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Malware Analysis with Tree Automata Inference

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The underground malware-based economy is flourishing and it is evident that the classical ad-hoc signature detection methods are becoming insufficient. Malware authors seem to share some source code and malware samples often feature similar behaviors, but such commonalities are difficult to detect with signature-based methods because of an increasing use of numerous freely-available randomized obfuscation tools. To address this problem, the security community is actively researching behavioral detection methods that commonly attempt to understand and differentiate how malware behaves, as opposed to just detecting syntactic patterns. Continuing that line of research, in this talk I will explore how grammatical inference and tools of the verification trade could be used for malware detection and analysis. I will present a new approach to learning and generalizing from observed malware behaviors based on tree automata inference. In particular, I will show how one can infer k-testable tree automata from system call dataflow dependency graphs and discuss the use of inferred automata in malware recognition and classification. At the end, I will briefly survey some other related work I have done in recent past, as well as hint the future research directions.

This talk is part of the Logic and Semantics Seminar (Computer Laboratory) series.

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