Since the discovery of Shellshock, Trend Micro has continuously monitored the threat landscape for any attacks that may leverage these vulnerabilities. So far, we have identified an active IRC bot, exploit attempts in Brazil and China, botnet attacks, and a wide variety of malware payloads such as ELF_BASHLITE.A, ELF_BASHLET.A, and PERL_SHELLBOT.WZ among others. It is reported that other vulnerable protocols like HTTP, SMTP, SSH, and FTP are also affected by Shellshock.
We found that one of the payloads of Bash vulnerabilities, which we detect as TROJ_BASHKAI.SM, downloaded the source code of KAITEN malware, which is used to carry out denial-of-service attacks. Based on our analysis, when TROJ_BASHKAI.SM is executed, it connects to the following malicious URLs:
When it connects to http://www[dot]computer-services[dot]name/b[dot]c, it downloads the KAITEN source code, which is then compiled using the common gcc compiler. This means that once connected to the URL, it won’t immediately download an executable file. Instead, it builds and compiles the source code, resulting in an executable file detected as ELF_KAITEN.SM.
The act of downloading and compiling on the infected system can be seen as a precautionary measure. Downloaded directly as an executable file, the ELF file may have compatibility issues with different Linux OS distributions. Compiling on the infected system ensures that the malware executes properly.
This routine could also be viewed as an evasion technique as some network security systems filter out non-executable files from scanning, due to network performance concerns. Systems configured this way may skip the scanning of the source code because it’s basically a text file. In addition, the recompilation of the source code can also have an effect of having differing binary files (which will have different hashes) across different Unix platforms. This will make detecting compiled binaries more difficult.
ELF_KAITEN.SM connects to an IRC server at x[dot]secureshellz[dot]net where it joins the IRC channel #pwn and waits for commands. Some of the commands the attackers issued are:
- Perform UDP flood
- Perform SYN flood
- Download files
- Send raw IRC command
- Start remote shell
- Perform PUCH-ACK flood
- Disable, enable, terminate client
On the other hand, when it connects to http://stablehost[dot]us/bots/regular[dot]bot, it downloads three separate files. One of these is KAITEN source code, which is similarly compiled into ELF_KAITEN.A. This behaves similarly to ELF_KAITEN.SM, except it connects to linksys[dot]secureshellz[dot]net[colon]25 and to the channel #shellshock.
The second downloaded file is a Mac OS X malware detected OSX_KAITEN.A, which behaves similarly to ELF_KAITEN.A. The third file is a shellbot detected as PERL_SHELBOT.SMO. This is a powerful IRC-controlled shellbot that connects to the same server as the two previous files, but to a different channel (#scan). However, unlike KAITEN that doesn’t scan for vulnerable servers, PERL_SHELLBOT.SMO scans for vulnerable websites through various search engines.
Aside from downloading KAITEN and Shellbot, regular.bot (detected as TROJ_BASHKAI.SM) creates a file /tmp/c which is used to schedule the download a file from the second URL weekly. This ensures that the payload is up to date.
Figure 1. Screenshot of BASHKAI source code
KAITEN is old IRC-controlled DDoS malware and as such, there is a possibility that the attackers employed Shellshock to revive its old activities like DDoS attacks to target organizations. Another theory we have is that the attackers behind Shellshock would like to expand their infection chain to include DDoS activities via KAITEN malware.
Typically, systems infected with Shellshock payloads become a part of their botnet, and therefore can be used to launch DDoS attacks. In addition, the emergence of a downloaded file that targets Mac OS clearly show that attackers are broadening their target platform.
It was earlier reported that the “vast majority” of Mac OS X users are “safe by default” from Shellshock. However, users who configured to enable the Advanced Unix Services are still affected by this vulnerability. The Advanced Unix services enables remote access via Secure Shell (SSH) which offers ease of access to system or network administrators in managing their servers. This service is most likely enabled for machines used as servers such as web servers, which are the common targets Shellshock attacks.
Trend Micro is continuously monitoring the threat landscape for any developments regarding Shellshock. For more information about threats exploiting Shellshock, , you can refer to our summary post.
With additional analysis from Rhena Inocencio, Lenart Bermejo, Anthony Melgarejo, and Dexter To