Program turns anti-analysis tools against the malware

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   May 14, 2013

Users cautioned to be wary of a false sense of security.

Could you defeat VM-aware malware by making your system aware of VM-aware malware?

Tricks to frustrate researchers and make automatic analysis more difficult are a common feature of today's malware. One such trick is to make the malware 'VM-aware': it won't run if it detects that it is being executed in a virtual environment.

Two researchers at Rapid7, the company behind the Metasploit tool, have attempted to turn this trick on its head and use it against the malware. They have written a small proof-of-concept program that creates a number of registry keys, files and directories and starts some processes - all of which make it look as if the machine on which the program is running is, in fact, a virtual environment and that a popular debugger is being used.

While, as the researchers readily admit, this is by no means a new idea, it is a nice one and could work against many of the larger malware outbreaks. It is part of the general idea of 'security through obscurity', which also includes running services on non-standard ports, or using non-default directory names for web tools like WordPress. If the obscurity is performed well enough, it could work against many automated threats.

But one should be wary of a false sense of security: malware would work just as well without the anti-analysis functionality. Malware authors may also start to include checks for tools like the one created by the researchers.

Cryptography experts commonly refer to Kerckhoff's principle: the idea that a cryptographic system should be secure, even if everything about it (except for the key) is known to the attacker. This applies here as well: the tools could prevent some malware from infecting your machine, and that would of course be a good thing, but you should still act as if you are just as vulnerable.

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2019 paper: Fantastic Information and Where to Find it: A guidebook to open-source OT reconnaissance

A VB2019 paper by FireEye researcher Daniel Kapellmann Zafra explained how open source intelligence (OSINT) can be used to learn crucial details of the inner workings of many a system. Today we publish Daniel's paper and the recording of his…

VB2019 paper: Different ways to cook a crab: GandCrab Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) analysed in depth

Though active for not much longer than a year, GandCrab had been one of the most successful ransomware operations. In a paper presented at VB2019 in London, McAfee researchers John Fokker and Alexandre Mundo looked at the malware code, its evolution…

VB2019 paper: Domestic Kitten: an Iranian surveillance program

At VB2019 in London, Check Point researchers Aseel Kayal and Lotem Finkelstein presented a paper detailing an Iranian operation they named 'Domestic Kitten' that used Android apps for targeted surveillance. Today we publish their paper and the video…

VB2019 video: Discretion in APT: recent APT attack on crypto exchange employees

At VB2019 in London, LINE's HeungSoo Kang explained how cryptocurrency exchanges had been attacked using Firefox zero-days. Today, we publish the video of his presentation.

VB2019 paper: DNS on fire

In a paper presented at VB2019, Cisco Talos researchers Warren Mercer and Paul Rascagneres looked at two recent attacks against DNS infrastructure: DNSpionage and Sea Turtle. Today we publish their paper and the recording of their presentation.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.