Thursday, October 13, 2005

Recent rootkit news

I hope you weren't expecting things to stand still...

This past Monday, F-Secure had an entry in their blog about a custom version of Hacker Defender. In this case, "custom" means "private commercial", meaning that someone paid for a specific version of the rootkit. And don't think for an instant that this is the only one...there are other rootkit authors who do the very same thing.

According to the F-Secure blog entry, the version of the rootkit has anti-detection mechanisms. Specifically, it detects modern rootkit detectors via their binary signature, and if it does find one of the detectors, it can modify itself or the detector. F-Secure says that the most recent version of their BlackLight product can detect this rootkit.

This brings up something I saw over on the blog. Handler Patrick Nolan posted an entry about rootkits that run even in safe mode. Yes, that's right...when you try to boot your computer in safe mode (here's the description of Safe Mode for Windows 2000) so that certain Registry keys aren't parsed, such as autostart locations, the rootkit will still launch. Check out this description from Symantec (btw...take a look at everything that last bit of malware does...).

The Registry key you're interested in is:


On a side note, Autoruns has been updated to v8.22, and includes new functionality. I've run it on my system, and it doesn't seem to check the SafeBoot key mentioned above. However, when running your cases and parsing the Registry files from an image, be sure to add this one this one to your list of keys to check. Remember, though...on an image, the correct path would be "ControlSet00x", rather than "CurrentControlSet".

Addendum 14 Oct: I caught an interesting item on the Spire Security ViewPoint blog this morning...there's a link to a VNUNet article (ZDNet's version) that mentions three guys in the Netherlands who got busted with a 'botnet army of 100K nodes/zombies. The bots were evidently W32.ToxBot, which Symantec states has "0-49" infections. In all fairness, though, Symantec's definition of "number of infections" is "Measures the number of computers known to be infected". This leads me over to a post on the TaoSecurity blog about digital security, and the differences between the real, "analog" world and the indicators of engineering failures, and those in the digital world. I can't imagine that all 100K of the zombies infected with W32.ToxBot were simply home user systems. It's entirely possible that many of them were academic and corporate systems...and in the case of the corporate systems, someone should have realized that something was going on.

I've dealt with incidents in the past in which admin machines were infected. When I was the security admin at a financial services company, I had a script that would pull down the most recent IIS 4.0 web server logs from a system that we had (and that I'd locked down, in part by removing all but the necessary script mappings) and parse out the other-than-ordinary entries. Over the course of a couple of days, I noticed Nimda scans from the same IP address. So, I did a lookup of the IP space to see who owned it, and in the end, I got lucky. The infected system was owned by the administrator, who was also the technical contact for the domain. I talked to him via the phone...he stated that he didn't realize that he'd had a web server on his system, and didn't know that his system was infected with Nimda (had been for several days), but once he started receiving calls (mine wasn't the first), he really had no idea what do to about it.

Okay...back to our little 'bot. Take a look at the Symantec write-up for the 'bot, in particular these items:
  • Installs as a service, and oddly enough, it actually writes a description for the service, as well
  • Besides the Registry keys for the service, it adds entries under "Control\SafeBoot\Minimal" and "Control\SafeBoot\Network" so that it is initiated even if the system is booted to Safe Mode
  • It looks for the "HKLM\Software\VMware" key, and doesn't run if it finds it (Note: this same technique was used in SotM 32)

Nothing in the write-up indicates the use of rootkit capabilities, but from the capabilities this bot does How much harder would it have been for normal admins to detect it if it did have rootkit capabilities (ie, the use of rdriv.sys, for example)?

CA's write up on the ToxBot family

Addendum 21 Oct: VNUNet posted an article 2 days ago, announcing that rootkit creators have gone professional, selling custom versions of their software. While "creators" is plural, there is only one such rootkit announced in the article. This was /.'d, as well. Contrary to what the author of the article would have you believe, this is NOT new.

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