FCReducer: Locating Symmetric Cryptographic Functions on the Memory

Ryoya FURUKAWA  Ryoichi ISAWA  Masakatu MORII  Daisuke INOUE  Koji NAKAO  

Publication
IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E101-D   No.3   pp.685-697
Publication Date: 2018/03/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.2017EDP7143
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Information Network
Keyword: 
malware,  dynamic taint analysis,  binary analysis,  sandbox,  community detection,  

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Summary: 
Malicious software (malware) poses various significant challenges. One is the need to retrieve plain-text messages transmitted between malware and herders through an encrypted network channel. Those messages (e.g., commands for malware) can be a useful hint to reveal their malicious activities. However, the retrieving is challenging even if the malware is executed on an analysis computer. To assist analysts in retrieving the plain-text from the memory, this paper presents FCReducer(Function Candidate Reducer), which provides a small candidate set of cryptographic functions called by malware. Given this set, an analyst checks candidates to locate cryptographic functions. If the decryption function is found, she then obtains its output as the plain-text. Although existing systems such as CipherXRay have been proposed to locate cryptographic functions, they heavily rely on fine-grained dynamic taint analysis (DTA). This makes them weak against under-tainting, which means failure of tracking data propagation. To overcome under-tainting, FCReducer conducts coarse-grained DTA and generates a typical data dependency graph of functions in which the root function accesses an encrypted message. This does not require fine-grained DTA. FCReducer then applies a community detection method such as InfoMap to the graph for detecting a community of functions that plays a role in decryption or encryption. The functions in this community are provided as candidates. With experiments using 12 samples including four malware specimens, we confirmed that FCReducer reduced, for example, 4830 functions called by Zeus malware to 0.87% as candidates. We also propose a heuristic to reduce candidates more greatly.