Malware Obfuscation through Evolutionary Packers Marco Gaudesi

Andrea Marcelli

Ernesto Sanchez

Giovanni Squillero

Alberto Tonda



/ malicious software /

Develop a new obfuscation mechanism based on evolutionary algorithms.


It can be used by security industries to stress the analysis methodologies and to test the ability to react to malware mutations.

Packed PE

PE Header


Packers have been originally designed to save disk space. Then they have been introduced in the word of malicious software: the code must be decrypted before static analysis can be applied. Moreover changing the encryption key produces a completely different executable.


Packed Section

Code Packed Section


Stub Routine







One of the easiest ways to hide the functionality of the virus code was encryption. The virus starts with a constant decryptor that is followed by the encrypted virus body.

Packed Section

Section Table

1998 Crypto


Oligomorphic viruses do change their decryptors in new generations. Win95/Memorial had the ability to build 96 different decryptor patterns.

The unpacking stub:



Polymorphic viruses can create an endless number of new decryptors that use different encryption methods to encrypt the constant part (except their data areas) of the virus body. Crypto used a random decryption algorithm that implemented brute force attack against its constant but variably encrypted virus body.



Metamorphic viruses do not have a decryptor, nor a constant virus body. However, they are able to create new generations that look different. Zmist is capable of decompiling Portable Executable files to its smallest elements, it moves code blocks out of the way, inserts itself, regenerates code and data references, including relocation information, and rebuilds the executable.

1) It decompresses and decrypts the original code. 2) It resolves the imports of the executable: if the import table is packed, the loader cannot resolve the imports and load the corresponding DLLs.

The idea of genetic selection for behaviours was first seen in 2002. W32/Smile

Polymorphism using genetic algorithms was first seen in 2005.


3) It transfers back the control to the Original Entry Point (OEP).

The malware uses an evolutionary algorithm to generate completely new obfuscating algorithms. The individuals are a set of working packers and the ‘fitness’ is how similar the new executable is to the original one.

Generating the code



A packer compresses or encrypts the instructions and data of a program generating a new executable version. At run time, the new executable decompress the original program in memory, and then jump into it.

Original PE



executes the payload



hides as long as possible

Generate an opcode sequence. Randomly-generated, variable-length sequence of x86 assembler instructions.

Test the sequence. Is it reversible?


Encoding and decoding routines are applied subsequently to sequence of bytes.

Code encryption.


3 Fitness evalutation with the Jaccard Index.

Jaccard Index

Creation of a new packer variant.

|A \ B| J(A, B) = |A [ B|

It is used to evaluate the similarity between a Malware sample and the original one.


The decoding routine is embedded in the new executable. At run time it will restore the original program in memory.

Jaccard Distribution of a sample similar to the original one.

Jaccard Distribution of a sample that maximise the dissimilarity.

Experimental Evaluation Tcp bind shellcode from Metasploit. Well-known AV signature. \xfc\xe8\x82\x00\x00\x00 \x60\x89\xe5\x31\xc0\x64 \x8b\x50\x30\x8b\x52\x0c 328 byte length \x8b\x52\x14\x8b\x72\x28 High initial detection rate + Executable behavior susceptible to heuristic evaluation

\x0f\xb7\x4a\x26\x31\xff \xac\x3c\x61\x7c\x02\x2c \x20\xc1\x0 \x00\x01\xc7 \xe2\xf2\x52\x57\x8b\x52 \x10\x8b\x4a\x3c\x8b\x4c…

57 AV engines

Evolutionary botnet as whole prey-predator ecosystem.

Future Development

44 AV engines


anti-debugging Evolution of the anti-debugging techniques that are used in an attempt to slow down the analysis as much as possible.

Further evaluation with locally installed AVs.

Non encoded



Evo3 hiding mechanism

Gecco_poster.indd 1

Virus Total





OPSWAT Metascan





Unencoded version of the executable.

Evo 1 uses a quite simple encrypting technique.

Evo 2 implements a sophisticated encoding mechanism with shuffled instructions.

Evo 3 makes use of several operations that aim to confuse heuristic engines.

Further evolution and mutation of the executable structure, trying to increase the complexity of the analysis.


C&C communication

Evolution of anti-disassembly techniques that use specially crafted code or data to cause disassembly analysis tool to produce an incorrect program listing.

It is in charge of the mutation of redundant Command & Control channels through the usage of variable port number, improper usage of existing protocols, randomized scanning and encrypted traffic.

07/07/15 15:38

Packer Jaccard Index Future Development Experimental ... - GitHub

Well-known AV signature. 328 byte length ... Moreover changing the encryption key produces a completely diffe- ... lowed by the encrypted virus body. Memorial.

1MB Sizes 0 Downloads 108 Views

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