|By Cory Marchand||
|June 27, 2012 07:00 AM EDT||
Malware analysis can be a time consuming process, especially when dealing with a sample from skilled attackers with time and money on their side . There is no doubt that fully reversing malware and finding out how it works is the most effective way to learn how to defend against it, but most businesses don't have the time or the professional resources to do it.
There are ways in which you, a Computer Network Defender, can glean enough information from malware to be used in IDS and AV signature creation, DNS poisoning and blocking as well as sharing with the CND community. This can be accomplished in a cost effective manner (maybe even free) and in an efficient manner that can rival very long code based analysis. There are even cases where in depth knowledge of how to fully reverse the sample is not needed.
It should be noted that this is a low tech, high level mechanism for capturing indicators from malware. It should not be considered a substitute for fully analyzing malicious software, as sophisticated samples can defeat a lab environment similar to this quite easily. I will not be covering anything related to debugging the malware, that is outside of the intention of this "How-to".
Before we start, you will need to procure a few bits and pieces:
- Host machine with enough storage and memory to run at least 2 virtual machines concurrently, 4GB of ram and at least 30GB would be the minimum requirement.
- A virtualization platform, there are several on the market, some of them are free to use, VirtualBox and Xen to name a couple. I will be using VMWare Fusion for this demonstration.
- A copy of "REMNUX", a reverse-engineering malware linux distribution available at http://zeltser.com/remnux/.
- A licensed copy of MS Windows (this will be your victim host). I will be using WindowsXP for this demonstration.
- Free and open source tools for analysis of the Windows host (Putty, RegShot, Sysinternals, etc etc)
Setting Up the Victim Host Machine
Something to consider when setting up your victim host machine is system and software patches. Depending on what you are testing on your victim host, it may only affect a certain version of Windows, or possibly only to a certain patch level. Something I like to do is to "snapshot" my "victim" host machines through various patch stages, that way if I need to roll back, it's as easy as choosing a snapshot and "rolling back". This also applies to the types of software you install on your victim, snapshot your host with different versions of java, flash and adobe reader to be able to quickly select a vulnerable configuration. Consider outfitting your malware analysis lab setup with hosts that mimic your native operating environment. If you only utilize Windows 7 and do not allow Firefox on your network, then set up your victim machines to match that configuration.
Once you have finished patching your host, downloading and installing various types of software to aid in allowing successful exploitation you are going to setup a new network adapter, and set it for "host-only". This will keep your host from accidentally reaching the Internet once infected. It will also allow you to send the traffic to another machine to analyze what your victim is trying to do once successful exploitation has taken place.
- Set the IP on your victim host to a non-routable address, for instance 10.1.1.10.
- Set your router or gateway to be 10.1.1.1, this will the IP address of your REMNUX virtual machine.
Setting Up the REMNUX Host Machine
One of the main purposes for the REMNUX virtual machine in this demonstration is simply to act as a catch-all for network traffic originating from your now exploited victim host. REMNUX has many uses and capabilities both for the beginner and advanced malware reverse engineer, but we want fast indicators from our malware sample so that we can start defending against it immediately.
The REMNUX virtual machine is ready to go once imported into your virtualization platform with minimal modifications. We are simply going to add a network adapter in "host-only" mode and set the IP address to a non-routable IP. REMNUX will act as the internet "gateway" and DNS server for our victim machine. This will allow us to see all network requests and DNS requests that come from our infected victim host.
Infecting the Host
Now that you have the infrastructure in place, test your connectivity between the victim virtual machine and the gateway virtual machine. Have Wireshark running on the gateway box to verify successful connectivity. Attempt to SSH from your victim host to the gateway using putty. You can use "pscp.exe" within the Putty suite to move the original malware, and any malicious files the malware creates or drops onto your victim. Once you have moved the file over to your REMNUX host, you can take the MD5 of the original malware, before it is run. This will help in creating virus signatures and give you the required information for sharing within the CND community.
Utilizing "Regshot", take a snapshot of the "C:" drive pre infection, that way you will have something to compare after your host is infected. Regshot will record the current windows registry, all windows directories and files before infection, allow you to record again after infection, and then compare the changes made to the host.
You can now move your malware sample to the victim host. Ensure that you are running the necessary services and tools on your REMNUX host to capture the traffic. If you are not looking to interact with the malware, Wireshark can provide a wealth of data with not much in-depth knowledge. If you are looking to interact however, please consult the REMNUX readme for more information on "honeyd", "farpd" and "fakedns".
I also recommend running some kind of process explorer on the victim host to monitor what the malware does, any new processes it may spawn or kill. Sysinternals suite has several great tools, Process Explorer and Process Monitor are my two favorites.
Capturing the Indicators
Once executed on your victim host, you can record the information being fed to ProcMon, allowing you to watch what the malware does. You may see new applications start, processes get killed and new processes start. These are all indicators of the malware, and essential data to capture.
Watch your REMNUX host, check to see if any callouts are being made by the malware and see if it attempts to resolve DNS addresses. Often times once the DNS has successfully resolved, you will witness the malware attempt to connect to the Command & Control domain over an HTTP/HTTPS port.
A Note on DNS Resolution with Malware
The malware may attempt to resolve a known good website, this can be for internet connectivity checking as well as an attempt to fool someone monitoring it. If the malware is unable to resolve lets say “google.com” it may simply die on the victim host, and never try to reach the real command and control domain (CnC). This is when you want to have “fakedns” running on your REMNUX host, it will resolve any domain asked, this will then give the malware the positive connectivity test it is looking for, at which point may try to resolve the actual CnC domain.
Once you are satisfied with the length of time you have let the malware run, 10 minutes or less usually suffices, you can take the second “Regshot’ of the system. This will capture any changes made to the system by the malware. Once it has completed the second pass, compare the two and analyze the output. “Regshot” will reveal any new files created, deleted or modified. It will show you if any new registry keys were added or changed and any services that were created. It is an essential tool in the analysis toolbox.
As you can see with the "dir /ah" command, the files that were hidden on the victim. These files were all dropped from the malicious word document.
Once you have located the dropped or newly added malware on the victim host, you should move them over to your "REMNUX" host for analysis. These files are also indicators of a positive infection and should be included in your analysis of the initial malware. The MD5 hashes of these files are just as relevant for blocking and signature development as the principle delivery of these files, e.g. malicious word document, can easily change in future attempts.
Share Your Findings - One of the Most Important Pieces to Computer Network Defense
From this quick, and high level analysis of the malicious word document you were presented with several indicators that can benefit other Computer Network Defenders. One thing that I have learned is that not everyone catches or sees something the way I may I see it. So when I look at a piece of malware, no matter how simple I think it may be, I share it with the hopes that the indicators could assist others.
It is essential that you share as much information as you are comfortable with, as it may help to thwart future attempts against other targets. Collaboration amongst teams can help to stop these types of infections and identify current infections if they exist within your network. If possible, share any Command & Control Domains, MD5 Hashes, IP addresses, File Names and Sizes and anything else you feel is relevant to the infection.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducte...
Aug. 2, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 340
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Michael Meiner, an Engineering Director at Oracle, Corporation, analyzed a range of cloud offerings (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and discussed the benefits/challenges of migrating to each offe...
Aug. 2, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 146
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
Aug. 2, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,695
In their session at 17th Cloud Expo, Hal Schwartz, CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), and Chuck Paolillo, CTO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), provide a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. In his role as CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), Hal Schwartz provides leadership and direction for the company.
Aug. 2, 2015 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 167
In a recent research, analyst firm IDC found that the average cost of a critical application failure is $500,000 to $1 million per hour and the average total cost of unplanned application downtime is $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion per year for Fortune 1000 companies. In addition to the findings on the cost of the downtime, the research also highlighted best practices for development, testing, application support, infrastructure, and operations teams.
Aug. 2, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 173
"We've just seen a huge influx of new partners coming into our ecosystem, and partners building unique offerings on top of our API set," explained Seth Bostock, Chief Executive Officer at IndependenceIT, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Aug. 1, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 668
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aug. 1, 2015 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 495
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
Aug. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 525
With SaaS use rampant across organizations, how can IT departments track company data and maintain security? More and more departments are commissioning their own solutions and bypassing IT. A cloud environment is amorphous and powerful, allowing you to set up solutions for all of your user needs: document sharing and collaboration, mobile access, e-mail, even industry-specific applications. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Shawn Mills, President and a founder of Green House Data, discussed h...
Aug. 1, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 465
Mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud have fundamentally changed the way we live. “Anytime, anywhere” access to data and information is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement, in both our personal and professional lives. For IT organizations, this means pressure has never been greater to deliver meaningful services to the business and customers.
Aug. 1, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 187
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
Aug. 1, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 219
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Aug. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 328
Chuck Piluso presented a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Prior to Secure Infrastructure and Services, Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Te...
Aug. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 397
Puppet Labs has announced the next major update to its flagship product: Puppet Enterprise 2015.2. This release includes new features providing DevOps teams with clarity, simplicity and additional management capabilities, including an all-new user interface, an interactive graph for visualizing infrastructure code, a new unified agent and broader infrastructure support.
Aug. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 195
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobi...
Aug. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 320