The ShadyRAT whitepaper spectacle coincided with the start of the Blackhat USA 2011 conference. While it was noted that AV vendors reliably detect related ShadyRAT downloader components, discussion of other components were absent. The downloaders vaguely mentioned in the report have been reliably detected by Kaspersky Lab products for years.
More information was provided later on another vendor's site. But whitepaper readers were left with only a dive into the high level data compiled by the attackers’ web monitoring components and no actionable information presented.
Meanwhile, over on the HBGary blog, the more interesting descriptions of the meat of the backdoor components and communications were discussed - something sysadmins can do something about.
We also added detection of this component and variants like it as Backdoor.Win32.Shady.a (Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Agent.szfj), which was actually used early 2011 and after several months, still active and detected only by Sophos.
This prolonged absence of detection is both acutely problematic and symptomatic of active, determined groups. These Shady backdoors are especially interesting for their style of covert communications with hidden messages appearing in HTML source text on both compromised and managed sites.