Thursday, February 26, 2015

Extracting RAW pictures from memory dumps


Earlier today, while reading my Twitter timeline, I saw some Infosec folks discussing about scripts/tools to identify RAW pictures in memory dumps. I decided, then, to write this blog post and share a small hack that I use to visualize data (including memory dumps).

A few months ago, I wrote a post detailing how to Scan the Internet & Screenshot All the Things, now it's time to Dump the Memory & Screenshot All the Things.

Memory Dumps

The first thing you will want to do is to narrow the analysis to the process containing interesting images/pictures. I'm going to use three different memory dumps here:

Remote Desktop Client - Windows 7 x64 (mstsc.exe)

Let's use the Windows built-in RDP client to connect to an external server and dump the process
memory using procdump:

procdump.exe -ma mstsc.exe mstsc.dmp

Microsoft Paint - Windows 7 x64 (mspaint.exe)

Let's load/save a simple image file on Paint and run procdump again:

procdump.exe -ma mspaint.exe mspaint.dmp

9447 2014 CTF Challenge: coor coor - Windows XP (VirtualBox.exe)
There's an awesome write-up for this CTF challenge here, go read it now if you haven't yet. We are going to use volatility to isolate the VirtualBox memory dump:

python -f challenge.vmem pslist

python -f challenge.vmem memdump -p 1568 --dump-dir=dump/

RAW Image Data

Rename the file extensions from *.dmp to *.data, download/install GIMP and open them as "RAW Image Data":

That's it, now you can use GIMP to navigate within the memory dump and analyse the rendered pixels/bitmaps on their corresponding offsets. It's worth mentioning that different images will be rendered using different Image types and variable widths: you may need to adjust these values accordingly.

So what can we spot here?

  • On the RDP memory dump, we can retrieve the tiles and Windows displayed during the connection, including IP's, usernames and commands:
Windows commands
Remote Desktop Client Window
RDP session
  • The Microsoft Paint picture can be easily spotted: they're upside down because that's the way BMP's are stored:
We need upside down backdoors "this big"

  • The most interesting artifacts were collected from the Coor Coor dump. The user was running a TrueCrypt container inside VirtualBox and after some offset adjustment we can see the Pidgin Window, the user account ( and a few OTR settings:
While True: width ++ || width--

Notice that the Windows are not perfectly aligned here, but we can see the data by zooming in:

Enhance pls

Looks like our killer is screwed. YEEAAAH.

We can also spot the Window taskbar, just like the volatility screenshot plugin showed us on the previous write-up:

python -f challenge.vmem screenshot -D screenshot/

It's also possible to spot icons from the running programs, like this one from Virtualbox:

VirtualBox icon


This technique is very common among ROM hackers as they try to find image patterns inside raw game dumps. Check my write-up from 2014 CTF to find more about it. By the way, you can also use Tile Molester instead of GIMP to browse the RAW data.

You may be asking - why not carve the dumps using binwalk and foremost or extract them using the dumpfiles volatility module? If you try it yourself you will notice that they won't find the magic bytes for all those images.

As far as I know, there's no off-the-shelf tool to automagically extract them, but it should't be that hard to write a binwalk/volatility plugin for this based on some heuristics. Binwalk, for example, can find raw deflate/lzma streams by building headers on top of the raw compressed data and writing it back do disk.

I'm no Computer Visualization expert, but here's a few suggestions:

  • Set the image width to common display resolutions. The taskbar from the coor coor memory dump could be displayed by setting the width to 1440 points (1440x900 is a common screen resolution).
  • Use common window background/patterns as a template to find interesting sections.
  • Create a multi-view/side-by-side RAW image browser based on GIMP source code (multiple image types, multiple widths etc).
  • Use Google's artificial brain to find cat videos.
  • Get a bigger monitor (yeah, it helps).

I hope you all use these skills wisely, avoiding any kind of superfishal investigation like our Lenovo friends.


  1. is there an error in Paint's memory dump command?

    1. I don't think so, what's the problem?

    2. procdump.exe -ma mspaint.exe mspaint.dmp
      procdump.exe -ma mstsc.exe mstsc.dmp

    3. Yeah, I read it twice and didn't notice that. It's fixed now, thanks!

  2. Could you put some dumps on Dropbox as a test corpus?

  3. Dear w00tsec, where to get and how to install this
    Pyton I already have.

    1. (Volatility) is a memory forensics framework written in Python. Here's the installation instructions:

  4. Yet there is a problem

    Microsoft Windows XP [Версия 5.1.2600]
    (С) Корпорация Майкрософт, 1985-2001.

    C:\Documents and Settings\Windrive>python C:\Python27\Scripts\ -f challeng
    e.vmem pslist
    Volatility Foundation Volatility Framework 2.4
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.malware.svcscan (ImportError: No module
    named Crypto.Hash)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.registry.lsadump (ImportError: No module
    named Crypto.Hash)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.registry.shellbags (ImportError: No modu
    le named Crypto.Hash)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.registry.auditpol (ImportError: No modul
    e named Crypto.Hash)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.ssdt (NameError: name 'distorm3' is not
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.registry.registryapi (ImportError: No mo
    dule named Crypto.Hash)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.mac.apihooks (ImportError: No module nam
    ed distorm3)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.envars (ImportError: No module named Cry
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.linux.apihooks (ImportError: No module n
    amed distorm3)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.evtlogs (ImportError: No module named Cr
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.malware.threads (NameError: name 'distor
    m3' is not defined)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.mac.apihooks_kernel (ImportError: No mod
    ule named distorm3)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.getservicesids (ImportError: No module n
    amed Crypto.Hash)
    *** Failed to import volatility.plugins.registry.shimcache (ImportError: No modu
    le named Crypto.Hash)
    ERROR : volatility.plugins.fileparam: The requested file doesn't exist

    C:\Documents and Settings\Windrive>

  5. Microsoft Windows XP [Версия 5.1.2600]
    (С) Корпорация Майкрософт, 1985-2001.

    C:\Documents and Settings\Windrive>cd C:\1\1


    C:\1\1>volatility-2.4.standalone.exe -f C:\1\1\mstsc62.dmp pslist
    Volatility Foundation Volatility Framework 2.4
    No suitable address space mapping found
    Tried to open image as:
    MachOAddressSpace: mac: need base
    LimeAddressSpace: lime: need base
    WindowsHiberFileSpace32: No base Address Space
    WindowsCrashDumpSpace64BitMap: No base Address Space
    VMWareMetaAddressSpace: No base Address Space
    WindowsCrashDumpSpace64: No base Address Space
    HPAKAddressSpace: No base Address Space
    VirtualBoxCoreDumpElf64: No base Address Space
    QemuCoreDumpElf: No base Address Space
    VMWareAddressSpace: No base Address Space
    WindowsCrashDumpSpace32: No base Address Space
    AMD64PagedMemory: No base Address Space
    IA32PagedMemoryPae: No base Address Space
    IA32PagedMemory: No base Address Space
    OSXPmemELF: No base Address Space
    MachOAddressSpace: MachO Header signature invalid
    LimeAddressSpace: Invalid Lime header signature
    WindowsHiberFileSpace32: No xpress signature found
    WindowsCrashDumpSpace64BitMap: Header signature invalid
    VMWareMetaAddressSpace: VMware metadata file is not available
    WindowsCrashDumpSpace64: Header signature invalid
    HPAKAddressSpace: Invalid magic found
    VirtualBoxCoreDumpElf64: ELF Header signature invalid
    QemuCoreDumpElf: ELF Header signature invalid
    VMWareAddressSpace: Invalid VMware signature: 0x504d444d
    WindowsCrashDumpSpace32: Header signature invalid
    AMD64PagedMemory: Incompatible profile WinXPSP2x86 selected
    IA32PagedMemoryPae: No valid DTB found
    IA32PagedMemory: No valid DTB found
    OSXPmemELF: ELF Header signature invalid
    FileAddressSpace: Must be first Address Space
    ArmAddressSpace: No valid DTB found



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