Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) provides the ability to monitor virtual machines (VM) in an agentless fashion by gathering VM execution states from the hypervisor and analyzing those states to extract information about a running operating system (OS) without installing an agent inside the VM. VMI's main challenge lies in the difficulty in converting low-level byte string values into high-level semantic states of the monitored VM's OS. In this work, we tackle this challenge by developing a real-time kernel data structure monitoring (RTKDSM) system that leverages the rich OS analysis capabilities of Volatility, an open source computer forensics framework, to significantly simplify and automate analysis of VM execution states. The RTKDSM system is designed as an extensible software framework that is meant to be extended to perform application-specific VM state analysis. In addition, the RTKDSM system is able to perform real-time monitoring of any changes made to the extracted OS states of guest VMs. This real-time monitoring capability is especially important for VMI-based security applications. To minimize the performance overhead associated with real-time kernel data structure monitoring, the RTKDSM system has incorporated several optimizations whose effectiveness is reported in this paper.
2014-10-15 - 2014-10-15