Threat Detection And Response

The Top 10 Malware Analysis Tools 

Malware analysis tools help cybersecurity professionals analyze and understand malicious software, enabling effective threat detection, response, and prevention.

The Top 10 Malware Analysis Tools include:
  • 1. Any.run
  • 2. Cuckoo Sandbox
  • 3. Hybrid Analysis
  • 4. Hex-rays IDA Pro
  • 5. Joe Security Joe Sandbox
  • 6. PeStudio
  • 7. Microsoft Process Monitor
  • 8. REMnux
  • 9. VirusTotal
  • 10. Wireshark

Malware analysis is the process of dissecting, examining, and understanding the functionality and intent of malicious software. This process allows security professionals to gain insights into malware behavior, develop effective countermeasures, as well as enhancing network, application, and endpoint security. As the number of cyber threats continues to rise, malware analysis has become a critical aspect of every organization’s cybersecurity strategy. 

There are numerous tools available to assist security analysts in investigating and combating malware, ranging from open-source solutions to commercial products. These tools can aid in static and dynamic analysis, reverse engineering, behavioral analysis, and automated threat detection. In this guide, we will explore the top malware analysis tools used by both independent researchers and organizations, considering their features, capabilities, and ease of use. We’ll also assess them based on our testing as well as customer feedback.

AnyRun Logo

ANY.RUN is an online malware analysis service offering both dynamic and static research tools for investigating a variety of cyber threats. Its interactive analysis tool allows researchers to explore the execution of tasks and observe the creation of processes in real time during simulations.

ANY.RUN supports analyzing suspicious URLs in multiple browsers, enabling more comprehensive detection of attack vectors. The service uses the MITRE ATT&CK matrix for mapping signatures, making it easy to understand the structure of attacks and the techniques involved. ANY.RUN’s process graphs display attack patterns in an interactive visual tree structure, allowing analysts to quickly identify malicious processes and obtain more detailed information. The service supports the analysis of various file types, combining thousands of malware reports for ongoing analysis and exporting data for external use. ANY.RUN offers custom HTML reports that can be easily shared or printed, providing comprehensive information on the findings including indicators of compromise, screenshots, and process behavior graphs.

Additionally, its network analysis tools allow users to investigate HTTP(s) connections, assess network streams, and export PCAP and SSL keys for external analysis. In summary, ANY.RUN is a versatile malware analysis service for understanding and defending against a wide range of cyber threats.

AnyRun Logo
Cuckoo Logo

Cuckoo Sandbox is a prominent open-source automated malware analysis system compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android platforms. It efficiently examines suspicious files within minutes, providing a detailed report on the discovered behavior in a realistic, isolated environment. This enables businesses to better comprehend cyber threats and take necessary measures for protection.

The primary function of Cuckoo Sandbox is to examine various malicious files, such as executables, office documents, PDFs, and emails, in addition to malicious websites on virtualized systems. It traces API calls and the general behavior of files, converting the information into easily understandable high-level data and signatures. The system can dump and analyze network traffic, even when encrypted with SSL/TLS, and offers native network routing support. Furthermore, it conducts advanced memory analysis of the infected virtualized system using Volatility and YARA for process memory.

Cuckoo Sandbox’s open source and modular design allows users to customize every aspect of the analysis environment, results processing, and reporting stage. This flexibility ensures seamless integration with users’ existing frameworks and backends, without any licensing requirements.

Cuckoo Logo
Hybrid Analysis Logo

Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis platform that utilizes Falcon Sandbox and Hybrid Analysis technology to perform in-depth static and dynamic examinations. This platform can analyze even the most evasive malware by merging runtime data with memory dump analysis.

This solution allows for the extraction of behavior indicators and the deduction of additional indicators of compromise (IoCs), such as strings and API call chains. This is a community-oriented service that is free and uses its unique Hybrid Analysis technology to detect and study unknown threats. Users can upload and share file collections, which are then examined through various methods, including machine learning with CrowdStrike Falcon Static Analysis, reputation lookups, and antivirus engines. All uploaded files become searchable by the broader community, allowing for increased collaboration and intelligence sharing.

Hybrid Analysis also offers a vast database with over 767 million IoCs that users can search through. Additionally, the platform enables users to hunt malware samples using YARA rules or string and hex pattern matching at the byte level, providing a comprehensive solution for identifying and understanding malware threats.

Hybrid Analysis Logo
HexRays Logo

IDA Pro is a leading binary code analysis tool widely used by software analysts, reverse engineers, malware analysts, and cybersecurity professionals. It includes a powerful disassembler and a versatile debugger for a comprehensive analysis solution.

As a disassembler, IDA Pro generates assembly language source code from machine-executable code, making complex code more human-readable. The debugger feature supports multiple debugging targets, handling remote applications and providing cross-platform debugging capabilities. IDA Pro offers an interactive environment that lets analysts quickly override its decisions or provide hints for more intuitive binary code analysis. IDA Pro is fully programmable with a robust macro-like language (IDC or IDAPython) for automation of simple to medium complexity tasks. It is compatible with numerous file formats, processors, and platforms, allowing for seamless integration.

IDA Pro’s open plug-in architecture enables easy extension of its functionalities, and it incorporates the Lumina server for improved disassembly listing and the Fast Library Identification and Recognition Technology (F.L.I.R.T) for recognizing standard library functions. With proven efficiency, maturity, and security, IDA Pro constantly evolves through substantial updates and supports various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and macOS.

HexRays Logo
JoeSecurity Logo

Joe Security is a company specializing in the development of malware analysis systems for malware detection and forensic purposes. Their unique technologies allow for in-depth analysis of malware that was previously unattainable. They offer their services through either a cloud-based platform or as a standalone software package.

Joe Sandbox Cloud, based on the company’s Joe Sandbox Ultimate offering, is a web service that enables cybersecurity professionals to upload files and URLs for testing. This service provides downloadable analysis reports and other essential threat intelligence data. Joe Sandbox does not rely on static analysis, instead employing a detonation method in a secure environment, which allows for a higher level of malware detection and understanding. The deep malware analysis provided by Joe Security covers various systems, such as Windows, Android, macOS, and Linux. The service is available for both virtual and physical machines and includes decomplication and hypervisor plugins in addition to the basic features found in Joe Sandbox Cloud.

All analysis reports remain private, and the cloud-based malware analysis lab is available with dedicated access for manual malware analysis and endpoint security testing. Overall, Joe Security’s services assist organizations in analyzing cybersecurity threats and gaining valuable insights for protection.

JoeSecurity Logo
pestudio Logo

PeStudio is a malware analysis tool that streamlines the initial assessment process for security professionals. Static analysis of executable files is made easy by PeStudio, which is trusted by Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Security Operations Centers (SOC), and Digital-Forensic Labs around the world.

PeStudio offers two versions – standard and professional – catering for both private and professional contexts. The standard version, which is free to use, includes features such as file signature detection, hard-coded URL and IP address detection, metadata collection, imports, exports, strings, manifest, resources, overlay retrieval, and integration with VirusTotal for scoring. The professional version, priced at 139 Euros per user per year, encompasses all standard features. Additional functionalities of the professional version include batch mode processing with pestudiox.exe, items organization by groups and colors, XML report file creation, MITRE ATT&CK Matrix display, .NET namespaces display, and .NET embedded file(s) dumping.

pestudio Logo
Microsoft Logo

Process Monitor is a real-time monitoring tool developed by Windows Sysinternals, a division of the Microsoft TechNet website. This tool is designed to keep track of all file system activities on Microsoft Windows or Unix-like operating systems. The tool is capable of monitoring and recording all actions attempted against the Microsoft Windows Registry, identifying failed attempts to read and write registry keys.

Process Monitor allows for filtering on specific keys, processes, process IDs, and values, providing users with a deep understanding of how applications interact with files and DLLs. It also helps detect critical errors in system files. Process Monitor’s advanced features include non-destructive filtering, extensive event properties, reliable process information, full thread stacks with integrated symbol support for each operation, and simultaneous logging to a file. Its versatile and powerful capabilities give Process Monitor a central role in system troubleshooting and malware detection.

With easy viewing and access to process image information and formatted data that doesn’t fit in the column, Process Monitor offers configuration options for customizable event property columns. Its advanced logging architecture can handle large amounts of captured events and log data, making it an invaluable tool for businesses seeking to maintain control over their IT systems.

Microsoft Logo
REMnux Logo

REMnux is a Linux-based toolkit designed for reverse-engineering and analyzing malicious software. It offers a curated collection of free tools, developed by the community, to aid analysts in investigating malware without the hassle of finding, installing, and configuring each tool individually.

The core of REMnux is its Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that comprises numerous tools used by malware analysts for various tasks. These tasks include examining static properties of suspicious files, statically and dynamically analyzing malicious code, performing memory forensics on infected systems, exploring network interactions, investigating system-level interactions of malware, as wel as analyzing malicious documents and threat data. The toolkit’s documentation site provides a comprehensive listing of REMnux tools, along with usage notes for each tool. To begin using REMnux, users can either download the virtual appliance, install it on a dedicated system, add it to an existing machine or run it as a Docker container.

Additionally, REMnux offers Docker images of popular malware analysis tools, allowing users to run them as containers without having to install the tools directly on the system. This versatility makes REMnux a valuable resource for malware analysts seeking a comprehensive toolkit for their investigations.

REMnux Logo
VirusTotal Logo

VirusTotal is a crowdsourced threat intelligence platform that allows users to analyze suspicious files, domains, IPs, and URLs for potential malware and other breaches. By aggregating information from a variety of antivirus products and online scan engines, VirusTotal provides comprehensive context and advanced features for security teams to proactively protect their networks from cyber threats.

The platform analyzes content with over 70 antivirus scanners and URL/domain blocklisting services, with multiple file submission methods available for users. By submitting content to VirusTotal, users contribute to raising global IT security standards. Submitted files and URLs are analyzed and the results are shared with the submitter, the examination partners, and the VirusTotal community, promoting a collaborative approach to detecting malicious content and identifying false positives. VirusTotal’s aggregated data offers valuable insights for cybersecurity professionals and security product developers, helping organizations identify and address new threats.

In addition to the core analysis, VirusTotal offers features such as the Community, where users can comment on files and URLs and share notes with each other. Premium VirusTotal customers have access to more advanced tools and resources, allowing them to perform complex, criteria-based searches to uncover harmful files and develop new defenses.

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WireShark Logo

Wireshark is a widely-used, open-source packet analyzer designed for network troubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocol development, and educational purposes. As a leading network protocol analyzer, Wireshark offers a comprehensive, microscopic view into network activity, making it an industry standard across numerous fields and institutions.

Some key features of Wireshark include compatibility with multiple platforms, such as Windows, Linux, OS X, and others; the ability to perform live capture and offline analysis; and decryption support for various protocols like IPsec, ISAKMP, Kerberos, SNMPv3, SSL/TLS, WEP, and WPA/WPA2. In addition, Wireshark provides deep inspection capabilities for hundreds of protocols, with continuous updates being implemented. Furthermore, captured network data can be browsed and analyzed using either a graphical user interface or the TTY-mode TShark utility. Offering versatile functionality, Wireshark’s powerful display filters and rich VoIP analysis simplify network data analysis.

It supports numerous capture file formats, such as tcpdump (libpcap), Pcap NG, Catapult DCT2000, and Microsoft Network Monitor, among others. The platform’s output can be exported to XML, PostScript, CSV, or plain text formats for easier reporting and sharing.

WireShark Logo
The Top 10 Malware Analysis Tools