Botnet Tracking and Data Analysis Using Open-Source Tools

Fully understanding a botnet often requires a researcher to go beyond standard reverse-engineering practices and explore the malware’s network traffic. The latter can provide meaningful information on the evolution of a malware’s activity. However, it is often disregarded in malware research due to time constraints and publication pressures.

The workshop is about overcoming such constraints by providing a powerful workflow to conduct quick analysis of malicious traffic. The data science approach presented capitalizes on open-source tools (Wireshark/Tshark, Bash with GNU parallel) and valuable python libraries (ipython, mitmproxy, pandas, matplotlib). During the workshop, participants will do practical technical labs with datasets from our recent botnet investigation. They will learn how to quickly find patterns, plot graphs and interpret data in a meaningful way. Although the exercises will focus on botnet’s data, the tools and skills learned will be useful to all sorts of context. Moreover, to ensure that participants take the most out of the workshop, it will be built in a way to allow them to easily replicate the data-analysis environment at home and reproduce similar analysis with their own traffic data.

Workshop Outline

The workshop will be divided in three sections. The first section will present the contextual information needed for participants to start the practical technical labs afterwards. The second section will focus on analyzing the botnet’s C&C traffic in Pcaps. The third section will emphasize on graphs and the use of the mitmproxy library to analyze decrypted traffic.

  • Introduction
  • Lab 1 – Extract SOCKS Traffic with Wireshark
  • Lab 2 – Extract SOCKS Traffic with Tshark
  • Introduction to Jupyter Notebook and it’s shell integration (xargs, parallel)
  • Lab 3 – Search in mitmproxy logs
  • Lab 4 – Manipulate Dataframes with Pandas
  • Lab 5 – Graph the Data using Plotly


Due to the short time allotted, we ask participants to download and install Wireshark locally on their computer ( during the introduction. For the other tools (tshart, bash, GNU parallel, the anaconda package, mitmproxy, pandas, numby, plotly), we will provide a hosted environment in which the tools will be installed and the scripts, the data and the exercises will be available.

Olivier Bilodeau Lead of Cybersecurity Research Team, GoSecure

Olivier Bilodeau is leading the Cybersecurity Research team at GoSecure. With more than 10 years of infosec experience, Olivier managed large networks and server farms, wrote open source network access control software and recently worked as a Malware Researcher. Passionate communicator, Olivier has spoken at several conferences like Defcon, Botconf, SecTor, Derbycon and many more. Invested in his community, he co-organizes MontréHack — a monthly workshop focused on applied information security through capture-the-flag challenges —, he is in charge of NorthSec’s training sessions and is hosting NorthSec’s Hacker Jeopardy. His primary research interests include reverse-engineering tools, Linux and/or embedded malware and honeypots. To relax, he likes to participate in information security capture-the-flag competitions, work on various open-source projects and brew his own beer.

Masarah Paquet-Clouston Security Researcher, GoSecure

Masarah is a security researcher at GoSecure and one of Canada’s decorated 150 scientific innovators. With her background in economics and criminology, she specializes in the study of market dynamics behind illicit online activities. Her primary goal is to conduct scientific research on online crime without falling into the alarmist side. She published in several peer-review journals, such as Global Crime, Social Networks and the International Journal for the Study of Drug Policy and presented at various international conferences including Black Hat Europe, Botconf and the American Society of Criminology.