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Events|Hashcat's GPU-accelerated Gauss encryption cracker

GReAT
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted December 28, 10:45  GMT
Tags: Linux, AMD, Gauss
0.6
 

2012 was a year full of major security incidents: Flame, Shamoon, Flashback, Wiper, Gauss, and so on. As we are about to turn the page, many unsolved mysteries remain still. Perhaps the most interesting unsolved mysteries are related to the Gauss Trojan: the Palida Narrow font and the unknown encrypted payload.

Previously, we’ve published a blogpost about the encrypted payload hoping that the crypto community will take on the challenge and break the encryption scheme to reveal the true purpose of the mysterious malware.

0.7
 

Several days ago, our colleagues from Symantec published an analysis of a new destructive malware reported in the Middle East. Dubbed “Narilam”, the malware appears to be designed to corrupt databases. The database structure naming indicates that targets are probably in Iran.

We have identified several samples related to this threat. All of them are ~1.5MB Windows PE executables, compiled with Borland C++ Builder. If we are to trust the compilation headers, they appear to have been created in 2009-2010, which means it might have been in the wild for a while:

The earliest known sample has a timestamp of “Thu Sep 03 19:21:05 2009”.

0.6
 

You can read our Full Technical Paper on SPE / miniFlame here.


In May 2012, a Kaspersky Lab investigation detected a new nation-state cyber-espionage malware, which we named "Flame". Our research also identified some distinguishing features of Flame’s modules. Based on those features, we discovered that in 2009, the first variant of the Stuxnet worm included a module that was created based on the Flame platform. This confirmed there was some form of collaboration between the groups that developed the Flame and Tilded (Stuxnet/Duqu) platforms.

A more in-depth research conducted in June 2012 resulted in the discovery of another nation state-sponsored and previously unknown malware which we named «Gauss». Gauss used a modular structure resembling that of Flame, a similar code base and system for communicating with command-and-control (C&C) servers, as well as numerous other similarities to Flame.

In partnership with Symantec, ITU-IMPACT and CERT-Bund/BSI, we also published our analysis of the Flame Command and Control servers. The analysis showed that the code can understand several communication protocols to talk to different «clients» or malware:

  • OldProtocol
  • OldProtocolE
  • SignupProtocol
  • RedProtocol (mentioned but not implemented)

Incidents|What was that Wiper thing?

GReAT
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted August 29, 13:00  GMT
Tags: Targeted Attacks, Duqu, Flame, Cyber weapon, Gauss, Wiper
0.6
 

In April 2012, several stories were published about a mysterious malware attack shutting down computer systems at businesses throughout Iran.

Several articles mentioned that a virus named Wiper was responsible. Yet, no samples were available from these attacks, causing many to doubt the accuracy of these reports.

Following these incidents, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) asked Kaspersky Lab to investigate the incidents and determine the potentially destructive impact of this new malware.

After several weeks of research, we failed to find any malware that shared any known properties with Wiper. However, we did discover the nation-state cyber-espionage campaign now known as Flame and later Gauss.

It is our firm opinion that Wiper was a separate strain of malware that was not Flame. Although Flame was a highly flexible attack platform, we did not see any evidence of very destructive behavior. Given the complexity of Flame, one would expect it to be used for long-term surveillance of targets instead of direct sabotage attacks on computer systems. Of course, it is possible that one of the last stages of the surveillance was the delivery of a Wiper-related payload, but so far we haven-t seen this anywhere.

Incidents|The Mystery of the Encrypted Gauss Payload

GReAT
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted August 14, 13:00  GMT
Tags: Data Encryption, Cyber espionage, Gauss
0.9
 

There are many remaining mysteries in the Gauss and Flame stories. For instance, how do people get infected with the malware? Or, what is the purpose of the uniquely named “Palida Narrow” font that Gauss installs?

Perhaps the most interesting mystery is Gauss’ encrypted warhead. Gauss contains a module named “Godel” that features an encrypted payload. The malware tries to decrypt this payload using several strings from the system and, upon success, executes it. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to break the encryption. So today we are presenting all the available information about the payload in the hope that someone can find a solution and unlock its secrets. We are asking anyone interested in cryptology and mathematics to join us in solving the mystery and extracting the hidden payload.

The containers

Infected USB sticks have two files that contain several encrypted sections. Named “System32.dat” and “System32.bin”, they are 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the same code. These files are loaded from infected drives using the well-known LNK exploit introduced by Stuxnet. Their primary goal is to extract a lot of information about the victim system and write it back to a file on the drive named “.thumbs.db”. Several known versions of the files contain three encrypted sections (one code section, two data sections).

The decryption key for these sections is generated dynamically and depends on the features of the victim system, preventing anyone except the designated target(s) from extracting the contents of the sections.

By the way, the 64-bit version of the module has some debug information left in it. The module contains debug assertion strings and names of the modules:

.\loader.cpp
NULL != encSection
Path
NULL != pathVar && curPos < pathVarSize
NULL != progFilesDirs && curPos < progFilesDirsSize
NULL != isExpected
NULL != key
(NULL != result) && (NULL !=str1) && (NULL != str2)
.\encryption_funcs.cpp

The data

The mysterious encrypted data is stored in three sections:

The files also contain an encrypted resource “100” that seems to be the actual payload, given the relatively small size of the encrypted sections. It is most likely that the section “.exsdat” contains the code for decrypting the resource and executing its contents.

Incidents|Online detection of Gauss

GReAT
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted August 10, 14:23  GMT
Tags: Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame, Gauss
0.4
 

After the publication of our whitepaper about the Gauss cyber-attack, we have been asked if there is an easy way for users to check their system for infection. Of course the most reliable way is to download and install our antivirus solution or use the free Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool.

If someone needs to double-check or for some reason cannot download full antivirus package, we offer a quick and easy way to check for the presence of Gauss component.

The idea of checking the system using a webpage comes from the wellknown Hungarian research lab, known as CrySyS. They have also introduced a web-based method to check your system for Palida Narrow. Their test webpage is currently available here: http://gauss.crysys.hu.

We used the same idea and tried to improve the detection method. Now it works without server interaction.

0.7
 

Introduction

Gauss is the most recent cyber-surveillance operation in the Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame saga.

It was probably created in mid-2011 and deployed for the first time in August-September 2011.

Gauss was discovered during the course of the ongoing effort initiated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), following the discovery of Flame. The effort is aimed at mitigating the risks posed by cyber-weapons, which is a key component in achieving the overall objective of global cyber-peace.

In 140 chars or less, “Gauss is a nation state sponsored banking Trojan which carries a warhead of unknown designation”. Besides stealing various kinds of data from infected Windows machines, it also includes an unknown, encrypted payload which is activated on certain specific system configurations.

Just like Duqu was based on the “Tilded” platform on which Stuxnet was developed, Gauss is based on the “Flame” platform. It shares some functionalities with Flame, such as the USB infection subroutines.

In this FAQ, we answer some of the main questions about this operation. In addition to this, we are also releasing a full technical paper (HTML version and PDF version) about the malware’s functionalities.

What is Gauss? Where does the name come from?

Gauss is a complex cyber-espionage toolkit created by the same actors behind the Flame malware platform. It is highly modular and supports new functions which can be deployed remotely by the operators in the form of plugins. The currently known plugins perform the following functions:

  • Intercept browser cookies and passwords.
  • Harvest and send system configuration data to attackers.
  • Infect USB sticks with a data stealing module.
  • List the content of the system drives and folders
  • Steal credentials for various banking systems in the Middle East.
  • Hijack account information for social network, email and IM accounts.

The modules have internal names which appear to pay tribute to famous mathematicians and philosophers, such as Kurt Godel, Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss and Joseph-Louis Lagrange.

The module named “Gauss” is the most important in the malware as it implements the data stealing capabilities and we have therefore named the malware toolkit by this most important component.


Gauss Architecture

In addition, the authors forgot to remove debugging information from some of the Gauss samples, which contain the paths where the project resides. The paths are:

Variant Path to project files
August 2011 d:\projects\gauss
October 2011 d:\projects\gauss_for_macis_2
Dec 2011-Jan 2012 c:\documents and settings\flamer\desktop\gauss_white_1

One immediately notices “projects\gauss”.

In regards to the “white” part - we believe this is a reference to Lebanon, the country with the most Gauss infections. According to Wikipedia, “The name Lebanon comes from the Semitic root LBN, meaning "white", likely a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanon#Etymology