Effective methods to detect metamorphic malware: a systematic review

Mustafa Irshad, Haider Al-Khateeb, Ali Mansour, Moses Ashawa, Muhammad Hamisu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The succeeding code for metamorphic malware is routinely rewritten to remain stealthy and undetected within infected environments. This characteristic is maintained by means of encryption and decryption methods, obfuscation through garbage code insertion, code transformation and registry modification which makes detection very challenging. The main objective of this study is to contribute an evidence-based narrative demonstrating the effectiveness of recent proposals. 16 primary studies were included in this analysis based on a pre-defined protocol. The majority of the reviewed detection methods used Opcode, control flow graph (CFG) and API call graph. Key challenges facing the detection of metamorphic malware include code obfuscation, lack of dynamic capabilities to analyse code and application difficulty. Methods were further analysed on the basis of their approach, limitation, empirical evidence and key parameters such as dataset, detection rate (DR) and false positive rate (FPR).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.


  • metaphoric malware
  • malware detection
  • review
  • Opcode
  • control flow graph
  • CFG
  • API call graph


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