CARDINAL: Similarity Analysis to Defeat Malware Compiler Variations Conference Paper uri icon


  • Authors of malicious software, or malware, have a plethora of options when deciding how to protect their code from network defenders and malware analysts. For many static analyses, malware authors do not even need sophisticated obfuscation techniques to bypass detection, simply compiling with different flags or with a different compiler will suffice. We propose a new static analysis called CARDINAL that is tolerant of the differences in binaries introduced by compiling the same source code with different flags or with different compilers. We accomplished this goal by finding an invariant between these differences. The effective invariant we found is the number of arguments to a call, or call parameter cardinality (CPC). We concatenate all CPC's together per function and input these chains into a Bloom filter. Signatures constructed in this manner can be quickly compared to each other using a Jaccard index to obtain a similarity score. We empirically tested our algorithm on a large corpus of transformed programs and found that using a threshold value of 0.15 for determining a positive or negative match yielded results with a 11% false negative rate and a 11% false positive rate. Overall, we both demonstrate that CPC's are a telling feature that can increase the efficacy of static malware analyses and point the way forward in static analyses.

name of conference

  • 2016 11th International Conference on Malicious and Unwanted Software (MALWARE)

published proceedings

  • 2016 11th International Conference on Malicious and Unwanted Software (MALWARE)

author list (cited authors)

  • Jones, L., Sellers, A., & Carlisle, M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Jones, Luke||Sellers, Andrew||Carlisle, Martin

publication date

  • January 2016