Inspector Gadget: Automated Extraction of Proprietary Gadgets from Malware Binaries

Clemens Kolbitsch, Thorsten Holz, Christopher Kruegel, Engin Kirda

IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy ("Oakland"), Berkeley, CA, May 2010


Abstract

Unfortunately, malicious software is still an unsolved problem and a major threat on the Internet. An important component in the fight against malicious software is the analysis of malware samples: Only if an analyst understands the behavior of a given sample, she can design appropriate countermeasures. Manual approaches are frequently used to analyze certain key algorithms, such as downloading of encoded updates, or generating new DNS domains for command and control purposes.

In this paper, we present a novel approach to automatically extract, from a given binary executable, the algorithm related to a certain activity of the sample. We isolate and extract these instructions and generate a so-called "gadget", i.e., a stand-alone component that encapsulates a specific behavior. We make sure that a gadget can autonomously perform a specific task by including all relevant code and data into the gadget such that it can be executed in a self-contained fashion.

Gadgets are useful entities in analyzing malicious software: In particular, they are valuable for practitioners, as understanding a certain activity that is embedded in a binary sample (e.g., the update function) is still largely a manual and complex task. Our evaluation with several real-world samples demonstrates that our approach is versatile and useful in practice.

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Tags: binary analysis, malware analysis, slicing