Browse Definitions :
Definition

process hollowing

Process hollowing is a security exploit in which an attacker removes code in an executable file and replaces it with malicious code. The process hollowing attack is used by hackers to cause an otherwise legitimate process to execute malicious code. This attack can be done while evading potential defenses, such as detection analysis software.

Process hollowing exploits are often initiated through malicious links in phishing emails. For example, a Windows user could select one of the infected links, leading their computer to execute a PowerShell command. That command could then download and install the attacker's malware.

Similar to other types of code injection attacks, process hollowing can be difficult to detect.

How it works

The malware used will typically allow the attacker to do something to a software program that seems real, like "add a pause during the launch process." During the pause, the attacker can remove legitimate code in the program's executable file and replace it with malicious code. This is referred to as hollowing. When the launch process resumes, it will execute the attacker's code before continuing to run normally. Essentially, process hollowing allows the attacker to turn a legitimate executable file into a malicious container that appears to be trustworthy. This strategy means it's highly likely that the target's antimalware software will not be able to detect there was a swap.

How to deal with process hollowing

It's difficult to prevent process hollowing attacks because they exploit required system processes. It's also difficult to detect process hollowing attacks because the malicious code can delete traces of itself from the disk to avoid being identified. As a result, many security vendors are recommending the use of post-breach strategies to deal with process hollowing. Because of this, a new market segment for this type of advanced persistent threat (APT) is emerging. Research firm Gartner is calling the new market segment "endpoint detection and response (EDR)." EDR focuses on creating tools that detect and investigate suspicious actions and other problems on hosts and endpoints.

This was last updated in April 2020

Continue Reading About process hollowing

SearchNetworking
  • routing table

    A routing table is a set of rules, often viewed in table format, that's used to determine where data packets traveling over an ...

  • CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing or supernetting)

    CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing or supernetting) is a method of assigning IP addresses that improves the efficiency of ...

  • throughput

    Throughput is a measure of how many units of information a system can process in a given amount of time.

SearchSecurity
  • quantum key distribution (QKD)

    Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a secure communication method for exchanging encryption keys only known between shared parties.

  • Common Body of Knowledge (CBK)

    In security, the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) is a comprehensive framework of all the relevant subjects a security professional...

  • buffer underflow

    A buffer underflow, also known as a buffer underrun or a buffer underwrite, is when the buffer -- the temporary holding space ...

SearchCIO
  • benchmark

    A benchmark is a standard or point of reference people can use to measure something else.

  • spatial computing

    Spatial computing broadly characterizes the processes and tools used to capture, process and interact with 3D data.

  • organizational goals

    Organizational goals are strategic objectives that a company's management establishes to outline expected outcomes and guide ...

SearchHRSoftware
  • talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is the strategic process employers use to analyze their long-term talent needs in the context of business ...

  • employee retention

    Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping productive and talented workers and reducing turnover by fostering a ...

  • hybrid work model

    A hybrid work model is a workforce structure that includes employees who work remotely and those who work on site, in a company's...

SearchCustomerExperience
  • database marketing

    Database marketing is a systematic approach to the gathering, consolidation and processing of consumer data.

  • cost per engagement (CPE)

    Cost per engagement (CPE) is an advertising pricing model in which digital marketing teams and advertisers only pay for ads when ...

  • B2C (Business2Consumer or Business-to-Consumer)

    B2C -- short for business-to-consumer -- is a retail model where products move directly from a business to the end user who has ...

Close