search menu icon-carat-right cmu-wordmark

A Unique Approach to Threat Analysis Mapping: A Malware-Centric Methodology

April 2016 Technical Report
Deana Shick, Kyle O'Meara

As they constantly change network infrastructure, adversaries consistently use and update their tools. This report presents a way for researchers to begin threat analysis with those tools rather than with network or incident data alone.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number



Malware family analysis is a constant process of identifying exemplars of malicious software, recognizing changes in the code, and producing groups of “families” used by incident responders, network operators, and cyber threat analysts. With adversaries constantly changing network infrastructure, it is easy to lose sight of the tools consistently being used and updated by these various actors. Beginning with malware family analysis, this methodology seeks to map vulnerabilities, exploits, additional malware, network infrastructure, and adversaries’ using Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and public data feeds for the network defense and intelligence communities. The results provide an expanded picture of adversaries’ profiles rather than an incomplete story. The goal of this document is to shift the mindset of many researchers to begin with the tools used by adversaries rather than with network or incident data alone for an outside-in” approach to threat analysis instead of an “inside-out” method. We chose three malware families to use as case studies—Smallcase, Derusbi, and Sakula. The results of each case study—any additional network indicators, malware, exploits, vulnerabilities, and overall understanding of an intrusion—tied to the malware families should be utilized by network defenders and intelligence circles to aid in decision making and analysis.