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Attacker 'Footprints' Revealed With Mandiant Tool


Black Hat

Researchers have devised a new more efficient way to glean attacker information from a machine's physical memory, which often contains valuable bits of information that can help get to the bottom of a breach investigation case.

Jamie Butler and Justin Murdock, both researchers from Mandiant, presented their new technique for memory analysis last week at Black Hat USA, a UBM TechWeb event in Las Vegas. Their approach solves an age-old problem in forensics--being able to rapidly assess an infected machine or group of machines within the victim organization.

"Memory analysis is critical when trying to triage an infected host. Instead of looking for the attacker in 250 GB of hard drive space, an incident responder can focus on the 4 GB of RAM where the intruder is executing," said Butler, who is director of research and development for Mandiant.

"We do a pretty good job at getting that data now. But we have done research and submitted techniques to get more of that data in memory," he said.

There still are hundreds of processes and thousands of DLLs and executables to analyze, he said.

"If you're trying to pull processes out of memory to disassemble and send to the malware team, you can do that a lot better with this system so that more of the binary comes out of memory, and when you lot it into the disassembler, you get a lot better data and results ... You can find interesting things for Microsoft Word files [there]," he said. "So it makes the malware analyst's job more productive."

So the researchers use what they coined as "MemD5" hashing, as well as whitelisting, to consolidate and pare down the list of malicious items to a more manageable number.

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