Visible to the public Biblio

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Soska, Kyle, Gates, Chris, Roundy, Kevin A., Christin, Nicolas.  2017.  Automatic Application Identification from Billions of Files. Proceedings of the 23rd ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. :2021–2030.

Understanding how to group a set of binary files into the piece of software they belong to is highly desirable for software profiling, malware detection, or enterprise audits, among many other applications. Unfortunately, it is also extremely challenging: there is absolutely no uniformity in the ways different applications rely on different files, in how binaries are signed, or in the versioning schemes used across different pieces of software. In this paper, we show that, by combining information gleaned from a large number of endpoints (millions of computers), we can accomplish large-scale application identification automatically and reliably. Our approach relies on collecting metadata on billions of files every day, summarizing it into much smaller "sketches", and performing approximate k-nearest neighbor clustering on non-metric space representations derived from these sketches. We design and implement our proposed system using Apache Spark, show that it can process billions of files in a matter of hours, and thus could be used for daily processing. We further show our system manages to successfully identify which files belong to which application with very high precision, and adequate recall.

Li, Bo, Roundy, Kevin, Gates, Chris, Vorobeychik, Yevgeniy.  2017.  Large-Scale Identification of Malicious Singleton Files. Proceedings of the Seventh ACM on Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy. :227–238.

We study a dataset of billions of program binary files that appeared on 100 million computers over the course of 12 months, discovering that 94% of these files were present on a single machine. Though malware polymorphism is one cause for the large number of singleton files, additional factors also contribute to polymorphism, given that the ratio of benign to malicious singleton files is 80:1. The huge number of benign singletons makes it challenging to reliably identify the minority of malicious singletons. We present a large-scale study of the properties, characteristics, and distribution of benign and malicious singleton files. We leverage the insights from this study to build a classifier based purely on static features to identify 92% of the remaining malicious singletons at a 1.4% percent false positive rate, despite heavy use of obfuscation and packing techniques by most malicious singleton files that we make no attempt to de-obfuscate. Finally, we demonstrate robustness of our classifier to important classes of automated evasion attacks.