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CHIRP: Cloud Hypervisor Forensics and Incident Response Platform


CHIRP is a Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI)-based cloud forensics platform that enables analysts and defenders to collect evidence and incident response materials in real time, without disturbing the user environment or alerting the intruder


The shift to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has brought challenges to cyber Incident Response (IR) and forensics teams investigating not only breaches and leaks, but also cyber-crime. Due to the ephemerality, location, and ownership of the data, disks, and technology provided by Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), cloud-based entities and cloud customers have yet to establish foundational forensic capabilities that can help reduce security risks. Even further, IaaS platforms rely on hypervisors to virtualize computer systems, but most do not offer a useful Application Programming Interface (API) to support customizable, contextual introspection which is what an analyst needs to conduct investigations.

Sandia’s Cloud Hypervisor Forensics and Incident Response Platform (CHIRP) introduces a novel Virtual Machine Introspection (VMI) based approach to provide intelligence and forensic artifacts from active VMs in cloud systems. Using CHIRP, analysts can pinpoint suspicious activities, track and record attacker actions for forensic analysis and retrieve materials transparently from the targeted machines automatically or on-demand. These extractions occur in real-time without affecting the guest, averting guest detection. The features of CHIRP may also be leveraged to disrupt malicious copying, deleting, obfuscating, encrypting, and relocating of data in a coud environment. It is a first of its kind advancement that provides new opportunities to meet challenges in the cloud through innovative VMI, including correlation with network data and active state collection.


  • Windows, Linux, and OSX guest compatible 
  • Collects artifacts and intelligence to discern potential threats in real-time without disturbing the user environment 
  • Scalable, in-depth out-of-band VM instrumentation for fast-handling of events 
  • Direct access to VM state or memory in a safe, stable fashion

Applications and Industries

  • Ideal for cyber defense and security requirements and applications 
  • Deployable to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or any VM-based service
  • For IR and digital forensic teams, as well as cloud service providers (CSPs)

Additional Information

Operating System/Version: For host (hypervisor) machines: Modern versions of Linux-based distributions (CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise, Ubuntu, Debian) and ESX 5.0-6.5; Intel x64-based architecture. 

For virtual machines: supports x64-based architectures of Linux 3.0 Kernels, Windows 7 to current version, Windows Server 2008 to current version.


VE Urias, WMS Stout, C Loverro, JW Young, “Hypervisor Assisted Forensics and Incident Response in the Cloud,” 2016 IEEE International Conference on Computer and Information Technology (CIT), Nadi, 2016, pp. 768-775

VE Urias, WMS Stout, C Loverro, B Van Leeuwen, “Get Your Head Out of the Clouds: The Illusion of Confidentiality & Privacy” 2018 IEEE 8th International Symposium on Cloud and Service Computing (SC2), 2018, pp. 57-66

R&D 100 Award Video

Technology IDSCR# 2278AvailabilityAvailablePublished03/02/2020Last Updated03/02/2020