AGIS: Towards automatic generation of infection signatures
An important yet largely uncharted problem in malware defense is how to automate generation of infection signatures for detecting compromised systems, i.e., signatures that characterize the behavior of malware residing on a system. To this end, we develop AGIS, a host-based technique that detects infections by malware and automatically generates an infection signature of the malware. AGIS monitors the runtime behavior of suspicious code according to a set of security policies to detect an infection, and then identifies its characteristic behavior in terms of system or API calls. AGIS then statically analyzes the corresponding executables to extract the instructions important to the infection's mission. These instructions can be used to build a template for a static-analysis-based scanner, or a regular-expression signature for legacy scanners. AGIS also detects encrypted malware and generates a signature from its plaintext decryption loop. We implemented AGIS on Windows XP and evaluated it against real-life malware, including keyloggers, mass-mailing worms, and a well-known mutation engine. The experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of our technique in detecting new infections and generating high-quality signatures. © 2008 IEEE.