18 Dec Destructive Malware – Five Wipers in the Spotlight Costin Raiu
20 Mar South Korean 'Whois Team' attacks GReAT
17 Dec GrooveMonitor: Another Wiper Copycat? Roel
11 Sep Shamoon The Wiper: further details (Part II) Dmitry Tarakanov
29 Aug What was that Wiper thing? GReAT
22 Aug Shamoon the Wiper in details Dmitry Tarakanov
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Every single day, Kaspersky Lab processes more than 300,000 new malware samples. The vast majority of these malicious files is what we call crimeware -- computer programs designed for financial profit and used by cyber-criminals to make money. From the remaining percentage, a small amount are designed exclusively for cyber-espionage and used by a variety of advanced threat actors.
What is left is an even smaller percentage of the total and includes rare, unusual things. Wipers, which are highly destructive programs, are some of the rarest kinds of malware, however, their usage has spiked over the last few years.
Back in the old days, most of the malware was written by computer enthusiasts, cyber-hooligans and pranksters. Hence, destructive viruses, or Trojans, were much more common. Some examples include BadSectors, a computer virus that would mark disk sectors as bad, even if they weren’t, resulting in subtle corruption of data. Another example was OneHalf, a computer virus that would encrypt the hard drive cylinder-by-cylinder, transparently decrypting it on the fly while active. If one were to remove the virus,that would leave the data on the disk in encrypted format, without an easy way to decrypt it.
Perhaps the best known example is CIH, also known as Chernobyl. CIH, named after the initials of its author, Chen Ing-hau, was a computer virus that had the ability to wipe the BIOS flash memory. Computers affected by CIH couldn’t boot up anymore. This wasn’t a major problem for PCs, which had the BIOS memory in the form of a removal chip that could be reprogrammed on another system; however, for laptop owners, the CIH virus was quite destructive.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a number of major incidents involving destructive malware. We’ve decided to put together a brief summary the most important Wiper incidents:
In late-2011, early-2012, reports emerged about computer systems that were compromised and rendered unbootable. The extent of the damage to these systems was so big that almost no data was recoverable. Some artefacts from the wiped systems indicated a possible link with Stuxnet and Duqu; however, these were never proven. The malware responsible for these attacks was named the "Wiper"; we wrote about it here.
Earlier today, reports of a number of cyberattacks against various South Korean targets hit the news.
The attackers, going by the handle Whois Team left a number of messages during the defacements:
Yesterday the Iranian CERT made an announcement about a new piece of wiper-like malware. We detect these files as Trojan.Win32.Maya.a.
This is an extremely simplistic attack. In essence, the attacker wrote some BAT files and then used a BAT2EXE tool to turn them into Windows PE files. The author seems to have used (a variant of) this particular BAT2EXE tool.
There's no connection to any of the previous wiper-like attacks we've seen. We also don't have any reports of this malware from the wild.
The hardcoded date in the body of destructor matches exactly the declaration by a hacker group about the date and time when the Saudi Aramco company would had been hit but we still cannot definitively confirm that Shamoon was to blame for those attacks.
And just about two weeks later, another energy company in the Middle East (RasGas) fell victim to another malware attack and the media has logically asked questions about whether Shamoon was responsible.
We leave the speculation up to others and concentrate strictly on sharing technical details. This is the continuation of our investigation into Shamoon:
The main Shamoon module has a resource PKCS7:113 that maintains an executable which is saved to disk as %WINDIR%\System32\NETINIT.EXE and this program poses a module to communicate with CNC. This program waits for parameters to be run with. The author was not too creative and coded a handling of just two argument values which can be ?0 or ?1.
If ?0, the program takes a second argument and treats it as a data to be passed to CNC. With this argument value, the malware connects to CNC just once and stops executing. We have not located any place in the Shamoon code where netinit.exe would be run with argument ?0.
But as you would recall, we did locate the place where netinit.exe is launched with a command line ?netinit.exe 1. The program then enters into a loop until another destructive module creates a file %WINDIR%\ inf\netfb318.pnf signaling that the time has come to wipe data and kill the operating system. While netinit.exe waits for that file it regularly connects to CNC to report itself and receiving commands.
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.
Earlier today, we received an interesting collection of samples from colleagues at another anti-malware company.
The samples are especially interesting because they contain a module with the following string:
Of course, the ?wiper reference immediately reminds us of the Iranian computer-wiping incidents from April 2012 that led to the discovery of Flame.
The malware is a 900KB PE file that contains a number of encrypted resources:
Duqu and Stuxnet raised the stakes in the cyber battles being fought in the Middle East – but now we’ve found what might be the most sophisticated cyber weapon yet unleashed. The ‘Flame’ cyber espionage worm came to the attention of our experts at Kaspersky Lab after the UN’s International Telecommunication Union came to us for help in finding an unknown piece of malware which was deleting sensitive information across the Middle East. While searching for that code – nicknamed Wiper – we discovered a new malware codenamed Worm.Win32.Flame.
Flame shares many characteristics with notorious cyber weapons Duqu and Stuxnet: while its features are different, the geography and careful targeting of attacks coupled with the usage of specific software vulnerabilities seems to put it alongside those familiar ‘super-weapons’ currently deployed in the Middle East by unknown perpetrators. Flame can easily be described as one of the most complex threats ever discovered. It’s big and incredibly sophisticated. It pretty much redefines the notion of cyberwar and cyberespionage.
For the full low-down on this advanced threat, read on…
What exactly is Flame? A worm? A backdoor? What does it do?
Flame is a sophisticated attack toolkit, which is a lot more complex than Duqu. It is a backdoor, a Trojan, and it has worm-like features, allowing it to replicate in a local network and on removable media if it is commanded so by its master.
The initial point of entry of Flame is unknown - we suspect it is deployed through targeted attacks; however, we haven’t seen the original vector of how it spreads. We have some suspicions about possible use of the MS10-033 vulnerability, but we cannot confirm this now.
Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on. All this data is available to the operators through the link to Flame’s command-and-control servers.
Later, the operators can choose to upload further modules, which expand Flame’s functionality. There are about 20 modules in total and the purpose of most of them is still being investigated.