Milestone 02: Enabling Rekall profile, OS support, Xen events support in TinyVMI

1. Milestone Goal: “Port input module and os support, event support, architecture support, and all examples of LibVMi into MiniOS”

The goal of the second milestone is described in section 3.1.2 ~ 3.1.6 in the proposal to GSoC 2018. In brief, it includes a) reading configurations of target VM (libvmi.conf); b) parsing json files containing target VM; c) support introspecting both Linux and Windows virtual machines; d) architecture support for both x86 and arm; e) testing all examples of LibVMI in TinyVMI.

2. What Has Been Done

  • Configuration file of target VM has been hardcoded as C strings in TinyVMI. Examples could be found here. This will not be flexible when it comes to multiple target VMs. Even if the VM name is changed, it needs the configuration and then the TinyVMI re-compiled. Luckily, this drawback could be partially mitigated by using Rekall profiles.

  • JSON support. Rekall profiles are json files. In order to parse json file in TinyVMI, two more libraries are cross compiled into its kernel: libjson-c for json profile of Linux, and libjansson for json profile of Windows. Unlike the hand coded ‘glib’ previously, we now cross compile third party libraries directly to Xen Mini-OS in order to simplify the design of the kernel and allow easier maintainance. Here is a post about how to cross compile static library to MiniOS in Xen.

  • In addition to Linux, Windows support is enabled in TinyVMI. Successfully tested to introspect Windows 7 (64-bit) with LibVMI examples such as process-list and interrupt-event-example, showing feasibility to correctly intropsect the main memory and hardware events of the target Windows VM.

  • To simplifiy the building process, a repo of Xen source is forked and updated with integration of TinyVMI. The building and running of TinyVMI has been simplified to several commands. A page of Quick Start is updated in the documentation.

  • As for testing, having both Windows and Linux as target VM, TinyVMI could support memory mapping and event callbacks with no problem. Examples of LibVMI, such as process-list, module-list, and interrupt-event-example are tested. However, we still need more testing work to make TinyVMI as rock solid as possible.

3. Lessons Learned

4. Future Work

Long term goals:

  • Network interface I/O of TinyVMI. Through network, TinyVMI would get the domain ID of target VM for introspection. As output, TinyVMI will send out the VMI information through network.

  • Enrich TinyVMI with more applications by integrating DRAKVUF.

  • TinyVMI as a stubdom on Xen with secure booting and remote control interface.

  • Architecture support to ARM should be addressed.

Next steps:

  • Establish network connections to TinyVMI over TCP. TinyVMI should be waiting for TCP connections before initialize LibVMI functionalities.

  • If time allowed, find out an efficient way to keep pace with the latest updates of LibVMI.