Fighting malware with static and dynamic code analysis

Code Patrol

Article from Issue 155/2013

Linux offers some sophisticated tools for understanding how malware can slip through the gaps in an unsuspecting application.

The potential danger of malware is a concern for many computer users. Your desktop PC, your smartphone, and even the networked smart gadgets around your home or office are potentially vulnerable to thousands of rootkits, spyware, and Trojans. As anti-malware software developers create new methods to discover and block malware, malware authors create new methods of circumventing these safeguards.

Linux users have long enjoyed the minimal attention they receive from malware authors. Malware does exist for the Linux platform, but it has a difficult time infecting most Linux systems. A major strength of open source software is the speed with which exploit-causing bugs are noticed, diagnosed, and fixed. This rapid response limits the time interval in which malicious software can exploit these vulnerabilities. Unless malware can somehow trick a user with a superuser account into installing it, or the system is not properly configured or updated, it often has difficulty infecting Linux.

Windows users have not been so lucky. More than a billion PCs running various flavors of Windows exist worldwide, and such a large installed base of similar software makes it a very tempting target for malware authors. The large size and complexity of the Windows codebase, as well as delays in the availability of patches for issues, provides ample opportunity for vulnerabilities to be discovered and exploited by malware authors.


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