Check out the new USENIX Web site.
USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association

15th USENIX Security Symposium Abstract

Pp. 273–288 of the Proceedings

Behavior-based Spyware Detection

Engin Kirda and Christopher Kruegel, Technical University Vienna; Greg Banks, Giovanni Vigna, and Richard A. Kemmerer, University of California, Santa Barbara


Spyware is rapidly becoming a major security issue. Spyware programs are surreptitiously installed on a user's workstation to monitor his/her actions and gather private information about a user's behavior. Current antispyware tools operate in a way similar to traditional antivirus tools, where signatures associated with known spyware programs are checked against newly-installed applications. Unfortunately, these techniques are very easy to evade by using simple obfuscation transformations.

This paper presents a novel technique for spyware detection that is based on the characterization of spywarelike behavior. The technique is tailored to a popular class of spyware applications that use Internet Explorer's Browser Helper Object (BHO) and toolbar interfaces to monitor a user's browsing behavior. Our technique uses a composition of static and dynamic analysis to determine whether the behavior of BHOs and toolbars in response to simulated browser events should be considered malicious. The evaluation of our technique on a representative set of spyware samples shows that it is possible to reliably identify malicious components using an abstract behavioral characterization.

  • View the full text of this paper in HTML and PDF. Listen to the presentation and Q & A in MP3 format.
    Click here if you have forgotten your password Until August 2007, you will need your USENIX membership identification in order to access the full papers. The Proceedings are published as a collective work, © 2006 by the USENIX Association. All Rights Reserved. Rights to individual papers remain with the author or the author's employer. Permission is granted for the noncommercial reproduction of the complete work for educational or research purposes. USENIX acknowledges all trademarks within this paper.
To become a USENIX member, please see our Membership Information.

Last changed: 20 Sept. 2006 ch