FLARE VM is the first of its kind reverse engineering and malware
analysis distribution on Windows platform. Since its introduction
in July 2017
, FLARE VM has been continuously trusted and used by
many reverse engineers, malware analysts, and security researchers as
their go-to environment for analyzing malware. Just like the
ever-evolving security industry, FLARE VM has gone through many major
changes to better support our users’ needs. FLARE VM now has a new
installation, upgrade, and uninstallation process, which is a long
anticipated feature requested by our users. FLARE VM also includes
many new tools such as IDA 7.0, radare and YARA. Therefore, we would
like to share these updates, especially the new installation process.


We strongly recommend you use FLARE VM within a virtualized
environment for malware analysis to protect and isolate your physical
device and network from malicious activities. We assume you already
have experience setting up and configuring your own virtualized
environment. Please create a new virtual machine (VM) and perform a
fresh installation of Windows. FLARE VM is designed to be installed on
Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or newer; therefore, you can select a version
of windows that best suits your needs. From this point forward, all
installation steps should be performed within your VM.

Once you have a VM with a fresh installation of Windows, use one of
the following URLs to download the compressed FLARE VM repository onto
your VM:

Figure 1: Download FLARE VM repo

Then, use the following steps to install FLARE VM:

  1. Decompress the FLARE VM
    repository to a directory of your choosing.
  2. Start a new
    session of PowerShell with escalated privileges. FLARE VM attempts
    to install additional software and modify system settings;
    therefore, escalated privileges are required for installation.
  3. Within PowerShell, change directory to the location where you
    have decompressed the FLARE VM repository.
  4. Enable
    unrestricted execution policy for PowerShell by executing the
    following command and answering “Y” when prompted by PowerShell:
    Set-ExecutionPolicy unrestricted
  5. Execute the install.ps1
    installation script. You will be prompted to enter the current
    user’s password. FLARE VM needs the current user’s password to
    automatically login after a reboot when installing. Optionally, you
    can specify the current user’s password by passing the “-password
    <current_user_password>” at the command line.

Figure 2: Start PowerShell as administrator

Figure 3: Ready to install FLARE VM

The rest of the installation process is fully automated. Depending
upon your internet speed the entire installation may take up to one
hour to finish. The VM also reboots multiple times due to the numerous
software installations’ requirements. Once the installation completes,
the PowerShell prompt remains open waiting for you to hit any key
before exiting. After completing the installation, you will be
presented with the following desktop environment:

Figure 4: FLARE VM installation completes

Congratulations! You have successfully installed FLARE VM. At this
point we recommend you power off the VM, switch the VM networking mode
to Host-Only, and then take a snapshot to save a clean state of your
analysis VM.


The biggest improvement for FLARE VM is the ability to perform a
proper update and uninstallation. The older version of FLARE VM came
as a PowerShell script to install many chocolatey packages, one at a
time; therefore, we were unable to include new packages when updating
FLARE VM. In the past, our users had to reinstall FLARE VM completely,
which is time consuming, or manually install the new package, which is
error prone. To solve this issue, we have converted FLARE VM itself
into a chocolatey package. Whenever a new tool is available we will
also release a new version of FLARE VM. With this new design we can
simply execute “choco upgrade all” to get the newest version of FLARE
VM along with any new packages we have released. You can also safely
uninstall all FLARE VM packages by executing “choco uninstall flarevm.installer.flare”.

Our new FLARE VM is also updated to use Python 3.7 as the default
Python interpreter. As a result, many python scripts may fail to
execute. To maintain support for older scripts, we keep Python 2.7
installed in parallel with Python 3.7. We can easily switch between
different versions by using the Python launcher. Run “py -2.7
<path_to_python_script>” to use Python 2.7, or “py
<path_to_python_script>” to use the default Python 3.7
interpreter. For more details on the Python launcher, please refer to
the following URL: https://docs.python.org/3/using/windows.html#launcher.

Additionally, the new FLARE VM changes the location where Fakenet-NG
saves its output when launched via the shortcut in the FLARE folder or
taskbar pin. Instead of saving directly to the desktop, to reduce
clutter, Fakenet-NG will store all its output in “Desktopfakenet_logs”.

Compared to older versions this version of FLARE VM comes with many
new tools and software packages. Most notably, this release adds the following:

  • IDA Free 7.0
  • radare2 to support 64-bit disassembly
  • The labs for the
    Malware Analysis
  • pdfid, pdf-parser, and
    PdfStreamdumper to analyze malicious PDF documents
  • The
    Malcode Analyst Pack
  • Yara for signature matching
  • The Cygwin Linux environment on windows
  • PowerShell
    transcription and script block logging

    • PowerShell
      transcripts can be found in “DesktopPS_Transcripts”

Available Packages

While we attempt to make the tools available as shortcuts within the
FLARE folder, there are several available from command-line only.
Please see the online
 for the most up to date list. Here is an incomplete
list of some major tools available on FLARE VM:

  • Disassemblers:
    • IDA Free 5.0 and IDA Free 7.0
    • Binary Ninja
    • Radare2 and Cutter
  • Debuggers:
    • OllyDbg and OllyDbg2
    • x64dbg
    • Windbg
  • File Format parser:
    • CFF Explorer, PEView,
    • PdfStreamdumper, pdf-parser, pdfid
    • ffdec
    • offvis and officemalscanner
    • PE-bear
  • Decompilers:
    • RetDec
    • Jd-gui and bytecode-viewer
    • dnSpy
    • IDR
    • VBDecompiler
    • Py2ExeDecompiler
  • Monitoring tools:
    • SysInternal suite
    • RegShot
  • Utilities:
    • Hex Editors
      (010 editor, HxD and File Insight)
    • FLOSS (FireEye Labs
      Obfuscated String Solver)
    • Fakenet-NG
    • Yara
    • Malware Analyst Pack


The FLARE team continues to support and improve FLARE VM to be the
de facto distribution for security research, incident response, and
malware analysis on Windows platform. We greatly appreciate the
numerous bug reports, tool requests, and feature recommendations from
everyone. We hope FLARE VM, along with many other FLARE open source
projects, can help you do your work better, easier, and faster.

We are always looking for talented folks to join our team. The FLARE
Team may be a good place for you if:

  • You eat, sleep, and speak
    disassembly and malware all day long.
  • You would like to
    push the state of the art for reverse engineering and malware

Please check out our careers page,
or send us an email. Happy Reversing!

By admin