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
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
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
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
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.
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
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 5/28/2020
Stay-at-Home Orders Coincide With Massive DNS Surge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/27/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Can you smell me now?
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-11844
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
There is an Incorrect Authorization vulnerability in Micro Focus Service Management Automation (SMA) product affecting version 2018.05 to 2020.02. The vulnerability could be exploited to provide unauthorized access to the Container Deployment Foundation.
CVE-2020-6937
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
A Denial of Service vulnerability in MuleSoft Mule CE/EE 3.8.x, 3.9.x, and 4.x released before April 7, 2020, could allow remote attackers to submit data which can lead to resource exhaustion.
CVE-2020-7648
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
All versions of snyk-broker before 4.72.2 are vulnerable to Arbitrary File Read. It allows arbitrary file reads for users who have access to Snyk's internal network by appending the URL with a fragment identifier and a whitelisted path e.g. `#package.json`
CVE-2020-7650
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
All versions of snyk-broker after 4.72.0 including and before 4.73.1 are vulnerable to Arbitrary File Read. It allows arbitrary file reads to users with access to Snyk's internal network of any files ending in the following extensions: yaml, yml or json.
CVE-2020-7654
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
All versions of snyk-broker before 4.73.1 are vulnerable to Information Exposure. It logs private keys if logging level is set to DEBUG.