If Cane Toads, why not computer viruses?

Those in the Australian state of Queensland are having a cull of cane toads, a pest.  I don’t know whether it would work, but the mass reduction of a pest population is, generally speaking, a good thing.  It may not eliminate the problem once and for all, but a sharp decrease in population is usually better than a constant pressure on a species.

So, is there any way we can get some support going for a mass cull of computer viruses?  Most currently “successful” viruses are related to botnets, and botnets are often used to seed out new viruses.  Viruses are used to distribute other forms of malware.  Doing a number on viruses would really help the information security situation all around.  (I have, for some years, been promoting the idea that corporations, by sponsoring security awareness for the general public, would, in fact, be doing a lot to reduce the level of risk in the computing and networking environment, and therefore improving their own security posture.)

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Paying bills online? You might be pwned

Online payment system infected with malware? not good.

You are receiving this message because you are a subscriber to online bill payment services through CheckFree or through a provider who contracts with CheckFree for these services. This message is sent on behalf of CheckFree by Silverpop Systems.

December 11, 2008

[address omitted]

We take great care to keep your personal information secure. As part of these ongoing efforts, we are notifying you that the computer you use for online bill payment may have been exposed to software that puts the security of your computer’s contents at risk. This letter will help you determine if your computer is actually infected and advise you how to fix the problem and protect yourself against future risk.

The malicious software affects some but not all customers who accessed online bill payment on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. For a limited period of time, some customers were redirected from the authentic bill payment service to another site that may have installed malicious software. Your computer may be infected if all of the following are true:

  • You attempted to access online bill payment between 12:30 a.m. and 10:10 a.m. Eastern time (GMT -5) on Tuesday, December 2, 2008, and
  • You were using a computer with the Windows operating system, and
  • You reached a blank screen rather than the usual bill payment screen when you attempted to navigate to online bill payment, and
  • After reaching the blank screen, your computer’s virus protection program did not tell you via pop-up or other messaging that malicious software was detected and quarantined.

If all four of the conditions above are true, your computer may be infected. [marketing blurb about an AV vendor that was quick enough to cash in]

CheckFree will never ask for your password via email or via phone.  If you ever receive an email requesting your password, do not respond and delete the email immediately.

We value your business and your trust, and we apologize for any inconvenience this incident has caused.
Thank you,

Art D’Angelo
Vice President, CheckFree Customer Operations

I guess we’ll call this the CheckFree botnet?

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Spam coming to twitter

I guess one of the signs that your web service is taking off is that spammers are targeting you. In the last few days more and more fictitious followers have surfaced, obviously for the purpose of sending twitter spam once you follow the person who is following you (as most people do almost without thinking).

The twitter team seem to be doing a good job on suspending those accounts immediately (perhaps automatically?) now they just need to figure out how to prevent them from signing up in the first place.
Twitter spam

Twitter account suspended

Update: Definitely not automatically. The last batch of spam followers are still active accounts. Or maybe they figured twitter’s threshold and they are avoiding the automatic suspension.

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Boxee on AppleTV users are exposed

Xyberpix posted his challenge without giving us any advance notice, but being the ego-driven macho man that I am, even with mediocre writing skills, I can’t not accept it.

So here’s a random thought for the day. AppleTV is a useless brick unless hacked to run something like boxee or another front-end player for custom movie files. It’s safe to say most AppleTV users use it to play content outside iTunes.

The latest AppleTV update (version 2.3) has two interesting qualities.

One, it fixes several vulnerabilities involving playing malformed movie files (kuddos for ZDI for the finds). It shouldn’t be difficult to compare 2.3 to 2.2 and find where the problems are exactly. Some reverse-assembly requires, but definitely doable.

Two, it breaks many of the hacks like mounting external USB drives, and creates problems for applications like boxee.

From problem #2, I’m willing to guess many (most?) of the ATV users that hacked the machine haven’t upgraded. From problem #1 I know that those who haven’t upgraded are vulnerable. They will remain vulnerable for some time, until the hacks improve and find a way around this infamous update.

So will we see an attack targeting AppleTV any time soon? It’s a cute little linux-based device that sits in the network with a connection to the local home LAN. All it takes is the right AVI on the piratebay (or youtube?) to create a little AppleTV zombie net.

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Microsoft Windows RPC Vulnerability MS08-067 (CVE-2008-4250) FAQ – October 2008 [UPDATED]

This is Frequently Asked Questions document about new, recently patched RPC vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The document describes related Trojan and worm malware as well.
It is worth of noticing that code execution type vulnerabilities in Office programs are widely used to industrial espionage since 2006. This time the exploitation represents the use of non-Office vulnerabilities and e-mail attack vector is not used.

Update: After the weekend the malware analyses shows that the Trojan has designed to steal credential information and to collect a botnet-like network.

Q: What is the recent Microsoft Window RPC vulnerability disclosed in October?
A: This vulnerability is caused by an error when processing malformed RPC (Remote Procedure Call) requests. The issue was disclosed by the vendor after active exploitation of the vulnerability.
Q: How does the vulnerability mentioned works?
A: The vulnerability is code execution type vulnerability. Attacker successfully exploiting this vulnerability can run code of his or hers choice in the affected machine.
This vulnerability is caused due to overflow when handling malformed RPC requests. This enables executing arbitrary code of the attacker. Technically the vulnerability exists in the Server service.

Q: When this vulnerability was found?
A: The exact information is not available. Information about upcoming security update was announced on 22nd October, but this vulnerability has been used in targeted attacks at least two weeks already. The exploitation disclosed the existence of vulnerability.

Q: What is the mechanism in exploitation?
A: Information was not disclosed, but during the exploitation malicious executables are being downloaded and executed from the remote Web site.

Q: Is the exploit code of this vulnerability publicly released?
A: Yes. On Friday 24th October the proof of concept code was released on a blog of security researcher and on public, moderated security mailing list. The PoC has been released at several well-known exploit and security community Web sites too. Metasploit module has been released too (link). PoC’s work against Windows XP SP2, Windows XP SP3 and Windows 2003 Server SP2 machines.

Q: Which Windows versions are affected?
A: Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2003 Server and Windows Server 2008 systems are affected.

Q: I am using the 7 Pre-Beta version of Windows, is my operating system affected?
A: According to the Microsoft it is affected too. An update is available (see MS08-067).

Q: I am a home user, is it possible to update my system in a normal way via Microsoft Update?
A: Yes, visiting the Microsoft Update Web site at will update the system against the exploitation of the vulnerability. If the Automatic Updates is enabled the system will be updated automatically without user’s actions.

Q: Where are the official Microsoft documents related to this case located?
A: The official Security Bulletin MS08-067, entitled Vulnerability in Server Service Could Allow Remote Code Execution (958644) has been released at Microsoft TechNet Security section:
Updated information released by the vendor has been covered at MSRC Blog (The Microsoft Security Response Center Blog). The address of the blog is
File information of the MS08-067 security update has been released at separate Knowledge Base document #958644:
Microsoft Security Advisory #958963 released to notify the availability of the security update is located at

Q: What the term ‘out-of-band’ means?
A: Normally Microsoft releases security updates once a month, at the second Tuesday of the every month. Very rarely, during the Windows ANI vulnerability etc. the security update will come out outside of this regular update cycle. Out-of-band and out-of-cycle describe the situation when waiting the regular update Tuesday, so-called Patch Tuesday is not enough to protect Windows systems against exploitation.
The next security updates will be released on Tuesday 11th November.

Q: Is this a new Slammer worm?
A: No, due to new security features included to SP2 etc. However, on 3rd Nov it was reported about the worm exploiting this vulnerability.

Q: Are there any workarounds available? Our organization is making tests with the patch still.
A: The security bulletin lists the following workarounds:
-Disable the Server and Computer Browser services
-Block TCP ports 139 and 445 at the firewall

Q: Is there Snort rules for this vulnerability available?
A: Yes. Additional details can be obtained at
known as a ruleset against Microsoft DCE/RPC remote code execution attempts.
The download address is
(to paying Sourcefire customers)
Emerging Threats project has released new signatures too, details at

Q: What is the situation of Nessus plugins related to this vulnerability?
A: Nessus Plugin ID #34476 has been released. More information is available at

Q: What are the target organizations etc. of this vulnerability?
A: This information is not available and probably it will never go public. Microsoft has confirmed that fever than 100 organizations are targeted in targeted attacks.

Q: Is there information about file sizes used during the attacks?
A: Yes. The size is 397,312 bytes.
Update: The size can be anything between 49,152 and 417,792 bytes.

Q: How the user can notify the infection?
A: It is reported that the command prompt will appear.

Q: What are the names of malwares exploiting this vulnerability?
A: There are reports about a data collecting Trojan (Gimmiv.A) and a Trojan searching for non-patched machines on LAN (Arpoc.A).

The following names are being used (listed in alphabetical order):
AhnLab – Dropper/Gimmiv.397312 since 2008.10.24.04
Authentium – W32/Gimmiv.A since 23rd Oct
Avira – TR/Dldr.Agent.gcx since 24th Oct, iVDF
Bitdefender – Win32.Worm.Gimmiv.A since since 23rd Oct
– dropper detected as Win32.Worm.Gimmiv.B
CA – Win32/Gimmiv.A since eTrust 31.6.6167
ClamAV – Trojan.Gimmiv since 8524
– Trojan.Gimmiv-1…Trojan.Gimmiv-7 since 8526
Dr.Web – DLOADER.PWS.Trojan since 23rd Oct
Eset – Win32/Gimmiv.A since 24th Oct, v.3551
– Win32/Spy.Gimmiv, Win32/Spy.Gimmiv.A since v.3553
– Win32/Spy.Gimmiv.B since v.3555
Fortinet – W32/Gimmiv.A!tr.spy
– name change: W32/Gimmiv.A!worm since 9.676
F-Secure – Trojan-Spy:W32/Gimmiv.A since 2008-10-24_01
– Trojan-Spy:W32/Gimmiv.B since 2008-10-24_05
– Trojan-Spy:W32/Gimmiv.C, D, E, F variants since 2008-10-24_08
– Net-Worm.Win32.Gimmiv.a since 25th Oct 2008-10-25_01
McAfee – PWS.y!C91DA1B9 since DAT5413
– Spy-Agent.da since 23rd Oct, DAT5414, its DLL component detected as Spy-Agent.da.dll
Microsoft – TrojanSpy:Win32/Gimmiv.A[.dll] since 23rd Oct
– since 24th Oct update 1.4005 included signatures
– exploit: Exploit:Win32/MS08067.gen!A
Kaspersky – Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Agent.alce since 24th Oct,
Panda Security – detected as ‘Suspicious file’ since 23rd Oct,
– Gimmiv.A since 24th Oct
PCTools – Trojan-Spy.Gimmiv.A
Prevx – detected as ‘Cloaked Malware‘
Rising – Trojan.Spy.Win32.Undef.z since 23rd Oct,
Sophos – Sus/Dropper-A since 21st Aug (based to heuristic techniques)
– additionally Troj/Gimmiv-A, IDEs since 4.34.0,
– Troj/Gimmiv-Gen since 4th Nov
Symantec – Infostealer since 23rd Oct
– name change: Trojan.Gimmiv.A since 24th Oct, rev. 024
– malicious files detected as Bloodhound.Exploit.212
Trend Micro – WORM_GIMMIV.A since 5.617.00
– TSPY_GIMMIV.A since 5.617.00

where ’2008.10.24.04’ states that these virus signatures or newer include a protection for the malware.

Alias names CVE-2008-4250, W32.Slugin.A and W32/NetAPI32.RPC!exploit.M20084250 are in use too.

Update: Added Arpoc section:
BitDefender – Win32.Worm.Gimmiv.B
CA – Win32/Gimmiv.B since 31.6.6172
Dr.Web – Win32.HLLW.Jimmy.3 since unknown signatures
McAfee – Spy-Agent.da since DAT5414, its DLL component detected as Spy-Agent.da.dll

Update: Added RPC worm section:
AntiVir – TR/Expl.MS08-067.G
BitDefender – Trojan.Downloader.Shelcod.A
ClamAV – Exploit.MS08-067 since 8566
Eset – Win32/Exploit.MS08-067.B, C and D since 3576
F-Secure – worm component as Exploit.Win32.MS08-067.g
– kernel component as Rootkit.Win32.KernelBot.dg
Ikarus – Virus.Exploit.Win32.MS08.067.g
Kaspersky – Exploit.Win32.MS08-067.g since 31th Oct
McAfee – kernel component as KerBot!37E73FFB since DAT5422
Microsoft – Exploit:Win32/MS08067.gen!A
– Trojan:Win32/Wecorl.A
– Trojan:Win32/Wecorl.B
Norman – kernel component as w32/agent.jbvo
Prevx – Worm.KernelBot
Sophos – Mal/Generic-A
– Exp/MS08067-A since 4th Nov
Symantec – W32.Wecorl since 3rd Nov (latest daily certified version) rev. 052
– W32.Kernelbot.A since 3rd Nov (latest daily certified version) rev. 041
Trend Micro – WORM_KERBOT.A since 5.637.00
– WORM_WECORL.A since 5.640.05

Q: What kind of payload this Trojan horse has?
A: This is what the Trojan gathers (according to Microsoft’s document):
*User Name
*Computer Name
*Network Adapters / IP Addresses
*Installed com objects
*Installed programs and installed patches
*Recently opened documents
*Outlook Express and MSN Messenger credentials
*Protected Storage credentials

Q: What kind of Trojan has attacked to the targeted organizations?
A: It is a very sophisticated and dangerous Trojan. It encrypts the data with AES and deletes itself after its operations. Before sending the gathered data to the attacker it reports the AV software of the installation (from HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\) as a parameter (BitDefender, Jiangmin, Kingsoft, Kaspersky, Microsoft OneCare, Rising and Trend Micro).

Q: Are there any changes to Windows registry or the file system made by this malware?
A: The following registry key is being modified:
The display name of the service being generated is System Maintenance Service.
The malicious files are being copied to System32\wbem folder including basesvc.dll, syicon.dll, winbase.dll and winbaseInst.exe. NOTE: After being executed the Trojan deletes these files and itself.
Update: According to Arbor Networks the file C:\Documents and Settings\LocalService\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\macnabi.log is being dropped too.

Q: Now I know that my anti-virus software can report computers in my organizations as clean because the Trojan has deleted itself from the system. What are the malicious executables that I can search them and examine logs etc.?
A: There are several names and all of the files has same size mentioned earlier, i.e. 397,312 bytes.
Update: According to McAfee the size varies from 49,152 to 417,792 bytes.

The most common file name is N2.exe. However, file names Nx.exe are widely spreading as well; [x] represents a number from 1 through 9.
The MD5 hash of the one specific N2.exe file in the wild on 23rd Oct is f173007fbd8e2190af3be7837acd70a4.
Update: To list one more the MD5 hash of n5.exe is 24cd978da62cff8370b83c26e134ff4c.

Prevx database knows the following file names too:
15197927.EXE, 00003106.EXE, NVIR/N2.EXE, 18912604.EXE, 54800477.DAT
The format of the file can be NVIR/N3.EXE etc. too.

Q: What type of network connections these malware make?
A: Gimmiv.A sends an ICMP Echo Request packet to multiple IP addresses including the string ”abcde12345fghij6789”.

Q: How can I recognize malicious files spreading RPC worm (Exploit.Win32.MS08-067.g)?
A: The files names reported in the wild are 6767.exe and KernekDbg.exe.

Q: What is the size of these files?
A: The size are various, but many of them are 16,384 bytes long.

Q: What kind of network connections the worm makes and are there any modifications made to Windows registry?
A: It connects to,, and Yes, the worm will add the new value to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Licenses and HKLM\SOFTWARE\Google.

Q: Are there any changes to Windows HOSTS file?
A: Yes, the lines
will be added yo the HOSTS file.

Q: Is there CVE name available to this issue?
A: Yes. The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project ( has released the following CVE candidate CVE-2008-4250:

Q: What is the CVSS severity of this vulnerability?
A: The CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) score is 10.0 (High).

Q: Is there a CWE class assigned?
A: The CWE (Common Weakness Enumeration) ID of the vulnerability, in turn, is #119, i.e. Failure to Constrain Operations within the Bounds of an Allocated Memory Buffer class:

Q: Is there a CME name available?
A: No. The Common Malware Enumeration (CME) project has not assigned an identifier for these malware.

Q: When exploiting this RPC vulnerability is the authentication needed?
A: On Windows 2000, XP, and Windows Server 2003 systems arbitrary code can be run without authentication. On Vista systems the authentication is needed.

Q: What is the vulnerable component?
A: It is netapi32.dll (Net Win32 API DLL). On Windows 2000 SP4 the non-affected version is 5.0.2195.7203, on Windows XP SP3 5.1.2600.5694 and on Vista SP1 there are several 6.0.6000.xxxx versions, see KB958644 for details. The vulnerable Windows API call is NetPathCanonicalize(), in turn.
Secunia has renamed its vulnerability advisory to Windows Path canonicalisation vulnerability. It states that processing directory traversal character sequences in path names enables to send drafted RPC requests to the Server Service.

(c) Juha-Matti Laurio, Finland (UTC +2hrs)
The author has released several Microsoft Office 0-day vulnerability FAQ documents, e.g.
and Windows Vector Markup Language vulnerability FAQ’s
since 2006.

Revision History:
1.0 25-10-2008 Initial release
1.1 26-10-2008 Updated document and some minor fixes
1.2 26-10-2008 Major updates to Trojan section, added credits, information of non-affected dll versions and Snort rule reference
1.3 27-10-2008 Added information about the various file names and sizes, a separate Arpoc section and Nessus plugin reference and [UPDATED] to the title
1.4 27-10-2008 Several virus description release dates and ID’s added, updated the summary to clarify the characteristics of the exploitation
1.5 28-10-2008 Added Microsoft Security Advisory #958963 link
1.6 29-10-2008 Added names to Arpoc Trojan section
1.7 03-11-2008 Updated the exploit/PoC section and added information about the worm exploiting the vulnerability
1.8 04-11-2008 Added names to RPC worm section, updated the summary
1.9 05-11-2008 Added information about Windows HOSTS file modification and new worm names

Credits: Microsoft, AV vendors, Prevx Malware Center

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Vanity Search Attacks

“How did you two meet? Did you mark her, or was it the other way around?”

– Robert Redford to Brad Pit, Spy Game

Con man 101: The best way to gain someone’s confidence is to make them think they contacted you. Scammers just love having potential victims contacting them.

Now, it seems they figured an interesting way to draw potential victims to their web site, in a way that is much easier than sending billions of spam email messages.
The idea is simple: take the person’s name (real people’s names are available for harvesting in places like linkedin, facebook, and other social networks) and put it in a web page. Doesn’t really matter where, as long as google indexes it.

Wait a while, and have that person google himself. Many people (myself included) have a ‘google alert’ on their name which sends them updated list of links to new pages where their name is mentioned.

Everyone likes to see where they are mentioned, so they will click on the link. And voila! They arrive to the spammer’s page. In some cases I’ve seen, the name was already gone from the page (but was still in the google cache). But all this doesn’t matter: as soon as the person reached the page, the web spammer’s job is done – he got his message in front of you, and maybe you’ll even dig deeper into his web site trying to figure out what the connection is to you.

There are many advantages to this method. First, you are not restricted by the message: the web page can openly have the words Viagra, Credit card debt and mortgage assistance without the fear of triggering anti-spam software. Also, people will pay more attention to the page since they think it has to do with them.

I don’t get the spammers’ marketing statistics, but I’m sure that the infamous spam text “it came to our attention that you’re in dire need of financial help” which sounds very much like a sincere, personal message, is a huge success. But this message has to get through the spam filters and include a real email address and a correct first/last name. The spam web page doesn’t need to bypass spam filters, and already has the correct name. In addition, you gain interesting information about the visitor: browser version, IP location and of course, the name he was searching for (that would be in the ‘referrer’ that is sent automatically by the browser to the web site). Oh, and of course – it’s cheap. You only need to put together a nice looking web page, and wait for google to do the rest. No buying of email lists and no cost of sending spam (which is nowadays the cost of hiring a zombie botnet for a couple of days).

For those aspiring scammers who are reading this, you should understand that it’s not a foolproof method. Obviously, it requires people to do a vanity search to reach you in the first place (though it also works on people who google their dates, their parents or their teachers). It also requires time – days, weeks or months (which may be difficult if your web site is on a zombie computer that might disappear by the time google indexes and the user comes to the site). But due to the fact the costs are very small, and there are no effective countermeasures at the moment, I think we will see more and more such attacks in the near future.

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Facebook worm – and how long we have to wait AV protection

So-called Koobface case was covered in the IT news quite widely, but security mailing lists received the information on Thursday 7th August.

Kaspersky Lab reported about the existence of the worm on 31th July. Hey, it’s more than a week ago, but it took several days until the anti-virus protection was notable.

Remarkable anti-virus vendors have the following detection now:
(listed in alphabetical order)

McAfee – W32/Koobface.worm
BitDefender – Win32.Worm.KoobFace.A
Kaspersky Lab – Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.b
Panda Security – Boface.A [Technical name: W32/Boface.A.worm]
Sunbelt Software – Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.b
Sophos – detected proactively as Mal/Heuri-D, Mal/Heuri-E, Mal/Emogen-N and Mal/Packer
Symantec – W32.Koobface.A

There is no write-up available from F-Secure, Norman, TrendMicro etc. yet.

The AV industry knows the alias KoobFace too.

The size of the worm is 16 384-16 652 bytes. It is written in Visual C++ 6.0 and packed with UPX and Upack.
The second malware, attacking Facebok users since 7th Aug, is a Trojan horse (Sophos uses name Troj/Dloadr-BPL), spreading as Google video links posted to Wall and is a separate issue.

It’s time to remember that if you don’t see a detailed write-up from your own AV vendor later today – it’s a DEFCON weekend and Facebook has started blocking these from its side already.

But the protection – that’s we need with a delay less than 4 or 5 days.

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Pushdo analysis

Joe has a nice write up on the inner working of the Pushdo Trojan.

Pushdo is interesting since it was written for “future use” – i.e. it updates itself to obey his master’s latest needs and requests. It also has intelligence-collecting routines and in general shows how sophisticated the bad guys are getting.

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