• KSII Transactions on Internet and Information Systems
    Monthly Online Journal (eISSN: 1976-7277)

VirtAV: an Agentless Runtime Antivirus System for Virtual Machines

Vol. 11, No.11, November 30, 2017
10.3837/tiis.2017.11.026, Download Paper (Free):


Antivirus is an important issue to the security of virtual machine (VM). According to where the antivirus system resides, the existing approaches can be categorized into three classes: internal approach, external approach and hybrid approach. However, for the internal approach, it is susceptible to attacks and may cause antivirus storm and rollback vulnerability problems. On the other hand, for the external approach, the antivirus systems built upon virtual machine introspection (VMI) technology cannot find and prohibit viruses promptly. Although the hybrid approach performs virus scanning out of the virtual machine, it is still vulnerable to attacks since it completely depends on the agent and hooks to deliver events in the guest operating system. To solve the aforementioned problems, based on in-memory signature scanning, we propose an agentless runtime antivirus system VirtAV, which scans each piece of binary codes to execute in guest VMs on the VMM side to detect and prevent viruses. As an external approach, VirtAV does not rely on any hooks or agents in the guest OS, and exposes no attack surface to the outside world, so it guarantees the security of itself to the greatest extent. In addition, it solves the antivirus storm problem and the rollback vulnerability problem in virtualization environment. We implemented a prototype based on Qemu/KVM hypervisor and ClamAV antivirus engine. Experimental results demonstrate that VirtAV is able to detect both user-level and kernel-level virus programs inside Windows and Linux guest, no matter whether they are packed or not. From the performance aspect, the overhead of VirtAV on guest performance is acceptable. Especially, VirtAV has little impact on the performance of common desktop applications, such as video playing, web browsing and Microsoft Office series.


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Cite this article

[IEEE Style]
Hongwei Tang, Shengzhong Feng, Xiaofang Zhao and Yan Jin, "VirtAV: an Agentless Runtime Antivirus System for Virtual Machines," KSII Transactions on Internet and Information Systems, vol. 11, no. 11, pp. 5642-5670, 2017. DOI: 10.3837/tiis.2017.11.026

[ACM Style]
Tang, H., Feng, S., Zhao, X., and Jin, Y. 2017. VirtAV: an Agentless Runtime Antivirus System for Virtual Machines. KSII Transactions on Internet and Information Systems, 11, 11, (2017), 5642-5670. DOI: 10.3837/tiis.2017.11.026