Malcom - Malware Communication Analyzer
Malcom is a tool designed to analyze a system's network communication using graphical representations of network traffic, and cross-reference them with known malware sources. This comes handy when analyzing how certain malware species try to communicate with the outside world.
- What is Malcom?
- Quick how-to
- Technical specs
What is Malcom?
Malcom can help you:
- detect central command and control (C&C) servers
- understand peer-to-peer networks
- observe DNS fast-flux infrastructures
- quickly determine if a network artifact is 'known-bad'
The aim of Malcom is to make malware analysis and intel gathering faster by providing a human-readable version of network traffic originating from a given host or network. Convert network traffic information to actionable intelligence faster.
If you need some help, or want to contribute, feel free to join the mailing list or try to grab someone on IRC (#malcom on freenode.net, it's pretty quiet but there's always someone around). You can also hit me up on twitter @tomchop_
Here's an example graph for host tomchop.me
Dataset view (filtered to only show IPs)
- Make sure
- Elevate your privileges to root (yeah, I know, see disclaimer)
- Start the webserver using the default configuration with
./malcom.py -c malcom.conf(or see options with
For an example configuration file, you can copy
malcom.confDefault port is 8080
** Alternatively, run the feeds from
celery. See the feeds section for details on how to to this.
Malcom is written in python. Provided you have the necessary libraries, you should be able to run it on any platform. I highly recommend the use of python virtual environments (
virtualenv) so as not to mess up your system libraries.
The following was tested on Ubuntu server 14.04 LTS:
redis, and other dependencies
$ sudo apt-get install build-essential git python-dev libevent-dev mongodb libxml2-dev libxslt-dev zlib1g-dev redis-server libffi-dev libssl-dev python-virtualenv
Clone the Git repo:
$ git clone https://github.com/tomchop/malcom.git malcom
Create your virtualenv and activate it:
$ cd malcom $ virtualenv env-malcom $ source env-malcom/bin/activate
Get and install
$ cd .. $ wget http://www.secdev.org/projects/scapy/files/scapy-latest.tar.gz $ tar xvzf scapy-latest.tar.gz $ cd scapy-2.1.0 $ python setup.py install
Still from your virtualenv, install necessary python packages from the
$ cd ../malcom $ pip install -r requirements.txt
For IP geolocation to work, you need to download the Maxmind database and extract the file to the
malcom/Malcom/auxiliary/geoIPdirectory. You can get Maxmind's free (and thus more or less accurate) database from the following link: http://dev.maxmind.com/geoip/geoip2/geolite2/:
$ cd Malcom/auxiliary/geoIP $ wget http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLite2-City.mmdb.gz $ gunzip -d GeoLite2-City.mmdb.gz $ mv GeoLite2-City.mmdb GeoIP2-City.mmdb
Launch the webserver from the
./malcom.py --helpfor listen interface and ports.
- For starters, you can copy the
./malcom.py -c malcom.conf
- For starters, you can copy the
By default, Malcom will try to connect to a local mongodb instance and create its own database, named
malcom. If this is OK for you, you may skip the following steps. Otherwise, you need to edit the
database section of your
Set an other name for your Malcom database
By default, Malcom will use a database named
malcom. You can change this behavior by editing the
malcom.conf file and setting the
name directive from the
database section to your liking.
[database] ... name = my_malcom_database ...
By default, Malcom will try to connect to
localhost, but your database may be on another server. To change this, just set the
hosts directive. You may use hostnames or IPv4/v6 addresses (just keep in mind to enclose your IPv6 addresses between
If you'd like to use a standalone database on host
my.mongo.server, just set:
[database] ... hosts = my.mongo.server ...
You can also specify the port mongod is listening on by specifying it after the name/address of your server, separated with a
[database] ... hosts = localhost:27008 ...
And if you're using a
my.mongo2.server, just set:
[database] ... hosts = my.mongo1.server,my.mongo2.server ...
You may have configured your mongod instances to enforce authenticated connections. In that case, you have to set the username the driver will have to use to connect to your mongod instance. To do this, just add a
username directive to the
database section in the
malcom.conf file. You may also have to set the password with the
password directive. If the user does not have a password, just ignore (i.e. comment out) the
[database] ... username = my_user password = change_me ...
If the user is not linked to the
malcom database but to another one (for example the
admin database for a admin user), you will have to set the
authentication_database directive with the name of that database.
[database] ... authentication_database = some_other_database ...
Case of a replica set
When using a replica set, you may need to ensure you are connected to the right one. For that, just add the
replset directive to force the mongo driver to check the name of the replicaset
[database] ... replset = my_mongo_replica ...
By default, Malcom will try to connect to the primary node of th replica set. You may need/want to change that. In order to change that behaviour, just set the
read_preference directive. See the mongo documentation for more information.
[database] ... read_preference = NEAREST ...
Supported read preferences are:
The quickest way to get you started is to pull the Docker image from the public docker repo. To pull older, more stable Docker builds, use
tomchop/malcom instead of
$ sudo docker pull tomchop/malcom-automatic $ sudo docker run -p 8080:8080 -d --name malcom tomchop/malcom-automatic
http://<docker_host>:8080/ should get you started.
Quick note on TLS interception
Malcom now supports TLS interception. For this to work, you need to generate some keys in Malcom/networking/tlsproxy/keys. See the KEYS.md file there for more information on how to do this.
Make sure you also have IPtables (you already should) and permissions to do some port forwarding with it (you usually need to be root for that).
You can to this using the convenient
forward_port.sh script. For example, to intercept all TLS communications towards port 443, use
forward_port.sh 443 9999. You'll then have to tell malcom to run an interception proxy on port
Expect this process to be automated in future releases.
Malcom was designed and tested on a Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS VM.
If you're used to doing malware analysis, you probably already have tons of virtual machines running on a host OS. Just install Malcom on a new VM, and route your other VM's connections through Malcom. Use
enable_routing.sh to activate routing / NATing on the VM Malcom is running on. You'll need to add an extra network card to the guest OS.
As long as it's getting layer-3 network data, Malcom can be deployed anywhere. Although it's not recommended to use it on high-availability networks (it wasn't designed to be fast, see disclaimer), you can have it running at the end of your switch's mirror port or on your gateway.
To launch an instance of Malcom that ONLY fetches information from feeds, run Malcom with the
--feeds option or tweak the configuration file.
Your database should be populated automatically. If you can dig into the code, adding feeds is pretty straightforward (assuming you're generating
Evil objects). You can find an example feed in
/feeds/zeustracker. A more detailed tutorial is available here.
You can also use
celery to run feeds. Make sure celery is installed by running
$ pip install celery from your virtualenv. You can then use
celery worker -E --config=celeryconfig --loglevel=DEBUG --concurrency=12 to launch the feeding process with 12 simultaneous workers.
Malcom was written mostly from scratch, in Python. It uses the following frameworks to work:
- flask - a lightweight python web framework
- mongodb - a NoSQL database. It interfaces to python with pymongo
- redis - An advanced in-memory key-value store
- bootstrap - a CSS framework that will eventually kill webdesign, but makes it extremely easy to quickly "webize" applications that would only work through a command prompt.
Collaboration - The main direction I want this tool to take is to become collaborative. I have a few ideas for this, and I think it will become 100x more useful once data sharing is implemented.
Extendability - The other thing I want to include in the tool is the ability to more easily extend it. I don't have the same needs as everyone else, and this tool was conceived having my needs in mind. You can now customize Malcom by adding new feeds.
Once collaboration and extension are up and running, I think this will be helpful for more than one incident responder out there. :-)
This tool was coded during my free time. Like a huge number of tools we download and use daily, I wouldn't recommend to use it on a production environment where data stability and reliability is a MUST.
- It may be broken, have security gaps (running it as root in uncontrolled environments is probably not a good idea), or not work at all.
- It's written in python, so don't expect it to be ultra-fast or handle huge amounts of data easily.
- I'm no coder, so don't expect to see beautiful pythonic code everywhere you look. Or lots of comments.
It's in early stages of development, meaning "it works for me". You're free to share it, improve it, ask for pull requests.
Malcom - Malware communications analyzer
Copyright (C) 2013 Thomas Chopitea
This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
GNU General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program. If not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.
Please note that Redis, MongoDB, d3js, Maximind and Bootstrap (and other third party libraries included in Malcom) may have their own GPL compatible licences.