Logical signatures

Logical signatures allow combining of multiple signatures in extended format using logical operators. They can provide both more detailed and flexible pattern matching. The logical sigs are stored inside *.ldb files in the following format:



  • TargetDescriptionBlock provides information about the engine and target file with comma separated Arg:Val pairs. For args where Val is a range, the minimum and maximum values should be expressed as min-max.

  • LogicalExpression specifies the logical expression describing the relationship between Subsig0...SubsigN. Basis clause: 0,1,...,N decimal indexes are SUB-EXPRESSIONS representing Subsig0, Subsig1,...,SubsigN respectively. Inductive clause: if A and B are SUB-EXPRESSIONS and X, Y are decimal numbers then (A&B), (A|B), A=X, A=X,Y, A>X, A>X,Y, A<X and A<X,Y are SUB-EXPRESSIONS

  • SubsigN is n-th subsignature in extended format possibly preceded with an offset. There can be specified up to 64 subsigs.

Keywords used in TargetDescriptionBlock:

  • Engine:X-Y: Required engine functionality level (range; 0.96).

    Note: If the Engine keyword is used, it must be the first keyword in the TargetDescriptionBlock for backwards compatibility. See the FLEVEL reference for details.

  • Target:X: A number specifying the type of the target file: Target Types.

  • FileSize:X-Y: Required file size (range in bytes; 0.96)

  • EntryPoint: Entry point offset (range in bytes; 0.96)

  • NumberOfSections: Required number of sections in executable (range; 0.96)

  • Container:CL_TYPE_*: File type of the container which stores the scanned file.

    Specifying CL_TYPE_ANY matches on root objects only (i.e. the target file is explicitely not in a container). Chances slim that you would want to use CL_TYPE_ANY in a signature, because placing the malicious file in an archive will then prevent it from alerting.

    Every ClamAV file type has the potential to be a container for additional files, although some are more likely than others. When a file is parsed and data in the file is identified to be scanned as a unique type, that parent file becomes a container the moment the embedded content is scanned. For a list of possible CL_TYPEs, refer to the File Types Reference.

  • Intermediates:CL_TYPE_*>CL_TYPE_*: Specify one or more layers of file types containing the scanned file. This is an alternative to using Container.

    You may specify up to 16 layers of file types separated by ’>’ in top-down order. Note that the ’>’ separator is not needed if you only specify a single container. The last type should be the immediate container containing the malicious file. Unlike with the Container option, CL_TYPE_ANY can be used as a wildcard file type. (expr; 0.100.0)

    For a list of possible CL_TYPEs, refer to the File Types Reference.

  • IconGroup1: Icon group name 1 from .idb signature Required engine functionality (range; 0.96)

  • IconGroup2: Icon group name 2 from .idb signature Required engine functionality (range; 0.96)

Modifiers for subexpressions:

  • A=X: If the SUB-EXPRESSION A refers to a single signature then this signature must get matched exactly X times; if it refers to a (logical) block of signatures then this block must generate exactly X matches (with any of its sigs).

  • A=0 specifies negation (signature or block of signatures cannot be matched)

  • A=X,Y: If the SUB-EXPRESSION A refers to a single signature then this signature must be matched exactly X times; if it refers to a (logical) block of signatures then this block must generate X matches and at least Y different signatures must get matched.

  • A>X: If the SUB-EXPRESSION A refers to a single signature then this signature must get matched more than X times; if it refers to a (logical) block of signatures then this block must generate more than X matches (with any of its sigs).

  • A>X,Y: If the SUB-EXPRESSION A refers to a single signature then this signature must get matched more than X times; if it refers to a (logical) block of signatures then this block must generate more than X matches and at least Y different signatures must be matched.

  • A<X: Just like A>Z above with the change of "more" to "less".

    If the SUB-EXPRESSION A refers to a single signature then this signature must get matched less than X times; if it refers to a (logical) block of signatures then this block must generate less than X matches (with any of its sigs).

  • A<X,Y: Similar to A>X,Y. If the SUB-EXPRESSION A refers to a single signature then this signature must get matched less than X times; if it refers to a (logical) block of signatures then this block must generate less than X matches and at least Y different signatures must be matched.






Subsignature Modifiers

ClamAV (clamav-0.99) supports a number of additional subsignature modifiers for logical signatures. This is done by specifying :: followed by a number of characters representing the desired options. Signatures using subsignature modifiers require Engine:81-255 for backwards-compatibility.

  • Case-Insensitive [i]

    Specifying the i modifier causes ClamAV to match all alphabetic hex bytes as case-insensitive. All patterns in ClamAV are case-sensitive by default.

  • Wide [w]

    Specifying the w causes ClamAV to match all hex bytes encoded with two bytes per character. Note this simply interweaves each character with NULL characters and does not truly support UTF-16 characters. Wildcards for ’wide’ subsignatures are not treated as wide (i.e. there can be an odd number of intermittent characters). This can be combined with a to search for patterns in both wide and ascii.

  • Fullword [f]

    Match subsignature as a fullword (delimited by non-alphanumeric characters).

  • Ascii [a]

    Match subsignature as ascii characters. This can be combined with w to search for patterns in both ascii and wide.


  • Match 'AAAA'(nocase) and 'BBBBBB'(nocase)
  • Match 'AAA' and 'hello'(fullword)
  • Match 'AAA' and 'hello'(fullword nocase)
  • Match 'AAA' and 'hello'(wide ascii)
  • Match 'AAA' and 'hello'(nocase wide fullword ascii)

Special Subsignature Types

Macro subsignatures

Introduced in ClamAV 0.96

Format: ${min-max}MACROID$

Macro subsignatures are used to combine a number of existing extended signatures (.ndb) into a on-the-fly generated alternate string logical signature (.ldb). Signatures using macro subsignatures require Engine:51-255 for backwards-compatibility.




The example logical signature TestMacro is functionally equivalent to:

  • MACROID points to a group of signatures; there can be at most 32 macro groups.

    • In the example, MACROID is 12 and both D1 and D2 are members of macro group 12. D3 is a member of separate macro group 30.
  • {min-max} specifies the offset range at which one of the group signatures should match; the offset range is relative to the starting offset of the preceding subsignature. This means a macro subsignature cannot be the first subsignature.

    • In the example, {min-max} is {6-7} and it is relative to the start of a 616161 match.

The intention with macro subsignatures is to ease the burden of writing signatures for scenarios like this... A small number of logical signatures may be created that target a given phishing email. Macro signatures are created for variations in the email, such as variations of URL domains. In this way, new macro signatures can be added to account for additional variations in the phishing URLs without updating the larger logical signature, and without adding all new logical signatures.

Byte Compare Subsignatures

Introduced in ClamAV 0.101

Format: subsigid_trigger(offset#byte_options#comparisons)

Byte compare subsignatures can be used to evaluate a numeric value at a given offset from the start of another (matched) subsignature within the same logical signature. These are executed after all other subsignatures within the logical subsignature are fired, with the exception of PCRE subsignatures. They can evaluate offsets only from a single referenced subsignature, and that subsignature must give a valid match for the evaluation to occur.

  • subsigid_trigger is a required field and may refer to any single non-PCRE, non-Byte Compare subsignature within the lsig. The byte compare subsig will evaluate if subsigid_trigger matches. Triggering on multiple subsigs or logic based triggering is not currently supported.

  • offset is a required field that consists of an offset_modifier and a numeric offset (hex or decimal offsets are okay).

    • offset_modifier can be either >> or << where the former denotes a positive offset and the latter denotes a negative offset. The offset is calculated from the start of subsigid_trigger, which allows for byte extraction before the specified match, after the match, and within the match itself.

    • offset must be a positive hex or decimal value. This will be the number of bytes from the start of the referenced subsigid_trigger match within the file buffer to begin the comparison.

  • byte_options are used to specify the numeric type and endianess of the extracted byte sequence in that order as well as the number of bytes to be read. By default ClamAV will attempt to matchup up to the number of byte specified, unless the e (exact) option is specified or the numeric type is b (binary). This field follows the form [h|d|a|i][l|b][e]num_bytes

    • h|d|a|i where h specifies the byte sequence will be in hex, d decimal, a automatic detection of hex or decimal at runtime, and i signifies raw binary data.

    • l|b where l specifies the byte sequence will be in little endian order and b big endian. If decimal d is specified, big-endian is implied and using l will result in a malformed database error.

    • e specifies that ClamAV will only evaluate the comparison if it can extract the exact number of bytes specified. This option is implicitly declared when using the i flag.

    • num_bytes specifies the number of bytes to extract. This can be a hex or decimal value. If i is specified only 1, 2, 4, and 8 are valid options.

  • comparisons are a required field which denotes how to evaluate the extracted byte sequence. Each Byte Compare signature can have one or two comparison_sets separated by a comma. Each comparison_set consists of a Comparison_symbol and a Comparison_value and takes the form Comparison_symbolComparison_value. Thus, comparisons takes the form comparison_set[,comparison_set]

    • Comparison_symbol denotes the type of comparison to be done. The supported comparison symbols are <, >, =.

    • Comparison_value is a required field which must be a numeric hex or decimal value. If all other conditions are met, the byte compare subsig will evalutate the extracted byte sequence against this number based on the provided comparison_symbol.

PCRE subsignatures

Introduced in ClamAV 0.99

Format: Trigger/PCRE/[Flags]

PCRE subsignatures are used within a logical signature (.ldb) to specify regex matches that execute once triggered by a conditional based on preceding subsignatures. Signatures using PCRE subsignatures require Engine:81-255 for backwards-compatibility.

  • Trigger is a required field that is a valid LogicalExpression and may refer to any subsignatures that precede this subsignature. Triggers cannot be self-referential and cannot refer to subsequent subsignatures.

  • PCRE is the expression representing the regex to execute. ClamAV identifies the regex string by searching from the beginning of the subsignature for the start-/ and searching from the end for the end-/. You may \-escape any use of / within the regex string, but it is not required. For backward compatibility, ; within the expression must be expressed as \x3B. The regex string cannot be empty and (?UTF\*) control sequences are not allowed. If debug messages are enabled (i.e. clamscan --debug), then named capture groups are displayed in a post-execution report.

  • Flags are a series of characters which affect the compilation and execution of PCRE within the PCRE compiler and the ClamAV engine. This field is optional.

    • g [CLAMAV_GLOBAL] specifies to search for ALL matches of PCRE (default is to search for first match). NOTE: INCREASES the time needed to run the PCRE.

    • r [CLAMAV_ROLLING] specifies to use the given offset as the starting location to search for a match as opposed to the only location; applies to subsigs without maxshifts. By default, in order to facilatate normal ClamAV offset behavior, PCREs are auto-anchored (only attempt match on first offset); using the rolling option disables the auto-anchoring.

    • e [CLAMAV_ENCOMPASS] specifies to CONFINE matching between the specified offset and maxshift; applies only when maxshift is specified.

      Note: DECREASES time needed to run the PCRE.


    • s [PCRE_DOTALL]















Image Fuzzy Hash subsignatures

Introduced in ClamAV 0.105

Format: fuzzy_img#<hash>#<dist>

For example if you wanted to match on this image...


...you would make a signature like this:


Image fuzzy hash signatures in 0.105 do not support matching with a hamming distance greater than zero. Support for matching with a hamming distance may be added in a future release. The signatures above explicitly set the hamming distance to 0. But you could also omit it, like this:


You can combine the image fuzzy hash subsignature with other logical signature features, like adding additional subsignatures:


or container types:


ClamAV's image fuzzy hash is very close to, but not 100% identical to, the fuzzy hash generated by the Python imagehash package's phash() function. Note that these are only clean-room approximations of the pHash™️ algorithm. ClamAV's image fuzzy hashes are not expected to match the fuzzy hashes generated using other tools. Some images may match, while others do not.

You must use ClamAV to generate the fuzzy hash for the most reliable results. A sigtool option does not yet exist to generate a ClamAV image fuzzy hash. So, to generate the image fuzzy hash you can run this command:

clamscan --gen-json --debug /path/to/file

The hash will appear in the JSON above the "SCAN SUMMARY" under the object named "ImageFuzzyHash".

Signatures for Version Information (VI) metadata in PE files

Starting with ClamAV 0.96 it is possible to easily match certain information built into PE files (executables and dynamic link libraries). Whenever you lookup the properties of a PE executable file in windows, you are presented with a bunch of details about the file itself.

These info are stored in a special area of the file resources which goes under the name of VS_VERSION_INFORMATION (or versioninfo for short). It is divided into 2 parts. The first part (which is rather uninteresting) is really a bunch of numbers and flags indicating the product and file version. It was originally intended for use with installers which, after parsing it, should be able to determine whether a certain executable or library are to be upgraded/overwritten or are already up to date. Suffice to say, this approach never really worked and is generally never used.

The second block is much more interesting: it is a simple list of key/value strings, intended for user information and completely ignored by the OS. For example, if you look at ping.exe you can see the company being "Microsoft Corporation", the description "TCP/IP Ping command", the internal name "ping.exe" and so on... Depending on the OS version, some keys may be given peculiar visibility in the file properties dialog, however they are internally all the same.

To match a versioninfo key/value pair, the special file offset anchor VI was introduced. This is similar to the other anchors (like EP and SL) except that, instead of matching the hex pattern against a single offset, it checks it against each and every key/value pair in the file. The VI token doesn’t need nor accept a +/- offset like e.g. EP+1. As for the hex signature itself, it’s just the utf16 dump of the key and value. Only the ?? and (aa|bb) wildcards are allowed in the signature. Usually, you don’t need to bother figuring it out: each key/value pair together with the corresponding VI-based signature is printed by clamscan when the --debug option is given.

For example clamscan --debug freecell.exe produces:

Recognized MS-EXE/DLL file
in cli_peheader
versioninfo_cb: type: 10, name: 1, lang: 410, rva: 9608
cli_peheader: parsing version info @ rva 9608 (1/1)
VersionInfo (d2de): 'CompanyName'='Microsoft Corporation' -
VersionInfo (d32a): 'FileDescription'='Entertainment Pack
FreeCell Game' - VI:460069006c006500440065007300630072006900700
VersionInfo (d396): 'FileVersion'='5.1.2600.0 (xpclient.010817
-1148)' - VI:460069006c006500560065007200730069006f006e00000000
VersionInfo (d3fa): 'InternalName'='freecell' - VI:49006e007400
VersionInfo (d4ba): 'OriginalFilename'='freecell' - VI:4f007200
VersionInfo (d4f6): 'ProductName'='Sistema operativo Microsoft
Windows' - VI:500072006f0064007500630074004e0061006d00650000000
VersionInfo (d562): 'ProductVersion'='5.1.2600.0' - VI:50007200

Although VI-based signatures are intended for use in logical signatures you can test them using ordinary .ndb files. For example:


Final note. If you want to decode a VI-based signature into a human readable form you can use:

echo hex_string | xxd -r -p | strings -el

For example:

echo 460069006c0065004400650073006300720069007000740069006f006e000000000045006e007400650072007400610069006e006d0065006e00740020005000610063006b0020004600720065006500430065006c006c00200047006100
6d0065000000 | xxd -r -p | strings -el
Entertainment Pack FreeCell Game

Icon Signatures for PE files

While Icon Signatures are stored in a .idb file, they are a feature of Logical Signatures.

ClamAV 0.96 includes an approximate/fuzzy icon matcher to help detecting malicious executables disguising themselves as innocent looking image files, office documents and the like.

Icon matching is only triggered by Logical Signatures (.ldb) using the special attribute tokens IconGroup1 or IconGroup2. These identify two (optional) groups of icons defined in a .idb database file. The format of the .idb file is:



  • ICON_NAME is a unique string identifier for a specific icon,

  • GROUP1 is a string identifier for the first group of icons (IconGroup1)

  • GROUP2 is a string identifier for the second group of icons (IconGroup2),

  • ICON_HASH is a fuzzy hash of the icon image

The ICON_HASH field can be obtained from the debug output of libclamav. For example:

ICON_NAME:GROUP1:GROUP2:18e2e0304ce60a0cc3a09053a30000414100057e000afe0000e 80006e510078b0a08910d11ad04105e0811510f084e01040c080a1d0b0021000a39002a41