Debug Registers, Hardware Breakpoints

Created the Friday 13 November 2020. Updated 1 year, 10 months ago.

Registers DR0 through DR3 contain the linear address associated with one of the four hardware breakpoint conditions. For anti-debugging, malware will check the contents of the first four debug registers to see if the hardware breakpoint has been set.

Technique Identifier


Technique Tag


Code Snippets

#include <windows.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main() {

    HANDLE thread = GetCurrentThread();
    CONTEXT threadContext;
    int errorCode;

    memset(&threadContext, 0, sizeof(CONTEXT));
    threadContext.ContextFlags = CONTEXT_ALL;

    if( !GetThreadContext(thread, &threadContext) ){
        errorCode = GetLastError();
        puts("Could not get thread context");
        return errorCode;

    if( threadContext.Dr0 || threadContext.Dr1 || threadContext.Dr2 || threadContext.Dr3 ){

    return 0;

Detection Rules

    name: check for hardware breakpoints
    namespace: anti-analysis/anti-debugging/debugger-detection
    scope: function
      - Anti-Behavioral Analysis::Debugger Detection::Hardware Breakpoints [B0001.005]
      - al-khaser_x86.exe_:0x42035D
    - and:
      - api: kernel32.GetThreadContext
      - number: 0x10010 = CONTEXT_DEBUG_REGISTERS
      - offset: 0x4 = DR0
      - offset: 0x8 = DR1
      - offset: 0xC = DR2
      - offset: 0x10 = DR3
      - count(mnemonic(cmp)): 4 or more

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