Posted by Martijn Grooten on Dec 2, 2016
In order to analyse a potentially malicious binary, an important first step is to run it in a specialised virtual environment, or sandbox environment, and see what it does – if it exhibits some known malicious behaviour, it is probably worth blocking it.
However, malware authors are wise to this analysis technique, and most pieces of modern malware – even those that perpetrate relatively simple attacks – look for signs they are being run inside a sandbox. If a piece of malware detects a sandbox environment, it will terminate execution (or, in some cases, exhibit decoy behaviour). This can lead to significant security-related problems.
Today, we publish the VB2016 paper "Defeating sandbox evasion: how to increase successful emulation rate in your virtualized environment" (here in HTML format and here in PDF format) by Check Point researchers Stanislav Skuratovich and Aliaksandr Chailytko, in which they suggest a number of ways to harden a sandbox and make it less easy for an executable running inside it to detect. In particular, they make a number of suggestions for the popular open-source Cuckoo sandbox, which they have already discussed with its developers and are likely to be implemented.
We have also uploaded the video of their presentation to our YouTube channel.