About This File
The threat of malicious software can easily be considered as the greatest threat to Internet security. Earlier, viruses were, more or less, the only form of malware. Nowadays, the threat has grown to include network-aware worms, trojans, DDoS agents, IRC Controlled bots, spyware, and so on. The infection vectors have also changed and grown and malicious agents now use techniques like email harvesting, browser exploits, operating system vulnerabilities, and P2P networks to spread. A relatively large percentage of the software that a normal internet user encounters in his online journeys is or can be malicious in some kind of way. Most of this malware is stopped by antivirus software, spyware removal tools and other similar tools. However, this protection is not always enough and there are times when a small, benign looking binary sneaks through all levels of protection and compromises user data. There may be many reasons for this breach, such as a user irregularly updating his AV signatures, a failure of AV heuristics, the introduction of new or low-profile malware which has not yet been discovered by AV vendors, and custom coded malware which cannot be detected by antivirus software. Though AV software is continually getting better, a small but very significant percentage of malware escapes the automated screening process and manages to enter and wreak havoc on networks. Unfortunately, this percentage is also growing everyday.
It is essential for users and absolutely essential for administrators to be able to determine if a binary is harmful by examining it manually and without relying on the automated scanning engines. The level of information desired differs according to the user's needs. For instance, a normal user might only want to know if a binary is malicious or not, while an administrator might want to completely reverse engineer the binary for his purposes.
Traditionally, malware analysis has been considered to be very complicated, and in fact some of the techniques are still very complicated and beyond a normal user's access. Nevertheless, looking at the current scenario, we can see that there is a clear need for people to learn how to analyze malware themselves. But the caveat is that the analysis techniques have to be simplified and the learning curve has to be made smaller for mass consumption among the general public. Unfortunately, there is not much organized information in the public domain dealing with easy to use malware analysis techniques. Besides the uses mentioned above, malware analysis is used for forensics, honeypot research, security vulnerability research, etc.
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