Many of us are dependent on the computers and smart devices to complete our official, personal and household duties. The benefits are numerous but the threat posed by online fraudsters make it a scary place to venture without proper knowledge and protection. Cybercriminals create malicious programs called malware to rob legitimate users of their identity and other information.

The malicious programs help these unlawful people to succeed with their malicious intent. Since the time malicious attacks emerged, the good guys have been involved in finding ways to counter such attacks effectively and that paved the way for malware analysis and malware removal.

What is Malware Analysis?

Malware analysis is the process of learning how malware functions and any potential repercussions of a given malware. Malware code can differ radically, and it’s essential to know that malware can have many functionalities. These may come in the form of viruses, worms, spyware, and trojan horses. Each type of malware gathers information about the infected device without the knowledge, or authorization of the user.

Why Is It Needed?

Malware Analysis refers to the process by which the purpose and functionality of the given malware samples are analyzed and determined. The culled out information from the malware analysis provides insights into developing an effective detection technique for the malicious codes. Additionally, it is an essential aspect for developing the efficient removal tools which can definitely perform malware removal on an infected system.

Before 10 to 15 years, malware analysis was conducted manually by experts and it was a time-consuming and cumbersome process. The number of malware that required to be analyzed by security experts kept slowly creeping up on a daily basis. This demand led for effective malware analysis procedures.

Use Cases For Malware Analysis

  •       Computer security incident management: If an organization believes that malware may have entered into its system, a response team will react to the situation. Next, they will want to perform malware analysis on any potentially malicious files that are discovered. This will then determine if it is indeed malware, what type, and the impact that it might have on the respective organizations’ systems.
  •       Malware research: Academic or industry forum where malware researchers perform malware analysis. This creates the best understanding of how malware works and the newest methods used in its creation.
  •       Indicator of compromise (IOC) extraction: Sellers of software solutions and products may conduct bulk malware analysis in order to determine potential new indicators of compromise which will in turn help the organizations to defend themselves against malware attacks.

Types Of Malware Analysis

· #Static Analysis

  • Static Analysis also called static code analysis, is a process of software debugging without executing the code or program. In other words, it examines the malware without examining the code or executing the program. The techniques of static malware analysis can be implemented on various representations of a program. The techniques and tools instantaneously discover whether a file is of malicious intent or not. Then the information on its functionality and other technical indicators help create its simple signatures.
  • The source code will help static analysis tools in finding memory corruption flaws and verify the accuracy of models of the given system.

· #Dynamic Analysis

  • The dynamic analysis runs malware to examine its behavior, learn its functionality and recognize technical indicators. When all these details are obtained, they are used in the detection signatures. The technical indicators exposed may comprise of IP addresses, domain names, file path locations, additional files, registry keys, found on the network or computer.
  • Additionally, it will identify and locate the communication with the attacker-controlled external server. The intention to do so may involve in zeroing in on the command and control purposes or to download additional malware files. This can be related to many of the common dynamic malware or automated sandbox analysis engines perform today.

· #Threat Analysis

  • The threat analysis is an on-going process that helps identify exemplars of malicious software. With hackers regularly reinstating network infrastructure, it is obvious to lose sight of the tools constantly being used and updated by these various actors. Beginning with malicious program family analysis, this process is centered on mapping vulnerabilities, exploits, network infrastructure, additional malware, and adversaries.

Four Stages Of Malware Analysis

Investigating malware is a process that requires taking a few steps. These four stages form a pyramid that grows in intricacy. The closer you get to the top of the pyramid, the stages increase in complexity and the skills needed to implement them are less common. Here, we start from the bottom, and show you what goes into finding malware, every step of the way.

  1.   Fully-automated analysis: One of the simplest ways to assess a suspicious program is to scan it with fully-automated tools. Fully-automated tools are able to quickly assess what a malware is capable of if it infiltrated the system. This analysis is able to produce a detailed report regarding the network traffic, file activity, and registry keys. Even though a fully-automated analysis does not provide as much information as an analyst, it is still the fastest method to sift through large quantities of malware.
  2.   Static properties analysis: In order to get a more in depth look at malware, it is imperative to look at its static properties. It is easy to access these properties because it does not require running the potential malware, which takes a longer time. The static properties include hashes, embedded strings, embedded resources, and header information. The properties should be able to show elementary indicators of compromise.
  3.   Interactive behavior analysis: To observe a malicious file, it might often times be put in an isolated laboratory to see if it directly infects the laboratory. Analysts will frequently monitor these laboratories to see if the malicious file tries to attach to any hosts. With this information, the analyst will then be able to replicate the situation to see what the malicious file would do once it was connected to the host, giving them an advantage over those who use automated tools.
  4.   Manual code reversing: Reversing the code of the malicious file can decode encrypted data that was stored by the sample, determine the logic of the file’s domain, and see other capabilities of the file that did not show up during the behavioral analysis. In order to manually reverse the code, malware analysis tools such as a debugger and disassembler are needed. The skills needed to complete manual code reversing are very important, but also difficult to find.

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