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Datasets are folders holding samples to be analyzed. They aim to organize input executables according to a strict structure, including packing labels, original names, and so forth.


A (normal) dataset folder holds the following files/folders:

  +-- files
  |     +-- {executables, renamed to their SHA256 hashes}
  +-- data.csv          # metadata and labels of the executable
  +-- metadata.json     # simple statistics about the dataset

A fileless dataset has the following structure:

  +-- data.csv          # metadata and labels of the executable
  +-- features.json     # dictionary of selected features and their descriptions
  +-- metadata.json     # simple statistics about the dataset

Fileless datasets can be used when we are sure of the features set to be computed. It can also save substantial disk space (such a dataset will at most take a few megabytes of data while the executables from the original one could occupy gigabytes).


A dedicated tool called dataset is provided with the Packing Box to manipulate datasets. Its help message tells everything the user needs to get started.

$ dataset --help
This tool aims to manipulate a dataset in many ways including its creation, enlargement, update, alteration, selection,
 merging, export or purge.
    alter               alter the target dataset with a set of transformations
    convert             convert the target dataset to a fileless one
    edit                edit the data file
    export              export packed samples from a dataset or export the dataset to a given format
    features            compute and view features
    fix                 fix a corrupted dataset
    ingest              ingest samples from a folder into new dataset(s)
    list                list all the datasets from the workspace
    make                add n randomly chosen executables from input sources to the dataset
    merge               merge two datasets
    plot                plot the distribution of a given feature or multiple features combined
    purge               purge a dataset
    remove              remove executables from a dataset
    rename              rename a dataset
    revert              revert a dataset to its previous state
    select              select a subset of the dataset
    show                get an overview of the dataset
    update              update a dataset with new executables
    view                view executables filtered from a dataset


The list of datasets in a folder can be viewed by using the command dataset list [folder] (dataset list will display all the datasets in the current folder).

Among the other commands, we can show the metadata of the dataset for describing it, limiting the number of displayed records if required (-l/--limit ; default is 10 records) and/or sorting the metadata per category (-c/--categories).

# dataset show test  

 Dataset characteristics
    - Number of executables: 40
    - Categories:            ELF64
    - Packers:               upx, m0dern_p4cker, ezuri

 Executables per size and category
  ──────────  ─────  ─────  ──────  ─────
  Size Range  Total  %      Packed  %
  <20kB       13     32.50  6       30.00
  20-50kB     11     27.50  5       25.00
  50-100kB    7      17.50  1       5.00
  100-500kB   2      5.00   2       10.00
  500kB-1MB   1      2.50   0       0.00
  >1MB        6      15.00  6       30.00
  Total       40            20
  ──────────  ─────  ─────  ──────  ─────

 Executables per label and category
  ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────  ──────────────────────────────────────  ────────  ────────────  ─────────────
  Hash                                                              Path                                    Creation  Modification  Label
  5d87ba009d9c8c2aa4c945bb35a5735bb4d655da6f035ed1879240a6602ec866  /sbin/update-passwd                     07/03/21  07/03/21      upx
  160bf8509a43eee893e162a814ac2d6533a11b0c79859c7878c572034d8c6fa1  /usr/bin/look                           07/03/21  07/03/21
  b511fc678e104ae6d097f4e152e27767bb59638053347a497f3cc9352dc73a5c  /sbin/chcpu                             07/03/21  07/03/21      upx
  2c3b26774f1959fd5859f4a0209d5c3cd0344f2c6d0a987f0dc091418d94594b  /usr/bin/X11/ssh-keygen                 07/03/21  07/03/21      ezuri
  2cf63d20084229e01e60047c42827cc34031850e3407a9cd154cd55651514f27  /usr/bin/xz                             07/03/21  07/03/21      upx
  1d8b9dfd71b86f0cde5ebc87b83d1a549092e2a5c7acce1745a4e8a0e5d786bb  /usr/bin/X11/stdbuf                     07/03/21  07/03/21
  5d991b919776bb4bc926fe341492762004a334f301dcd62632bc3d87aa24cbf4  /usr/bin/mv                             07/03/21  07/03/21      m0dern_p4cker
  5298aac043b5b45047cde0c076bbb30ff20b058df11a837c7aba5e904e788971  /sbin/groupmems                         07/03/21  07/03/21
  fb231c12168ce76f749035f80e99d507de8ee00be978e7b87ea468fda3a32c84  /usr/bin/X11/perl5.30-x86_64-linux-gnu  07/03/21  07/03/21
  6bb359e2ce970863a5e2161136879cbbcf763ccf5917c145ef087b3a3234eb4b  /usr/bin/X11/fincore                    07/03/21  07/03/21
  ...                                                               ...                                     ...       ...           ...
  ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────  ──────────────────────────────────────  ────────  ────────────  ─────────────

While the show command displays information about a dataset, it is not aimed to filter and observe records according to criteria. This can be done by using the view command which uses Pandas' query method through the --query option.


The rest of the other commands are aimed to manipulate datasets in different ways. The most trivial commands are:

  • purge: this trivial command purges the target dataset of all its records and files.
  • rename: this other trivial command renames the target dataset ; it differs from a simple 'mv [...]' in that it also adapts backup copies of the dataset.

For adding/removing executables to/from the dataset, a few commands are available:

  • make: this adds a given number (-n/--number-excutables) of new executables to the dataset, eventually only from some given categories (-c/--categories), randomly packing some of them such that the dataset is balanced (using the -b/--balance option will balance between packer labels, not simply between packed and not packed) and with every applicable packer or only the given ones (-p/--packer).
  • merge: this merges the second input dataset into the first one.
  • remove: this allows to remove executables from the dataset according to criteria relying on Pandas' query method through the --query option.
  • select: this creates a new dataset with a selected subset of the target dataset, using criteria relying on Pandas' query method through the --query option.
  • update: this updates the current dataset with executables from the target folders (-s/--source-dir), either packed or not, labelling them with an input JSON (-l/--labels) or enabling detection with the integrated detectors (-d/--detect).

It is also possible to apply corrective/evolutive measures on a dataset:

  • convert: this makes possible to convert a dataset with files (which offers the possibility to select features multiple times from the same dataset) to a dataset without files (that is, with its features computed once and for all, not keeping the related files and then possibly saving a large amount of disk space).
  • fix: this allows to fix a corrupted dataset, especially when JSON files do not match the content of the files folder anymore, which can be fixed either by relying on the content of this folder (with the -f/--files option) or on hashes contained in the labels JSON, eventually applying detection (-d/--detect) to fix labels.
  • revert: this allows to revert the dataset to its state before the previous operation, with a maximum of 3