Monthly Archives: February 2016

Is your help desk prepared for this type of malware?

6 February 2016

Some variants of the W2KM_DRIDEX.BM trojan behave really strange if User Account Control (UAC) is set to the highest level ‘Always notify me’. In this case the malware attempts several times to elevate its own privileges. For a detailed description of the malware see post ‘Analysis of an Undetected Dridex Sample‘ in the REAQTA blog.

Although this behavior is really annoying everything went well so far. UAC did exactly what it was designed for: Notify the user that something requests higher privileges. Without approval by the user UAC blocks further execution, thus prevents Dridex from becoming persistent.

What next? In the best case, if the user cannot elevate the program, he calls the help desk. But is the help desk staff ready for this? What’s the proper response to this challenge?

The proper response is to quarantine the computer and disinfect the system. Or tell the user to keep calm, create an incident ticket and send it to the SOC.

The worst possible response would be to approve the request by entering the credentials of a privileged account. In this case Dridex starts over, becomes persistent and the attacker can start his malicious work.

Golden Triangle of IT Security

Golden Triangle of IT Security

IT security is created by a combination of people, processes and technology. Even if processes and technology complement each other perfectly, people may become the critical factor. In particular, if helpdesk staff turnover is high, awareness training and knowledge management become a major issue.

Have a good weekend.

netsh – The Cyber Attacker’s Tool of Choice

3 February 2016

For IT pros the Windows built-in command netsh is one of the tools of choice for troubleshooting network issues.

For a cyber attacker netsh is the tool of choice once he managed to get access to the company network. ‘netsh trace’ may be used to record every key stroke a user sends e.g. to the login dialog of web application or a banking application in plain text.

Using netsh trace is disturbingly easy:

[1] Start the recording session for programs connecting to internet services

netsh trace start scenario=InternetClient capture=yes tracefile=NetTrace-ICP.etl level=4

[2] Wait for the user to connect to a service …

[3] Stop the recording session

netsh trace stop

[4] Convert the trace file into readable format

netsh trace convert input=NetTrace-ICP.etl output=NetTrace-ICP.etl.xml dump=XML

[5] Open the file with notepad and search for the user name

<Data Name="RequestHandle">0xCC000C</Data>
<Data Name="Length">502</Data>
<Data Name="Headers">;passwd=-Plain-Text-Here-&amp;;……</Data>

Thus netsh trace can replace key loggers or tools like Mimikatz or Lazagne. Since the attacker must not reload utilities from the C&C server the likelihood of detection decreases.

Fortunately the attacker must run netsh trace in administrative context, but since many users always work in admin context this is not a real hurdle.

Apart from cyber attacks users should be concerned about privacy issues. If a support technician starts netsh in a remote troubleshooting session the likelihood is high that he may see your password or PIN. To prevent trouble users should always change their passwords after netsh was used to solve network issues.

Take care!