Malware Forensics Field Guide for Linux Systems

Malware Forensics Field Guide for Linux Systems, 1st Edition

Digital Forensics Field Guides

Malware Forensics Field Guide for Linux Systems, 1st Edition,Cameron Malin,Eoghan Casey,James Aquilina,ISBN9781597494717

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Written by information security experts with real-world investigative experience, Malware Forensics Field Guide for Linux Systems is a "tool" with checklists for specific tasks, case studies of difficult situations, and expert analyst tips.

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Key Features

  • A compendium of on-the-job tasks and checklists
  • Specific for Linux-based systems in which new malware is developed every day
  • Authors are world-renowned leaders in investigating and analyzing malicious code


The Syngress Digital Forensics Field Guides series includes companions for any digital and computer forensic investigator and analyst. Each book is a "toolkit" with checklists for specific tasks, case studies of difficult situations, and expert analyst tips. This compendium of tools for computer forensics analysts and investigators is presented in a succinct outline format with cross-references to supplemental appendices. It is designed to provide the digital investigator clear and concise guidance in an easily accessible format for responding to an incident or conducting analysis in a lab.


Computer forensic investigators, analysts, and specialists

Cameron Malin

Cameron H. Malin is Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation assigned to a Cyber Crime squad in Los Angeles, California, where he is responsible for the investigation of computer intrusion and malicious code matters. Special Agent Malin is the founder and developer of the FBI’s Technical Working Group on Malware Analysis and Incident Response. Special Agent Malin is a Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) as designated by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), as designated by the International Information Systems Security Consortium, a GIAC certified Reverse-Engineering Malware Professional (GREM), GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA), GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH), and a GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA), as designated by the SANS Institute.

Affiliations and Expertise

Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

View additional works by Cameron H. Malin

Eoghan Casey


Eoghan Casey is an internationally recognized expert in data breach investigations and information security forensics. He is founding partner of CASEITE.com, and co-manages the Risk Prevention and Response business unit at DFLabs. Over the past decade, he has consulted with many attorneys, agencies, and police departments in the United States, South America, and Europe on a wide range of digital investigations, including fraud, violent crimes, identity theft, and on-line criminal activity. Eoghan has helped organizations investigate and manage security breaches, including network intrusions with international scope. He has delivered expert testimony in civil and criminal cases, and has submitted expert reports and prepared trial exhibits for computer forensic and cyber-crime cases. In addition to his casework and writing the foundational book Digital Evidence and Computer Crime, Eoghan has worked as R&D Team Lead in the Defense Cyber Crime Institute (DCCI) at the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) helping enhance their operational capabilities and develop new techniques and tools. He also teaches graduate students at Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute and created the Mobile Device Forensics course taught worldwide through the SANS Institute. He has delivered keynotes and taught workshops around the globe on various topics related to data breach investigation, digital forensics and cyber security. Eoghan has performed thousands of forensic acquisitions and examinations, including Windows and UNIX systems, Enterprise servers, smart phones, cell phones, network logs, backup tapes, and database systems. He also has information security experience, as an Information Security Officer at Yale University and in subsequent consulting work. He has performed vulnerability assessments, deployed and maintained intrusion detection systems, firewalls and public key infrastructures, and developed policies, procedures, and educational programs for a variety of organizations. Eoghan has authored advanced technical books in his areas of expertise that are used by practitioners and universities around the world, and he is Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier's International Journal of Digital Investigation.

Affiliations and Expertise

Eoghan Casey, cmdLabs, Baltimore, MD, USA

View additional works by Eoghan Casey

James Aquilina

James M. Aquilina, Esq. is the Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel of Stroz Friedberg, LLC, a consulting and technical services firm specializing in computer forensics; cyber-crime response; private investigations; and the preservation, analysis and production of electronic data from single hard drives to complex corporate networks. As the head of the Los Angeles Office, Mr. Aquilina supervises and conducts digital forensics and cyber-crime investigations and oversees large digital evidence projects. Mr. Aquilina also consults on the technical and strategic aspects of anti-piracy, antispyware, and digital rights management (DRM) initiatives for the media and entertainment industries, providing strategic thinking, software assurance, testing of beta products, investigative assistance, and advice on whether the technical components of the initiatives implicate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and anti-spyware and consumer fraud legislation. His deep knowledge of botnets, distributed denial of service attacks, and other automated cyber-intrusions enables him to provide companies with advice to bolster their infrastructure protection.

Affiliations and Expertise

Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel of Stroz Friedberg, LLC

View additional works by James M. Aquilina

Malware Forensics Field Guide for Linux Systems, 1st Edition



Special Thanks to the Technical Editor


About the Authors

About the Technical Editor


Introduction to Malware Forensics

Class Versus Individuating Characteristics

Chapter 1. Malware Incident Response: Volatile Data Collection and Examination on a Live Linux System

Solutions in this chapter:


Volatile Data Collection Methodology

Nonvolatile Data Collection from a Live Linux System


Pitfalls to Avoid

Incident Tool Suites

Remote Collection Tools

Volatile Data Collection and Analysis Tools

Collecting Subject System Details

Identifying Users Logged into the System

Network Connections and Activity

Process Analysis

Loaded Modules

Open Files

Command History

Selected Readings

Chapter 2. Linux Memory Forensics: Analyzing Physical and Process Memory Dumps for Malware Artifacts

Solutions in this Chapter:


Memory Forensics Overview

“Old School” Memory Analysis

How Linux Memory Forensics Tools Work

Linux Memory Forensics Tools

Interpreting Various Data Structures in Linux Memory

Dumping Linux Process Memory

Dissecting Linux Process Memory


Pitfalls to Avoid

Field Notes: Memory Forensics

Selected Readings

Chapter 3. Postmortem Forensics: Discovering and Extracting Malware and Associated Artifacts from Linux Systems

Solutions in this Chapter


Linux Forensic Analysis Overview

Malware Discovery and Extraction from a Linux System

Examine Linux File System

Examine Application Traces

Keyword Searching

Forensic Reconstruction of Compromised Linux Systems

Advanced Malware Discovery and Extraction from a Linux System


Pitfalls to Avoid

Field Notes: Linux System Examinations

Forensic Tool Suites

Timeline Generation

Selected Readings

Chapter 4. Legal Considerations

Solutions in this Chapter:

Framing the Issues

General Considerations

Sources of Investigative Authority

Statutory Limits on Authority

Tools for Acquiring Data

Acquiring Data Across Borders

Involving Law Enforcement

Improving Chances for Admissibility

State Private Investigator and Breach Notification Statutes

International Resources:

The Federal Rules: Evidence for Digital Investigators

Chapter 5. File Identification and Profiling: Initial Analysis of a Suspect File on a Linux System

Solutions in this Chapter:


Overview of the File Profiling Process

Working With Linux Executables

File Similarity Indexing

File Visualization

Symbolic and Debug Information

Embedded File Metadata

File Obfuscation: Packing and Encryption Identification

Embedded Artifact Extraction Revisited

Executable and Linkable Format (ELF)

Profiling Suspect Document Files

Profiling Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) Files

Profiling Microsoft (MS) Office Files


Pitfalls to Avoid

Conducting an incomplete file profile

Relying upon file icons and extensions without further CONTEXT or deeper examination

Solely relying upon anti-virus signatures or third-party analysis of a “similar” file specimen

Examining a suspect file in a forensically unsound laboratory environment

Basing conclusions upon a file profile without additional context or correlation

Navigating to malicious URLS and IP addresses

Selected Readings

Technical Specifications

Chapter 6. Analysis of a Malware Specimen

Solutions in this Chapter



Guidelines for Examining a Malicious File Specimen

Establishing the Environment Baseline

Pre-Execution Preparation: System and Network Monitoring

Execution Artifact Capture: Digital Impression and Trace Evidence

Executing the Malicious Code Specimen

Execution Trajectory Analysis: Observing Network, Process, System Calls, and File System Activity

Automated Malware Analysis Frameworks

Embedded Artifact Extraction Revisited

Interacting with and Manipulating the Malware Specimen: Exploring and Verifying Functionality and Purpose

Event Reconstruction and Artifact Review: Post-Run Data Analysis

Digital Virology: Advanced Profiling Through Malware Taxonomy and Phylogeny


Pitfalls to Avoid

Incomplete Evidence Reconstruction

Incorrect Execution of a Malware Specimen

Solely Relying upon Automated Frameworks or Online Sandbox Analysis of a Malware Specimen

Submitting Sensitive Files to Online Analysis Sandboxes

Failure to Adjust the Laboratory Environment to Ensure Full Execution Trajectory

Failure to Examine Evidence Dynamics During and After the Execution of Malware Specimen

Failure to Examine the Embedded Artifacts of a Target Malware Specimen After it is Executed and Extracted from Obfuscation Code

Selected Readings


Quotes and reviews

"...a useful companion for law enforcement and the forensic community, as it will enhance their capability to deal with cases involving malware on Linux systems." -Computing Reviews, Oct 08, 2014

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