Static Malware Analysis Vs Dynamic Malware Analysis

Static Vs Dynamic Malware Analysis

Malware Analysis: An Introduction

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and innovative, new and advanced varieties of malware are coming up, and malware detection is becoming a real challenge. Malware analysis, which involves analyzing the origin, the functionalities, and the potential impact of any malware sample, is of key importance as regards cybersecurity in the modern world.

Security professionals rely on malware analysis for various purposes. They could use it to assess the extent of infection whenever malware strikes or to identify the nature of the malware involved. Similarly, a proper understanding of the functionalities and impact of any malware sample helps them tackle cyberattacks better.

There are two different kinds of malware analysis, namely static malware analysis and dynamic malware analysis.

Static malware analysis

Static malware analysis involves examining any given malware sample without running or executing the code. This is usually done by determining the signature of the malware binary; the signature is a unique identification for the binary file. Calculating the binary file’s cryptographic hash and understanding each component helps determine its signature. The executable of the malware binary file is loaded into a disassembler (for example, IDA), and thus the machine-executable code gets converted to assembly language code. Thus, this reverse-engineering on a malware binary file makes it easy for a person to read and understand. By looking at the assembly language code, the analyst gets to understand the malware better. A better idea can be formed about the functionalities it’s programmed to do and its potential impact on any system and network. Analysts use different static analysis techniques, including file fingerprinting, virus scanning, memory dumping, packer detection, and debugging.

Dynamic malware analysis

Unlike static malware analysis, dynamic malware analysis involves analysis while running the code in a controlled environment. The malware is run in a closed, isolated virtual environment, and its behavior is studied. The intention is to understand its functioning and behavior and use this knowledge to stop its spread or to remove the infection. In advanced dynamic malware analysis, debuggers are used to determine the functionality of the executable. Unlike static analysis, dynamic malware analysis is behavior-based; hence, analysts won’t miss out on important behaviors of any malware strain.

Static Vs. Dynamic Malware Analysis: The differences

Let’s try and list the basic differences between the two kinds of malware analysis…

  • While static malware analysis is signature-based, dynamic analysis is behavior-based.
  • While the code is not executed during static analysis, the malware is run in a sandbox environment.
  • Static analysis is quite simple and observes the behavior of the malware and attempts to analyze its capabilities. Dynamic analysis performs a more thorough kind of analysis of the actions, the functionalities, and the impact of the malware, with the analyst studying it at every phase of its deployment and functioning.
  • While static analysis works for the common malware, dynamic analysis, being behavior-based, is needed for the more sophisticated and advanced kind of malware.

The conclusion

Malware analysis is of utmost importance since it helps understand malware infections and stops malware from spreading into other systems, files, directories, etc. Malware analysis, static and dynamic, helps us understand malware and its functioning in a better way and also helps us prevent further attacks in a very effective manner.

Related Resources:

12 Warning Signs That Help Identify Malware Infection

Security Tools That Recovers Hacked Website

What’s New With Separ Malware Family in 2019


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