Gems in the ISC Diary Comments

Published: 2014-03-06
Last Updated: 2014-03-06 02:53:28 UTC
by Mark Baggett (Version: 1)
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Thanks for reading the ISC Diary!  I hope you find useful information in the diary posts.  I, and the other handlers, work hard to try and bring you the latest news as it develops, as well as point out interesting new research that affects our industry and our ability to protect our networks.  BUT don’t stop with the diary.  Quite often the MOST interesting part of the article is in the comments from the readers.  Consider the following:

About a year ago I did a post entitled “What can you do with funky directory names?”

The post is about creating a “..  “ (Dot Dot Space) directory.  You can even create a funky directory name that will cause windows to generate an error dialog message and go into an error condition.  This is COOL STUFF right?  Well, yeah but not nearly as interesting as the mostly overlooked last comment on the page.  An anonymous ISC reader posted this comment:

“It's also easy to use similar file name tricks to make your malicious binary appear to be Microsoft signed. Name your malware file "svchost.exe " (note trailing space) and put it in the same folder as the legitimate file. Attempted reads of your malicious file will "miss" your file and instead hit the legitimate (and signed) binary. (This is because win32 will auto-remove the trailing space.)

The nice thing about CreateProcess is that it launches the malicious process just fine.”

What does this mean?  Well, if you create a executable on the hard drive that ends with a SPACE and then execute it some interesting things happen.  Applications such as Microsoft Sigcheck, Mandiant Redline, Process hacker and other tools that will check the digital signatures of the processes in the process list check the incorrect file.  The malware is “svchost.exe  “.  But when these tools turn to the hard drive to read the executable digital signature the underlying API trims the trailing space and they read the signature on the real “svchost.exe”.  The result is that those security tools find a legitimate digital signature and incorrectly believe the file  “svchost.exe   “  has been digitally signed by Microsoft.

Matt Graeber (@mattifestation) did a write up on his testing of the issue here

I have found this technique to be useful for fooling Non-Microsoft tools that rely on digital signatures.  So don't stop with the article!  Read the comments from our brilliant readers.   Please TEST your HIPS, Whitelisting applications, Forensics tools and other digital signature based tools using the process outline by Matt Graeber.   Is it vulnerable?   Post a comment (responsible disclosure is encouraged) and other brilliant insights in the comments! 

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There are a couple of chances to sign up for SANS Python programming course.  The course starts from the very beginning, assuming you don't know anything about programming or Python.  The course is self paced learning and we cover the essentials before we start building tools you can use in your next security engagement.   You will love it!!    Join me for Python for Penetration testers in Reston VA March 17-21 or at SANSFire in Baltimore June 23-27.

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