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Volatility 3: The volatile memory extraction framework

Volatility is the world's most widely used framework for extracting digital artifacts from volatile memory (RAM) samples. The extraction techniques are performed completely independent of the system being investigated but offer visibility into the runtime state of the system. The framework is intended to introduce people to the techniques and complexities associated with extracting digital artifacts from volatile memory samples and provide a platform for further work into this exciting area of research.

In 2019, the Volatility Foundation released a complete rewrite of the framework, Volatility 3. The project was intended to address many of the technical and performance challenges associated with the original code base that became apparent over the previous 10 years. Another benefit of the rewrite is that Volatility 3 could be released under a custom license that was more aligned with the goals of the Volatility community, the Volatility Software License (VSL). See the LICENSE file for more details.

Requirements

Volatility 3 requires Python 3.6.0 or later. To install the most minimal set of dependencies (some plugins will not work) use a command such as:

pip3 install -r requirements-minimal.txt

Alternately, the minimal packages will be installed automatically when Volatility 3 is installed using setup.py. However, as noted in the Quick Start section below, Volatility 3 does not need to be installed via setup.py prior to using it.

python3 setup.py build 
python3 setup.py install

To enable the full range of Volatility 3 functionality, use a command like the one below. For partial functionality, comment out any unnecessary packages in requirements.txt prior to running the command.

pip3 install -r requirements.txt

Downloading Volatility

The latest stable version of Volatility will always be the stable branch of the GitHub repository. You can get the latest version of the code using the following command:

git clone https://github.com/volatilityfoundation/volatility3.git

Quick Start

  1. Clone the latest version of Volatility from GitHub:

    git clone https://github.com/volatilityfoundation/volatility3.git
  2. See available options:

    python3 vol.py -h
  3. To get more information on a Windows memory sample and to make sure Volatility supports that sample type, run python3 vol.py -f <imagepath> windows.info

    Example:

    python3 vol.py -f /home/user/samples/stuxnet.vmem windows.info
  4. Run some other plugins. The -f or --single-location is not strictly required, but most plugins expect a single sample. Some also require/accept other options. Run python3 vol.py <plugin> -h for more information on a particular command.

Symbol Tables

Symbol table packs for the various operating systems are available for download at:

https://downloads.volatilityfoundation.org/volatility3/symbols/windows.zip
https://downloads.volatilityfoundation.org/volatility3/symbols/mac.zip
https://downloads.volatilityfoundation.org/volatility3/symbols/linux.zip

The hashes to verify whether any of the symbol pack files have downloaded successfully or have changed can be found at:

https://downloads.volatilityfoundation.org/volatility3/symbols/SHA256SUMS
https://downloads.volatilityfoundation.org/volatility3/symbols/SHA1SUMS
https://downloads.volatilityfoundation.org/volatility3/symbols/MD5SUMS

Symbol tables zip files must be placed, as named, into the volatility3/symbols directory (or just the symbols directory next to the executable file).

Windows symbols that cannot be found will be queried, downloaded, generated and cached. Mac and Linux symbol tables must be manually produced by a tool such as dwarf2json.

Please note: These are representative and are complete up to the point of creation for Windows and Mac. Due to the ease of compiling Linux kernels and the inability to uniquely distinguish them, an exhaustive set of Linux symbol tables cannot easily be supplied.

Documentation

The framework is documented through doc strings and can be built using sphinx.

The latest generated copy of the documentation can be found at: https://volatility3.readthedocs.io/en/latest/

Licensing and Copyright

Copyright (C) 2007-2022 Volatility Foundation

All Rights Reserved

https://www.volatilityfoundation.org/license/vsl-v1.0

Bugs and Support

If you think you've found a bug, please report it at:

https://github.com/volatilityfoundation/volatility3/issues

In order to help us solve your issues as quickly as possible, please include the following information when filing a bug:

  • The version of Volatility you're using
  • The operating system used to run Volatility
  • The version of Python used to run Volatility
  • The suspected operating system of the memory sample
  • The complete command line you used to run Volatility

For community support, please join us on Slack:

https://www.volatilityfoundation.org/slack

Contact

For information or requests, contact:

Volatility Foundation

Web: https://www.volatilityfoundation.org

Blog: https://volatility-labs.blogspot.com

Email: volatility (at) volatilityfoundation (dot) org

Twitter: @volatility