The goal of this project is to advance the application of machine learning frameworks and tools in the process of malware detection. Specifically, a deep neural network architecture is proposed to classify application modules as benign or malicious, using the lower level memory block patterns that make up these modules. The modules correspond to blocks of functionality within files used in kernel and OS level processes as well as user level applications. The learned model is proposed to reside in an isolated core with strict communication restrictions to achieve incorruptibility as well as efficiency, therefore providing a probabilistic memory-level view of the system that is consistent with the user-level view. The lower level memory blocks are constructed using basic block sequences of varying sizes that are fed as input into Long-Short Term Memory models. Four configurations of the LSTM model are explored, by adding bi-directionality as well as Attention. Assembly level data from 50 PE files are extracted and basic blocks are constructed using the IDA Disassembler toolkit. The results show that longer basic block sequences result in richer LSTM hidden layer representations. The hidden states are fed as features into Max pooling layers or Attention layers, depending on the configuration being tested, and the final classification is performed using Logistic Regression with a single hidden layer. The bidirectional LSTM with Attention proved to be the best model, used on basic block sequences of size 29. The differences between the model’s ROC curves indicate a strong reliance on lower level, instructional features, as opposed to metadata or String features, that speak to the success of using entire assembly instructions as data, as opposed to just opcodes or higher level features.

Publication Date


Document Type

Master's Project

Student Type


Degree Name

Professional Studies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Graduate Programs & Research (Dubai)


Sanjay Modak

Advisor/Committee Member

Ioannis Karamitsos


RIT Dubai