Robust Neural Malware Detection Models for Emulation Sequence Learning

28 Jun 2018  ·  Rakshit Agrawal, Jack W. Stokes, Mady Marinescu, Karthik Selvaraj ·

Malicious software, or malware, presents a continuously evolving challenge in computer security. These embedded snippets of code in the form of malicious files or hidden within legitimate files cause a major risk to systems with their ability to run malicious command sequences. Malware authors even use polymorphism to reorder these commands and create several malicious variations. However, if executed in a secure environment, one can perform early malware detection on emulated command sequences. The models presented in this paper leverage this sequential data derived via emulation in order to perform Neural Malware Detection. These models target the core of the malicious operation by learning the presence and pattern of co-occurrence of malicious event actions from within these sequences. Our models can capture entire event sequences and be trained directly using the known target labels. These end-to-end learning models are powered by two commonly used structures - Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) Networks and Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs). Previously proposed sequential malware classification models process no more than 200 events. Attackers can evade detection by delaying any malicious activity beyond the beginning of the file. We present specialized models that can handle extremely long sequences while successfully performing malware detection in an efficient way. We present an implementation of the Convoluted Partitioning of Long Sequences approach in order to tackle this vulnerability and operate on long sequences. We present our results on a large dataset consisting of 634,249 file sequences, with extremely long file sequences.

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