PE-Portable-executable

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Description

The Portable Executable (PE) format is a file format for executables, object code, DLLs, Font files, and others used in 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows operating systems.

For more information, refer to the Microsoft Portable Executable and Common Object File Format Specification.

PE format

MS DOS Header

Info.png
Note
This structure can be added in IDA-Pro as IMAGE_DOS_HEADER.
Offset Size Member Meaning
0x00 WORD emagic Magic DOS signature MZ (0x4d 0x5A)
0x02 WORD e_cblp Bytes on last page of file
0x04 WORD e_cp Pages in file
0x06 WORD e_crlc Relocations
0x08 WORD e_cparhdr Size of header in paragraphs
0x0A WORD e_minalloc Minimum extra paragraphs needed
0x0C WORD e_maxalloc Maximum extra paragraphs needed
0x0E WORD e_ss Initial (relative) SS value
0x10 WORD e_sp Initial SP value
0x12 WORD e_csum Checksum
0x14 WORD e_ip Initial IP value
0x16 WORD e_cs Initial (relative) CS value
0x18 WORD e_lfarlc File address of relocation table
0x1A WORD e_ovno Overloay number
0x1C WORD e_res[4] Reserved words (4 WORDs)
0x24 WORD e_oemid OEM identifier (for e_oeminfo)
0x26 WORD e_oeminfo OEM information; e_oemid specific
0x28 WORD e_res2[10] Reserved words (10 WORDs)
0x3c DWORD e_lfanew Offset to start of PE header

PE Header

Offsets shown are from the beginning of this section excepted for the Section Table (offset from the beginning of each section).

Info.png
Note
The below structures can be added in IDA-Pro as IMAGE_NT_HEADERS and IMAGE_SECTION_HEADER.
Offset Size Member Meaning

Image File Header (0x00)

0x00 DWORD Signature PE Magic Value
0x04 WORD Machine For a list of values, see machine types section
0x06 WORD NumberOfSections Number Of Sections
0x08 DWORD TimeDateStamp The low 32 bits of the number of seconds since 00:00 January 1, 1970 (a C run-time time_t value), that indicates when the file was created.
0x0C DWORD PointerToSymbolTable The file offset of the COFF symbol table, or zero if no COFF symbol table is present. This value should be zero for an image because COFF debugging information is deprecated.
0x10 DWORD NumberOfSymbols The number of entries in the symbol table. This data can be used to locate the string table, which immediately follows the symbol table. This value should be zero for an image because COFF debugging information is deprecated.
0x14 WORD SizeOfOptionalHeader The size of the optional header, which is required for executable files but not for object files. This value should be zero for an object file.
0x16 WORD Characteristics The flags that indicate the attributes of the file. For list of values, refer to the Image Characteristics section.

Optional Header (0x18)

0x18 WORD Magic The unsigned integer that identifies the state of the image file. The most common number is 0x10B, which identifies it as a normal executable file (PE32). 0x107 identifies it as a ROM image, and 0x20B identifies it as a PE32+ executable.
0x1A BYTE MajorLinkerVersion The linker major version number.
0x1B BYTE MinorLinkerVersion The linker minor version number.
0x1C DWORD SizeOfCode The size of the code (text) section, or the sum of all code sections if there are multiple sections.
0x20 DWORD SizeOfInitializedData The size of the initialized data section, or the sum of all such sections if there are multiple data sections.
0x24 DWORD SizeOfUninitializedData The size of the uninitialized data section (BSS), or the sum of all such sections if there are multiple BSS sections.
0x28 DWORD AddressOfEntryPoint The address of the entry point relative to the image base when the executable file is loaded into memory. For program images, this is the starting address. For device drivers, this is the address of the initialization function. An entry point is optional for DLLs. When no entry point is present, this field must be zero.
0x2C DWORD BaseOfCode The address that is relative to the image base of the beginning-of-code section when it is loaded into memory.
0x30 DWORD BaseOfData This field does not appear in PE32+. The address that is relative to the image base of the beginning-of-data section when it is loaded into memory.
0x34 DWORD ImageBase The preferred address of the first byte of image when loaded into memory; must be a multiple of 64 K. The default for DLLs is 0x10000000. The default for Windows CE EXEs is 0x00010000. The default for Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me is 0x00400000.
0x38 DWORD SectionAlignment The alignment (in bytes) of sections when they are loaded into memory. It must be greater than or equal to FileAlignment. The default is the page size for the architecture.
0x3C DWORD FileAlignment The alignment factor (in bytes) that is used to align the raw data of sections in the image file. The value should be a power of 2 between 512 and 64 K, inclusive. The default is 512. If the SectionAlignment is less than the architecture's page size, then FileAlignment must match SectionAlignment.
0x40 WORD MajorOperatingSystemVersion The major version number of the required operating system.
0x42 WORD MinorOperatingSystemVersion The minor version number of the required operating system.
0x44 WORD MajorImageVersion The major version number of the image.
0x46 WORD MinorImageVersion The minor version number of the image.
0x48 WORD MajorSubsystemVersion The major version number of the subsystem.
0x4A WORD MinorSubsystemVersion The minor version number of the subsystem.
0x4C DWORD Win32VersionValue Reserved, must be zero.
0x50 DWORD SizeOfImage The size (in bytes) of the image, including all headers, as the image is loaded in memory. It must be a multiple of SectionAlignment.
0x54 DWORD SizeOfHeaders The combined size of an MS‑DOS stub, PE header, and section headers rounded up to a multiple of FileAlignment.
0x58 DWORD CheckSum The image file checksum. The algorithm for computing the checksum is incorporated into IMAGHELP.DLL. The following are checked for validation at load time: all drivers, any DLL loaded at boot time, and any DLL that is loaded into a critical Windows process.
0x5C WORD Subsystem The subsystem that is required to run this image. For list of values, refer to the Windows Subsystem section.
0x5E WORD DllCharacteristics For list of values, refer to the DLL Characteristics section.
0x60 DWORD SizeOfStackReserve The size of the stack to reserve. Only SizeOfStackCommit is committed; the rest is made available one page at a time until the reserve size is reached.
0x64 DWORD SizeOfStackCommit The size of the stack to commit.
0x68 DWORD SizeOfHeapReserve The size of the local heap space to reserve. Only SizeOfHeapCommit is committed; the rest is made available one page at a time until the reserve size is reached.
0x6C DWORD SizeOfHeapCommit The size of the local heap space to commit.
0x70 DWORD LoaderFlags Reserved, must be zero.
0x74 DWORD NumberOfRvaAndSizes

The number of data-directory entries in the remainder of the optional header. Each describes a location and size.

Info.png
Note
Malware can set an invalid value for this flag to crash the debugger. Read more.

Data Directories (0x78)

0x78 DWORD Export Table RVA of Export Directory
0x7C DWORD size of Export Directory
0x80 DWORD Import Table RVA of Import Directory (array of IIDs)
0x84 DWORD size of Import Directory (array of IIDs)
0x88 DWORD Resource Table RVA of Resource Directory
0x8C DWORD size of Resource Directory
0x90 DWORD Exception Table RVA of Exception Directory
0x94 DWORD size of Exception Directory
0x98 DWORD Certificate Table Raw Offset of Security Directory
0x9C DWORD size of Security Directory
0xA0 DWORD Base Relocation Table RVA of Base Relocation Directory
0xA4 DWORD size of Base Relocation Directory
0xA8 DWORD Debug RVA of Debug Directory
0xAC DWORD size of Debug Directory
0xB0 DWORD Architecture RVA of Copyright Note
0xB4 DWORD size of Copyright Note
0xB8 DWORD Global Ptr RVA to be used as Global Pointer (IA-64 only)
0xBC DWORD Not used
0xC0 DWORD TLS Table RVA of Thread Local Storage Directory
0xC4 DWORD size of Thread Local Storage Directory
0xC8 DWORD Load Config Table RVA of Load Configuration Directory
0xCC DWORD size of Load Configuration Directory
0xD0 DWORD Bound Import RVA of Bound Import Directory
0xD4 DWORD size of Bound Import Directory
0xD8 DWORD IAT RVA of first Import Address Table
0xDC DWORD total size of all Import Address Tables
0xE0 DWORD Delay Import Descriptor RVA of Delay Import Directory
0xE4 DWORD size of Delay Import Directory
0xE8 DWORD CLR Runtime Header RVA of COM Header (top level info & metadata...)
0xEC DWORD size of COM Header (in .NET executables)
0xF0 DWORD ZERO (Reserved) Reserved
0xF4 DWORD ZERO (Reserved) Reserved

Section Table (0xF8)

0x00 DWORD Name An 8-byte, null-padded UTF-8 encoded string. If the string is exactly 8 characters long, there is no terminating null. For longer names, this field contains a slash (/) that is followed by an ASCII representation of a decimal number that is an offset into the string table. Executable images do not use a string table and do not support section names longer than 8 characters. Long names in object files are truncated if they are emitted to an executable file.
0x08 DWORD VirtualSize The total size of the section when loaded into memory. If this value is greater than SizeOfRawData, the section is zero-padded. This field is valid only for executable images and should be set to zero for object files.
0x0C DWORD VirtualAddress For executable images, the address of the first byte of the section relative to the image base when the section is loaded into memory. For object files, this field is the address of the first byte before relocation is applied; for simplicity, compilers should set this to zero. Otherwise, it is an arbitrary value that is subtracted from offsets during relocation.
0x10 DWORD SizeOfRawData

The size of the section (for object files) or the size of the initialized data on disk (for image files). For executable images, this must be a multiple of FileAlignment from the optional header. If this is less than VirtualSize, the remainder of the section is zero-filled. Because the SizeOfRawData field is rounded but the VirtualSize field is not, it is possible for SizeOfRawData to be greater than VirtualSize as well. When a section contains only uninitialized data, this field should be zero.

Info.png
Note
Malware can set an invalid value for this flag to crash the debugger. Read more.
0x14 DWORD PointerToRawData The file pointer to the first page of the section within the COFF file. For executable images, this must be a multiple of FileAlignment from the optional header. For object files, the value should be aligned on a 4‑byte boundary for best performance. When a section contains only uninitialized data, this field should be zero.
0x18 DWORD PointerToRelocations The file pointer to the beginning of relocation entries for the section. This is set to zero for executable images or if there are no relocations.
0x1C DWORD PointerToLinenumbers The file pointer to the beginning of line-number entries for the section. This is set to zero if there are no COFF line numbers. This value should be zero for an image because COFF debugging information is deprecated.
0x20 WORD NumberOfRelocations The number of relocation entries for the section. This is set to zero for executable images.
0x22 WORD NumberOfLineNumbers The number of line-number entries for the section. This value should be zero for an image because COFF debugging information is deprecated.
0x24 DWORD Characteristics The flags that describe the characteristics of the section. See values in the Section Characteristics section.
Repeats for rest of sections
0x00 8 Bytes Name Name of second section header
... ... ... ...

Appendices

Machine Types

Constant Value Description
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_UNKNOWN 0x0 The contents of this field are assumed to be applicable to any machine type
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_AM33 0x1d3 Matsushita AM33
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_AMD64 0x8664 x64
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_ARM 0x1c0 ARM little endian
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_ARMNT 0x1c4 ARMv7 (or higher) Thumb mode only
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_ARM64 0xaa64 ARMv8 in 64-bit mode
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_EBC 0xebc EFI byte code
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_I386 0x14c Intel 386 or later processors and compatible processors
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_IA64 0x200 Intel Itanium processor family
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_M32R 0x9041 Mitsubishi M32R little endian
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_MIPS16 0x266 MIPS16
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_MIPSFPU 0x366 MIPS with FPU
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_MIPSFPU16 0x466 MIPS16 with FPU
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_POWERPC 0x1f0 Power PC little endian
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_POWERPCFP 0x1f1 Power PC with floating point support
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_R4000 0x166 MIPS little endian
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_SH3 0x1a2 Hitachi SH3
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_SH3DSP 0x1a3 Hitachi SH3 DSP
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_SH4 0x1a6 Hitachi SH4
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_SH5 0x1a8 Hitachi SH5
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_THUMB 0x1c2 ARM or Thumb (“interworking”)
IMAGE_FILE_MACHINE_WCEMIPSV2 0x169 MIPS little-endian WCE v2

Image Characteristics

The Characteristics field contains flags that indicate attributes of the object or image file. The following flags are currently defined.

Flag Value Description
IMAGE_FILE_RELOCS_STRIPPED 0x0001 Image only, Windows CE, and Windows NT® and later. This indicates that the file does not contain base relocations and must therefore be loaded at its preferred base address. If the base address is not available, the loader reports an error. The default behavior of the linker is to strip base relocations from executable (EXE) files.
IMAGE_FILE_EXECUTABLE_IMAGE 0x0002 Image only. This indicates that the image file is valid and can be run. If this flag is not set, it indicates a linker error.
IMAGE_FILE_LINE_NUMS_STRIPPED 0x0004 COFF line numbers have been removed. This flag is deprecated and should be zero.
IMAGE_FILE_LOCAL_SYMS_STRIPPED 0x0008 COFF symbol table entries for local symbols have been removed. This flag is deprecated and should be zero.
IMAGE_FILE_AGGRESSIVE_WS_TRIM 0x0010 Obsolete. Aggressively trim working set. This flag is deprecated for Windows 2000 and later and must be zero.
IMAGE_FILE_LARGE_ADDRESS_AWARE 0x0020 Application can handle > 2‑GB addresses.
0x0040 This flag is reserved for future use.
IMAGE_FILE_BYTES_REVERSED_LO 0x0080 Little endian: the least significant bit (LSB) precedes the most significant bit (MSB) in memory. This flag is deprecated and should be zero.
IMAGE_FILE_32BIT_MACHINE 0x0100 Machine is based on a 32-bit-word architecture.
IMAGE_FILE_DEBUG_STRIPPED 0x0200 Debugging information is removed from the image file.
IMAGE_FILE_REMOVABLE_RUN_FROM_SWAP 0x0400 If the image is on removable media, fully load it and copy it to the swap file.
IMAGE_FILE_NET_RUN_FROM_SWAP 0x0800 If the image is on network media, fully load it and copy it to the swap file.
IMAGE_FILE_SYSTEM 0x1000 The image file is a system file, not a user program.
IMAGE_FILE_DLL 0x2000 The image file is a dynamic-link library (DLL). Such files are considered executable files for almost all purposes, although they cannot be directly run.
IMAGE_FILE_UP_SYSTEM_ONLY 0x4000 The file should be run only on a uniprocessor machine.
IMAGE_FILE_BYTES_REVERSED_HI 0x8000 Big endian: the MSB precedes the LSB in memory. This flag is deprecated and should be zero.

Examples

Suppose we are analyzing a 32-bit executable that has a Characteristics value of 0x103. It means that following flags are set:

  • 0x100: IMAGE_FILE_32BIT_MACHINE
  • 0x002: IMAGE_FILE_EXECUTABLE_IMAGE
  • 0x001: IMAGE_FILE_RELOCS_STRIPPED

A 64-bit executable could have a value of 0x22 (IMAGE_FILE_32BIT_MACHINE flag not set, indicating that IMAGE_FILE_64BIT_MACHINE is set instead):

  • 0x20: IMAGE_FILE_LARGE_ADDRESS_AWARE
  • 0x02: IMAGE_FILE_EXECUTABLE_IMAGE

Windows Subsystem

The following values defined for the Subsystem field of the optional header determine which Windows subsystem (if any) is required to run the image.

Constant Value Description
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_UNKNOWN 0 An unknown subsystem
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_NATIVE 1 Device drivers and native Windows processes
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_WINDOWS_GUI 2 The Windows graphical user interface (GUI) subsystem
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_WINDOWS_CUI 3 The Windows character subsystem
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_POSIX_CUI 7 The Posix character subsystem
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_WINDOWS_CE_GUI 9 Windows CE
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_EFI_APPLICATION 10 An Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) application
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_EFI_BOOT_SERVICE_DRIVER 11 An EFI driver with boot services
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_EFI_RUNTIME_DRIVER 12 An EFI driver with run-time services
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_EFI_ROM 13 An EFI ROM image
IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_XBOX 14 XBOX

DLL Characteristics

The following values are defined for the DllCharacteristics field of the optional header.

Constant Value Description
0x0001 Reserved, must be zero.
0x0002 Reserved, must be zero.
0x0004 Reserved, must be zero.
0x0008 Reserved, must be zero.
IMAGE_DLL_CHARACTERISTICS_DYNAMIC_BASE 0x0040 DLL can be relocated at load time.
IMAGE_DLL_CHARACTERISTICS_FORCE_INTEGRITY 0x0080 Code Integrity checks are enforced.
IMAGE_DLL_CHARACTERISTICS_NX_COMPAT 0x0100 Image is NX compatible.
IMAGE_DLLCHARACTERISTICS_NO_ISOLATION 0x0200 Isolation aware, but do not isolate the image.
IMAGE_DLLCHARACTERISTICS_NO_SEH 0x0400 Does not use structured exception (SE) handling. No SE handler may be called in this image.
IMAGE_DLLCHARACTERISTICS_NO_BIND 0x0800 Do not bind the image.
0x1000 Reserved, must be zero.
IMAGE_DLLCHARACTERISTICS_WDM_DRIVER 0x2000 A WDM driver.
IMAGE_DLLCHARACTERISTICS_TERMINAL_SERVER_AWARE 0x8000 Terminal Server aware.

Section Characteristics

The section flags in the Characteristics field of the section header indicate characteristics of the section.

Flag Value Description
0x00000000 Reserved for future use.
0x00000001 Reserved for future use.
0x00000002 Reserved for future use.
0x00000004 Reserved for future use.
IMAGE_SCN_TYPE_NO_PAD 0x00000008 The section should not be padded to the next boundary. This flag is obsolete and is replaced by IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_1BYTES. This is valid only for object files.
0x00000010 Reserved for future use.
IMAGE_SCN_CNT_CODE 0x00000020 The section contains executable code.
IMAGE_SCN_CNT_INITIALIZED_DATA 0x00000040 The section contains initialized data.
IMAGE_SCN_CNT_UNINITIALIZED_DATA 0x00000080 The section contains uninitialized data.
IMAGE_SCN_LNK_OTHER 0x00000100 Reserved for future use.
IMAGE_SCN_LNK_INFO 0x00000200 The section contains comments or other information. The .drectve section has this type. This is valid for object files only.
0x00000400 Reserved for future use.
IMAGE_SCN_LNK_REMOVE 0x00000800 The section will not become part of the image. This is valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_LNK_COMDAT 0x00001000 The section contains COMDAT data. This is valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_GPREL 0x00008000 The section contains data referenced through the global pointer (GP).
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_PURGEABLE 0x00020000 Reserved for future use.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_16BIT 0x00020000 For ARM machine types, the section contains Thumb code. Reserved for future use with other machine types.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_LOCKED 0x00040000 Reserved for future use.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_PRELOAD 0x00080000 Reserved for future use.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_1BYTES 0x00100000 Align data on a 1-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_2BYTES 0x00200000 Align data on a 2-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_4BYTES 0x00300000 Align data on a 4-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_8BYTES 0x00400000 Align data on an 8-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_16BYTES 0x00500000 Align data on a 16-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_32BYTES 0x00600000 Align data on a 32-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_64BYTES 0x00700000 Align data on a 64-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_128BYTES 0x00800000 Align data on a 128-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_256BYTES 0x00900000 Align data on a 256-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_512BYTES 0x00A00000 Align data on a 512-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_1024BYTES 0x00B00000 Align data on a 1024-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_2048BYTES 0x00C00000 Align data on a 2048-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_4096BYTES 0x00D00000 Align data on a 4096-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_ALIGN_8192BYTES 0x00E00000 Align data on an 8192-byte boundary. Valid only for object files.
IMAGE_SCN_LNK_NRELOC_OVFL 0x01000000 The section contains extended relocations.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_DISCARDABLE 0x02000000 The section can be discarded as needed.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_NOT_CACHED 0x04000000 The section cannot be cached.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_NOT_PAGED 0x08000000 The section is not pageable.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_SHARED 0x10000000 The section can be shared in memory.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_EXECUTE 0x20000000 The section can be executed as code.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_READ 0x40000000 The section can be read.
IMAGE_SCN_MEM_WRITE 0x80000000 The section can be written to.

Export Table

Offsets shown from beginning of table (given at offset 0x78 from start of PE header). The following 40 Bytes repeat for each export library (DLL whose functions are imported by the executable) and ends with one full of zeroes.

Offset Size Field Description
0x00 DWORD Characteristics (Export Flags) Reserved, must be 0.
0x04 DWORD TimeDateStamp The time and date that the export data was created.
0x08 WORD MajorVersion The major version number. The major and minor version numbers can be set by the user.
0x0A WORD MinorVersion The minor version number.
0x0C DWORD Name (Name RVA) The address of the ASCII string that contains the name of the DLL. This address is relative to the image base.
0x10 DWORD Base (Ordinal Base) The starting ordinal number for exports in this image. This field specifies the starting ordinal number for the export address table. It is usually set to 1.
0x14 DWORD NumberOfFunctions (Address Table Entries) The number of entries in the export address table.
0x18 DWORD NumberOfNames (Number of Name Pointers) The number of entries in the name pointer table. This is also the number of entries in the ordinal table.
0x1C DWORD AddressOfFunctions (Export Address Table RVA) The address of the export address table, relative to the image base.
0x20 DWORD AddressOfNames (Name Pointer RVA) The address of the export name pointer table, relative to the image base. The table size is given by the Number of Name Pointers field.
0x24 DWORD AddressOfNameOrdinals (Ordinal Table RVA) The address of the ordinal table, relative to the image base.

Example of kernel32.dll export table viewed in CFF Explorer:

Export-table-kernel32-cff-explorer.png

Import Table

Offsets shown from beginning of table (given at offset 0x80 from start of PE header). The following 5 DWORDS repeat for each import library (DLL whose functions are imported by the executable) and ends with one full of zeroes.

Offset Size Field Description
0x00 DWORD OriginalFirstThunk RVA to Image_Thunk_Data
0x04 DWORD TimeDateStamp zero unless bound against imported DLL
0x08 DWORD ForwarderChain pointer to 1st redirected function (or 0)
0x0C DWORD Name1 RVA to name in null-terminated ASCII
0x10 DWORD FirstThunk RVA to Image_Thunk_Data

Analyze PE files

Basic Static Analysis

Operation Purpose Windows tools Linux tools
Antivirus scanning Identify whether the executable is already identified by antiviruses
Hashing Find additional information on the Internet using the hash as searched string (e.g. search in Google)
  • md5sum, sha1sum, sha256sum
Find strings
  • Guess the purpose of the malware (presence of network information, domains, IPs)
  • Find imports
  • Guess whether the malware is likely to be packed (number of imports, information in clear, presence of "LoadLibrary" and "GetProcAddress")
  • strings (CLI)
Detect packer, unpack Attempt to unpack the malware in case it is packed. More information about packers can be found here.
PE file header and sections Gather rough information, timestamp, ...
See imports/exports Guess the purpose of the malware
  • objdump -x malware.exe
  • strings
View/export resources E.g. reveal dropped payloads in case of a malware dropper
  • wrestool from the icoutils package

Basic Dynamic Analysis

Operation Purpose Windows tools
Mutex Are there any mutex created (useful to identify the malware, e.g. IOC)? Process Explorer (procexp) ("View > Lower Pane View > Handles" or CTRL+H)
Dynamically loaded DLLs? What are there purposes (e.g. network)? Process Explorer (procexp) ("View > Lower Pane View > DLLs" or CTRL+D)
Files created? Are there any files created/dropped by the malware? Process Monitor (procmon)
Registry keys created? Are there any registry keys created by the malware (e.g. persistence)? Process Monitor (procmon)
Network traffic
  • Is there any network traffic generated by the malware?
  • Is it in clear or encrypted?
  • Does it comply to standard ports (e.g. traffic to 443/tcp that is not SSL)?

Advanced Static Analysis

Advanced Dynamic Analysis

Incomplete.png
INCOMPLETE SECTION OR ARTICLE
This section/article is being written and is therefore not complete.
Thank you for your comprehension.

Example

Let's analyze a malware provided by the book "Practical Malware Analysis": Lab03-01.exe.

Basic Analysis

Imports

We start our analysis with a basic static analysis.

$ objdump -x /data/tmp/Lab03-01.exe

/data/tmp/Lab03-01.exe:     file format pei-i386
/data/tmp/Lab03-01.exe
architecture: i386, flags 0x0000010a:
EXEC_P, HAS_DEBUG, D_PAGED
start address 0x00400208

Characteristics 0x10f
	relocations stripped
	executable
	line numbers stripped
	symbols stripped
	32 bit words

Time/Date		Sun Jan  6 15:51:31 2008

[snip]

There is an import table in .text at 0x40021c

The Import Tables (interpreted .text section contents)
 vma:            Hint    Time      Forward  DLL       First
                 Table   Stamp     Chain    Name      Thunk
 0000021c	00000244 00000000 00000000 0000025a 00000200

	DLL Name: kernel32.dll
	vma:  Hint/Ord Member-Name Bound-To
	024c	  128  ExitProcess

 00000230	00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000

Sections:
Idx Name          Size      VMA               LMA               File off  Algn
  0 .text         00000068  00400200  00400200  00000200  2**2
                  CONTENTS, ALLOC, LOAD, READONLY, CODE
  1 .data         0000168f  00400400  00400400  00000400  2**2
                  CONTENTS, ALLOC, LOAD, DATA
SYMBOL TABLE:
no symbols

From the above lines, we know that:

  • the malware has been developed for an x86 architecture
  • the malware has been created in early 2008
  • kernel32.dll is imported, there is 1 import: ExitProcess

And if you prefer a GUI-based tool, you can use pe_view:

Pe view-lab0301.png

Packed?

As there is only 1 import, it's likely that the malware is packed. PEiD finds a signature that matches "PEncrypt 3.1 final":

PEiD-Lab0301.png

Strings

Let's see what we can learn from the strings command:

$ strings /data/tmp/Lab03-01.exe 
ExitProcess                                              [1]
kernel32.dll                                             [1]
ws2_32
cks=u
ttp=
cks=
CONNECT %s:%i HTTP/1.0                                   [2]
[snip]
advapi32                                                 [3]
ntdll
user32
[snip]
advpack
StubPath
SOFTWARE\Classes\http\shell\open\commandV                [4]
Software\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\    [5]
test
 www.practicalmalwareanalysis.com                        [6]
admin	
VideoDriver                                              [7]
WinVMX32-                                                [8]
vmx32to64.exe                                            [9]
SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run            [10]
SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders [11]
AppData                                                  [12]
[snip]
  1. These are the imports previously identified
  2. It seems to correspond to a HTTP connection pattern (would confirm the network features)
  3. It seems to correspond to additional loaded DLLs though the ".dll" extension is missing
  4. This registry key is used to change the default browser and the default browser's options
  5. Active Setup installs current user data when the package is not installed in the user context
  6. This is probably the domain the malware connects to (see [2])
  7. This could indicate that the malware is hiding behind a video driver
  8. This string seems to be known as a mutex (we will confirm it during the basic dynamic analysis)
  9. This could indicate a dropped executable file
  10. Persistence registry key
  11. Organization of the Start menu
  12. User data folders

Conclusions of the Basic Static Analysis

This is quite odd that we were able to see so many information from the strings command as we made the assumption the file is probably packed. It could be fake data left by the author of the malware to trick a non-experienced Malware Analyst.

Anyway, we have reached a dead-end for the basic static analysis and we can now start the Basic Dynamic Analysis to confirm our assumptions.

Basic Dynamic Analysis

Network traffic

First of all, our assumptions regarding the network behavior seem to be confirmed.

This feature is confirmed by Process Explorer (procexp) that discloses the call to 2 network DLLs:

  • ws2_32.dll: Windows Socket 2.0 32-Bit DLL
  • wshtcpip.dll: Windows Sockets Helper DLL

Process-explorer-handles-lab0301.png

ApateDNS shows a regular connection to "www.practicalmalwareanalysis.com":

Apatedns-lab0301.png

Tshark indicates that the traffic is established to port 443/tcp (SSL?)

$ tshark -n -r lab0301-filtered.pcap -z io,phs
  1   0.000000 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 TCP 62 1049 > 443 [SYN] Seq=0 Win=64240 Len=0 MSS=1460 SACK_PERM=1
  2   0.000470 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 62 443 > 1049 [SYN, ACK] Seq=0 Ack=1 Win=5840 Len=0 MSS=1460 SACK_PERM=1
  3   0.000495 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 TCP 54 1049 > 443 [ACK] Seq=1 Ack=1 Win=64240 Len=0
  4   0.000803 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 SSL 310 Continuation Data
  5   0.001120 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 60 443 > 1049 [ACK] Seq=1 Ack=257 Win=6432 Len=0
  6   0.004805 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 60 443 > 1049 [FIN, ACK] Seq=1 Ack=257 Win=6432 Len=0
  7   0.004833 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 TCP 54 1049 > 443 [ACK] Seq=257 Ack=2 Win=64240 Len=0
  8   0.004956 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 60 443 > 1049 [RST, ACK] Seq=2 Ack=257 Win=6432 Len=0
  9   0.004968 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 60 443 > 1049 [RST] Seq=2 Win=0 Len=0
 10  30.004576 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 TCP 62 1050 > 443 [SYN] Seq=0 Win=64240 Len=0 MSS=1460 SACK_PERM=1
 11  30.005164 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 62 443 > 1050 [SYN, ACK] Seq=0 Ack=1 Win=5840 Len=0 MSS=1460 SACK_PERM=1
 12  30.005198 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 TCP 54 1050 > 443 [ACK] Seq=1 Ack=1 Win=64240 Len=0
 13  30.005563 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 SSL 310 Continuation Data
 14  30.005984 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 60 443 > 1050 [ACK] Seq=1 Ack=257 Win=6432 Len=0
 15  30.013920 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 60 443 > 1050 [FIN, ACK] Seq=1 Ack=257 Win=6432 Len=0
 16  30.013987 192.168.56.2 -> 192.168.56.3 TCP 54 1050 > 443 [ACK] Seq=257 Ack=2 Win=64240 Len=0
 17  30.014430 192.168.56.3 -> 192.168.56.2 TCP 60 443 > 1050 [RST, ACK] Seq=2 Ack=257 Win=6432 Len=0

===================================================================
Protocol Hierarchy Statistics
Filter: 

eth                                      frames:17 bytes:1504
  ip                                     frames:17 bytes:1504
    tcp                                  frames:17 bytes:1504
      ssl                                frames:2 bytes:620
===================================================================

INetSim confirms the connections, to port 443/tcp. However, it seems that it is not a SSL traffic:

[email protected]:/opt/inetsim/log# more service.log 
[2013-07-03 07:40:01] [1021] [https_443_tcp 1052] [192.168.56.2:1037] connect
[2013-07-03 07:40:01] [1021] [https_443_tcp 1052] [192.168.56.2:1037] info: Error setting up SSL:  SSL accept attempt failed with unknown error
error:140760FC:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_CLIENT_HELLO:unknown protocol
[2013-07-03 07:40:01] [1021] [https_443_tcp 1052] [192.168.56.2:1037] disconnect
[2013-07-03 07:40:31] [1021] [https_443_tcp 1053] [192.168.56.2:1039] connect
[2013-07-03 07:40:31] [1021] [https_443_tcp 1053] [192.168.56.2:1039] info: Error setting up SSL:  SSL accept attempt failed with unknown error
error:140760FC:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_CLIENT_HELLO:unknown protocol
[2013-07-03 07:40:31] [1021] [https_443_tcp 1053] [192.168.56.2:1039] disconnect
[snip]

WireShark confirms that regular 256 bytes payloads are sent:

Wireshark-lab0301.png

Mutex

Process Explorer (procexp) confirms that the malware creates a mutex: WinVMX32.

Mutex-lab0301.png

Files and registry keys

Now, let's have a look at the written files and created registry keys with process monitor (procmon). We create a filter as follows:

Procmon-filters-lab0301.png

The below screenshots shows that the malware:

  • drops an executable named vmx32to64.exe that has a size of 7168 (the same as the original Lab03-01.exe)
  • creates a persistence registry key in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\VideoDriver to ensure that this dropped executable automatically starts at startup

Procmon-regsetvalue-writefile-lab0301.png

Procmon-vmx32to64-lab0301.png

Procmon-persistence-key-lab0301.png

Conclusions of the Basic Dynamic Analysis

The basic dynamic analysis confirms the initial assumptions:

  • the malware has connectivity features. It sends an encrypted 256 bytes payload to www.practicalmalwareanalysis.com over port 443/tcp (though not SSL) every 30 seconds
  • the malware drops a copy of itself in C:\Windows\system32\vmw32to64.exe
  • it creates a persistence startup registry key to ensure it is automatically started at startup, and hides it in a fake video driver
  • the malware creates a mutex (WinVMX32)

At this stage of the analysis, we have gathered enough information to start an Advanced Static Analysis and try to decrypt the network traffic.


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