Risk
11/18/2010
01:24 PM
50%
50%

White Hat Hacker Cracks ZeroAccess Rootkit

Analysis may help security firms develop better botnet defenses.

How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions

What's the best way to stop a botnet? Try taking it apart to see how it works.

At least, that's been the approach undertaken by malware expert Giuseppe Bonfa at InfoSec Institute, an information security services company. He reverse-engineered the ZeroAccess rootkit -- also known as Smiscer or Max++ -- despite its creators safeguarding it with a number of anti-forensic features.

Currently, "the purpose of this rootkit is to set up a stealthy, undetectable, and un-removable platform to deliver malicious software to victim computers," he said. For example, "ZeroAccess is being currently used to deliver FakeAntivirus crimeware applications that trick users into paying $70 to remove the antivirus." But really, it can deliver any malicious application based on the needs of whoever rents it out.

In the past, security researchers suspected that the malware had come from criminals based in Russia or Ireland, but Bonfa narrowed it to a specific gang in Russia. "Analysis and network forensics supports that ZeroAccess is being hosted and originates from the Ecatel Network, which is controlled by the cybercrime syndicate RBN (Russian Business Network)."

According to Symantec, more than 250,000 computers have been infected by the rootkit, which suggests that the gang continues to earn substantial income from the malware. If just 30% of infected users paid the $70 fee required to remove the fake antivirus crimeware, then the criminals involved would have netted $5.3 million.

Bonfa's analysis offers insights into how rootkits work, as well as clues for security companies seeking better ways to stop them. Unfortunately, they'll have their work cut out for them.

That's because ZeroAccess includes hooks into the Windows operating system designed to make it difficult to uninstall without damaging the operating system itself. Once a computer becomes infected with ZeroAccess, the malware pursues a variety of other techniques to stay functional and undetected. For starters, it can use low-level API calls to create new disk volumes for itself, without a user ever seeing suspicious activity. In addition, it can alter system drivers "to allow for kernel-mode delivery of malicious code," said Bonja.

Furthermore, he said, the malware uses low-level disk and file system calls aimed at defeating "popular disk and in-memory forensics tools," and includes defenses against antivirus software detection.

In short, it demonstrates the crimeware state of the art. Next move, antivirus firms.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8921
Published: 2015-03-01
The IBM Notes Traveler Companion application 1.0 and 1.1 before 201411010515 for Window Phone, as distributed in IBM Notes Traveler 9.0.1, does not properly restrict the number of executions of the automatic configuration option, which makes it easier for remote attackers to capture credentials by c...

CVE-2014-9676
Published: 2015-02-27
The seg_write_packet function in libavformat/segment.c in ffmpeg 2.1.4 and earlier does not free the correct memory location, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service ("invalid memory handler") and possibly execute arbitrary code via a crafted video that triggers a use after free.

CVE-2014-9682
Published: 2015-02-27
The dns-sync module before 0.1.1 for node.js allows context-dependent attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in the first argument to the resolve API function.

CVE-2015-0655
Published: 2015-02-27
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in Unified Web Interaction Manager in Cisco Unified Web and E-Mail Interaction Manager allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via vectors related to a POST request, aka Bug ID CSCus74184.

CVE-2015-0884
Published: 2015-02-27
Unquoted Windows search path vulnerability in Toshiba Bluetooth Stack for Windows before 9.10.32(T) and Service Station before 2.2.14 allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse application with a name composed of an initial substring of a path that contains a space character.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.