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Maltrieve originated as a fork of mwcrawler. It retrieves malware directly from the sources as listed at a number of sites. Currently we crawl the following:

Other improvements include:

  • Proxy support
  • Multithreading for improved performance
  • Logging of source URLs
  • Multiple user agent support
  • Better error handling
  • VxCage, Viper and Cuckoo Sandbox support


Maltrieve requires the following dependencies:

With the exception of the Python header files, these can all be found in requirements.txt. On Debian-based distributions, run sudo apt-get install python-dev. On Red Hat-based distributions, run sudo yum install python-devel. After that, just pip install -e .. You may need to prepend that with sudo if not running in a virtual environment, but using such an environment is highly encouraged.

Alternately, avoid all of that by using the Docker image


Basic execution: maltrieve (if installed normally) or python (if just downloaded and run)


usage: maltrieve [-h] [-p PROXY] [-d DUMPDIR] [-l LOGFILE] [-x] [-v] [-c] [-s]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -p PROXY, --proxy PROXY
                        Define HTTP proxy as address:port
  -d DUMPDIR, --dumpdir DUMPDIR
                        Define dump directory for retrieved files
  -l LOGFILE, --logfile LOGFILE
                        Define file for logging progress
  -x, --vxcage          Dump the files to a VxCage instance
  -v, --viper           Dump the files to a Viper instance
  -r, --crits           Dump the file and domain to a CRITs instance
  -c, --cuckoo          Enable Cuckoo analysis
  -s, --sort_mime       Sort files by MIME type

Configuration File

Many of Maltrieve's command line options can be specified in maltrieve.cfg.

Automated Execution (Optional)

Cron can be used to automate the execution of Maltrieve. The following example is provided to help get you started. It will create a cron job that will run Maltrieve every day at 2:01 as a standard user. That said, we recommend enhancing this by creating a custom script for production environments.


As a user, execute

crontab -e

If installed normally, add the following to the end of the file.

01 02 * * * maltrieve <optional flags>

If downloaded to a folder and executed, add the following to the end of the file.

01 02 * * * cd </folder/location> && /usr/bin/python <optional flags>

Red Hat

Red Hat systems will need to ensure that the user is added to the /etc/cron.allow file.

Other Tools

Maltrieve doesn't do analysis. In addition to the integrations listed above, we can recommend using VirusTotalApi for working with VirusTotal. Malwr is a similar site based on Cuckoo Sandbox.


Released under GPL version 3. See the LICENSE file for full details.

Known bugs

We list all the bugs we know about (plus some things we know we need to add) at the GitHub issues page.

How you can help

Aside from pull requests, non-developers can open issues on GitHub. Things we'd really appreciate:

  • Bug reports, preferably with error logs
  • Suggestions of additional sources for malware lists
  • Descriptions of how you use it and ways we can improve it for you

Check the contributing guide for details.


A tool to retrieve malware directly from the source for security researchers.







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