TrendLabsSM recently handled a client case last March wherein two peculiar malware leveraged a Windows service—Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)—to execute their malicious routines.
WMI lets users access and retrieve information about their OSs. It is particularly useful for administrators, especially in enterprise environments, as it manages applications found on systems connected to a network using any one of various coding languages. It can be considered a database that contains information on anything and everything related to a system’s OS and its users.
As WMI contains a huge chunk of data, cybercriminals find it a very likely target for their malicious creations. They can, for instance, introduce specialized pragma to the service to make affected systems do their malicious bids such as:
- Mine sensitive information that can only be accessed by the said service
- Elevate a malicious user’s system privilege to spy on and probe the affected system and other systems connected to the same network
- Embed malicious scripts into target services
In this particular attack, TROJ_WMIGHOST.A, a WMI script, arrives on a system bundled with BKDR_HTTBOT.EA, a DLL malware. The malicious script opens two Internet browser windows. The first window allows BKDR_HTTBOT.EA to execute via an ActiveX content. The second window allows the backdoor to post Office files (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, or Excel) to a remote site and to execute other malicious scripts from the Ghost IP. These backdoor routines puts users at risk of losing pertinent data.
This is, however, not the first time WMI was used for malicious purposes. In “Kiwicon 2008,” a security consultant introduced “The Moth,” a proof-of-concept (POC) Trojan that uses the service to deploy a malicious code capable of performing the following routines:
- Dropping and executing other potentially malicious files onto the host system or onto removable drives
- Hiding malicious codes
- Relaunching an existing rootkit after having been found and removed
Users need not worry, however, of being victimized by such an attack, as downloading this tool rids affected systems of TROJ_WMIGHOST.A. Trend Micro products via the Smart Protection Network™ also rids affected systems of BKDR_HTTBOT.EA.
Update as of July 23, 2010 3:20 a.m. UTC
Read more information about this malware technique through our research paper, Understanding WMI Malware.