Malware Analyst’s Cookbook and DVD

Another technical book, this time because my employer lets me buy random technical books as long as I pinky swear to read them and this one sounded interesting and got good reviews.

First off, the book is a bit dated given its from 2011 — there are lots of references to Ubuntu 10.10 for example and they say to avoid Python 3, which has its historical charm. This is unfortunate given the first section of the book talks about setting up honeypots to collect malware to examine, but Dionaea for example had its last commit in 2021. I am left wondering if there are more modern honey pot systems that people use these days.

Secondly the book is definitely a cookbook and that’s on me for not noticing this about the book before buying it — its a series of recipes / scripts that do interesting things with malware. That said, it isn’t really teaching a cohesive set of skills, its more of a series of stepping stones along the path you might follow. I think that’s an unintended piece of important learning — books with “cookbook” or “recipes” in their title probably aren’t very good as an overview of a topic area. My bad.

That said, some parts of the book are very good — the discussion of whois, DNS, and Real Time Black Lists (RTBLs) is helpful and less focussed on providing scripts you could run. The discussion of how to log changes to a Windows system, detect attempts to hide files in NTFS filesystems, and detect changes to registry hives were interesting in an abstract way, but perhaps obvious to someone who actually uses Windows.

Overall, I’m a bit disappointed in this book and it will be exhiled to a shelf at the office as a punishment.

Malware Analyst's Cookbook and DVD Book Cover Malware Analyst's Cookbook and DVD
Michael Ligh, Steven Adair, Blake Hartstein, Matthew Richard,
John Wiley & Sons
November 2, 2010

A computer forensics "how-to" for fighting malicious code and analyzing incidents. With our ever-increasing reliance on computers comes an ever-growing risk of malware. Security professionals will find plenty of solutions in this book to the problems posed by viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, rootkits, adware, and other invasive software. Written by well-known malware experts, this guide reveals solutions to numerous problems and includes a DVD of custom programs and tools that illustrate the concepts, enhancing your skills. Security professionals face a constant battle against malicious software; this practical manual will improve your analytical capabilities and provide dozens of valuable and innovative solutions Covers classifying malware, packing and unpacking, dynamic malware analysis, decoding and decrypting, rootkit detection, memory forensics, open source malware research, and much more.

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