Catching Worms, Trojan Horses and PUPs: Unsupervised Detection of Silent Delivery Campaigns
Download: Paper (PDF)
Date: 27 Feb 2017
Document Type: Reports
Associated Event: NDSS Symposium 2017
The growing commoditization of the underground economy has given rise to malware delivery networks, which charge fees for quickly delivering malware or unwanted software to a large number of hosts. A key method to provide this service is through the orchestration of silent delivery campaigns. These campaigns involve a group of downloaders that receive remote commands and then deliver their payloads without any user interaction. These campaigns can evade detection by relying on inconspicuous downloaders on the client side and on disposable domain names on the server side.
We describe Beewolf, a system for detecting silent delivery campaigns from Internet-wide records of download events. The key observation behind our system is that the downloaders involved in these campaigns frequently retrieve payloads in lockstep. Beewolf identifies such locksteps in an unsupervised and deterministic manner, and can operate on streaming data. We utilize Beewolf to study silent delivery campaigns at scale, on a data set of 33.3 million download events. This investigation yields novel findings, e.g. malware distributed through compromised software update channels, a substantial overlap between the delivery ecosystems for malware and unwanted software, and several types of business relationships within these ecosystems. Beewolf achieves over 92% true positives and fewer than 5% false positives. Moreover, Beewolf can detect suspicious downloaders a median of 165 days ahead of existing anti-virus products and payload-hosting domains a median of 196 days ahead of existing blacklists.