Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Next Step: Integrating Yara with RegRipper, pt II

Okay, so we've integrated Yara into the RegRipper workflow, and created "YARR" what? The capability is least, I think so. The next step (in the vein of the series) is really leveraging it by creating rules that allow analysts to realize this capability to it's full potential. To take advantage of this, we need to consider the types of data that might be present, and leverage what may already be available and apply to the use case (data written to Registry values) at hand.

Use Available Rules
A great place to start is by using what is already available, and applying those to our use case; however, not everything will apply. For example, using a Yara rule for something that's never had any indication that it's been written to a Registry value likely won't make a great deal of sense to use, at least not at first. That doesn't mean that something about the rule won't be useful; I'm simply saying that it might make better sense to start by looking at what's being written to Registry values first, and start there.

It certainly makes sense to use what's already available as a basis for building out your rule set to run against Registry values. Some of the things I've been looking around for, to see what's already out there and available, are looking for indications of PE files within Registry values, using different techniques and not relying solely on the data beginning with "MZ"; encoded data; strings that include "http://" or "https://"; etc. From these more general cases, we can start to build a corpus of what we're seeing, and begin excluding those things that we determine to be "normal", and highlighting those things we find to be "suspicious" or "bad".

Writing Rules
Next, we can write our own rules, or modify existing ones, based on what we're seeing in our own case work. After all, this was the intention behind RegRipper in the first place, that analysts would see the value in such a tool, not just as something to run but as something to grow and evolve, to add to and develop.

For writing your own rules, there are loads and loads of resources available, one of the most recent from Hexacorn, with his thoughts on writing better Yara rules in 2023. Also be sure to check out Florian's style guide, as well as any number of repositories you can find via Google.

Speaking of Florian, did you know that Thor already has rules for Registry detection? Very cool!

What To Look For
Okay, writing RegRipper plugins and Yara rules is a bit like detection engineering. Sometimes you have to realize that you won't be able to write the perfect rule or detection, and that it's best to write several detections, starting with a "brittle" detection that, at first glance, is trivial to avoid. I get it..."...a good hacker will change what they do the next time...". Sure. But do you know how many times I've seen encoded Powershell used to run lsassy? The only thing that's changed is output file names; most of the actual command doesn't change, making it really easy to recognize. Being associated with SOCs for some time now, and working DFIR investigations as a result, there are a lot of things we see repeatedly, likely due to large campaigns, tool reuse, etc. So there is value in a brittle detection, particularly given the fact that it's really easy to write (and document), usually taking no more than a few seconds, and if we leverage automation in our processes, it's not something we have to remember to do.

So, What?
Why is adding Yara capability to RegRipper important or valuable?

The simple fact is that processes are created, executed, and measured by people. As such, they will break or fail.

In 1991, AFOSI was investigating one of their own in the death of his wife. During an interrogation, floppy disks collected from the Sgt's home were placed on the table, and he grabbed some of them and cut them up with shears. This story is usually shared to demonstrate the service's capability to recover data, even when the disk is cut up, which is exactly what was done in this case. However, over the years, few have questioned how the Sgt was able to get the shears into the interrogation room; after all, wouldn't he have been patted down at least once?

The point is that processes (frisking, checking for hidden weapons) is a process created, executed, and managed/measured by people, and as a result, things will be missed, steps skipped, things will go unchecked. So, by incorporating this capability into RegRipper, we're providing something that many may assume was already done at another point or level, but may have been missed. For example, the plugin looks for Registry values that start with "MZ", but what if the value is a binary data type (instead of a string), and the first two bytes are "4D 5A" instead? Yara provides a fascinating (if, in some cases, overlapping) capability that, when brought to bear against Registry value data, can be very powerful. With one rule file, you can effectively look for executables (in general), specific executables or shell code, encoded data, etc.

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