Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

2/27/2007
02:05 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

How to Cheat Hardware Memory Access

Researcher Joanna Rutkowska will demonstrate how to derail forensics' search for malware in the OS

Finding rootkits planted in a machine can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, and it's about to get even harder: Researcher Joanna Rutkowska will demonstrate a proof-of-concept at Black Hat DC this week that lets an attacker taint the forensics investigator's best tool for detecting wily rootkits -- hardware-based memory access.

Rutkowksa will show how an attacker could prevent forensics investigators from getting a real image of the memory where the malware resides. "Even if they somehow find out that the system is compromised, they will be unable to get the real image of memory containing the malware, and consequently, they will be unable to analyze it," says Rutkowska, senior security researcher for COSEINC.

Researchers and forensics investigators today rely more on reading hardware-based memory to get an accurate picture of the OS to help detect malware, mainly because it's difficult to find rootkits in today's complex operating systems.

"All rootkit detectors on the market today can be seen as more or less random 'hacks' that check only some limited number of well-known places in the OS," Rutkowska says.

Plus if the system has already been compromised, you can't trust any programs executing on it -- not even the rootkit detector program itself, she says. So hardware-based memory access has emerged as the best way to get a real look at what's going on.

Rutkowska wouldn't reveal details on just how she "cheats" the so-called hardware Direct Memory Access (DMA) forensics method -- she says to tune into her presentation on Wednesday. But she says her POC will disprove the conventional wisdom that the DMA approach is secure.

"I believe that this is going to be the first public presentation of how malware can cheat hardware-based memory acquisition," she says.

There are only a few hardware memory-acquisition cards out there for forensics investigators, including ones from BBN and Komuku, as well as Grand Idea Studio's Tribble, but some investigators instead use a FireWire connection to get RAM images, Rutkowska says.

Rutkowska used FireWire and AMD64-based systems in her research but says it's likely the attack would also work on an Intel-based machine. "The attack itself is not based on any implementation flaw -- it uses only documented features of AMD-based systems, and I anticipate that similar features are present on Intel systems as well."

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Black Hat Inc. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    Commentary
    Ransomware Is Not the Problem
    Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
    Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
    How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
    John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
    News
    New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
    Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Video
    Cartoon
    Current Issue
    The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
    In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    CVE-2021-20733
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
    Improper authorization in handler for custom URL scheme vulnerability in ????????? (asken diet) for Android versions from v.3.0.0 to v.4.2.x allows a remote attacker to lead a user to access an arbitrary website via the vulnerable App.
    CVE-2021-20734
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
    Cross-site scripting vulnerability in Welcart e-Commerce versions prior to 2.2.4 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary script or HTML via unspecified vectors.
    CVE-2021-20735
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
    Cross-site scripting vulnerability in ETUNA EC-CUBE plugins (Delivery slip number plugin (3.0 series) 1.0.10 and earlier, Delivery slip number csv bulk registration plugin (3.0 series) 1.0.8 and earlier, and Delivery slip number mail plugin (3.0 series) 1.0.8 and earlier) allows remote attackers to ...
    CVE-2021-20736
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
    NoSQL injection vulnerability in GROWI versions prior to v4.2.20 allows a remote attacker to obtain and/or alter the information stored in the database via unspecified vectors.
    CVE-2021-20737
    PUBLISHED: 2021-06-22
    Improper authentication vulnerability in GROWI versions prior to v4.2.20 allows a remote attacker to view the unauthorized pages without access privileges via unspecified vectors.