CNS320 Lesson 8 – Malware

Lesson 8 – Malware

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  • dr-mario-virus-dancing-gif-davesgeekyideas.gif

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  • Blackmail and extortion runs the gamut from encrypting your files and holding them ransom or stealing nude pics and making you pay the attacker not to blast them all over the internet

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  • Don’t rely on slowdown and excessive CPU/RAM usage as your prime indicator…that’s usually just a sign that your computer is old piece of shit
  • https://xkcd.com/1180/

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  • The malware author first designs the malware
  • Then the malware replicates across networks and machines to victim computers
  • The malware then launches and performs whatever action is intended (holding files ransom, stealing sensitive info, installing keystroke loggers, enrolling the machine in a botnet, just trashing it, etc.)
  • Eventually, researchers and antivirus companies detect the virus in the wild, categorize it, and start building signatures for it
  • When that signature info is incorporated into AV products, antivirus can know recognize it…
  • …and start to eliminate the malware

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  • Boot sector viruses target the boot sector or Master Boot Record of hard drives, bootable floppies, CDs, USBs, etc.
  • File viruses infect files (duh).  Adobe PDF is a popular vector.
  • Program viruses infect executables.
  • Network viruses (according to the book) are viruses that spread over the network, usually via email.  It’s not really clear how this is different from a worm.
  • Source code viruses actually look for C, Java, or other source code on a machine and alter it to include malicious code.  These viruses are extremely rare.
  • Macro viruses, the bane of the 90’s, are written in the “macro language” of another application…such as an embedded macro in a Word or Excel document.  The Melissa virus was one of the earliest and most widespread of macro viruses.  Macro viruses have mostly tailed off in popularity.
  • Multipartite viruses utlize more than one of the above methods to infect and spread

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  • TSR viruses usually load themselves into memory and then delete any files or binaries they used to get there in the first place.
  • Cavity viruses hide in the unused whitespace inside certain applications and file formats.
  • A tunneling virus is a virus that attempts to intercept anti-virus software before it can detect malicious code. A tunneling virus launches itself under anti-virus programs and then works by going to the operating system’s interruption handlers and intercepting them, thus avoiding detection. Interception programs, which remain in the background of an operating system and catch viruses, become disabled during the course of a tunneling virus.
  • Stealth viruses also use various means to evade antivirus, by means of hooking system calls and interrupts, changing them so that it doesn’t alert AV software.  Difference between it and a tunneling virus is that stealth viruses intercept everything, but tunneling viruses intercept only AV system calls.
  • Camouflage viruses crudely try to masquerade as a legitimate program.  They’re trivial for AV to find and kill.
  • Encrypted viruses come with a decryption module and then try to encrypt the bulk of the viral code and any infected binaries in order to evade signature-based AV.
  • Polymorphic and metamorphic viruses are similar in that both modify the underlying virus code with each iteration.  The difference is that metamorphic code will randomly re-write every part of itself, whereas polymorphic viruses usually have a mutation engine (or decryption module) that stays untouched and unmodified, making polymorphics easier to catch by AV.

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  • Creeper was an experimental, benign self-replicating program unleashed on DEC PDP-10 computers running the TENEX operating system.  Reaper was a program written to get rid of Creeper instances, making it the first anti-virus.
  • Rabbit was the first example of a “fork bomb,” a virus that keeps forking new processes of itself until it uses up all the system resources and DoS’s the box
  • Fred Cohen was an engineering student at the University of Southern California who first coined the term “computer virus” with a proof-of-concept program and an accompanying research paper in 1983.
  • Elk Cloner was invented as a prank by teenage computer enthusiast Rick Skrenta.  It was a boot sector virus that infected Apple II floppy disks.  It was harmless, only displaying a taunting message to users, but it could occasionally ruin disks if it accidentally overwrote the wrong part of a floppy’s boot sector.
  • Brain was the first boot sector virus to infect MS-DOS machines, written by Pakistani programmers and brothers Basit and Amjad Alvi.  It was originally written as an anti-piracy program, but unexpectedly spread to other disks.  Mikko Hyponnen of F-Secure tracked down the two brothers in 2011, who still own an IT business in Lahore.
  • The Morris Worm was unleashed on the ARPANet by then Cornell University student Robert Tappan Morris.  Morris said he did it as a way to gauge the size of the Internet, not to cause harm.  The worm spread using several possible methods; it would try to exploit known vulnerabilities in common Unix programs like sendmail, finger, and rlogin and would also try to remotely login by guessing weak passwords.  The worm itself was harmless; it would simple get into a new machine, then look for network neighbors and spread to them too.
  • Morris had written it so that, if it detected there was already a copy of the worm installed, it wouldn’t reinfect……except every seventh time, it would install another copy of itself, ostensibly as protection against false positives or people trying to fool his worm and keep it from spreading.  With enough time, as the worm reinfected the same hosts continuously, it turned into a massive widespread DoS attack.
  • Morris became the first person convicted under the then-new CFAA law.  He eventually served three years probation, did 400 hours of community service, and was fined over $10,000.
  • Morris went on to found several Silicon Valley start-ups and is currently a tenured professor at MIT.

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  • A floppy disk of the Morris worm’s source code in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA

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  • Pretty sure Michaelangelo was the inspiration for the “Da Vinci virus” in the movie Hackers

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  • Code Red worm exploited flaws in Microsoft IIS web servers, Nimda was another devastating worm/file infector combo that used other means to propagate, but could exploit backdoors left behind by old Code Red infections
  • Beast was one of the first reverse shell RATs for Windows.
  • Slammer was a DoS worm that exploited a buffer overflow in Microsoft SQL Server and Desktop Engine to crash Windows machines.
  • Blaster spread via a buffer overflow in the RPC service on TCP port 135 and would try to use infected hosts to DDoS the Windows Update website with a SYN flood.
  • Sasser was another big DoS worm that exploited LSASS (the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service) in Windows 2000 and XP
  • Zeus is one of the longest-lived bank credential-stealing Trojans, keeping alive through changes and variants such as the newer GameOver ZeuS offshoot and merging code with the SpyEye trojan.
  • Conficker was a worm that exploited numerous Windows infections
  • Stuxnet and Duqu may very well be the first and some of the most successful cyberweapons. Leaks from inside the US government allege it was developed as part of a US/Israeli joint operation to target and destroy Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges.
  • Blackhole is an example of an “exploit kit” or “crimeware kit,” that allows low-skilled cybercriminals to put together bank credential-stealing or botnet-enrolling trojans of their own.
  • Flashback made waves as one of the first widespread Mac OS X pieces of malware.  It used a vulnerability in Java and spread through malicious websites.
  • Flame is another cyberweapon, supposedly developed by the NSA and Israel.
  • CryptoLocker kicked off the era of encryption ransomware.  It and it’s copycats would infect a machine, encrypt all the user’s personal files, then hold them for ransom.  If the user paid the ransom (usually an amount set in an anonymous cryptocurrency like Bitcoin), the malware creator would give them the decryption key so they could access their files again.

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  • Glance over this list, because you may see a question or two about suspicious ports on your exam.

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  • Air-gapping means the machine is not connected to other machines over network connections.

 

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