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Thorsten Holz and Carsten Willems, our partners in Sunbelt CWSandbox, have collaborated with Konrad Rieck, Patrick Dussel and Pavel Laskov on a paper, “Learning and Classification of Malware Behavior”.

The abstract explains it well:

Malicious software in form of Internet worms, computer viruses, and Trojan horses poses a major threat to the security of networked systems. The diversity and amount of its variants severely undermine the effectiveness of classical signature-based detection.

Yet variants of malware families share typical behavioral patterns reflecting its origin and purpose. We aim to exploit these shared patterns for classification of malware and propose a method for learning and discrimination of malware behavior.

Our method proceeds in three stages: (a) behavior of collected malware is monitored in a sandbox environment, (b) based on a corpus of malware labeled by an anti-virus scanner a malware behavior classifier is trained using learning techniques and (c) discriminative features of the behavior models are ranked for explanation of classification decisions. Experiments with different heterogeneous test data collected over several months using honeypots demonstrate the effectiveness of our method, especially in detecting novel instances of malware families previously not recognized by commercial anti-virus software.

PDF link here (alternate).

Alex Eckelberry
(And forgive me, if you’re not a malware wonk, this will not be interesting.)