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In the first week of April 2014 we were at “The Symposium on Security for Asia Network" (SyScan), a “geeky” single-track conference located in Singapore.

I liked the friendly atmosphere from the very first slides of the event (as is seen above).

The program covered hardware and software attacks like “Car Hacking”, “Defeating SecureBoot”, “Point-of-Sale”-hacks (“Flappy Bird” injected on a mobile POS device was my favorite), “RFID”-hacks, “Anti-Virus Software” flaws, “Phone hacks”, “OS-Hacks” and a “Linux Memory Forensic” case study amongst others.

All of the presentations were of quite high quality in content and most of the speakers did a nice job presenting their content.

Much beer did flow at the “BarCon” at the end of day one ...


Since yesterday I've been attending the annual Hack-in-the-Box Quad-Track Security Conference in Amsterdam/NL. There's a very nice and open atmosphere here at the conference, besides the beautiful city of Amsterdam.

First, Joe Sullivan (CSO at facebook), held a very interesting keynote about the development of security innovations at facebook. For him innovation is „these hacking culture, we think about each day at facebook“. After explaining some of the newer security innovations (https-only, login notifications, login approvals [if e.g. geo-location of a user is suspicious], recognized devices, recent activity) he talked about the recent fb-scams with malicious scripts. „No one would do that, copying and pasting a script into the browser! - Yes, they do...“, he said.

Also a remarkable talk I attended was about binary planting, given by Mitja Kolsek (CTO at ACROS Security). In "Binary Planting: First Overlooked, Then Downplayed, Now Ignored" Mitja also showed a new method he called "advanced binary planting", which uses a feature from Windows' special folders (like control panel, printers, etc.) and clickjacking to make it possible to own the users' computer.

In the winter garden of the conference hotel there's a technology showcase area. Hackerspaces from all over Europe and the Netherlands are showcasing their projects here. There also is a capture-the-flag competition happening, a lock-picking and (sponsor) companies-showcase.

For more informations please see the conference website.

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A few days ago I published a blog post regarding the reverse engineering of the Mac OSX Rogue AV registration routine. The goal was to see if the product was acting like a legitimate one once registered. The product behaved normally, and pretended to clean the machine like their windows counterpart. It was also possible to gather intelligence on the technical support once registered.

So today, I had a look at a newer variant to see whether the registration algorithm was similar or not.

The serials are no longer in plain text, but it’s still very easy to break. Here is how.

The registration function is still the same: __RegEngine_CheckKey__.

Let’s have a look into it and see how different it is now.


The Virus Lab recently came across a very interesting sample – a downloader containing two drivers and which downloads fake antivirus programs developed for both PC and Mac platforms. The malicious program is downloaded and installed using the BlackHole Exploit Kit. The latter contains exploits targeting vulnerabilities in JRE (CVE-2010-0886, CVE-2010-4452, CVE-2010-3552) and PDF.

Both drivers are standard rootkits with rich functionality. One of them is a 32-bit and the other a 64-bit driver. The 64-bit driver is signed with a so-called testing digital signature. If Windows – Vista and higher – was booted in ‘TESTSIGNING’ mode, the applications can launch the drivers signed with a testing signature. This is a special trap-door which Microsoft has left for driver developers so they can test their creations. Cybercriminals have also made use of this loophole: they execute the command ‘bcdedit.exe –set TESTSIGNING ON’ which allows them to launch their driver without a legitimate signature.

The following description refers to both rootkits because, apart from the platforms, their functionality is identical. Once the driver is successfully loaded and running on the system, it’s difficult to get rid of it. The rootkit blocks the launch of drivers belonging to anti-rootkit and antivirus products. This is done by using lists of file names for specific drivers and strings for which the rootkit searches the Security section of the DataDirectory array of the image being loaded. If the rootkit detects an “untrusted” driver being loaded, the bytes at the entry point of the image are changed, preventing it from loading correctly.

Fragment of the rootkit containing search strings used to block antivirus drivers

The rootkit protects the “main” application by hooking ZwOpenProcess / ZwOpenThread in SDT (only on 32-bit versions of Windows) and using object manager callbacks to access “trusted” applications. The file system is also monitored by connecting to file system stacks and the registry – by using registry callbacks.

This rootkit is yet more proof (after TDSS) that it’s unnecessary to bypass Patch Guard-а in order to implement rootkit functionality on 64-bit platforms.

The downloader is written in C++ and is itself not protected. Its main task is to install and launch the relevant driver (32- or 64-bit), then download and launch a list of files from URLs. Interestingly, one link leads to Hoax.OSX.Defma.f which we recently wrote about. Most importantly, the rootkit tries to run it…under Windows! It appears that the developers of the latest rogue AV program for MacOS are actively distributing it via intermediaries, who don’t really understand what it is they are supposed to install on users’ computers.

Fragment of the malicious code that downloads and launches the file

Kaspersky Lab products successfully detect and neutralize both Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Necurs.a and Rootkit.Win32.Necurs.a / Rootkit.Win64.Necurs.a.

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My colleagues Fabio Assolini and Vicente Diaz wrote two blog posts recently regarding the Rogue AVs for MAC OSX. After executing it on a test machine, and playing with it, I noticed there was some hidden information in the About Window as can be seen below:

I was interested by the “Support” information, but it’s only available to registered customers. I also wanted to confirm a few things such as the “cleaning” of the fake threats once registered, and to see if the “infected” popups would stop.


When my colleague Fabio wrote about a Rogueware campaign targeting MAC users, I investigated a bit into the origin of these campaigns. It was interesting how different researchers were getting those samples through searching images on Google. However, different searches always arrive at the same result, leading to the question: How many search terms have been poisoned?

That was an interesting question. But the answer came reading another very interesting research from Unmask Parasites. I recommend you read the post, but in essence it explains how thousands of sites have been infected with a very effective schema that allows the criminals to poison image search results. Could it be that this schema was connected to the fakeAV for MAC?


Not only Windows users are a target of bad guys that want to distribute rogueware. Now they are also attacking Mac users using the same and old blackhat SEO techniques, poisoning search results in popular search engines.

During our research about Osama Bin Laden's death we saw the same malicious domains serving two rogueware applications specific to Mac OSX, called Best Mac Antivirus and MACDefender.

When doing searches the user can be redirected to some malicious domains, like this for example: ***-antivirus.cz.cc/fast-scan2/

So the malicious pages check for: browser agent (it must be Safari), the IP address (only US domains now) and the referrer (if it is Google or other search engine). After these checks the malicious page will show a fake scan screen:


In this latest edition of our Lab Matters webcast, senior anti virus resercher Roel Schouwenberg discusses the intricacies of the mysterious Stuxnet worm attack.

In this Q&A with security evangelist Ryan Naraine, Schouwenberg provides valuable insight into Stuxnet's exploitation and propagation techniques, the use of multiple zero-day vulnerabilities, the security posture of ICS and SCADA systems and the possibility that this attack was financed and backed by a nation-state.

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During my recent research into PHP backdoors, bots and shells, I came across a few IRC servers which looked pretty suspicious. After lurking in these channels I noticed that most of them were all about controlling botnets, automated exploitation and credit card fraud. This isn’t news – channels and IRC servers like this have been a hot media topic for the last five years. The question is, though, how can we find them so we can shut them down?

Digging a bit deeper in some of the channels, and looking the websites people were talking about in these channels, I started to see patterns. For example, some of the websites use the same words, phrases and layout. By combining these terms and creating a simple rotation algorithm I could use search engines to find websites offering illegal stuff such as credit card data and skimming tools.


During the weekend, the maintainers of the Unreal IRCd Server source discovered a backdoor in the publicly available kit form their mirrors. Full announcement can be found on their website, but here’s an important quote which grabbed my attention:

“It appears the replacement of the .tar.gz occurred in November 2009 (at least on some mirrors). It seems nobody noticed it until now.”

Practically, this means the trojanized software was available for download for about 8 months before it was discovered.