Stochastic identification of malware with dynamic traces
Weil, Scott Vander
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A novel approach to malware classification is introduced based on analysis of instruction traces that are collected dynamically from the program in question. The method has been implemented online in a sandbox environment (i.e., a security mechanism for separating running programs) at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and is in- tended for eventual host-based use, provided the issue of sampling the instructions executed by a given process without disruption to the user can be satisfactorily addressed. The procedure represents an instruction trace with a Markov chain structure in which the transi- tion matrix, P, has rows modeled as Dirichlet vectors. The malware class (malicious or benign) is modeled using a flexible spline logistic regression model with variable selection on the elements of P, which are observed with error. The utility of the method is illustrated on a sample of traces from malware and nonmalware programs, and the results are compared to other leading detection schemes (both sig- nature and classification based). This article also has supplementary materials available online.
The article of record as published may be located at http://dx.doi.org/10.1214/13-AOAS703
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