Linux Memory Analysis

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The output of a memory acquisition tool is a memory image which contains the raw physical memory of a system. A wide variety of tools can be used to search for strings or other patterns in a memory image, but to extract higher-level information about the state of the system a memory analysis tool is required.

Linux Memory Analysis Tools

Active Open Source Projects:

  • The Volatility Framework is a collection of tools, implemented in Python, for the extraction of digital artifacts from volatile memory (RAM) samples. See the LinuxMemoryForensics page on the Volatility wiki. (Availability/License: GNU GPL)
  • Rekall includes a Python-based analysis framework which forked from Volatility and has since added a number of features, as well as its own acquisition tools. It is usable as a library and is used as such in the GRR remote live forensics project.
  • The Red Hat Crash Utility is an extensible Linux kernel core dump analysis program. Although designed as a debugging tool, it also has been utilized for memory forensics. See, for example, the 2008 DFRWS challenge write-up by AAron Walters. (Availability/License: GNU GPL)

Commercial Products:

  • Forcepoint Threat Protection for Linux (Second Look) provides memory acquisition and analysis tools for Linux incident response and enterprise security. Its major differentiators versus Volatility are malware detection via integrity verification of the kernel and running processes, ease of use (automatic kernel version detection, a graphical user interface, etc.), and enterprise scalability (including live analysis of remote systems via a memory access agent). (Availability/License: commercial)

Inactive Open Source and Research Projects:

  • The Forensic Analysis Toolkit (FATKit) is a cross-platform, modular, and extensible digital investigation framework for analyzing volatile system memory. (Publication Date: 2006; Availability/License: not available)
  • Foriana is tool for extraction of information such as the process and modules lists from a RAM image using logical relations between OS structures. (Availability/License: GNU GPL)
  • Draugr is a Linux memory forensics tool written in Python. (Availability/License: GNU GPL)
  • Volatilitux is another Linux memory forensics tool written in Python. (Availability/License: GNU GPL)
  • Idetect (Linux) http://forensic.seccure.net/ is an older implementation of Linux memory analysis.

Linux Memory Analysis Challenges

Linux Memory Images

Aside from those in the challenges referenced above, sample Linux memory images can also be found on the Second Look web site at http://secondlookforensics.com/images.html.

Linux Memory Analysis Bibliography

Volatility Mailing List Threads on Support for Linux: