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The Antivirus Hacker's Handbook by Elias Bachaalany, Joxean Koret

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Chapter 9Evading Heuristic Engines

A common component in antivirus software that detects malicious software without relying on specialized signatures is the heuristic engine. Heuristic engines make decisions based on general evidence instead of specifics like generic detections or typical signature-based scheme counterparts.

Heuristic engines, as implemented in AV products, rely on detection routines that assess evidence and behavior. They do not rely on specific signatures to try to catch a certain family of malware or malware that shares similar properties. This chapter covers the various types of heuristic engines, which, as you will observe, may be implemented in userland, kernel-land, or both. It's important to learn how to evade heuristic engines because today antivirus products try to rely more on the behavior of the inspected applications than on the old way of detecting malwares using signatures. Learning about various heuristic engines will facilitate the process of bypassing and evading them. Similarly, the AV engineers can get some insights into how attackers are evading detection and therefore can improve the detection engine accordingly.

Heuristic Engine Types

There are three different types of heuristic engines: static, dynamic, and hybrid, which use both strategies. Most often, static heuristic engines are considered true heuristic engines, while dynamic heuristic engines are called Host Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS). Static heuristic engines try to discover ...

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