With the upcoming version 8.53 of THOR, we’re testing a new feature called “Difference” or “Diff” mode (–diff).

The idea behind “Diff” mode is that a scan could be much faster, if it would only consider elements that have been created or changed since the last scan on that system. We can apply this principle to various modules and increase scan speed massively.

Diff mode is currently supported in the long running modules

  • Filesystem – files with MAC timestamps older than the last scan (start) will be skipped
  • Registry – registry keys with last modification dates older than the last scan (start) will be skipped
  • Eventlog – runs until it reaches eventlog entries with timestamps¬†older than the last scan (start)

Diff mode requires the use of THOR DB, which is the default but could have been disabled with “–nothordb”. This is necessary to determine information from the last scan, e.g. “when did it start” but also “which modules were used in the last scan”.

The main advantage is an incredible fast scan. Our tests showed that scans in “Diff” mode complete within 5 and 15 minutes. In “Diff” mode, the longest running module is “ProcessCheck” with run times between 3 and 6 minutes.

The main disadvantage of “Diff” mode is the inability to detect Timestomping attacks, in which attackers or malware changes the timestamps of files and other elements.