back to article 'R2D2' stops disk-wipe malware before it executes evil commands

Purdue University researchers reckon they've cracked how to protect data against “disk-wipe” malware. Led by Christopher Gutierrez, the team has created a shim of software that analyses write buffers before they reach storage, and if the write is destructive, it steps in to preserve the data targeted for destruction. Dubbed …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re-inventing the wheel?

    Now, I'm all in favor of methods which can prevent nasty software from achieving its goal(s) but the whole snapshot mechanic isn't exactly new, so quite honestly I don't understand what the big fuss is about.

    Snapshotting file systems has become pretty mainstream, even Windows has supported this service for many years already (starting in Windows XP and it become more mainstream in Windows Vista / 7). I've encountered quite a few malware infections (ransomware) on Windows where the solution was simply to roll the system back to a previous snapshot. Which, out of precaution, were made every 2 hours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re-inventing the wheel?

      It's the integration of introspection into the constant flow of I/O of the device(s). Doing it on the fly continuously can be cheaper than doing the same snapshots every two hours albeit a longer operation to execute and, further, less useful. Rollback of small snapshots is very inexpensive. I also like the whitelisting. The example given of reinstalling the OS is a valid point, if not one I'd pick.

      1. K Silver badge

        Re: Re-inventing the wheel?

        Agreed have an upvote.

        Would be interesting to know if the snapshot is done seemlessly, without user intervention or reboots.

        1. Cl9

          Re: Re-inventing the wheel?

          Windows provides APIs for creating snapshots/tracking changes to files. Take a look at VSS/Windows Shadow Copy.

          1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

            Re: Re-inventing the wheel?

            But can volume shadow copies be deleted by malware?

  2. Flakk

    After it swings into action and saves the day, does Queen Amidala's bodyguard come around to thank it?

  3. DropBear Silver badge

    This doesn't seem to do much against encrypting malware though - ultimately there's no way to know what counts as "destructive", any write operation destroys _something_. Unless you're prepared to use an infinitely versioning file system that preserves anything and everything ever written (yeah good luck with your storage medium capacity) the only viable solution I see is lots of decoy files, monitored by a watchdog that immediately trips and alerts as soon as any of them is written. It would still be an arms race about obscuring vs. detecting which files are the "trap" ones of course...

    1. DJO Silver badge

      This doesn't seem to do much against encrypting malware though

      Most data files and all executables have a fixed header, encryption will generally corrupt that so it should be possible to detect most cases of encryption on the fly.

      Just look to see if the first few bytes of a file change, if so backup the original and then if there are a lot more similarly affected files stop the operation and ask the user if it was intentional.

      The idea needs refinement but it should be possible to make it work pretty well.

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