Operation Modes

Different Modes of Operation in HyperDbg

In HyperDbg, we operate in three different operation modes.

The first and the basic mode of operation for local and remote debugging is VMI Mode. The second mode is Debugger Mode, and the third mode is Transparent Mode.

VMI Mode

If you want to use HyperDbg, you should operate at least in VMI Mode or Virtual Machine Introspection Mode. In both local debugging and remote debugging, VMI Mode should be enabled.

VMI Mode offers a conventional debugging experience by providing access to all HyperDbg features (including debugging, halting, and stepping user-mode applications), with the only exceptions being breaking to the debugger and step instructions in kernel-mode. It also allows for using scripts and custom codes in both user-mode and kernel-mode for local or remote debugging.

Based on HyperDbg actions, only break to the debugger for kernel-mode (not user mode) is not available in this mode, and you can use scripts and custom codes in both user-mode and kernel-mode.

You can use this mode in both local debugging and remote debugging.

Debugger Mode

If you want to use HyperDbg to the kernel and halt the system to step in and step out through the kernel instructions, then you should use this mode of operation.

It is obvious that you can't use this mode for local debugging, and you should provide a system with a serial cable or virtual serial device to enable it.

If you are not trying to break and halt the system for stepping and instrumenting instructions, then use VMI Mode instead. It is because, in VMI Mode, the connection is over TCP, which is substantially faster than using a serial device.

Transparent Mode

Transparent Mode is an entirely different concept.

If you enable this mode, then HyperDbg tries to make itself transparent from anti-debugging and anti-hypervisor methods and not reveal the hypervisor's presence on timing and microarchitectural attacks; however, it won't guarantee 100% transparency, but it makes it substantially harder for the anti-debugging methods.

To enable this mode, you should use '!measure' and '!hide' commands.

You can use Transparent Mode in both VMI Mode and Debugger Mode.

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