Ensemble Malware Classifier considering PE Section Information

Ren Takeuchi, Rikima Mitsuhashi, Masakatsu Nishigaki, Tetsushi Ohki
IEICE Transactions on Fundamentals of Electronics, Communications and Computer Science, Sep 2023.
[ Paper ]


The war between cyber attackers and security analysts is gradually intensifying. Owing to the ease of obtaining and creating support tools, recent malware continues to diversify into variants and new species. This increases the burden on security analysts and hinders quick analysis. Identifying malware families is crucial for efficiently analyzing diversified malware; thus, numerous low-cost, general-purpose, deep-learning-based classification techniques have been proposed in recent years. Among these methods, malware images that represent binary features as images are often used. However, no models or architectures specific to malware classification have been proposed in previous studies. Herein, we conduct a detailed analysis of the behavior and structure of malware and focus on PE sections that capture the unique characteristics of malware. First, we validate the features of each PE section that can distinguish malware families. Then, we identify PE sections that contain adequate features to classify families. Further, we propose an ensemble learning-based classification method that combines features of highly discriminative PE sections to improve classification accuracy. The validation of two datasets confirms that the proposed method improves accuracy over the baseline, thereby emphasizing its importance.