Malware Sandbox Analysis for Secure Observation of Vulnerability Exploitation

Katsunari YOSHIOKA  Daisuke INOUE  Masashi ETO  Yuji HOSHIZAWA  Hiroki NOGAWA  Koji NAKAO  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E92-D   No.5   pp.955-966
Publication Date: 2009/05/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.E92.D.955
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Information and Communication System Security)
Category: Malware Detection
malware sandbox analysis,  exploit code detection,  low-interaction honeypot,  

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Exploiting vulnerabilities of remote systems is one of the fundamental behaviors of malware that determines their potential hazards. Understanding what kind of propagation tactics each malware uses is essential in incident response because such information directly links with countermeasures such as writing a signature for IDS. Although recently malware sandbox analysis has been studied intensively, little work is done on securely observing the vulnerability exploitation by malware. In this paper, we propose a novel sandbox analysis method for securely observing malware's vulnerability exploitation in a totally isolated environment. In our sandbox, we prepare two victim hosts. We first execute the sample malware on one of these hosts and then let it attack the other host which is running multiple vulnerable services. As a simple realization of the proposed method, we have implemented a sandbox using Nepenthes, a low-interaction honeypot, as the second victim. Because Nepenthes can emulate a variety of vulnerable services, we can efficiently observe the propagation of sample malware. In the experiments, among 382 samples whose scan capabilities are confirmed, 381 samples successfully started exploiting vulnerabilities of the second victim. This indicates the certain level of feasibility of the proposed method.