AVScan2Vec: Feature Learning on Antivirus Scan Data for Production-Scale Malware Corpora





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When investigating a malicious file, searching for related files is a common task that malware analysts must perform. Given that production malware corpora may contain over a billion files and consume petabytes of storage, many feature extraction and similarity search approaches are computationally infeasible. Our work explores the potential of antivirus (AV) scan data as a scalable source of features for malware. This is possible because AV scan reports are widely available through services such as VirusTotal and are ~100x smaller than the average malware sample. The information within an AV scan report is abundant with information and can indicate a malicious file's family, behavior, target operating system, and many other characteristics. We introduce AVScan2Vec, a language model trained to comprehend the semantics of AV scan data. AVScan2Vec ingests AV scan data for a malicious file and outputs a meaningful vector representation. AVScan2Vec vectors are ~3 to 85x smaller than popular alternatives in use today, enabling faster vector comparisons and lower memory usage. By incorporating Dynamic Continuous Indexing, we show that nearest-neighbor queries on AVScan2Vec vectors can scale to even the largest malware production datasets. We also demonstrate that AVScan2Vec vectors are superior to other leading malware feature vector representations across nearly all classification, clustering, and nearest-neighbor lookup algorithms that we evaluated.