Analyzing Synology Disks on Linux

Published: 2024-05-08
Last Updated: 2024-05-08 07:00:07 UTC
by Xavier Mertens (Version: 1)
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Synology NAS solutions are popular devices. They are also used in many organizations. Their product range goes from small boxes with two disks (I’m not sure they still sell a single-disk enclosure today) up to monsters, rackable with plenty of disks. They offer multiple disk management options but rely on many open-source software (like most appliances). For example, there are no expensive hardware RAID controllers in the box. They use the good old “MD” (“multiple devices”) technology, managed with the well-known mdadm tool[1]. Synology NAS run a Linux distribution called DSM. This operating system has plenty of third-party tools but lacks pure forensics tools.

In a recent investigation, I had to investigate a NAS that was involved in a ransomware attack. Many files (backups) were deleted. The attacker just deleted some shared folders. The device had two drives configured in RAID0 (not the best solution I know but they lack storage capacity). The idea was to mount the file system (or at least have the block device) on a Linux host and run forensic tools, for example, photorec.

In such a situation, the biggest challenge will be to connect all the drivers to the analysis host! Here, I had only two drives but imagine that you are facing a bigger model with 5+ disks. In my case, I used two USB-C/SATA adapters to connect the drives. Besides the software RAID, Synology volumes also rely on LVM2 (“Logical Volume Manager”)[2]. In most distributions, the packages mdadm and lvm2 are available (for example on SIFT Workstation). Otherwise, just install them:

# apt install mdadm lvm2

Once you connect the disks (tip: add a label on them to replace them in the right order) to the analysis host, verify if they are properly detected:

# lsblk
sda       8:0    0 465.8G  0 disk
|-sda1    8:1    0 464.8G  0 part  /
|-sda2    8:2    0     1K  0 part
`-sda5    8:5    0   975M  0 part  [SWAP]
sdb       8:16   0   3.6T  0 disk
|-sdb1    8:17   0     8G  0 part
|-sdb2    8:18   0     2G  0 part
`-sdb3    8:19   0   3.6T  0 part
sdc       8:32   0   3.6T  0 disk
|-sdc1    8:33   0   2.4G  0 part
|-sdc2    8:34   0     2G  0 part
`-sdc3    8:35   0   3.6T  0 part
sr0      11:0    1  1024M  0 rom

"sdb3" and "sdc3" are the NAS partitions used to store data (2 x 4TB in RAID0). The good news, the kernel will detect that these disks are part of a software RAID! You just need to rescan them and "re-assemble" the RAID:

# mdadm --assemble --readonly --scan --force --run 

Then, your data should be available via a /dev/md? device:

# cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [raid0]
md0 : active (read-only) raid0 sdb3[0] sdc3[1]
      7792588416 blocks super 1.2 64k chunks

unused devices: <none>

The next step is to detect how data are managed by the NAS. Synology provides a technology called SHR[3] that uses LVM:

# lvdisplay
  WARNING: PV /dev/md0 in VG vg1 is using an old PV header, modify the VG to update.
  --- Logical volume ---
  LV Path                /dev/vg1/syno_vg_reserved_area
  LV Name                syno_vg_reserved_area
  VG Name                vg1
  LV UUID                08g9nN-Etde-JFN9-tn3D-JPHS-pyoC-LkVZAI
  LV Write Access        read/write
  LV Creation host, time ,
  LV Status              NOT available
  LV Size                12.00 MiB
  Current LE             3
  Segments               1
  Allocation             inherit
  Read ahead sectors     auto

  --- Logical volume ---
  LV Path                /dev/vg1/volume_1
  LV Name                volume_1
  VG Name                vg1
  LV UUID                fgjC0Y-mvx5-J5Qd-Us2k-Ppaz-KG5X-tgLxaX
  LV Write Access        read/write
  LV Creation host, time ,
  LV Status              NOT available
  LV Size                <7.26 TiB
  Current LE             1902336
  Segments               1
  Allocation             inherit
  Read ahead sectors     auto

You can see that the NAS has only one volume created ("volume_1" is the default name in DSM).

From now on, you can use /dev/vg1/volume_1 in your investigations. Mount it, scan it, image it, etc...


Xavier Mertens (@xme)
Senior ISC Handler - Freelance Cyber Security Consultant

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