Authors: Christopher J. Bowen, Andrew Case, Ibrahim Baggili, Golden G. Richard III



In the ever-expanding landscape of computation, graphics processing units have become one of the most essential types of devices for personal and commercial needs. Nearly all modern computers have one or more dedicated GPUs due to advancements in artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, 3D graphics rendering, and the growing demand for enhanced gaming experiences. As the GPU industry continues to grow, forensic investigations will need to incorporate these devices, given that they have large amounts of VRAM, computing power, and are used to process highly sensitive data. Past research has also shown that malware can hide its payloads within these devices and out of the view of traditional memory forensics. While memory forensics research aims to address the critical threat of memory-only malware, no current work focuses on video memory malware and the malicious use of the GPU. Our work investigates the largest GPU manufacturer, NVIDIA, by examining the newly released open-source GPU kernel modules for the development of forensic tool creation. We extend our impact by creating symbol mappings between open and closed-source NVIDIA software that enables researchers to develop tools for both “flavors” of software. We specifically focus our research on artifacts found in RAM, providing the foundational methods to detect and map NVIDIA Object Compiler Structures for forensic investigations. As a part of our analysis and evaluation, we examined the similarities between open-and-closed kernel modules by collecting structure sizes and class IDs to understand the similarities and differences. A standalone tool, NVSYMMAP, and Volatility plugins were created with this foundation to automate this process and provide forensic investigators with knowledge involving processes that utilized the GPU.