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Practical Malware Analysis

Publisher: No Starch Press

Practical Malware Analysis takes you behind the scenes of malware analysis, a field where the good guys are always catching up with what the bad guys are doing, a never-ending detective job. As a person who regularly removes malware, or otherwise santizes machines, this book is of great interest to me, though it is still pretty much over my head. So perhaps my opinion of the book will not be useful to the programmer or engineer, but more to the support tech.

First off, these sorts of books tend to point you in the direction of free tools that are available on the web to help you do your job. Practical Malware Analysis is particularly good at this. Skimming through only a few pages, I found several helpful tools such as the site VirusTotal, which will scan your malware using several different anti-virus program's definitions to see which ones would potentially pick up your malware. Practical Malware Analysis walks you through a scenario using each tool, so you don't feel like you're just tossed a few tools and left to your own devices.

Little snippets of interesting features are packed in throughout the book. I thought I'd see nothing new in the section where you set up a Vmware virtual environment for testing, but wow, there are lots of features I wasn't aware of. Common tools like Process Explorer also get brought into a new light. There are also labs you can run, which you can download from the book's site. Strangely, however, the location of the lab files seems to be difficult to find in the actual book.

The book is written as close to plain English as it probably can be. Some books like this will put you to sleep in seconds, requiring you to scan the same sentence over and over to extract any meaning. No, you can dive into any particular chapter in the book and come away with something. And it may help you look at some common IT tools in a new light. After all, the kind of mind it takes to disassemble something and learn from it is going to be pretty open to new ideas.

This book isn't going to make you an overnight malware expert. You need to come to this book with quite a few prerequisite skills, with programming knowledge being very helpful. You can still, however, learn a few techniques that will let you toy around with that latest aggravating piece of malware that's been making its rounds in your organization. These basic concepts don't make up the majority of the book, but you can still learn something from this book, even if you lack the skill to fully utilize it. Even for the expert, of course, you can't guarantee any kind of result when you set out to analyze someone else's code, but this book does a good job of laying down the framework to begin.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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