How-Tos

How To Use AXIOM In Malware Investigations: Part I

Hey everyone, Tara Nelson here with Magnet Forensics. Today I’m going to give a little bit of insight into how AXIOM can help with some of your day-to-day investigations.

In part one of the segment we’re going to talk a little bit about malware investigations, in particular reviewing memory as part of AXIOM. Regardless of the infection, be it a phishing email or a malicious code on a website, or what have you, memory analysis is usually a key component to a malware investigation.

I have a case open in AXIOM Examine, with both an end point and a memory image of an infected machine. This can be super beneficial in your investigation because it allows you to examine multiple pieces of evidence, including memory, in one tool.

So I’m going to switch over to the artifacts view. And you can see over here on the left-hand side that there is a section dedicated to just memory.

As you may know we’ve integrated Volatility, the popular memory analysis tool, into our processing with AXIOM. This includes plugins that you see here on the left: pslist, psscan, malfind, etc. So for all of these, you can review the output in the AXIOM interface.

For the purpose of this video I’m going to focus in on just a few of the basic ones to show how AXIOM can help in your investigations, starting with pslist to show some of the running processes at the time of the collection of the memory.

At first glance, without looking further, a lot of these just look like normal Windows processes. There is one that stands out to me as being potentially suspicious: this process called Fake Intel. That one to me just does not belong at all, so definitely I’m going to flag that as something of interest that I’m going to want to look into further.

If I wanted to see if this process was associated with any network activity, I can look at this plugin called netscan. And you can see that there’s a couple of remote IP addresses associated with this process that might also be malicious, that I might want to look into further.

What I really like about doing memory analysis within AXIOM is being able to see the counts here on the side. So in particular we talked about this pslist output that shows 46 processes. We also have this other output from the plugin psscan that can show hidden processes as well. You can see that there’s one more in that count, as well. That could be a really good indication to me that I might want to look further into hidden processes.

To be able to do that pretty easily, I’m going to use this plugin called psxview. When I click on that, if you’re familiar with the output that Volatility usually puts out in the command line tool you can see that it’s pretty similar, it’s just that we have it in this nice AXIOM interface.

So we have the process name here, and then a couple of columns that show whether or not all of these processes would be seen in the output of the plugins pslist and psscan.

So scrolling down here, you can even see that the one we have already flagged as potentially malicious is being seen in the output of both of those two plugins.

Scrolling down here further, when we get to the bottom we see that there is this other process that could be potentially malicious as well, that is not being shown in the pslist output but is being shown in the psscan output.

So again, this could be a really good indication that this could be a hidden process that I might want to look into further as part of my investigation. So I’m definitely going to flag that as of interest.

So this is just a really high-level look at a malware investigation as seen through AXIOM and Volatility. Again, you can review the output of any of these plugins here within the AXIOM interface as part of our Volatility integration.

Additionally, be sure to check out part two of this video, where I’ll show additional uses of AXIOM in a malware investigation.

Hopefully this quick overview was helpful. Please feel free to reach out with any questions. Thanks for watching.

About Scar de Courcier

Scar de Courcier is Senior Editor at Forensic Focus.

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