Feeds

MYSTERY programming language found in Duqu

Anti-virus boffins appeal to devs for help

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Security researchers are appealing for help after discovering that part of the Duqu Trojan was written in an unknown programming language.

Duqu is a sophisticated Trojan reckoned to have been created by the same group behind the infamous Stuxnet worm. While the finely tuned Stuxnet worm was designed to home in on specific industrial control systems – namely systems controlling high-speed centrifuges used by Iran's controversial nuclear enrichment plants – Duqu was created to fulfil the slightly different role of a backdoor where intruders could slip into SCADA-based systems and nick confidential information.

Securo-boffins at Kaspersky Lab have discovered during their research that Duqu uses the mystery code to communicate with its Command and Control (C&C) servers once it infects a compromised machine. Researchers at the Russian anti-virus firm have named this unknown section the "Duqu Framework".

Unlike the rest of Duqu, the Duqu Framework is not written in C++ and it's not compiled with Microsoft's Visual C++ 2008. The Kaspersky research team has gone some way in unravelling the mystery language used by the Duqu Framework, but still needs addition help. So far, the researchers have worked out what the mystery code does, but are still mostly in the dark about the grammar and syntax of the programming language, they said.

Kaspersky Lab researchers explained:

It is possible that its authors used an in-house framework to generate intermediary C code, or they used another completely different programming language. However, Kaspersky Lab researchers have confirmed that the language is object-oriented and performs its own set of related activities that are suitable for network applications.

The language in the Duqu Framework is highly specialised. It enables the Payload DLL to operate independently of the other Duqu modules and connects it to its dedicated C&C through several paths, including Windows HTTP, network sockets and proxy servers. It also allows the Payload DLL to process HTTP server requests from the C&C directly, stealthily transmit copies of stolen information from the infected machine to the C&C and even distribute additional malicious payload to other machines on the network, creating a controlled and discreet form of spreading infections to other computers.

Having gone as probably as far as they can, Kaspersky Lab is appealing to the programming community for support in analysing the mystery language used to build the malware. It wants to hear from coders who recognise either a framework, toolkit or a programming language that can generate similar code.

The creation of a dedicated programming language to construct the communications module shows how skilled the developers were, as well as providing evidence that significant financial resources were ploughed into developing the Duqu Trojan project.

"Given the size of the Duqu project, it’s possible that an entirely different team was responsible for creating the Duqu Framework as opposed to the team that created the drivers and wrote the system infection exploits," explained Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab. "With the extremely high level of customisation and exclusivity that the programming language was created with, it is also possible that it was made not only to prevent external parties from understanding the cyber-espionage operation and the interactions with the C&Cs, but also to keep it separate from other internal Duqu teams who were responsible for writing the additional parts of the malicious program."

Duqu was first detected in September 2011, but Kaspersky Lab reckons the first trace of Duqu-related malware dates all the way back to August 2007. The Russian security firm has logged more than a dozen incidents of Duqu infection, with the vast majority of victims located in Iran.

More details about the Duqu Trojan and its mystery communications modules can be found on Securelist, Kaspersky Lab’s research site, here. Researchers at Kaspersky, which has carried out a great deal of top-notch analysis work on the topic, were the first to find the "smoking code" linking Stuxnet and Duqu. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.