Improving Malicious URL Re-Evaluation Scheduling Through an Empirical Study of Malware Download Centers

Kyle Zeeuwen ; Matei Ripeanu ; Konstantin Beznosov

28 March 2011

Abstract: The retrieval and analysis of malicious content is an essential task for security researchers. At the same time, the distrib- utors of malicious files deploy countermeasures to evade the scrutiny of security researchers. This paper investigates two techniques used by malware download centers: frequently updating the malicious payload, and blacklisting (i.e., re- fusing HTTP requests from researchers based on their IP). To this end, we sent HTTP requests to malware download centers over a period of four months. The requests are dis- tributed across two pools of IPs, one exhibiting high volume research behaviour and another exhibiting semi-random, low volume behaviour. We identify several distinct update pat- terns, including sites that do not update the binary at all, sites that update the binary for each new client but then repeatedly serve a specific binary to the same client, sites that periodically update the binary with periods ranging from one hour to 84 days, and server-side polymorphic sites, that deliver new binaries for each HTTP request. From this classification we identify several guidelines for crawlers that re-query malware download centers looking for binary updates. We propose a scheduling algorithm that incorpo- rates these guidelines, and perform a limited evaluation of the algorithm using the data we collected. We analyze our data for evidence of blacklisting and find strong evidence that a small minority of URLs blacklisted our high volume IPs, but for the majority of malicious URLs studied, there was no observable blacklisting response, despite issuing over over 1.5 million requests to 5001 different malware download centers.

Keyword(s): Tachyon ; Malicious URL crawling ; Malware Download Centers ; Server Side Polymorphism ; Low Interaction Honeyclient ; Sample Collection ; IP Blacklisting

Published in: K. Zeeuwen, M. Ripeanu, K. Beznosov, “Improving Malicious URL Re-Evaluation Scheduling Through an Empirical Study of Malware Download Centers”. WebQuality Workshop 2011, March 28, 2011.:

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 Record created 2011-03-11, last modified 2013-05-22

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