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    Author Archive - Alvin Bacani (Research Engineer)




    Earlier this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation disrupted the activities of the Gameover botnet. That disruption had a significant effect on the scale of the ZBOT threat, but it was unlikely that cybercriminals would not respond in some fashion.

    The use of domain generation algorithms (DGAs) is a key part of Gameover, but new variants like TROJ_ZBOT.YUYAQ have made this tactic even more powerful. How exactly does this variant use this technique?

    The domains are based on the results of an MD5 hash generated by the system. The factors that go into computing the hash are:

    • current day/month/year
    • hardcoded value of 0×35190501
    • tick count (time since the system was started)

    How does the malware generate a domain name from this hash value? This is best demonstrated with a sample hash value. Let us suppose that the resulting MD5 value is 0xf1d73a971e50a68419c7f70764f34f1e. This can be split into four 4-byte words: from most significant to least significant, these would be:

    • 0xf1d73a97
    • 0x1e50a684
    • 0x19c7f707
    • 0x64f34f1e

    Each word is processed using the same algorithm with the word as the initial value, as follows:

    1. Divide the input number by 0×24.
    2. Take the remainder from #1 and add this value to the numbers 0×30 and 0×57. Let’s call these x and y.
    3. Convert x and y to ASCII characters using standard values. Of the two resulting characters, use the result which is either a number or a lower-case character.
    4. To generate the next character, repeat the algorithm with the quotient from step #1 as the input. If the quotient is zero, the algorithm is finished running and the resulting string is complete.

    The above algorithm converts 0xf1d73a97 into the string tdcly51. The malware reverses this string, resulting in 15ylcdt.

    Each word is converted into a string in this manner, and then the resulting strings are concatenated together into one longer string: in this case, our MD5 hash is converted into 15ylcdt10t00m627l7a18es4f8. This string is used as the hostname for the command-and-control server.

    The top-level domain (TLD) used is one of the following: .biz, .com, .net, or .org. Which TLD is used depends on the tick count of the system.

    Every time this malware is run, it generates up to 500 distinct domain names, with up to 1500 unique domains generated per day. While it may be capable of generating this large number of domains, in practice relatively few are used. We have found only 23 domains related to this specific variant of Gameover. More than three-fourths of the victims of this variant are located in the United States. The heat map below shows the distribution of the victims around the world, with the blue circles showing where the C&C servers are located:

    Figure 1. Heat map of victims and C&C servers

    This incident was not the first time that a DGA was used by malware to try and hide its network traffic, and it won’t be the last. So long as it is an effective way to help make detection of C&C traffic difficult, malware will continue to use this technique – to the detriment of users.

    The hash involved in this attack is :

    • 591567291435e4e1394aac27a0c4bbb1d5bdd47e

    With additional analysis from Marilyn Melliang and Marco Dela Vega

     
    Posted in Malware | 1 TrackBack »



    Opera recently disclosed that attackers compromised their network and stole at least one expired Opera code signing certificate. The attackers then used this certificate to sign their malware, which tricked the target system and (even) security software into thinking that the file was legitimate.

    We obtained a sample of the said malware (which is detected as TSPY_FAREIT.ACU) that bears the outdated Opera certificate (see screenshot below). Similar to what Opera reported, the sample we acquired poses as an Opera update.

    Once executed, TSPY_FAREIT.ACU steals crucial information from certain FTP clients or file managers including usernames, passwords, and server names.

    Opera-fake-certificate-1
    Figure 1. Screenshot of stolen old Opera digital certificate

    Aside from FTP clients, TSPY_FAREIT.ACU gathers more information from Internet browsers (which include Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and interestingly Opera), usually those stored on these browsers. These data are typically login credentials for as social networking, banking, and e-commerce websites etc. Using these information, the people behind the malware can get hold of your various online accounts or even initiate unauthorized transactions. They can also profit from these stolen data by selling these to the underground market.

    Opera estimates that several thousand of Windows users are affected as a result of their installed Opera software automatically installing the said malware bearing the outdated certificate. To address this issue, the software vendor promised to release a new version of their browser.

    This abuse of digital certificate to keep malware under the radar is not a new trick and has been proven effective in the past. A good example is the notorious FLAME attack that uses components bearing Microsoft-issued certificates. The screen-locking malware Police Ransomware was also previously found using fake digital certificates, in an attempt to elude digital certificate checks.

    Opera is also not the first software vendor to release an advisory warning its users of malware bearing their digital certificates. Last year Adobe issued an advisory informing users of malicious utilities carrying legitimated Adobe certificates.

    Trend Micro detects and deletes the said spyware bearing the said certificate. You may visit Opera’s site to know more about their advisory.

    With additional insights from Threat Researcher Alvin John Nieto.

     
    Posted in Malware | Comments Off


     

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