The Art of Malware Analysis

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The Art of Malware Analysis
Malware Analysis

Malware Analysis is a study of analyzing the origin, behavior, and potential impact that can be caused by malicious software such as worms, trojans, ransomware, backdoors, etc. Most malware is maliciously intended software that is used to steal sensitive data and information from a user or an organization through unauthorized access.

What is a Malware Analysis?

In simple terms, Malware analysis is the study of malware. Malware is nothing but a piece of malicious code or a program that is used to steal sensitive data or information from an individual or an organization without any permission. Malware analysis helps to determine the purpose of malicious intent caused by the suspicious file, domain or an URL, etc.

Why do we need Malware Analysis?

The complete process of malware analysis won’t stop by determining the malicious behavior of malware, It also then uses the information gathered by the cycle of the process to create a mitigation strategy that will defend from future known threats. Mostly it is helpful in incidence response and threat hunters to find the motive of the attack and the loophole which caused the potential impact to prevent such attacks in the future. It also helps in finding the persistence caused by the malware to cut them off from the malicious actor.

Some types of Malware?

There is malware that is used to do different kinds of activities based on the malicious needs of the attacker. Malware can also be classified on the basis of what type of malicious actions they are performing. Each and every malware has its own unique way of performing the operations to steal information based on the classifications. There are some types of malware that are listed below based on their actions.

  1. Ransomware – wannacry, petya, etc..
  2. Trojan Horse – storm worm, bitfrost, etc..
  3. Worms – ILOVEYOU, Code Red, etc..
  4. Keyloggers
  5. Backdoors

There are a lot of classifications available in malware. To know more about the working principles and analysis, follow the series for upcoming articles on The Art of Malware Analysis.

Two Types of Malware Analysis Techniques?

There are two ways that can be used to approach malware to test or gather information about the malicious software. They are

  1. Static Malware Analysis
  2. Dynamic Malware Analysis

Static Malware Analysis :

In simple terms, Static Malware Analysis is the process of collecting information about malware without even executing it. Static malware analysis is also known as signature-based malware analysis where information such as the hash, strings, IP Addresses, all info’s, etc… can be collected without any manual or automatic execution of the malware. Sometime’s static malware analysis can also be performed using disassemblers to understand the algorithms to detect the overview of the malware behavior.

Dynamic Malware Analysis :

Dynamic malware analysis is quite opposite to static malware analysis, wherein the malware sample could be executed on an isolated environment to analyze the behavior of malware on its runtime. In other terms, we call it a high-level view of understanding the purpose of malware. Dynamic analysis can be performed with both disassemblers and debuggers to get an overall view of the malware execution and its malicious actions.

To know more about how to perform these analyses on real-world malware, follow the series for upcoming articles on The Art of Malware Analysis.

Overview of Malware Analysis Methodology :

There are four methodologies in Malware Analysis Techniques. Each and every methodology gives a deeper analysis of malware as it goes. They are

  1. Fully Automated Analysis
  2. Static Properties Analysis
  3. Interactive Behaviour Analysis
  4. Manual Code Reversing

Fully Automated Analysis :

Fully Automated Analysis can be done by various software’s which are available online. There are also various software vendors that provide tools to analyze the malware with high capabilities. In this method the malware can be processed by automated software and the report can be generated at the end of the assessment to showcase the malicious threats of malware and what it’s capable of.

Static Properties Analysis :

Static Properties Analysis can be done to gather some overview information of malware without executing it in an isolated environment. Pieces of information such as hashes, embedded strings, header information, and file types, etc.. can be collected through this process. Static properties analysis is an easier and fastest process because there is no execution of malware being performed.

Interactive Behaviour Analysis :

The malware or the malicious file is put under observation by putting it in a separate isolated environment and observing the behavior of malware. The isolated environment is under complete observation by the analysts to check if the malware is attaching any hosts. From the information obtained by this observation, the analyst will recreate the situation to understand what the malware does when it is connected to the host. In this method, the behavior and purpose of the malware can be analyzed using interactive behavior analysis.

Manual Code Reversing :

Some malware can be obfuscated by the malicious actor to defend against basic protection enabled by anti-malware protection. So it’s important to know how to deobfuscate by reversing the code of the malicious file, understand the logic of the code and the file capabilities that were not found during behavioral analysis. The malware analysis tools such as debuggers and disassemblers are required to reverse the code manually.

Conclusion

I hope the techniques and stages that are used in malware analysis can be cleared. If there are any questions, post them in the comment section. In our upcoming blogs let’s discuss the above-mentioned topics in a detailed manner with real work malware examples in the series of The Art of Malware Analysis. Till then, Stay Tuned!! And Happy Learnings…

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