Understanding Linux malware

Cozzi, Emanuele; Graziano, Mariano; Fratantonio, Yanick; Balzarotti, Davide
S&P 2018, 39th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, May 21-23, 2018, San Francisco, CA, USA

For the past two decades, the security community has been fighting malicious programs for Windows-based operating systems. However, the recent surge in adoption of embedded devices and the IoT revolution are rapidly changing the malware landscape. Embedded devices are profoundly different than traditional personal computers. In fact, while personal computers run predominantly on x86-flavored architectures, embedded systems rely on a variety of different architectures. In turn, this aspect causes a large number of these systems to run some variants of the Linux operating system, pushing malicious actors to give birth to "Linux malware." To the best of our knowledge, there is currently no comprehensive study attempting to characterize, analyze, and understand Linux malware. The majority of resources on the topic are available as sparse reports often published as blog posts, while the few systematic studies focused on the analysis of specific families of malware (e.g., the Mirai botnet) mainly by looking at their network-level behavior, thus leaving the main challenges of analyzing Linux malware unaddressed. This work constitutes the first step towards filling this gap. After a systematic exploration of the challenges involved in the process, we present the design and implementation details of the first malware analysis pipeline specifically tailored for Linux malware. We then present the results of the first largescale measurement study conducted on 10,548 malware samples (collected over a time frame of one year) documenting detailed statistics and insights that can help directing future work in the area. 

San Francisco
Digital Security
Eurecom Ref:
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