...Continued from Part 1.
I was able to extract the shellcode from the attacks in June and July. I opened the X86 code in IDA Pro and was baffled, I knew it would take time and research to figure out what the attacker was trying to accomplish. Though I could easily see that part of the code was trying to bootstrap a malicious binary. Since then I've read a paper titled "Understanding Windows Shellcode" (by skape email@example.com) which explained what our friend Pat Casey was doing, almost line by line.
Step 1: Since we are running code that is not linked we need to resolve function addresses manually. How? We locate the kernel32 DLL using knowledge of the the Process Environment Block (PEB) data structure. In this case, we are using the information belonging to Adobe which is standard for all Windows 32 PE files. In that, kernel32.dll is always the second module to be initialized. Now we can walk the list of initialized modules to the second entry.
Step 2: Resolve the locations of needed functions. This is a really cool technique in my opinion, though it may be old. The shellcode writer computes a hash of a required function name, then enumerates a list of functions exported by kernel32 and compares each hash. Now once the author knows the location of kernel32 they can also use knowledge of the PE header structure to locate the export table.
Finally the shellcode makes a call to GetTempPathA [5B8ACA33h], then loads the urlmod library using LoadLibraryA [0EC0E4E8Eh], downloads a file to (you guessed it, to the Temp folder) using URLDownloadToFile [702F1A36h], then finally executes the file with WinExec [0E8AFE98h] and kills the running process. You can resolve any hash value found in shellcode using a script from FireEye. Awesome, but now for some bad news. The shellcode from the August exploits is now packed. That's not bad news meaning it's hard to analyze, it's bad news because the attack is evolving. Now let's take a look at another anti-reversing technique used by Pat Casey.
Context is key
This is the most important part of the article, as it adds another dimension of difficulty to malware analysis. (As if manual unpacking wasn't frustrating enough.) This dimention is context. Being new to the reverse engineering / malware analysis scene I'm not sure if this is entirely new, but I haven't seen or heard it addressed. Embedding context into an attack vector succeeds for legitimate attacks and cripples analysis. The reason being that malware samples are not stored with context information. Sites like Clean-MX will deliver malware properties but the context in which the malware was obtained or first observed is long gone. Sites that promote analyst contribution typically begin with a set of hashes, a date, and a file. The entry is then populated with properties, no matter how much analyst-time is spent, context cannot be recovered.
The solution lied in context.
Being a Newbie Analyst is Frustrating
My vigor sank when I opened the download and saw it was packed. I was expecting it, since the shellcode also changed this month to include obfuscation. Yet I wanted to try decompiling since I like C much more than X86 Assembly, too bad. PEiD gave a 'Packed' guess based off of high entropy as well. The entry point in the PE header givens 1111 which contains a bit of code (Figure 2) but immediately trickles into User32.DLL by calling EnumDisplayMonitors at 1147 which calls 114E. This is non-obvious in IDA but a few steps in Olly 1.10 do the trick. This moves 7FFE0300 into EDX (ntdll.KiFastSystemCall) with a stack of:
- 12FEEC) Return to malware.<EP>+35 from 116C
- 12FEF0) 0
- 12FEF4) 0
- 12FEF8) malware.114E
Stepping into this leads to a SYSENTER followed shortly by an INT 2B at USER32.7E4194A8. 2B leaves ring3 and thus Olly cannot continue. Instead I added a break point before ntdll.KiFastSystemCall returned. This allowed me to play the application and observe the stack after each system call. I could also watch memory allocations. I noticed DLL contents loaded into MemoryMaps (rpcss.dll, wbemprox.dll, wbemsvc.dll, etc). I also saw a meaningful registry Open and Write to: HTCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run with a value and data being set to a copy of the application stored in C:\Documents and Settings\<Account Name>\Local Settings\Application Data\<random folder name>\<random file name>.exe. Finally it terminates and launches itself from the new location. Observe it in all it's majesty:
Then what happens? Well it waits, and waits, and waits. I have not investigated the trigger completely as I am still playing around with memory captures (using the SysInternals suite). But it seems like browsing the net will cause a DNS lookup for hxxp://antispyoem.com (220.127.116.11) then a GET request to /check?pgid=5, followed by a GET request to /percer.php?login=NTcuNQ== (perhaps a base64 of 57.5). Searching clean-MX for AS2588 (which 18.104.22.168 belongs to) shows similar hostnames such as antispycraft with similar logins NzUuNDI= being 75.42. Is this another step in context correlation? Either way, as soon as this happens the madness beings.
It seems that this PDF exploit was programmed to infect the host with Koobface. The PE that it downloads in non-other than a packed Rouge AntiVirus called "Security Suite". After the trigger, the malware being alerting the user that the system is infected and prevents new executables from launching.
In the end, much fun was had and much more learning is in store. I'm sure there are more malware authors out there like this Pat Casey kit; over the last month I've been searching for them. If I find anything interesting I'll be sure to report. :)