Computer Science ETDs

Publication Date



Malicious software (malware) has become a prominent fixture in computing. There have been many methods developed over the years to combat the spread of malware, but these methods have inevitably been met with countermeasures. For instance, signature-based malware detection gave rise to polymorphic viruses. This arms race' will undoubtedly continue for the foreseeable future as the incentives to develop novel malware continue to outweigh the costs. In this dissertation, I describe analysis frameworks for three important problems related to malware: classification, clustering, and phylogenetic reconstruction. The important component of my methods is that they all take into account multiple views of malware. Typically, analysis has been performed in either the static domain (e.g. the byte information of the executable) or the dynamic domain (e.g. system call traces). This dissertation develops frameworks that can easily incorporate well-studied views from both domains, as well as any new views that may become popular in the future. The only restriction that must be met is that a positive semidefinite similarity (kernel) matrix must be defined on the view, a restriction that is easily met in practice. While the classification problem can be solved with well known multiple kernel learning techniques, the clustering and phylogenetic problems required the development of novel machine learning methods, which I present in this dissertation. It is important to note that although these methods were developed in the context of the malware problem, they are applicable to a wide variety of domains.




Malware, Support Vector Machine, Classification, Clustering, Phylogeny

Document Type


Degree Name

Computer Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Computer Science

First Advisor

Crandall, Jedidiah

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lane, Terran

Second Committee Member

Forrest, Stephanie

Third Committee Member

Neil, Joshua

Fourth Committee Member

Adams, Niall

Fifth Committee Member

Crandall, Jedidiah

Project Sponsors

Los Alamos National Laboratory