Portable Executable File Format on Memory Dump

I am going to describe how we can check PE stuffs on a file loaded on to a system in a memory dump file in this article. PE file format is the file format for Win32 Executables having extensions like .exe, .sys, .dll, etc. Here I put down on the short details of Portable Executables file format itself. PE file format is made up of IMAGE_DOS_HEADER, IMAGE_NT_HEADERS (IMAGE_FILE_HEADER, IMAGE_OPTIONAL_HEADER), IMAGE_SECTION_HEADERS, Sections. You can get the details on the structures of PE file format on Winnt.h. You will find further more about PE format on http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms809762.aspx.


How can we list the modules loaded in a memory dump file? We can use “lm n t” command to list the modules loaded on the dump file.


0:000> lm n t

start    end        module name

01000000 01014000   notepad  notepad.exe  Sat Feb 17 15:08:37 2007 (45D69BE5)

73070000 73097000   WINSPOOL WINSPOOL.DRV Sat Feb 17 23:01:47 2007 (45D70ACB)

762b0000 762f9000   comdlg32 comdlg32.dll Sat Feb 17 23:00:18 2007 (45D70A72)

76f50000 76f63000   Secur32  Secur32.dll  Sat Feb 17 23:01:39 2007 (45D70AC3)

77380000 77411000   USER32   USER32.dll   Fri Mar 02 15:38:46 2007 (45E7C676)

77420000 77523000   COMCTL32 COMCTL32.dll Sat Feb 17 22:58:29 2007 (45D70A05)

77ba0000 77bfa000   msvcrt   msvcrt.dll   Sat Feb 17 23:02:46 2007 (45D70B06)

77c00000 77c49000   GDI32    GDI32.dll    Thu Oct 23 20:43:54 2008 (4900637A)

77c50000 77cef000   RPCRT4   RPCRT4.dll   Wed Jul 11 19:38:05 2007 (4694B30D)

77da0000 77df2000   SHLWAPI  SHLWAPI.dll  Sat Feb 17 23:01:36 2007 (45D70AC0)

77e40000 77f42000   kernel32 kernel32.dll Thu Apr 19 01:25:36 2007 (46264680)

77f50000 77feb000   ADVAPI32 ADVAPI32.dll Sat Feb 17 22:59:02 2007 (45D70A26)

7c800000 7c8c0000   ntdll    ntdll.dll    Sat Feb 17 23:02:00 2007 (45D70AD8)

7c8d0000 7d0cf000   SHELL32  SHELL32.dll  Wed Nov 07 22:49:28 2007 (4731C268)


Here I will look into the PE on GDI32.dll listed above. We can use “!dh” to display the headers of the specified image as the followings.


0:000> !dh 77c00000


File Type: DLL


     14C machine (i386)

       4 number of sections

4900637A time date stamp Thu Oct 23 20:43:54 2008


       0 file pointer to symbol table

       0 number of symbols

      E0 size of optional header

    210E characteristics


            Line numbers stripped

            Symbols stripped

            32 bit word machine




     10B magic #

    7.10 linker version

   42400 size of code

    3400 size of initialized data

       0 size of uninitialized data

    80A5 address of entry point

    1000 base of code

         ----- new -----

77c00000 image base

    1000 section alignment

     200 file alignment

       3 subsystem (Windows CUI)

    5.02 operating system version

    5.02 image version

    4.10 subsystem version

   49000 size of image

     400 size of headers

   4AFCC checksum

00040000 size of stack reserve

00001000 size of stack commit

00100000 size of heap reserve

00001000 size of heap commit

    1CB0 [    3CD6] address [size] of Export Directory

   42638 [      64] address [size] of Import Directory

   46000 [     3D0] address [size] of Resource Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Exception Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Security Directory

   47000 [    18B0] address [size] of Base Relocation Directory

   431EC [      38] address [size] of Debug Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Description Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Special Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Thread Storage Directory

   25C88 [      40] address [size] of Load Configuration Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Bound Import Directory

    1000 [     204] address [size] of Import Address Table Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Delay Import Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of COR20 Header Directory

       0 [       0] address [size] of Reserved Directory




   .text name

   4224A virtual size

    1000 virtual address

   42400 size of raw data

     400 file pointer to raw data

       0 file pointer to relocation table

       0 file pointer to line numbers

       0 number of relocations

       0 number of line numbers

60000020 flags


         (no align specified)

         Execute Read



Debug Directories(2)

         Type       Size     Address  Pointer

         cv           22       43228    42628        Format: RSDS, guid, 2, gdi32.pdb

         (    10)       4       43224    42624



   .data name

    1480 virtual size

   44000 virtual address

    1200 size of raw data

   42800 file pointer to raw data

       0 file pointer to relocation table

       0 file pointer to line numbers

       0 number of relocations

       0 number of line numbers

C0000040 flags

         Initialized Data

         (no align specified)

         Read Write



   .rsrc name

     3D0 virtual size

   46000 virtual address

     400 size of raw data

   43A00 file pointer to raw data

       0 file pointer to relocation table

       0 file pointer to line numbers

       0 number of relocations

       0 number of line numbers

40000040 flags

         Initialized Data

         (no align specified)

         Read Only



  .reloc name

    18B0 virtual size

   47000 virtual address

    1A00 size of raw data

   43E00 file pointer to raw data

       0 file pointer to relocation table

       0 file pointer to line numbers

       0 number of relocations

       0 number of line numbers

42000040 flags

         Initialized Data


         (no align specified)

         Read Only




Then how can we see the details listed above? We can start to check the PE stuff of GDI32.dll from its start address with IMAGE_DOS_HEADER. The start address of GDI32.dll is 77c00000.


0:000> dt IMAGE_DOS_HEADER 77c00000


   +0x000 e_magic          : 0x5a4d à MZ

   +0x002 e_cblp           : 0x90

   +0x004 e_cp             : 3

   +0x006 e_crlc           : 0

   +0x008 e_cparhdr        : 4

   +0x00a e_minalloc       : 0

   +0x00c e_maxalloc       : 0xffff

   +0x00e e_ss             : 0

   +0x010 e_sp             : 0xb8

   +0x012 e_csum           : 0

   +0x014 e_ip             : 0

   +0x016 e_cs             : 0

   +0x018 e_lfarlc         : 0x40

   +0x01a e_ovno           : 0

   +0x01c e_res            : [4] 0

   +0x024 e_oemid          : 0

   +0x026 e_oeminfo        : 0

   +0x028 e_res2           : [10] 0

   +0x03c e_lfanew         : 232


The first two bytes of the specified image has 0x5a4d, which is “MZ”. We know that GDI32.dll file is a Win32 Executable from this one.


0: kd> dc b86a1000 L4

b86a1000  00905a4d 00000003 00000004 0000ffff  MZ..............


and the first few hundred bytes of the typical PE file are taken up by the MS-DOS stub. This stub is a tiny program that prints out something to the effect of “This program cannot be run in MS-DOS mode”. So we can check if this file supports Win32


0: kd> ?? sizeof(IMAGE_DOS_HEADER)

unsigned int 0x40


0:000> dc 77c00000+0x40 L10

77c00040  0eba1f0e cd09b400 4c01b821 685421cd  ........!..L.!Th

77c00050  70207369 72676f72 63206d61 6f6e6e61  is program canno

77c00060  65622074 6e757220 206e6920 20534f44  t be run in DOS

77c00070  65646f6d 0a0d0d2e 00000024 00000000  mode....$.......




The e_lfanew in the MS-DOS stub header is a relative offset (or RVA, if you prefer) to the actual PE header. To get a pointer to the PE header in memory, we just add that field’s value to the image base as the following.


The Pointer of NT Header = the Start Address of DOSHeader + DosHeader->e_lfanew;


Based on this, we can see that the signature of PE NT Header. Please note that the numeric type of e_lfanew of DOSHeader is Decimal, not Hexadecimal. So here we must add 0n to use its value as Deciaml Type.


0:000> dc 77c00000+0n232 L1

77c000e8  00004550                             PE..


Once we have a pointer to the main PE header, we can go further on NT Header. The main PE header is a structure of type IMAGE_HEADER_HEADERS, which is defined in WINNT.h. this structure is made up of a DWORD and two substructures and is laid out as follows :


0:000> dt IMAGE_NT_HEADERS 77c00000+0n232


   +0x000 Signature        : 0x4550 à PE\0\0

   +0x004 FileHeader       : _IMAGE_FILE_HEADER

   +0x018 OptionalHeader   : _IMAGE_OPTIONAL_HEADER




Following the PE signature in the PE header is a structure of type IMAGE_FILE_HEADER, which contains the most basic information about the file. The fields of IMAGE_FILE_HEADER are show below :


0:000> dt IMAGE_FILE_HEADER 77c00000+0n232+4


   +0x000 Machine          : 0x14c

   +0x002 NumberOfSections : 4

   +0x004 TimeDateStamp    : 0x4900637a

   +0x008 PointerToSymbolTable : 0

   +0x00c NumberOfSymbols  : 0

   +0x010 SizeOfOptionalHeader : 0xe0

   +0x012 Characteristics  : 0x210e


The value of machine field in IMAGE_FILE_HEADER is 0x14c, which is for Intel Intel 386. The number of sections are 8 from the second fields, NumberOfSections. We can check from TimeDateStamp when the linker produced this file as followings :


0:000> .formats 0x4900637a

Evaluate expression:

  Hex:     4900637a

  Time:    Thu Oct 23 20:43:54 2008


The Characteristics of IMAGE_FILE_HEADER show us what kind of attributes the file can support. You can find more on the characteristics in the following website : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms680313(VS.85).aspx .


0x210e :  IMAGE_FILE_32BIT_MACHINE |                    à 32 bit word machine

             IMAGE_FILE_EXECUTABLE_IMAGE |               à Executable

IMAGE_FILE_LINE_NUMS_STRIPPED |            à Line Numbers Stripped

IMAGE_FILE_LOCAL_SYMS_STRIPPED |          à Symbols Stripped

IMAGE_FILE_DLL                                         à DLL


So you will take notice of that the analysis result based on the file structures of PE format is the same as the first block of “!dh” command output listed as following :


File Type: DLL


     14C machine (i386)

       4 number of sections

4900637A time date stamp Thu Oct 23 20:43:54 2008


       0 file pointer to symbol table

       0 number of symbols

      E0 size of optional header

    210E characteristics


            Line numbers stripped

            Symbols stripped

            32 bit word machine





The third part of the PE header is a structure of type IMAGE_OPTIONAL_HEADER. For PE files, this part certainly isn’t optional. We can know more details about the file through Image Optional Header : the state of the image file, the version number of the linker, the size of the code section, a pointer to the entry point function, relative to the image base address, the preferred address of the first byte of the image when it is loaded in memory, and so on. Please refer to more on its fields in http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms680339(vs.85).aspx


Then Where can we start to see the contents of optional header? Yes, we can find out the start offset of the image optional header from IMAGE_NT_HEADERS. Its start offset is +0x018 from the address of IMAGE_NT_HEADERS.


0:000> dt IMAGE_OPTIONAL_HEADER 77c00000+0n232+0x18


   +0x000 Magic            : 0x10b

   +0x002 MajorLinkerVersion : 0x7 ''

   +0x003 MinorLinkerVersion : 0xa ''

   +0x004 SizeOfCode       : 0x42400

   +0x008 SizeOfInitializedData : 0x3400

   +0x00c SizeOfUninitializedData : 0

   +0x010 AddressOfEntryPoint : 0x80a5

   +0x014 BaseOfCode       : 0x1000

   +0x018 BaseOfData       : 0x41000

   +0x01c ImageBase        : 0x77c00000

   +0x020 SectionAlignment : 0x1000

   +0x024 FileAlignment    : 0x200

   +0x028 MajorOperatingSystemVersion : 5

   +0x02a MinorOperatingSystemVersion : 2

   +0x02c MajorImageVersion : 5

   +0x02e MinorImageVersion : 2

   +0x030 MajorSubsystemVersion : 4

   +0x032 MinorSubsystemVersion : 0xa

   +0x034 Win32VersionValue : 0

   +0x038 SizeOfImage      : 0x49000

   +0x03c SizeOfHeaders    : 0x400

   +0x040 CheckSum         : 0x4afcc

   +0x044 Subsystem        : 3

   +0x046 DllCharacteristics : 0

   +0x048 SizeOfStackReserve : 0x40000

   +0x04c SizeOfStackCommit : 0x1000

   +0x050 SizeOfHeapReserve : 0x100000

   +0x054 SizeOfHeapCommit : 0x1000

   +0x058 LoaderFlags      : 0

   +0x05c NumberOfRvaAndSizes : 0x10

   +0x060 DataDirectory    : [16] _IMAGE_DATA_DIRECTORY


The sum up of the Image Optional Header structure is as followings :


The state of the image file :                        Executable

Linker Version :                                     7.10

The size of code section(in bytes):                  0x42400

A pointer to the entry point function:               0x80a5

A pointer to the beginning of the code section :     0x1000

A pointer to the beginning of the data section :     0x41000

The preferred address of the first byte of the image:         0x77c00000

The alignment of sections loaded in memory(in bytes):         0x1000 (4K)

The alignment of the raw data of sections in file:   0x200 (512)

The version number of the required OS :              5.02

The version number of the image :                    5.02

The version number of the subsystem :                4.10

The size of the image (in bytes) :                   0x49000

The combined size of the MS-DOS stub,PE,Section hdrs:         0x400

The image file checksum :                            0x4afcc

The subsystem required to run this image :           IMAGE_SUBSYSTEM_WINDOWS_CUI (3)

The number of bytes to reserve for the stack :       0x40000 (256K)

The number of bytes to commit for the stack :        0x1000 (4K)

The number of bytes to reserve for the local heap :  0x100000 (1MB)

The number of bytes to commit for the local heap :   0x1000 (4K)

The number of directory entries :                    0x10 (16)

A pointer to the first IMAGE_DATA_DIRECTORY :        Start Address of Optional header + 0x60


We can see that the code starts to run from “a pointer to the entry point function”. If you can have the private symbol of the file, you can see the following :


0:000> ln 77c00000+0x80a5

 (77c080a5)   GDI32!_DllMainCRTStartupForGS   |  (77c0812c)   GDI32!NtGdiGetStockObject

Exact matches:

    GDI32!_DllMainCRTStartupForGS (void *, unsigned long, void *)


0:000> uf 77c080a5 ß 77c00000+0x80a5


   37 77c080a5 8bff            mov     edi,edi

   37 77c080a7 55              push    ebp

   37 77c080a8 8bec            mov     ebp,esp

   43 77c080aa 837d0c01        cmp     dword ptr [ebp+0Ch],1

   43 77c080ae 750e            jne     GDI32!_DllMainCRTStartupForGS+0x19 (77c080be)



   45 77c080b0 ff7508          push    dword ptr [ebp+8]

   45 77c080b3 ff156c11c077    call    dword ptr [GDI32!_imp__DisableThreadLibraryCalls (77c0116c)]

   46 77c080b9 e88e020000      call    GDI32!__security_init_cookie (77c0834c)



   49 77c080be 33c0            xor     eax,eax

   49 77c080c0 40              inc     eax

   50 77c080c1 5d              pop     ebp

   50 77c080c2 c20c00          ret     0Ch


The Data Directory field contains Export Directory, Import Directory, Resource Directory, Exception Directory, Security Directory, Base Relocation Directory, Debug Directory, Description Directory, and so on. You can find more details on this at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms680305(vs.85).aspx


Here I am going to see the imported functions from Import Directory among them. First I list all the image data directories as followings :


0:000> dt -a16 _IMAGE_DATA_DIRECTORY 77c00000+0n232+0x18+0x060


[0] @ 77c00160


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0x1cb0

   +0x004 Size             : 0x3cd6


[1] @ 77c00168  ß Import table address and size


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0x42638

   +0x004 Size             : 0x64


[2] @ 77c00170


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0x46000

   +0x004 Size             : 0x3d0


[3] @ 77c00178


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[4] @ 77c00180


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[5] @ 77c00188


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0x47000

   +0x004 Size             : 0x18b0


[6] @ 77c00190


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0x431ec

   +0x004 Size             : 0x38


[7] @ 77c00198


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[8] @ 77c001a0


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[9] @ 77c001a8


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[10] @ 77c001b0


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0x25c88

   +0x004 Size             : 0x40


[11] @ 77c001b8


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[12] @ 77c001c0


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0x1000

   +0x004 Size             : 0x204


[13] @ 77c001c8


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[14] @ 77c001d0


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


[15] @ 77c001d8


   +0x000 VirtualAddress   : 0

   +0x004 Size             : 0


Then we can get the contents of IMAGE_IMPORT_DESCRIPTOR at the address 77c00000+0x42638.


0:000> dt 77c00000+0x42638 IMAGE_IMPORT_DESCRIPTOR  ß Import table address and size


   +0x000 Characteristics  : 0x426d0

   +0x000 OriginalFirstThunk : 0x426d0

   +0x004 TimeDateStamp    : 0

   +0x008 ForwarderChain   : 0

   +0x00c Name             : 0x4269c

   +0x010 FirstThunk       : 0x1000


0:000> da 77c00000+0x4269c ß Name

77c4269c  "ntdll.dll"


0:000> dc 77c00000+0x426d0 ß OriginalFirstThunk

77c426d0  000428d4 000428e0 00042904 0004291c  .(...(...)...)..

77c426e0  00042926 00042936 0004294a 00042954  &)..6)..J)..T)..

77c426f0  0004295e 0004296a 00042978 00042992  ^)..j)..x)...)..

77c42700  000429a4 000429ba 000429c6 000429d2  .)...)...)...)..

77c42710  000429ec 000429f6 00042a0e 00042a18  .)...)...*...*..

77c42720  00042a22 00042a3c 00042a58 00042a78  "*..<*..X*..x*..

77c42730  00042a94 00042aac 00042ab8 00042aca  .*...*...*...*..

77c42740  00042ad4 00042ae6 00042b00 00042b0e  .*...*...+...+..


0:000> dc 77c00000+0x1000 ß FirstThunk

77c01000  7c831983 7c8196ba 7c82b0be 7c81ba4a  ...|...|...|J..|

77c01010  7c827ccf 7c81bdd9 7c82cfe2 7c82e828  .|.|...|...|(..|

77c01020  7c835757 7c82730f 7c82754f 7c826eaf  WW.|.s.|Ou.|.n.|

77c01030  7c82727f 7c8394c5 7c8357d6 7c81c575  .r.|...|.W.|u..|

77c01040  7c82b47b 7c827cbf 7c81b2ed 7c82a57e  {..|.|.|...|~..|

77c01050  7c82e383 7c837538 7c833d1d 7c82c988  ...|8u.|.=.|...|

77c01060  7c81a469 7c82733f 7c8276ff 7c826d1f  i..|?s.|.v.|.m.|

77c01070  7c829fd6 7c82786f 7c82eb6e 7c82eb52  ...|ox.|n..|R..|


0:000> uf 7c831983

ntdll!_stricmp :

   73 7c831983 8bff            mov     edi,edi

   73 7c831985 55              push    ebp

   73 7c831986 8bec            mov     ebp,esp

  105 7c831988 5d              pop     ebp

   88 7c831989 55              push    ebp

   88 7c83198a 8bec            mov     ebp,esp

   88 7c83198c 57              push    edi

   88 7c83198d 56              push    esi

   88 7c83198e 53              push    ebx

   95 7c83198f 8b750c          mov     esi,dword ptr [ebp+0Ch]

   96 7c831992 8b7d08          mov     edi,dword ptr [ebp+8]

   98 7c831995 b0ff            mov     al,0FFh

   98 7c831997 8bff            mov     edi,edi


Please refer to “Peering Inside the PE: A Tour of the Win32 Portable Executable File Format (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ms809762.aspx)” for the details of IMAGE_IMPORT_DESCRIPTOR.




That is for the headers of PE files on the memory dump. I’ll continue to go over the remainder of portable executable files in the next article.


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