What is malware analysis?
Malware analysis — The practice of investigating malicious injected code to learn how it behaves, where it comes from, and how it affects victims.
Why malware analysis is important
According to Sophos, ransomware affected 66% of businesses in 2021.1 Ransomware attacks spiked because organizations commonly lack visibility, have inconsistent security practices, deal with slow response times, or fail to understand how to remediate complex threats.
Malware analysis helps teams identify, review, and remediate threats by investigating how malware behaves, where it is located, and how it may be used. This helps organizations protect against ransomware and zero-day attacks and eliminate threats before they damage their systems.
Types of malware analysis
Static analysis, dynamic analysis, automated analysis, and reverse engineering are some of the tools used to help with the monitoring and remediation of threats.
These methods of malware analysis help enterprises gain a comprehensive view into how threats behave and impact their environment, allowing them to enact preventative measures and reduce their risk.2
Static analysis: Reviews components for malicious behavior without executing them. It looks for anomalies in files and can recommend that security teams manually investigate to determine how malware affects their environment.
Dynamic analysis: Deploys threats in sandboxes, which simulate environments in production, to review their behavior. This allows security teams to evaluate threats without damage to their systems since it promotes automatic, precise reporting and assesses abnormalities across company systems.
Automated analysis: Automatic review of suspicious components to see the impact that threats may have if they can access your environment. Automated reports are also produced that summarize the findings. This helps teams operate at scale.
Reverse engineering: The deconstruction of software programs to review how they function and impact other components. This allows security teams to understand how malicious code is conditioned to behave and which vulnerabilities it may exploit.
Business benefits of malware analysis
Malware analysis helps organizations identify and remediate threats and prevent similar threats from gaining access to the network, thus protecting systems and reducing risk.
By understanding how malware functions, teams can create threat profiles that they can use when scanning their environment and evaluating future threats, preventing the same strategies from working in the future. They can also scan for similar threats, looking for like behavior across various environments that are similarly constructed.
By creating an effective malware analysis program, organizations are able to prevent attacks, potentially saving millions of dollars.
Malware analysis use cases
Security teams can employ malware analysis in several scenarios, including improving alerting, conducting incident response, performing malware research, and doing threat hunting.
Quality alerting: In-depth alerts are introduced at the beginning of the attack lifecycle, allowing teams to efficiently address important issues before they have a greater impact on their systems.
Incident response: Malware analysis helps security teams understand what leads to threats emerging and how to effectively remediate and recover from incidents. It ensures that teams have detailed information regarding the composition and behavior of threats.
Malware research: Researchers use malware analysis to review new tactics, techniques, and procedures used by malicious actors.
How to effectively implement malware analysis
By scanning their environment, establishing a set of best practices, backing up and updating systems, and addressing social engineering attacks, organizations can effectively identify, remediate, and prevent malware incidents.
Environment scans: Regularly assess your systems to frequently detect threats before they can cause serious damage.
Best practices: Enforce consistent security practices and ensure that you are addressing threats that regularly impact your environment.
System backups: Back up your systems to ensure that you can use rollbacks to recover from attacks and restore your environment to a healthy state.
System and application updates: Keep applications and systems up to date with security patches, removing potential vulnerabilities and risks.
Social engineering education: Social engineering is a common entry point for malware. Create security measures that prevent employees from falling victim to phishing or baiting.4