D-TIME: Distributed Threadless Independent Malware Execution for Runtime Obfuscation


Jithin Pavithran, Milan Patnaik, and Chester Rebeiro, Indian Institute of Technology Madras


An important aspect of malware design is to be able to evade detection. This is increasingly difficult to achieve with powerful runtime detection techniques based on behavioural and heuristic analysis. In this paper, we propose D-TIME, a new distributed threadless independent malware execution framework to evade runtime detection.

D-TIME splits a malware executable into small chunks of instructions and executes one chunk at a time in the context of an infected thread. It uses a Microsoft Windows feature called Asynchronous Procedure Call (APC) to facilitate chunk invocation; shared memory to coordinate between chunk executions; and a novel Semaphore based Covert Broadcasting Channel (SCBC) for communication between various chunk executions. The small size of the chunks along with the asynchronous nature of the execution makes runtime detection difficult, while the coordinated execution of the chunks leads to the intended malign action. D-TIME is designed to be self-regenerating ensuring high resilience of the system.

We evaluate D-TIME on a Microsoft Windows system with six different malware and demonstrate its undetectability with 10 different anti-virus software. We also study the CPU usage and its influence on Performance Counters.

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@inproceedings {238590,
author = {Jithin Pavithran and Milan Patnaik and Chester Rebeiro},
title = {{D-TIME}: Distributed Threadless Independent Malware Execution for Runtime Obfuscation},
booktitle = {13th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT 19)},
year = {2019},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/woot19/presentation/pavithran},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug