Malware analysis is the process of understanding the purpose and behaviour of a suspicious file, website, server, or application. The analysis output helps with the detection, reduction and/or mitigation of potential threats.
Malware analysis is a key process that ensures overall computer and cyber security as well as the security and safety of an organisation’s digital assets. Malware analysis not only addresses vulnerabilities before they can cause damage but helps to bolster security measures at the same time.
Why You Should Consider Using a Malware Analysis Tool
Utilising a malware analysis tool is of paramount importance to IT security professionals and incident responders. They are the key driver behind identifying the source of an attack and determining the damage from a security threat. Identifying a malware’s vulnerability, exploitation level, and appropriate patching preparations, and triaging the incidents according to the level of severity of the threat can all be determined from malware analysis.
Malware analysis tools can also be used to uncover hidden Indicators of Compromise (IOC) so that they can be blocked. Malware analysis advantages also include improving the efficacy of IOC, notifications, and alerts, and enriching the overall context when trying to uncover potential threats.
There’s no denying that malware attacks can be devastating to your system. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at 7 key benefits to help protect against threats using dynamic analysis malware tools.
Dynamic Malware Analysis Can Detect Previously Unknown Malware
A dynamic malware analysis can detect previously unknown malware. By running a suspected malicious code in a safe space called a sandbox, it creates a closed system, an isolated virtual machine, that allows IT security experts to observe the malware in action without the risk of network or system infection. This practice provides full visibility of the threat and its intention, a necessary measure in the world of constantly evolving malware.
As a secondary benefit, automated sandboxing eliminates the time otherwise spent for reverse engineering a file to find a malicious code. Threat actors are finding ways around the dynamic analysis methodology who know sandboxes will be used eventually. As a form of deception, hackers are hiding their code and making sure it remains dormant until specific conditions are met.
Assessing and Understanding Malware Behaviour
Malware behavioural analysis is used to interact with and observe a malware sample running in a lab. The purpose is to understand the sample’s file system, registry, process, and network activities.
Memory forensics may also be conducted to determine how the malware uses memory. If malware is suspected to have a certain capability, a simulation can be set up to test the theory. Behavioural analysis can be quite a time-consuming and complicated process which cannot be performed effectively without automated tools. It’s advisable to hire a professional capable of running such a task to ensure that it is run smoothly and properly.
Malware mitigation provides actions to help prevent a malware infection and outlines the steps to be taken if there is already an infection present. Malware mitigation decreases the likelihood of becoming infected, limits the spread of malware and the overall impact of the infection.
There are three key approaches to malware mitigation which are generally used by organisations all around the world. These include, but are not limited to, preventing lateral movement, deploying kill switches, and implementing edge micro-segmentation.
Provide Rapid Incident Response
Providing rapid incident response not only ensures that you can react quickly but prevent further damage to a network or system in super quick time. An incident response (IR) should quickly perform root cause analysis, determine the impact, and successfully offer recovery solutions and remediation. Dynamic malware analysis helps a great deal when it comes to reacting quickly and providing rapid incident response.
Test Security Solution Effectiveness
Testing security solution effectiveness allows an overview of whether software is vulnerable to cyberattacks and measures the impact of unexpected or malicious inputs upon its operations. Regular testing provides the reassurance that systems and information are reliable and safe, and that they do not accept unauthorised inputs.
Security testing can be bracketed within non-functional testing. Functional testing focuses on whether the software’s functions are working properly whereas non-functional testing focuses on whether the application is configured and designed correctly.
Enhancing Threat Intelligence
Enhancing threat intelligence provides IT security teams with evidence-based information about cyberattacks in order to analyse and organise them. Mechanisms of an attack may be included.
There are three different levels that this intelligence can be understood – strategic, tactical, and operational. Tactical intelligence is designed to prevent specific threats, when and where they occur. The intelligence is collected in real-time, as security incidents happen, and informs how your security tools will remediate the issue.
Automating capabilities for malware analysis
Automated malware analysis tools, like the sandbox example mentioned above, both save time and help with triage during forensic investigations and incident response. Automation provides an overview of the malware’s capabilities, so it can be determined where to focus follow-up efforts. The malware analysis process can be approached in two ways – static analysis or dynamic analysis. Let’s take a closer look at the two:
Static analysis does not require a code to run. A basic static analysis examines the file for signs of malicious intent without detonating it. It can be used to identify malicious libraries, infrastructure, or packed files.
Dynamic malware analysis executes a suspected malicious code in a safe space, like in a sandbox mentioned above. This approach allows IT security professionals to observe the malicious code in action which provides a basis for working out how to mitigate and/or remediate the situation.
How RiskXchange can help you
Malware is a growing threat, one that organisations of all sizes should be very aware of. Security firms like RiskXchange are leading the fight against cybercrime across the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and beyond.
RiskXchange provides instant risk ratings and a full 360° visibility over your digital eco-system’s attack surface, including your entire supply chain. We also generate objective and quantitative reports on your company’s cybersecurity risk and performance. We provide updates every 24 hours, and our passive data collection methods let you regularly monitor and mitigate risks to prevent unnecessary exposures.
Malware Analysis FAQs
What is static malware analysis vs dynamic malware analysis?
Static analysis is where malware is examined without detonating it. Dynamic analysis is where the malware is detonated in a controlled and isolated environment.
How to create a sandbox for malware analysis?
A sandbox is a system built for malware detection which runs malware in a virtual machine (VM) with a fully featured OS. The sandbox environment allows the object’s malicious activity to be detected by analysing its behaviour. Creating a sandbox is a very complex proess and should only be attempted by professionals.
What is malware analysis in cyber security?
Malware analysis in cybersecurity is the process of detecting and reducing potential threats in a file, application, website, or server.
Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about the benefits of a dynamic malware analysis.