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

3/27/2009
04:23 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

New Rootkit Attack Hard To Kill

BIOS-based hack demonstrated by Core Security Technologies evades antivirus software

Researchers have come up with a way to create an even stealthier rootkit that survives reboots and evades antivirus software.

Anibal Sacco and Alfredo Ortega, both exploit writers for Core Security Technologies, were able to inject a rootkit into commercial BIOS firmware using their own Python-based tool that installed the rootkit via an update, or flash, process.

This more "persistent" rootkit is more dangerous than a regular rootkit because it could use the BIOS-located network stack to attack other machines, as well as "using normal exploits, without any access to the disk or memory in the operating system," the researchers said.

The concept of BIOS-based rootkits is nothing new in the research community. But Sacco and Ortega took it up a notch with a generic implementation that can work across various operating systems and ultimately give an attacker control of the infected machine. The researchers were able to successfully attack OpenBSD and Windows machines with the BIOS code injection attack.

They also say virtual machines are prone to this attack, as well. BIOS is embedded in the main VM process of VMWare, for instance.

Still, the attack is relatively sophisticated, and the attacker must have administrative rights to the targeted machine before he or she can flash the rootkit to the BIOS.

Such a rootkit is difficult to eradicate, too: Even wiping the hard drive and reinstalling the OS won't get rid of the rootkit, the researchers say. That's because the rootkit runs without a hard disk, and because it runs before any other code on a machine, it could let the attacker deactivate AV software as well, Sacco and Ortega say.

What's the best defense against such an attack? The researchers say it's tough to prevent any attack from an advanced rootkit like this. The best options, they say, are to prevent the flashing of the BIOS by enabling "write" protection on the motherboard, or deploying digitally signed BIOSes, for instance.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message 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
Overcoming the Challenge of Shorter Certificate Lifespans
Mike Cooper, Founder & CEO of Revocent,  10/15/2020
US Counterintelligence Director & Fmr. Europol Leader Talk Election Security
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/16/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9417
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
The Transaction Insight reporting component of TIBCO Software Inc.'s TIBCO Foresight Archive and Retrieval System, TIBCO Foresight Archive and Retrieval System Healthcare Edition, TIBCO Foresight Operational Monitor, TIBCO Foresight Operational Monitor Healthcare Edition, TIBCO Foresight Transaction...
CVE-2020-15264
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
The Boxstarter installer before version 2.13.0 configures C:\ProgramData\Boxstarter to be in the system-wide PATH environment variable. However, this directory is writable by normal, unprivileged users. To exploit the vulnerability, place a DLL in this directory that a privileged service is looking ...
CVE-2020-15269
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
In Spree before versions 3.7.11, 4.0.4, or 4.1.11, expired user tokens could be used to access Storefront API v2 endpoints. The issue is patched in versions 3.7.11, 4.0.4 and 4.1.11. A workaround without upgrading is described in the linked advisory.
CVE-2019-9080
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
DomainMOD before 4.14.0 uses MD5 without a salt for password storage.
CVE-2020-15931
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner before 5.1 allows remote attackers to capture the Net-NTLMv1/v2 authentication challenge hash of the Domain Administrator (that is configured within the product in its installation state) by generating a single Kerberos Pre-Authentication Failed (ID 4771) event on a ...