The Nepenthes Platform: An Efficient Approach to Collect Malware

Paul Baecher, Markus Koetter, Thorsten Holz, Maximillian Dornseif, Felix Freiling

9th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Intrusion Detection (RAID), Hamburg, Germany, September 2006


Abstract

Up to now, there is little empirically backed quantitative and qualitative knowledge about self-replicating malware publicly available. This hampers research in these topics because many counter-strategies against malware, e.g., network- and host-based intrusion detection systems, need hard empirical data to take full effect.

We present the nepenthes platform, a framework for large-scale collection of information on self-replicating malware in the wild. The basic principle of nepenthes is to emulate only the vulnerable parts of a service. This leads to an efficient and effective solution that offers many advantages compared to other honeypot-based solutions. Furthermore, nepenthes offers a flexible deployment solution, leading to even better scalability. Using the nepenthes platform we and several other organizations were able to greatly broaden the empirical basis of data available about self-replicating malware and provide thousands of samples of previously unknown malware to vendors of host-based IDS/anti-virus systems. This greatly improves the detection rate of this kind of threat.

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Tags: Honeypot, Malware