3. Before You Begin

3.1. Add License File

Place a valid license file into the program folder:

  • THOR License File (*.lic)
    THOR checks the program folder and all sub folder for valid license files. You can specify a certain path with --licensepath path.

3.1.1. Generate a License

You can generate a valid license in our customer portal.

On Windows system you should use the computer name as hostname during license creation.


On Linux use the hostname command:


On macOS use the following command:

sysctl kern.hostname

Some more remarks regarding the hostname values:

  • Use only the hostname of a FQDN (master1 of master1.internal.net)

  • The casing of the letters doesn't matter (case-insensitive)

  • We do not store the hostnames anywhere in our portal

3.1.2. About License Files

THOR processes the program folder and all sub folders in search for a valid license file with a "*.lic" extension and picks the first valid license he can find.

This change has been made to facilitate the rollout using the new host based license model.

You can now generate licenses for a big set of systems, store all the licenses as "thor-system1.lic", "this-system2.lic" and so on in a sub folder "./licenses" and transfer the THOR program folder with the "licenses" sub folder to all the different system for which you have generated licenses and just run the "thor.exe" executable.

3.2. Upgrade THOR and Update The Signatures

Run the following command to update THOR and its signatures:

thor-util upgrade

It is important that you update THOR after a download from the customer portal since the packages do not contain the newest signature files. (caused by internal integrity check processes)

Note: The upgrade requires a valid license for the host that performs the update. If you don't want to use a license for that host, ask us for a silent license that can be used for all kinds of testing purposes and also allows to update THOR and its signatures.

3.3. Define an Antivirus / EDR Exclusion

Since THOR accesses different process memories and probes for malicious Mutex, Named Pipe and Event values, it is recommended to exclude THOR from Antivirus / EDR scanning.

The Antivirus exclusion could also lead to a significant runtime reduction, since access to processes memory and files does not get intercepted anymore.

Note: We see massive runtime changes with Windows Defender since April 2021 (+50-100%). It is highly recommended to exclude THOR from scanning when using Windows Defender.

The quickest way to add an exclusion on a single system is:

Windows command line:

powershell -ep bypass -Command "Add-MpPreference -ExclusionProcess 'c:\temp\thor\thor64.exe'"


Add-MpPreference -ExclusionProcess 'c:\temp\thor\thor64.exe'

For more information visit this link.

3.3.1. A Note on SentinelOne

The process memory of systems running SentinelOne is polluted with suspicious strings. The most prevalent false positive is related to the keyword "ReflectiveLoader", but any other rule can match as well.

It is unclear what SentinelOne does to the process memory of many system processes. We cannot exclude these signatures from the scan. Be aware that the results from the "ProcessCheck" module on a system running SentinelOne can contain many false positives.

3.3.2. A Note on McAfee

It is not an easy task to define exclusions for THOR in all the different services when running McAfee products. You have to exclude the process in different sections (AV, EDR, On-Access). We've compiled a list of exclusions for our ASGARD customers, which you can find here.

3.4. Choose The Right THOR Variant

We offer THOR in different variants.

  • THOR

  • THOR TechPreview

  • THOR Legacy (limited support, availability)

THOR Default and TechPreview Differences

THOR Default and TechPreview Focus

3.4.1. THOR

The default version of THOR is the most stable version, intensively tested and without any broadly tested performance and detection tweaks.

The default version should be used for:

  • Scan sweeps on many hundreds or thousands of systems

  • Continuous compromise assessments on hundreds or thousands of systems

  • Systems with high requirements on stability

3.4.2. THOR TechPreview

The TechPreview version is focussed on detection and speed. This blog post contains more information on the differences.

The TechPreview version should be used for:

  • Digital forensic lab scanning

  • Dropzone mode scanning

  • Image scanning

  • THOR Thunderstorm setups

  • Single system live forensics on systems that don't have highest priority on stability

You can find the information on how to get the TechPreview version in the THOR Util manual.

3.4.3. THOR Legacy

THOR Legacy is a stripped down version that includes all modules that can be used on outdated operating systems. This blog post contains more information on the legacy version.

The legacy version lacks:

  • Module: Eventlog scanning

  • Feature: Deeper process inspection (process hollowing, doppelgänging, etc.)

The legacy version is not offered in our customer portal. We share it with our customers on request.

We only offer limited support for this version, since we cannot guarantee a successful stable scan on platforms that have already been deprecated.

3.5. Choose The Right Architecture

You will find a 32 and 64 bit version of the executable in the program folder. Never run the 32bit version of THOR named thor.exe on 64bit system. The 32bit version has some limitations that the 64bit version doesn't have. (memory usage, sees different folders on disk and registry versions)

Make sure to run the correct binary for your target architecture.

3.6. Choose The Right Command Line Flags

The recommended way to run THOR has already been put into the default. So, the recommended way to start a THOR is without any command line flags.

However, special circumstances can lead to different requirements and thus a different set of command line flags. See chapter 'Scan' for often used flags.

3.7. Verify Public Key Signatures (optional)

You can verify the executable files in the THOR package with

  • their digital signature (PE signature) issued by "Nextron Systems GmbH"

  • thor-util’s “verify” feature

  • openssl verifying the integrity of executables manually

Find more information on THOR Util in its dedicated online manual.

Note: THOR Util automatically verifies the signatures of the contained binaries in an update package and exits if one or more signatures cannot be verified. You don't have to check them manually unless you distrust the THOR Util itself. In this case, you can use the public key published on our web page.

After downloading the public key the signatures can be manually verified with the following command:

openssl dgst -sha256 -verify <Path to public key .pem> -signature <Path to signature .sig> <Path to the executable>

openssl dgst -sha256 -verify nextronCode.pem -signature thor-linux.sig thor-linux