Vulnerabilities / Threats
6/18/2013
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Slide Show: 10 Ways Attackers Automate Malware Production

Peeking into an attacker's toolbox to see how malware production is automated and the Internet is flooded with millions of unique malware applications
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A full field of malware creation tools has enabled attackers to transition from manually creating single-use and easily defeated malware to developing an automated production line to develop an "army of armored malware" to carry out attack campaigns, says Christopher Elisan, principal malware scientist for RSA NetWitness. Author of Malware, Rootkits & Botnets: A Beginner's Guide and a longtime malware reverser, Elisan recently offered up an extended explanation of how the process works. By using DIY malware kits like Zeus Builder, attackers with very little programming experience can create nearly infinite numbers of malware variants. From there, they can develop both protection from penetration and further variation of samples by running them through armoring tools, such as packers, crypters, and joiners. And once that process is done, they can develop automated quality assurance by running the variants through tools that lean on various AV engines to ensure that the malware remains undetected. It's a process that "basically killed AV," Elisan says and one that depends on tools like the ones outlined here.

Tool: Spy Eye

Tool Type: DIY Kit

How They're Using It: "The main idea of DIY kits is you don't need to have assembly language skills or any programming skills for that matter to create your own malware," says Elisan, who explains that these kits have actually been evolving for the better part of two decades since a 15-year-old created Virus Creation Lab (VCL) in 1992. Spy Eye is one of the first well-used kits of the modern era to use advanced features, such as encryption, and offer it in an easy GUI.

Image Credit: Christopher Elisan/RSA

 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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