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

Duqu Malware: Still No Patch

Malware exploits Microsoft Windows kernel zero-day vulnerability. Installer file is a Word document.

Windows 8 Upgrade Plans: Exclusive Research
Slideshow: Windows 8 Upgrade Plans: Exclusive Research
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The recently discovered Duqu malware can exploit a zero-day Windows kernel vulnerability, which would help it to infect PCs and spread without being detected.

That revelation came after researchers at CrySyS Lab at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics managed to recover a dropper file, aka installer, for Duqu. Droppers are typically the first malicious files to infect a computer, and then they download and install further malicious files onto the computer.

"The installer file is a Microsoft Word document (.doc) that exploits a previously unknown kernel vulnerability that allows code execution," said Vikram Thakur, principal security response manager at Symantec, which has been working with CrySyS to unravel Duqu's inner workings. "We contacted Microsoft regarding the vulnerability and they're working diligently towards issuing a patch and advisory."

Simply opening the malicious Word file enables it to execute malicious code, which exploits the zero-day (aka previously unknown) vulnerability, and then installs multiple Duqu binary files. Interestingly, the recovered dropper was designed to target just a single organization, and would only have operated for an eight-day window in August. Thakur, however, cautioned that this is the only Duqu installer to have been recovered, meaning that others may operate in different ways, and still be targeting other businesses.

[Fortune 100 companies have been targeted by malware seeking to steal proprietary information. Learn more: Nitro Malware Targeted Chemical Companies.]

Until Microsoft patches the zero-day vulnerability, there's no surefire safeguard against this type of attack. "Unfortunately, no robust workarounds exist at this time other than following best practices, such as avoiding documents from unknown parties and utilizing alternative software," said Thakur. "Fortunately, most security vendors already detect and block the main Duqu files, thereby preventing the attack."

Researchers have also found that Duqu also has the alarming ability to infect and control computers that aren't connected to the Internet. "In one organization, evidence was found that showed the attackers commanding Duqu to spread across SMB shares," said Thakur. "Interestingly though, some of the newly infected computers did not have the ability to connect to the Internet and thereby the command-and-control (C&C) server. The Duqu configuration files on these computers were instead configured not to communicate directly with the C&C server, but to use a file-sharing C&C protocol with another compromised computer that had the ability to connect to the C&C server."

In other words, Duqu can use Internet-connected PCs as proxies for infecting PCs that may be operating in a designated "secure zone" that's network-connected, but lacks Internet connectivity. Such computers would be one location where businesses might store confidential or propriety information, to help safeguard it against online attackers.

That, of course, gels with what researchers already know about Duqu. While apparently related to Stuxnet, Duqu appears to have been designed for cyber espionage purposes, and in particular to steal design documents relating to industrial control facilities in a number of different countries.

In other Duqu news, on Monday, Symantec said it had discovered what's now the second known Duqu C&C server, this one operating from Belgium (the first was in India). Symantec said that the Belgian service provider with control of the server took it down rapidly after being contacted.

But those servers may just be the tip of the iceberg. "As well as a unique set of Duqu files for each victim, there may well be a unique command server for each entity that was attacked," said Alexander Gostev, who heads the global research and analysis team at Kaspersky Lab, in a blog post.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
kjh..2
50%
50%
kjh..2,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/6/2011 | 12:39:20 PM
re: Duqu Malware: Still No Patch
Isn't DuQu exploiting a vulnerability in TrueType Font Processing ?

IIRC, Font Processing has been embedded in the NT Kernel since NT-4 for performance reasons.

Why would that be necessary any more given the raw power of today's hardware is up for discussion.

MS's design decisions (? or were they marketing decisions ?) as to what should and should not be included in Kernel-Level Code continue to bite them again and again.

-- kjh
YMOM100
50%
50%
YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/5/2011 | 3:55:28 PM
re: Duqu Malware: Still No Patch
How come that a document can take down an entire system? Why would Word need direct access to kernel resources in the first place? This is not just a mistake in coding, the entire design is flawed.
Bprince
50%
50%
Bprince,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2011 | 2:02:48 AM
re: Duqu Malware: Still No Patch
MS issued information about a workaround earlier tonight.
http://technet.microsoft.com/e...
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/DarkReading Comment Moderation
jrapoza
50%
50%
jrapoza,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/2/2011 | 11:10:56 PM
re: Duqu Malware: Still No Patch
This is just another good example of why it was a really bad idea to allow scripting and code execution from documents. There was really no need for that and it caused many security headaches.

Jim Rapoza is an InformationWeek Contributing Editor
Sodinokibi Ransomware: Where Attackers' Money Goes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/15/2019
Data Privacy Protections for the Most Vulnerable -- Children
Dimitri Sirota, Founder & CEO of BigID,  10/17/2019
State of SMB Insecurity by the Numbers
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/17/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-16966
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
An issue was discovered in Contactmanager 13.x before 13.0.45.3, 14.x before 14.0.5.12, and 15.x before 15.0.8.21 for FreePBX 14.0.10.3. In the Contactmanager class (html\admin\modules\contactmanager\Contactmanager.class.php), an unsanitized group variable coming from the URL is reflected in HTML on...
CVE-2019-9491
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
Trend Micro Anti-Threat Toolkit (ATTK) versions 1.62.0.1218 and below have a vulnerability that may allow an attacker to place malicious files in the same directory, potentially leading to arbitrary remote code execution (RCE) when executed.
CVE-2019-16964
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
app/call_centers/cmd.php in the Call Center Queue Module in FusionPBX up to 4.5.7 suffers from a command injection vulnerability due to a lack of input validation, which allows authenticated attackers (with at least the permission call_center_queue_add or call_center_queue_edit) to execute any comma...
CVE-2019-16965
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
resources/cmd.php in FusionPBX up to 4.5.7 suffers from a command injection vulnerability due to a lack of input validation, which allows authenticated administrative attackers to execute any commands on the host as www-data.
CVE-2019-18203
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-21
On the RICOH MP 501 printer, HTML Injection and Stored XSS vulnerabilities have been discovered in the area of adding addresses via the entryNameIn and KeyDisplay parameter to /web/entry/en/address/adrsSetUserWizard.cgi.