Improving Digital Forensics and Incident Analysis in Production Environments by Using Virtual Machine Introspection

  • Main memory forensics and its special form, virtual machine introspection (VMI), are powerful tools for digital forensics and can be used to improve the security of computer-based systems. However, their use in production systems is often not possible. This work identifies the causes and offers practical solutions to apply these techniques in cloud computing and on mobile devices to improve digital forensics and incident analysis. Four key challenges must be tackled. The first challenge is that many existing solutions are not reproducible, for example, because the corresponding software components are not available, obsolete or incompatible. The use of these tools is also often complex and can lead to a crash of the system to be monitored in case of incorrect use. To solve this problem, this thesis describes the design and implementation of Libvmtrace, which is a framework for the introspection of Linux-based virtual machines. The focus of the developed design is to implement frequently used methods in encapsulated modules so thatMain memory forensics and its special form, virtual machine introspection (VMI), are powerful tools for digital forensics and can be used to improve the security of computer-based systems. However, their use in production systems is often not possible. This work identifies the causes and offers practical solutions to apply these techniques in cloud computing and on mobile devices to improve digital forensics and incident analysis. Four key challenges must be tackled. The first challenge is that many existing solutions are not reproducible, for example, because the corresponding software components are not available, obsolete or incompatible. The use of these tools is also often complex and can lead to a crash of the system to be monitored in case of incorrect use. To solve this problem, this thesis describes the design and implementation of Libvmtrace, which is a framework for the introspection of Linux-based virtual machines. The focus of the developed design is to implement frequently used methods in encapsulated modules so that they are easy for developers to use, optimize and test. The second challenge is that many production systems do not provide an interface for main memory forensics and virtual machine introspection. To address this problem, this thesis describes possible solutions for how such an interface can be implemented on mobile devices and in cloud environments designed to protect main memory from unprivileged access. We discuss how cold boot attacks, the ARM TrustZone and the hypervisor of cloud servers can be used to acquire data from storage. The third challenge is how to reconstruct information from main memory efficiently. This thesis describes how these questions can be solved by employing two practical examples. The first example involves extracting the keys of encrypted TLS connections from the main memory of applications to decrypt network traffic without affecting the performance of the monitored application. The TLSKex and DroidKex architecture describe two approaches to localize the keys efficiently with the help of semantic knowledge in the main memory of applications. The second example discusses how to monitor and document SSH sessions of potential attackers from outside of a virtual machine. It is important that the monitoring routines are not noticed by an attacker. To achieve this, we evaluate how to optimize the performance of the monitoring mechanism. The fourth challenge is how to deal with the performance degradation caused by introspection in productive systems. This thesis discusses how this can be achieved using the example of a SIEM system. To reduce the performance overhead, we describe how to configure the monitoring routine to collect only the information needed to detect incidents. Also, we describe two approaches that permit the monitoring routine to be dynamically adjusted at runtime to extract more information if necessary so that incidents can be better analyzed.show moreshow less

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Author:Benjamin Taubmann
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:739-opus4-8319
Advisor:Hans P. Reiser, Nuno Santos
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language:English
Year of Completion:2020
Date of Publication (online):2020/08/11
Date of first Publication:2020/08/11
Publishing Institution:Universität Passau
Granting Institution:Universität Passau, Fakultät für Informatik und Mathematik
Date of final exam:2020/06/26
Release Date:2020/08/11
Tag:Digital Forensics; Incident Detection; Production Environments; Virtual Machine Introspection
GND Keyword:Computerforensik; Eindringerkennung
Page Number:ix, 153 Seiten
Institutes:Fakultät für Informatik und Mathematik
Dewey Decimal Classification:0 Informatik, Informationswissenschaft, allgemeine Werke / 00 Informatik, Wissen, Systeme / 004 Datenverarbeitung; Informatik
open_access (DINI-Set):open_access
Licence (German):License LogoStandardbedingung laut Einverständniserklärung