Feeds

Network card rootkit offers extra stealth

Sneaky reverse engineering

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Security researchers have demonstrated how it might be possible to place backdoor rootkit software on a network card.

Guillaume Delugré, a reverse engineer at French security firm Sogeti ESEC, was able to develop proof-of-concept code after studying the firmware from Broadcom Ethernet NetExtreme PCI Ethernet cards.

He used publicly available documentations and open source tools to develop a firmware debugger. He also reverse-engineered the format of the EEPROM where firmware code is stored, as well as the bootstrap process of the device.

Using the knowledge gained from this process, Delugré was able to develop custom firmware code and flash the device so that his proof-of-concept code ran on the CPU of the network card. The technique opens the possibility of planting a stealthy rootkit that lives within the network card, an approach that gives potential miscreants several advantages over conventional backdoors.

Chief among these is that there will be no trace of the rootkit on the operating system, as it is being hidden inside the network interface card.

"The network card natively needs to perform Direct memory access (DMA) accesses, so that network frames can be exchanged between the driver and the device," Delugré explains.

"From the firmware point of view, everything is operated using special dedicated device registers, some of them being non-documented. An attacker would then be able to communicate remotely with the rootkit in the network card and get access to the underlying operating system thanks to DMA."

Delugré gave a presentation on his research at the hack.lu conference last month. A write-up of his research, along with slides on his presentation and a demo, was published on Sunday here. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.