A Metamorphic Malware Detection System

A Metamorphic Malware Detection System

Author by Dr. Oreoluwa Adesegun

Journal/Publisher: International Journal Of Information Security, Privacy And Digital Forensics

Volume/Edition: 3

Language: English

Pages: 19 - 32


Malware  is  the  major  cause  of  data 
breaches,  resulting  in  financial  losses  in  excess  of 
$400  billion  in  2017.  The  key  ones,  eluding 
malware  scanners,  are  metamorphic.  Malware 
metamorphic  engines  use  varying  obfuscating 
techniques  to  evade  virus  scanners.  Current 
detection  solutions  are  not  effective  against 
metamorphic  malware.  This  study  investigated 
metamorphic  malware  intrusions  and  developed  a 
detection  mechanism  that  combats  them.  A 
taxonomy of current malware detection mechanisms 
was  created  through  extensive  review  of  extant 
literature. Cosine similarity index, used to compare 
two  files  was  added  to  dynamic  link  library,  a 
feature  derived  from  the  disassembly  process  of  a 
portable  executable,  to    effectively  determine  if  a 
file is a malware or not. A prototype of the system 
was  developed  using  the  java  programming 
language.  The  virustotal  website,  which  contains 
about  66  antimalware  engines  and  scanners,  was 
used  to  scan  benign  and  malicious  files.  
Experiments  were  conducted  to  prove  that  certain 
concealing  techniques  could  aid  malware  evade 
existing  antivirus  scanners.  A  prototype  of  the 
detection  system  was  evaluated  against  malware 
obfuscated  using  register  re-assignment  and  dead 
code insertion  techniques. Dead  code  insertion, 
register  reassignment  and  instruction  substitution 
were  the  three  beclouding  techniques  used  by 
malware  metamorphic  engines.  The  use  of  cosine 
similarity  index  together  with  linked  libraries 
approach to detect metamorphic malware prototype 
was  developed.  A  portable  executable  file  is 
classified as a malware when its similarity index is 
high, 0.6 – 1, and it uses suspicious dynamic linked 
libraries.  It  was  discovered  that  the  most  difficult 
obfuscating  technique  to implement  by  malware 
metamorphic  engine  is  instruction  substitution 
because  non-availability  of  a  line  of  code  that  is 
syntactically  synonymous  is  probable.  It  was  also 
observed that the register re-assignment technique 
on  a  malware  made  it  evade  every  antimalware 
scanner  on  the  virustotal  website.  Results  showed 
that  the  prototype  was  100%  accurate  as  long  as 
the  right  threshold  was  used,  and  as  long  as  the 
parent malware  was  known. It  was concluded that 
financial losses through malware invasion would be 
avoided, by adding the developed detection system 
to complement existing detection systems, in order 
to  capture  metamorphic  malware  effectively.    This 
will  benefit  the  general  public,  as  the  adoption  of 
the  proposed  detection  system  by  antimalware 
companies  such  as  Symantec  and  McAfee,  would 
lead to more efficacious antimalware systems. This 
would  contribute  to  a  more  secure  computing 

Other Co-Authors