is located within the System32/Config/ directory on a Windows NTFS based system and are named SOFTWARE, SYSTEM and SECURITY, SAM and DEFAULT. The NTUSER.DAT file is located within each user profile folder.
The SAM file relates to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SAM, the SECURITY file relates to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY, SOFTWARE to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE, SYSTEM to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM and DEFAULT to HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT. The NTUSER.DAT file relates to the hive HKEY_CURRENT_USER.
The registry is made up of different keys that contain values. Those values are normally made up of the following types:
Binary – REG_BINARY – Displayed in hexadecimal format within the registry;
DWORD – REG_DWORD – Displayed as a 4 byte long number;
String Value – REG_SZ – A text string;
QWORD – REG_QWORD – Displayed a a binary value.
About Athena Forensics
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