PhD Defense: "A Signal Processing Approach to Malware Analysis"

Lakshmanan Nataraj

August 19th (Wednesday), 11:00am
Harold Frank Hall (HFH), Rm 1132

There is an alarming increase in the amount of malware that is generated today. Several studies have shown that most of these new malware are just variants of existing ones. In this research we focus on developing orthogonal methods motivated by Signal and Image Processing. We exploit the fact that most malware variants are similar in structure. One could then treat malware as digital signals and apply Signal and Image Processing techniques to compute descriptions that facilitate detection and classification of malware.

First, we will present SARVAM: Search And RetrieVAl of Malware, an online malware search and retrieval system where one can upload a binary executable and search over a database of approximately 7 million malware samples using Image Similarity metrics.

Next, we generalize this approach by expanding malware as a sparse linear combination of other malware samples.

Finally, the methods can be generalized to data forensics, where given a block of data we can determine the data type (eg. a text file, a compressed zip file or an executable).

About Lakshmanan Nataraj:

photo of lakshmanan Nataraj Lakshmanan is a PhD student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSB. He did his undergraduate from Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Anna University (2007), in Electronics and Communication Engineering. He completed his Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSB (2009). During his time at UCSB, he has interned at Walt Disney Animation Studios, Burbank (2008) and SRI International, Menlo Park (2011). Besides malware analysis, he has worked and published papers on Digital Image Forensics, Data Hiding and Steganography. His research interests are in applying Signal and Image Processing techniques for problems in Computer Security such as malware analysis. He was a Finalist at UCSB Grad Slam 2015 for his 3 minute research talk.

Hosted by: Prof. B.S Manjunath