Top 9 malware analysis tools – Pros and cons


Malware comes in many forms, each with its nefarious purpose. Viruses can self-replicate and spread like wildfire, infecting entire systems. Trojans masquerade as legitimate software to steal data or open backdoors for further attacks. Ransomware takes your precious files hostage, demanding a hefty price for their release. Spyware lurks silently, gathering your every keystroke and online activity. The list goes on, with each type of malware leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Malware analysis tools are essential instruments used by cybersecurity professionals, malware researchers, and incident responders to dissect, understand, and combat malicious software. These tools encompass a variety of functionalities tailored to different stages of malware analysis, including static analysis, dynamic analysis, and behavioral analysis.

Here’s an overview of some commonly used malware analysis tools:

1. HashCalc

The first line of defense often involves identifying malware. HashCalc comes in handy for this task. It calculates hash values and unique digital fingerprints for a file. These hashes can be compared against databases of known malware to quickly flag suspicious samples.


  • Free and readily available.
  • Easy to use for calculating various hash functions (MD5, SHA-256, etc.).


  • Simply identifying a hash match isn’t definitive proof of malware. Further analysis is required.
  • Different malware variants might share the same hash.

2. Exeinfo PE

Malware often masquerades as legitimate programs. Exeinfo PE grants analysts X-ray vision, enabling them to examine the internal structure of executable files (PE stands for Portable Executable, a common format for Windows programs). This tool reveals information about the program’s components, imported libraries, and potential red flags hinting at malicious behavior.


  • Provides detailed insights into the structure of executable files.
  • It can help identify packed or obfuscated malware by revealing its inner workings.


  • Understanding the information presented might require familiarity with executable file formats.
  • It may not be intuitive for beginners.

3. PDF Stream Dumper

PDFs can be a breeding ground for malware. PDF Stream Dumper tackles this challenge by extracting the embedded streams within a PDF file. These streams can contain malicious code, allowing analysts to isolate and dissect the hidden threats.


  • Useful for analyzing potentially malicious PDF files.
  • Helps extract embedded content that might be overlooked by simply viewing the PDF.


  • Not all PDFs contain malicious streams.
  • Further analysis of the extracted data may be required to identify actual threats.

4. FileAlyzer

Sifting through a suspect file’s metadata can be a revealing exercise. FileAlyzer approaches the challenge of extracting a wealth of metadata from various file formats. This information can include timestamps, origin details, and even hidden authorship data, providing valuable clues about the malware’s source and functionality.


  • Extracts comprehensive metadata from various file formats.
  • Can unearth hidden details that might be missed during a cursory examination.


  • The abundance of extracted data might require filtering and analysis to identify relevant information.
  • It may not be specific to malware analysis and can be used for general file examination.

5. Yaazhini Vulnerability Scanner

Malware often exploits vulnerabilities in software. Yaazhini vulnerability scanner aids in this fight by identifying known vulnerabilities within a system. By pinpointing these weaknesses, analysts can prioritize patching and take steps to mitigate the risk of malware exploiting these vulnerabilities.


  • Helps identify potential entry points for malware by scanning for vulnerabilities.
  • It can be a proactive measure to prevent malware infections.


  • Not all vulnerabilities are directly exploitable. Further investigation is needed to assess the actual risk.
  • Vulnerability databases need to be kept up-to-date for effectiveness.

6. APK Tool (for analyzing Android Apps)

Like traditional software, Android applications (APKs) can harbor malicious code. APK Tool allows analysts to reverse engineer APK files, decompiling them to reveal their inner workings. This enables them to inspect the code, identify hidden functionalities, and detect potential malware embedded within the app.


  • Essential tool for analyzing Android applications for malicious behavior.
  • Allows for in-depth examination of the app’s code and resources.


  • Reversing complex APKs can be challenging and time-consuming.
  • Understanding the decompiled code requires programming knowledge.

7. Ghidra

Ghidra is a free and open-source software reverse engineering tool developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States. It’s a powerful suite specifically designed to analyze compiled code from various platforms like Windows, macOS, and Linux.


  • Powerful disassembler and debugger for advanced malware analysis.
  • A free and open-source tool with a large user community.


  • Steeper learning curve due to the complexity of disassemblers and debuggers.
  • It may require experience with assembly language and debugging concepts.

8. HashCompare

While HashCalc generates hashes, HashCompare performs a different task: comparing multiple hashes. This is particularly useful when checking a file against a database of known malware hashes. HashCompare can efficiently compare a suspect file’s hash against a large list, streamlining the identification process.


  • Saves time by comparing multiple hashes simultaneously.
  • Useful for bulk analysis of files and identifying potential malware threats.


  • Relies on pre-existing databases of malware hashes.
  • Like HashCalc, a hash match alone isn’t conclusive proof of malware.

9. UPX Easy GUI

Malware authors often employ packers and obfuscators to make their creations harder to analyze. UPX Easy GUI tackles this challenge by unpacking executables compressed with the UPX packer. This can reveal the original code structure, making it more amenable to analysis with tools like Exeinfo PE or Ghidra.


  • Simplifies analysis by unpacking malware obfuscated with UPX.
  • It can help unveil the original code structure for further examination.


  • Not all packers are UPX-based. It may not be effective against other packing techniques.
  • Unpacking might alter the code, requiring additional analysis to determine the original functionality.

In conclusion, the arsenal of malware analysis tools is vast and ever-evolving. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each tool, analysts can effectively dissect malicious code, thwart its attacks, and protect systems from the ever-present threats lurking in the digital landscape.