Enhanced Sinkhole System: Collecting System Details to Support Investigations

  • Martin UssathEmail author
  • Feng Cheng
  • Christoph Meinel
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10566)


Adversaries use increasingly complex and sophisticated tactics, techniques and procedures to compromise single computer systems and complete IT environments. Most of the standard detection and prevention systems are not able to provide a decent level of protection against sophisticated attacks, because adversaries are able to bypass various detection approaches. Therefore, additional solutions are needed to improve the prevention and detection of complex attacks. DNS sinkholing is one approach that can be used to redirect known malicious connections to dedicated sinkhole systems. The objective of these sinkhole systems is to interrupt the communication of the malware and to gather details about it. Due to the fact that current sinkhole systems focus on the collection of network related information, the gathered details cannot be used to support investigations in a comprehensive way and to improve detection and prevention capabilities.

In this paper, we propose a new approach for an enhanced sinkhole system that is able collect detailed information about potentially infected systems and the corresponding malware that is executed. This system is able to gather details, such as open network connections, running processes and process memory, to provide relevant information about the malware behavior and the used methods. The approach makes use of built-in remote management capabilities and standard commands as well as functions of the operating system to gather the details. This also ensures that the footprint of the collection approach is small and therefore also difficult to recognize by a malware. For the evaluation of the proposed approach, we executed real-world malware and collected details from the infected system with a prototypically implemented enhanced sinkhole system. The gathered information shows that these details can be used to support investigations and to improve security solutions.


DNS sinkholing Malware analysis Malware behavior Threat intelligence 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI)University of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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