Malware Analysis and Reverse Engineering Playbook

December 16, 20233 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • To increase the proficiency of the security team in identifying, analyzing, and mitigating malware threats through reverse engineering.
  • To develop and refine malware response protocols.
  • To enhance understanding of the techniques and tools used in malware analysis.
  • To harden the defense capabilities of the company against sophisticated malware attacks.

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced


  • DataShield Inc., a high-profile cybersecurity firm specializing in data encryption services, has just discovered an anomaly in its network traffic that suggests the presence of a potential malware on its corporate network. The company has a rich client base ranging from financial institutions to healthcare providers, making them a lucrative target for attackers. The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Dr. Sarah Connors, has decided to conduct a Cyber Range exercise for her security team.
  • The hypothetical scenario developed for the exercise begins with an apparent insider threat where an ostensibly compromised employee’s credentials are used to inject an advanced persistent threat (APT) into the network. The APT is designed to evade traditional antivirus solutions and to establish a command and control server to exfiltrate sensitive data. The corporate network, named ‘DataNet’, consists of several departments, each with its servers and endpoints – Finance, Development, HR, and Operations. The security team will have to isolate the malware originating from an HR department server used to store personal data of the employees.
  • The stakes are high as the company is set to sign several new contracts, and a data breach could significantly impact its market reputation and financial stability. The exercise will allow the security team to test and re-validate their risk assessment and incident response processes, and also to better secure DataNet against real threats.


  • Malware Analysis & Reverse Engineering

Exercise Attack Steps:

  • Initial Compromise: A simulated phishing attack will be used as a vector to gain access to the HR department’s server, which introduces the malware into the system.
  • Establish Foothold: The malware, upon execution, establishes a backdoor connection to an external control server while remaining stealthy.
  • Evasion Techniques: It then employs rootkit-like functionalities to hide its presence from the operating system and active protective measures.
  • Discovery and Analysis: The security team must then detect the malware using network traffic analysis and endpoint detection solutions.
  • Containment: Once detected, the team must contain the malware by segregating the HR server from the rest of the DataNet.
  • Eradication and Recovery: The security team must reverse engineer the malware to understand its functionalities, eradication process, and repair the compromised system.
  • Lessons Learned: A debrief session is held post-exercise to reinforce what was learned and to update the incident response and malware analysis playbooks accordingly.