Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) is an approach to inspecting and analyzing the software running inside a virtual machine from the hypervisor. Similarly, memory forensics analyzes the memory snapshots or dumps to understand the runtime state of a physical or virtual machine. The existing VMI and memory forensic tools rely on up-to-date kernel information of the target operating system (OS) to work properly, which often requires the availability of the kernel source code. This requirement prevents these tools from being widely deployed in real cloud environments. In this paper, we present a VMI tool called HyperLink that partially retrieves running process information from a guest virtual machine without its source code. While current introspection and memory forensic solutions support only one or a limited number of kernel versions of the target OS, HyperLink is a one-for-many introspection and forensic tool, i.e., it supports most, if not all, popular OSes regardless of their versions. We implement both online and offline versions of HyperLink.We validate the efficacy of HyperLink under different versions of Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X. For all the OSes we tested, HyperLink can successfully retrieve the process information in one minute or several seconds. Through online and offline analyses, we demonstrate that HyperLink can help users detect real-world kernel rootkits and play an important role in intrusion detection. Due to its version-agnostic property, HyperLink could become the first introspection and forensic tool that works well in autonomic cloud computing environments.
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Xiao, Jidong; Lu, Lei; Wang, Haining; and Zhu, Xiaoyun. (2016). "HyperLink: Virtual Machine Introspection and Memory Forensic Analysis without Kernel Source Code". Proceedings: 2016 IEEE International Conference on Autonomic Computing: IICAC 2016, . http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICAC.2016.46