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Fursova, Natalia, Dovgalyuk, Pavel, Vasiliev, Ivan, Klimushenkova, Maria, Egorov, Danila.  2021.  Detecting Attack Surface With Full-System Taint Analysis. 2021 IEEE 21st International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability and Security Companion (QRS-C). :1161–1162.
Attack surface detection for the complex software is needed to find targets for the fuzzing, because testing the whole system with many inputs is not realistic. Researchers that previously applied taint analysis for dealing with different security tasks in the virtual machines did not examined how to apply it for attack surface detection. I.e., getting the program modules and functions, that may be affected by input data. We propose using taint tracking within a virtual machine and virtual machine introspection to create a new approach that can detect the internal module interfaces that can be fuzz tested to assure that software is safe or find the vulnerabilities.
Ma, Lele.  2021.  One Layer for All: Efficient System Security Monitoring for Edge Servers. 2021 IEEE International Performance, Computing, and Communications Conference (IPCCC). :1–8.
Edge computing promises higher bandwidth and lower latency to end-users. However, edge servers usually have limited computing resources and are geographically distributed over the edge. This imposes new challenges for efficient system monitoring and control of edge servers.In this paper, we propose EdgeVMI, a framework to monitor and control services running on edge servers with lightweight virtual machine introspection(VMI). The key of our technique is to run the monitor in a lightweight virtual machine which can leverage hardware events for monitoring memory read and writes. In addition, the small binary size and memory footprints of the monitor could reduce the start/stop time of service, the runtime overhead, as well as the deployment efforts.Inspired by unikernels, we build our monitor with only the necessary system modules, libraries, and functionalities of a specific monitor task. To reduce the security risk of the monitoring behavior, we separate the monitor into two isolated modules: one acts as a sensor to collect security information and another acts as an actuator to conduct control commands. Our evaluation shows the effectiveness and the efficiency of the monitoring system, with an average performance overhead of 2.7%.
Fargo, Farah, Franza, Olivier, Tunc, Cihan, Hariri, Salim.  2020.  VM Introspection-based Allowlisting for IaaS. 2020 7th International Conference on Internet of Things: Systems, Management and Security (IOTSMS). :1—4.
Cloud computing has become the main backend of the IT infrastructure as it provides ubiquitous and on-demand computing to serve to a wide range of users including end-users and high-performance demanding agencies. The users can allocate and free resources allocated for their Virtual Machines (VMs) as needed. However, with the rapid growth of interest in cloud computing systems, several issues have arisen especially in the domain of cybersecurity. It is a known fact that not only the malicious users can freely allocate VMs, but also they can infect victims' VMs to run their own tools that include cryptocurrency mining, ransomware, or cyberattacks against others. Even though there exist intrusion detection systems (IDS), running an IDS on every VM can be a costly process and it would require fine configuration that only a small subset of the cloud users are knowledgeable about. Therefore, to overcome this challenge, in this paper we present a VM introspection based allowlisting method to be deployed and managed directly by the cloud providers to check if there are any malicious software running on the VMs with minimum user intervention. Our middleware monitors the processes and if it detects unknown events, it will notify the users and/or can take action as needed.
Chen, Cheng-Yu, Hsiao, Shun-Wen.  2019.  IoT Malware Dynamic Analysis Profiling System and Family Behavior Analysis. 2019 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data). :6013–6015.
Not only the number of deployed IoT devices increases but also that of IoT malware increases. We eager to understand the threat made by IoT malware but we lack tools to observe, analyze and detect them. We design and implement an automatic, virtual machine-based profiling system to collect valuable IoT malware behavior, such as API call invocation, system call execution, etc. In addition to conventional profiling methods (e.g., strace and packet capture), the proposed profiling system adapts virtual machine introspection based API hooking technique to intercept API call invocation by malware, so that our introspection would not be detected by IoT malware. We then propose a method to convert the multiple sequential data (API calls) to a family behavior graph for further analysis.
Khan, Iqra, Durad, Hanif, Alam, Masoom.  2019.  Data Analytics Layer For high-interaction Honeypots. 2019 16th International Bhurban Conference on Applied Sciences and Technology (IBCAST). :681–686.

Security of VMs is now becoming a hot topic due to their outsourcing in cloud computing paradigm. All VMs present on the network are connected to each other, making exploited VMs danger to other VMs. and threats to organization. Rejuvenation of virtualization brought the emergence of hyper-visor based security services like VMI (Virtual machine introspection). As there is a greater chance for any intrusion detection system running on the same system, of being dis-abled by the malware or attacker. Monitoring of VMs using VMI, is one of the most researched and accepted technique, that is used to ensure computer systems security mostly in the paradigm of cloud computing. This thesis presents a work that is to integrate LibVMI with Volatility on a KVM, a Linux based hypervisor, to introspect memory of VMs. Both of these tools are used to monitor the state of live VMs. VMI capability of monitoring VMs is combined with the malware analysis and virtual honeypots to achieve the objective of this project. A testing environment is deployed, where a network of VMs is used to be introspected using Volatility plug-ins. Time execution of each plug-in executed on live VMs is calculated to observe the performance of Volatility plug-ins. All these VMs are deployed as Virtual Honeypots having honey-pots configured on them, which is used as a detection mechanism to trigger alerts when some malware attack the VMs. Using STIX (Structure Threat Information Expression), extracted IOCs are converted into the understandable, flexible, structured and shareable format.

Zhan, Dongyang, Li, Huhua, Ye, Lin, Zhang, Hongli, Fang, Binxing, Du, Xiaojiang.  2019.  A Low-Overhead Kernel Object Monitoring Approach for Virtual Machine Introspection. ICC 2019 - 2019 IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC). :1–6.

Monitoring kernel object modification of virtual machine is widely used by virtual-machine-introspection-based security monitors to protect virtual machines in cloud computing, such as monitoring dentry objects to intercept file operations, etc. However, most of the current virtual machine monitors, such as KVM and Xen, only support page-level monitoring, because the Intel EPT technology can only monitor page privilege. If the out-of-virtual-machine security tools want to monitor some kernel objects, they need to intercept the operation of the whole memory page. Since there are some other objects stored in the monitored pages, the modification of them will also trigger the monitor. Therefore, page-level memory monitor usually introduces overhead to related kernel services of the target virtual machine. In this paper, we propose a low-overhead kernel object monitoring approach to reduce the overhead caused by page-level monitor. The core idea is to migrate the target kernel objects to a protected memory area and then to monitor the corresponding new memory pages. Since the new pages only contain the kernel objects to be monitored, other kernel objects will not trigger our monitor. Therefore, our monitor will not introduce runtime overhead to the related kernel service. The experimental results show that our system can monitor target kernel objects effectively only with very low overhead.

Laurén, Samuel, Leppänen, Ville.  2018.  Virtual Machine Introspection Based Cloud Monitoring Platform. Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Computer Systems and Technologies. :104–109.

Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) is an emerging family of techniques for extracting data from virtual machines without the use of active monitoring probes within the target machines themselves. In VMI based systems, the data is collected at the hypervisor-level by analyzing the state of virtual machines. This has the benefit of making collection harder to detect and block by malware as there is nothing in the machine indicating that monitoring is taking place. In this paper we present Nitro Web, a web-based monitoring system for virtual machines that uses virtual machine introspection for data collection. The platform is capable of detecting and visualizing system call activity taking place within virtual machines in real-time. The secondary purpose of this paper is to offer an introduction to Nitro virtual machine introspection framework that we have been involved in developing. In this paper, we reflect on how Nitro Framework can be used for building applications making use of VMI data.

Bushouse, Micah, Reeves, Douglas.  2018.  Hyperagents: Migrating Host Agents to the Hypervisor. Proceedings of the Eighth ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy. :212–223.

Third-party software daemons called host agents are increasingly responsible for a modern host's security, automation, and monitoring tasks. Because of their location within the host, these agents are at risk of manipulation by malware and users. Additionally, in virtualized environments where multiple adjacent guests each run their own set of agents, the cumulative resources that agents consume adds up rapidly. Consolidating agents onto the hypervisor can address these problems, but places a technical burden on agent developers. This work presents a development methodology to re-engineer a host agent in to a hyperagent, an out-of-guest agent that gains unique hypervisor-based advantages while retaining its original in-guest capabilities. This three-phase methodology makes integrating Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) functionality in to existing code easier and more accessible, minimizing an agent developer's re-engineering effort. The benefits of hyperagents are illustrated by porting the GRR live forensics agent, which retains 89% of its codebase, uses 40% less memory than its in-guest counterparts, and enables a 4.9x speedup for a representative data-intensive workload. This work shows that a conventional off-the-shelf host agent can be feasibly transformed into a hyperagent and provide a powerful, efficient tool for defending virtualized systems.

Upadhyay, H., Gohel, H. A., Pons, A., Lagos, L..  2018.  Windows Virtualization Architecture For Cyber Threats Detection. 2018 1st International Conference on Data Intelligence and Security (ICDIS). :119–122.

This is very true for the Windows operating system (OS) used by government and private organizations. With Windows, the closed source nature of the operating system has unfortunately meant that hidden security issues are discovered very late and the fixes are not found in real time. There needs to be a reexamination of current static methods of malware detection. This paper presents an integrated system for automated and real-time monitoring and prediction of rootkit and malware threats for the Windows OS. We propose to host the target Windows machines on the widely used Xen hypervisor, and collect process behavior using virtual memory introspection (VMI). The collected data will be analyzed using state of the art machine learning techniques to quickly isolate malicious process behavior and alert system administrators about potential cyber breaches. This research has two focus areas: identifying memory data structures and developing prediction tools to detect malware. The first part of research focuses on identifying memory data structures affected by malware. This includes extracting the kernel data structures with VMI that are frequently targeted by rootkits/malware. The second part of the research will involve development of a prediction tool using machine learning techniques.

Sentanoe, Stewart, Taubmann, Benjamin, Reiser, Hans P..  2017.  Virtual Machine Introspection Based SSH Honeypot. Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Security in Highly Connected IT Systems. :13–18.

A honeypot provides information about the new attack and exploitation methods and allows analyzing the adversary's activities during or after exploitation. One way of an adversary to communicate with a server is via secure shell (SSH). SSH provides secure login, file transfer, X11 forwarding, and TCP/IP connections over untrusted networks. SSH is a preferred target for attacks, as it is frequently used with password-based authentication, and weak passwords are easily exploited using brute-force attacks. In this paper, we introduce a Virtual Machine Introspection based SSH honeypot. We discuss the design of the system and how to extract valuable information such as the credential used by the attacker and the entered commands. Our experiments show that the system is able to detect the adversary's activities during and after exploitation, and it has advantages compared to currently used SSH honeypot approaches.

Zhang, J., Zheng, L., Gong, L., Gu, Z..  2018.  A Survey on Security of Cloud Environment: Threats, Solutions, and Innovation. 2018 IEEE Third International Conference on Data Science in Cyberspace (DSC). :910–916.

With the extensive application of cloud computing technology developing, security is of paramount importance in Cloud Computing. In the cloud computing environment, surveys have been provided on several intrusion detection techniques for detecting intrusions. We will summarize some literature surveys of various attack taxonomy, which might cause various threats in cloud environment. Such as attacks in virtual machines, attacks on virtual machine monitor, and attacks in tenant network. Besides, we review massive existing solutions proposed in the literature, such as misuse detection techniques, behavior analysis of network traffic, behavior analysis of programs, virtual machine introspection (VMI) techniques, etc. In addition, we have summarized some innovations in the field of cloud security, such as CloudVMI, data mining techniques, artificial intelligence, and block chain technology, etc. At the same time, our team designed and implemented the prototype system of CloudI (Cloud Introspection). CloudI has characteristics of high security, high performance, high expandability and multiple functions.

Bushouse, Micah, Ahn, Sanghyun, Reeves, Douglas.  2017.  Arav: Monitoring a Cloud's Virtual Routers. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference on Cyber and Information Security Research. :3:1–3:8.

Virtual Routers (VRs) are increasingly common in cloud environments. VRs route traffic between network segments and support network services. Routers, including VRs, have been the target of several recent high-profile attacks, emphasizing the need for more security measures, including security monitoring. However, existing agent-based monitoring systems are incompatible with a VR's temporary nature, stripped-down operating system, and placement in the cloud. As a result, VRs are often not monitored, leading to undetected security incidents. This paper proposes a new security monitoring design that leverages virtualization instead of in-guest agents. Its hypervisor-based system, Arav, scrutinizes VRs by novel application of Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) breakpoint injection. Arav monitored and addressed security-related events in two common VRs, pfSense and VyOS, and detected four attacks against two popular VR services, Quagga and OpenVPN. Arav's performance overhead is negligible, less than 0.63%, demonstrating VMI's utility in monitoring virtual machines unsuitable for traditional security monitoring.

Taubmann, Benjamin, Kolosnjaji, Bojan.  2017.  Architecture for Resource-Aware VMI-based Cloud Malware Analysis. Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Security in Highly Connected IT Systems. :43–48.
Virtual machine introspection (VMI) is a technology with many possible applications, such as malware analysis and intrusion detection. However, this technique is resource intensive, as inspecting program behavior includes recording of a high number of events caused by the analyzed binary and related processes. In this paper we present an architecture that leverages cloud resources for virtual machine-based malware analysis in order to train a classifier for detecting cloud-specific malware. This architecture is designed while having in mind the resource consumption when applying the VMI-based technology in production systems, in particular the overhead of tracing a large set of system calls. In order to minimize the data acquisition overhead, we use a data-driven approach from the area of resource-aware machine learning. This approach enables us to optimize the trade-off between malware detection performance and the overhead of our VMI-based tracing system.
A. K. M. A., J. C. D..  2015.  "Execution Time Measurement of Virtual Machine Volatile Artifacts Analyzers". 2015 IEEE 21st International Conference on Parallel and Distributed Systems (ICPADS). :314-319.

Due to a rapid revaluation in a virtualization environment, Virtual Machines (VMs) are target point for an attacker to gain privileged access of the virtual infrastructure. The Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) such as malware, rootkit, spyware, etc. are more potent to bypass the existing defense mechanisms designed for VM. To address this issue, Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) emerged as a promising approach that monitors run state of the VM externally from hypervisor. However, limitation of VMI lies with semantic gap. An open source tool called LibVMI address the semantic gap. Memory Forensic Analysis (MFA) tool such as Volatility can also be used to address the semantic gap. But, it needs to capture a memory dump (RAM) as input. Memory dump acquires time and its analysis time is highly crucial if Intrusion Detection System IDS (IDS) depends on the data supplied by FAM or VMI tool. In this work, live virtual machine RAM dump acquire time of LibVMI is measured. In addition, captured memory dump analysis time consumed by Volatility is measured and compared with other memory analyzer such as Rekall. It is observed through experimental results that, Rekall takes more execution time as compared to Volatility for most of the plugins. Further, Volatility and Rekall are compared with LibVMI. It is noticed that examining the volatile data through LibVMI is faster as it eliminates memory dump acquire time.

Yufei Gu, Yangchun Fu, Prakash, A., Zhiqiang Lin, Heng Yin.  2014.  Multi-Aspect, Robust, and Memory Exclusive Guest OS Fingerprinting. Cloud Computing, IEEE Transactions on. 2:380-394.

Precise fingerprinting of an operating system (OS) is critical to many security and forensics applications in the cloud, such as virtual machine (VM) introspection, penetration testing, guest OS administration, kernel dump analysis, and memory forensics. The existing OS fingerprinting techniques primarily inspect network packets or CPU states, and they all fall short in precision and usability. As the physical memory of a VM always exists in all these applications, in this article, we present OS-SOMMELIER+, a multi-aspect, memory exclusive approach for precise and robust guest OS fingerprinting in the cloud. It works as follows: given a physical memory dump of a guest OS, OS-SOMMELIER+ first uses a code hash based approach from kernel code aspect to determine the guest OS version. If code hash approach fails, OS-SOMMELIER+ then uses a kernel data signature based approach from kernel data aspect to determine the version. We have implemented a prototype system, and tested it with a number of Linux kernels. Our evaluation results show that the code hash approach is faster but can only fingerprint the known kernels, and data signature approach complements the code signature approach and can fingerprint even unknown kernels.