A Survey of Stealth Malware: Attacks, Mitigation Measures, and Steps Toward Autonomous Open World Solutions [article]

Ethan M. Rudd, Andras Rozsa, Manuel Günther, Terrance E. Boult
2016 arXiv   pre-print
As our professional, social, and financial existences become increasingly digitized and as our government, healthcare, and military infrastructures rely more on computer technologies, they present larger and more lucrative targets for malware. Stealth malware in particular poses an increased threat because it is specifically designed to evade detection mechanisms, spreading dormant, in the wild for extended periods of time, gathering sensitive information or positioning itself for a high-impact
more » ... zero-day attack. Policing the growing attack surface requires the development of efficient anti-malware solutions with improved generalization to detect novel types of malware and resolve these occurrences with as little burden on human experts as possible. In this paper, we survey malicious stealth technologies as well as existing solutions for detecting and categorizing these countermeasures autonomously. While machine learning offers promising potential for increasingly autonomous solutions with improved generalization to new malware types, both at the network level and at the host level, our findings suggest that several flawed assumptions inherent to most recognition algorithms prevent a direct mapping between the stealth malware recognition problem and a machine learning solution. The most notable of these flawed assumptions is the closed world assumption: that no sample belonging to a class outside of a static training set will appear at query time. We present a formalized adaptive open world framework for stealth malware recognition and relate it mathematically to research from other machine learning domains.
arXiv:1603.06028v2 fatcat:dyyemahzjze6bltxlwnnqgeyzy