World's best threat detection pwned by HOBBIT

Forget nation-states, BAB0 is the stuff of savvy crims

Some of the world's best threat detection platforms have been bypassed by custom malware in a demonstration of the fallibility of single defence security.

Five un-named top advanced threat detection products were tested against four custom malware samples written by researchers at Crysys Lab, Hungary and MRG-Effitas, UK”

The most capable of the malware samples, dubbed BAB0 (or 'Hobbit' in the researchers' native tongue), slipped past each product having infected through image steganography, a feat within the capabilities of savvy criminals.

"It was designed to be as stealthy as possible, and utilises multiple methods to avoid detection," the lab's seven researchers wrote in a paper titled An independent test of APT attack detection appliances.

"Actually, this test case simulates attackers with moderate resources and some understanding of the state-of-the-art detection tools and how advanced malware work.

"For example, this can simulate organised criminals when attacking high value targets."

BAB0 was written in C++ with a server side in PHP and never appeared in the clear in net traffic due to the use of steganography. Scripts pulled the executable from the image after users clicked. The malware then ducked sandboxes with obfuscated HTML and JavaScript code.

A decoy program was presented to the victim while the hobbit scurried off hiding command and control traffic in HTML traffic appearing as user clicks.

Command types sent to BAB0 included directory traversal, file transfer, and command execution.

Another less sophisticated malware offering bypassed three of the unnamed platforms while the basic offerings were caught by all five.

"The main message of this work is that novel anti-APT tools can be bypassed with moderate effort," the report read.

"If we were able to develop samples that were not detected by these tools without actually having access to any of the tested products during the development phase, then resourceful attackers who may be able to buy these products will also be able to develop similar samples, or even better ones."

Much lazier attackers could hang out for BAB0 to be published at later date, a move designed to help bolster security technology in interested companies.

The researchers were now pondering a testing framework for zero-day browser exploits. ®

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