Feeds

Windows Registry-infecting malware has no files, survives reboots

Antivirus doesn't stand a chance because there's nothing for it to scan

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Researchers have detailed a rare form of Windows malware that maintains infection on machines and steals data without installing files.

The malware resides in the computer registry only and is therefore not easy to detect.

It code reaches machines through a malicious Microsoft Word document before creating a hidden encoded autostart registry key, malware researcher and black hat exterminator Paul Rascagneres (@r00tbsd) says. It then creates and executes shellcode and a payload Windows binary.

"All activities are stored in the registry. No file is ever created," Rascagneres said in a post.

"So, attackers are able to circumvent classic anti-malware file scan techniques with such an approach and are able to carry out any desired action when they reach the innermost layer of [a machine] even after a system re-boot.

"To prevent attacks like this, anti-virus solutions have to either catch the initial Word document before it is executed (if there is one), preferably before it reached the customer's email inbox."

Windows Regedit cannot read or open the non-ASCII key entry. Rascagneres said the feature set was akin to a Matryoshka Doll due to its subsequent and continual 'stacked' execution of code.

The non-ASCII trick is a tool Microsoft uses to hide its source code from being copied, but the feature was later cracked.

Security kit can alternatively detect the software exploit, or as a final step monitor the registry for unusual behaviour, he said.

Malware geeks on the KernelMode.info forum last month analysed one sample which exploited the flaws explained in CVE-2012-0158 that affected Microsoft products including Office.

Deviants distributed the malware under the guise of Canada Post and UPS emails purportedly carrying tracking information.

"This trick prevents a lot of tools from processing this malicious entry at all and it could generate a lot of trouble for incident response teams during the analysis. The mechanism can be used to start any program on the infected system and this makes it very powerful," Rascagneres said.

Rascagneres has made a name ripping malware and bots to uncover and undermine black hat operations. He won last years' Pwnie Award at Black Hat Las Vegas for tearing through the infrastructure of Chinese hacker group APT1. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'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
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
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
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
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.