Feeds

Destroying sandboxes

There'll be malware for it soon

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

One of the mechanisms used by anti-malware applications is to institute a virtual "sandbox" to isolate suspicious files from the rest of the system while they are quickly analysed for malicious content or behaviour.

Creating a sandbox requires the anti-malware software to essentially institute a Virtual Machine - a computer that is completely implemented in software. A lot of current sandboxes are designed to emulate network connections and normal system behaviour in an effort to trap malicious output from a suspicious file or application.

Some malware authors have already developed their code to the point where it can identify when it is being operated in a virtual machine, and so neutralise the malicious behaviour. The point of this approach is to make the analysis of their malware more difficult for the anti-malware developers as they can not observe the suspicious code engaging in malicious activity. Other malware can identify when a debugger is attached and respond accordingly (some even with targeted attacks against debuggers such as IDA).

In a sign that malware that targets sandbox environments is not far off, detailed code and analysis have been released that give developers a means to probe around while inside the sandbox. Previous attempts at identifying the presence of virtual machines has been targeted at applications like VMWare and Virtual PC, with little attention paid to those created by anti-malware software for analysis of files on end user systems (which is different to the use of VMWare and Virtual PC in the anti-virus lab).

Once the code has identified the presence of the sandbox, it begins looking for memory registers and other reporting code elements that are accessible from within the "safe" environment. With a viable mechanism to insert code of choice into these elements, a sandboxed application can not only break out of the sandbox, but target the application or system that has placed it there.

Key to the process that has been described is the identification that the sandbox has to have some set of mechanisms to not only identify what the sandboxed software is doing, but also to report it back to the user/anti-malware application. Targeting these sections of code allows for interesting manipulation of the data going back to the anti-malware software, and will likely soon lead to software being able to break out of the sandbox with ease.

All of this information, including detailed source code files, has been released into the open - so long as you know where and how to look. The sandbox used by Norman branded products is the one being targeted in the demonstration, but the underlying basics can be extended to those from other vendors. Based on previous related cases where code has gone from demonstration to application, specialised targeting using similar approaches in the wild are expected within six to eight weeks, with general attack usage viable within 12 to 18 weeks.

This article originally appeared at Sûnnet Beskerming

© 2007 Sûnnet Beskerming Pty. Ltd

Sûnnet Beskerming is an independent Information Security firm operating from the antipodes. Specialising in the gap between threat emergence and vendor response, Sûnnet Beskerming provides global reach with a local touch.

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.