Adobe needs to get their PDF implementation out the door PDQ.


May 19, 2010


A Russian, a Spaniard, and a Bulgarian walk into a bar……

So much press ado is being bandied about relating the recent botnet Takedowns.  Consider these efforts baby steps if you will.

– P2P baby, will rear its ugly head again.  This is Storm RBN, out the bastards already.  Do you need me to show you where it is on GoogleMAPS?  Saint Petersburg.

– … Spanish Amateurs?  – , weak laws, SPANISH SAID so. They got out of jail and went back to recovering the dam thing and the got rearrested!  Cyber Comedy ensues. 13 Million? psh. please, more like 700k.  useful only for FBI PR and Panda marketing.  NOTE: If your going to take the time to null route sinkhole a botnet, and you have reversed their command and control, at least give the goddam courtesy of hitting the kill switch on the way out.  For those that are not familiar, for some reason tons and tons of malware implements a KILL BOT command.  Simply deletes the bot.  If the botnet is properly reversed you should have a 99.99% successful chance of elminating the bots in the entire network with a single command.  that means Full massive remediation.   For the bots that are not online yet, as soon as they get online, they beacon, get the updated command and erase themselves as well.    —– OR how about this.  Every bot has a UPDATE command.  It needs to download a new copy, kill its process and restart with the new version.  Send it NOTEPAD via the update.  Voila! done.   —- OR how about this.  Send it a new version with a corrupted PE header.  Totally inoperable.  OR send it an encrypted copy of itself.  No key to unencrypt, no function.  OR just corrupt the key with a binary patch.  There are countless ways.  Afraid of the DOOOMSDAY Scenario thats always bandied about?  DENIAL of servicing a hospital thus causing a killing of senior citizens hooked up to Windows 98?  – First HIGHLY HIGHLY unlikely if you reverse the code write, second just go unattrib.  That’s the beauty of the Internet.

The point is that researcher have better ways of getting right to the point and actually doing something about botnets.  Not sitting back and allowing a notification and remediation nightmare while they reap the press glory of a Depeering event (uneffective) or a coordinated DNS domain suspension/sinkholing.

- So some mysterioso took down like 20 percent of the out there now.  Due to shear badassness and open sourcing we will see this for a LONG time to come.  from middle america businesses and organizations via ACH fraud.  These victims dont have a clue until its to late.  Time for legislation to put the entire financial responsiblity on banks.  THen things will change.  – the thing with Zeus is that the depeered ISP / ASN reconnected to the Internet in muther loving Russia. it has already reconsituted around 50 of the C&Cs it lost.  Guys. the lists them all right there.  Start with every one in the US and smash them out of existence.  Prove you have what it takes to cooridinate law enforcement internationally and do the same with the others.  Consider it  a case study in international cyber enforcement.  BTW Zeus has a command that .  Its already been used a few times.  Another actor that does not like you can wage an attack on you by infiltrating and wiping all your compromised systems.  This can be done in a targeted fashion based on Country code or other groupings due to have these advanced bots can segregate their hosts.  Dont you love GeoIP dbs?

- discovery by   Call it what it was. Zeus.  75GB of exfilled data on a server  Not too shabby of a find.  Idiots left an open directory.  What kind of doomkoff leaves 75GB of purloined data on a box.  If your gonna do it, do it right and take that shit off daily.  BTW Zeus goes way way back to the WSNPOEM days.  and it was just as effect stealing stuff then.  Look for the new hotness with and .  Memory scrapeing. nuff said.

So what is all this rambling on about?  I am waiting for the first bot to self remediate.  That would be a Game Changer serving as a seminal event. 

- then of course they would move toward Public/Private key based command integrity methods but thats a Case for Malware Evolution!.

OK, so your saying the guy that is now in charge of protecting us from cyberbadness is saying <QUOTE> ” .”  </QUOTE>

It’s usually poor taste to cuss in what should be a professional forum but….


Someone brief this guy up or get him off the stage..

If I could put the digital threats our country faces into a single simple pictorial message it would be this.  Here is the threat we face….

and here is you, the cyber defender.  NOTE/HINT: You’re somewhere in the middle there.

We are getting our LUNCH eaten.  If Google going full disclosure didnt wake anyone up then they really don’t realize what they are dealin with. 

They get in, they entrench and you dont get them out.    However I have the solution:

  • CIO’s are utterly ineffectual in impacting the security of our Government systems and data.  No Power to FIRE, Slash budgets or hold people accountable for abysmal security postures.  – No accountability. – Emphasize RESULTS
  • Put somone in charge, empower them and get the hell out of the way.
  • Communicate to hostile actors there is a cost to their actions, ensure they pay it.
  • - Reference Siberian Pipeline Explosion.
  • Launch unattributable Rear Guard attacks. (Wage counter asymmetric warefare) Tie their resources up with resource draining attacks in their rear echelons.
  • Implement a friends and family cyber-beatdown plan.  -in response to vociferous Foreign Minister denials.  I don’t care if you say you didnt do it, Im still holding your ass responsible.

I have an idea.  We should just bill them licensing fees for all the crap they have stolen.  Anyone got the number for the WTO?  I would call them on my nifty VOIP line but some guy answered in Mandarin.

With the rise of a forensic response to malware intrusion you would think that malware would be smart enough to actually attempt to clean up its tracks by implementing secure deletion methods.  These would include Secure deletion off the disk so as to foil file recovery via forensic means by using tried and true secure deletion tools such as are used to wipe a drive of classified materials.  Microsoft SysInternals sdelete.exe and a zillion other tools are freely available for for whatever reason have not been incorporated into attack methods.  I have been wondering this absence for awhile now in malware.  It will only be a matter of time.  While Metasploit has pioneered a number of anti-forensics methods not one has delved into the secure erasure of malware footprints so as to render forensic response by products such as Guidance Software Encase moot. 

Additionally advanced methods to obfuscate in memory and secure deletion or overwriting of critical data in memory would be needed to foil the growing rise of live memory forensics which many organizations still cant seem to wrap their heads around to use operationally.  HBGary is an awesome tool for live memory forensics as well as Mandiant and the Volitility Framework.

This thread might be controversial but I must assume that things will progress that way anyways.  This has to do with advanced evolution of digital threats.  A very very large majority of malware is very noisy on the wire.  The fact that bots especially conduct callbacks to their Command and Control systems in the first place on a regular basis, HELLO, IM HERE, HELLO, IM HERE, YO! IM HERE is on its face completely rediculous.  If organizations can’t get their collective asses in gear to remediate their networks when malware is screaming out every minute to malicious IPs then someone needs a good career spanking. 

Awesome products like and which focus their attention on the real problems of botnets instead of larger AV Companies that just sit back and soak up your IT budget are going to be the change changers here and eventually drive botnet evolution in a new direction, Ironically rendering their products useless.  Thats the main problem with solving problems comprehensively – it kills your business plan. 

Heres a thought.  Instead of spending a billion dollars and 3 years to rev out the next version of , shim into the security stack FIREEYE/DAMBALLA with custom sigs.  For those that don’t know or havent been reading the press Einstein is DHS’s hope/vision for a big old digital condom from all that nasti hackiness thats been eroding our countries competitive edge for o say like 10 years.  Better hurry up guys, we probably on have about 5 years of Research and Development left to lose before we are facing adversaries that are technologically advanced as us.  And o ya 4 times the population.  There wont be much need for us in the future.

Thus leads to the controverisal piece.    MALWARE EVOLUTION #1  HUNTER/KILLER

Evolution of autonomous malware with preprogrammed directives.  Malware is just code, code is the digital representation of logical directives.  Directives are a language construct of what fleshbots want or need.  Namely us.  It has suprised me for some time that much of the malware requires a series of manual control command sets to do its job.  Cant you just go tell a piece of malware “look man, do this, this this, and uh if you see this piece of information or event do this”  These type of autonomus functional intelligence is what I would have expected from some of the prevalent threats today.   One of the theories behind the lack of sophistication in malware is the Lowest SHIT that works theory.  Namely if it works, why expend resources to advance the art.  While they may be right it certain keeps things boring on the technical malware analysis side.  Implementing a level or sentient intelligence based on certain low level information primitives would not be too hard of a research and development project.  The goal being to implement a handful of the tools of cyberwar, but have them automonously conducted with the goals of taking the operator out of the loop, and meeting certain operational criteria.  This way no Beacon beaconing like a goddam rooster and actually forcing the industry to start looking at the root of the problem which is the host and its built in internals and functions which enable all this crap in the first place. 

I will probably expand on this concept further later but from a defense side it seems that having your shit beacon, and requiring an operator to do basic shit all the time is just plain stupid.  Fire and forget malware bombs that can steal shit, and then encrypt it and blast it once with a special signature as a digital blob onto a Peer to Peer network  or to 500 places at once on the Internet for pickup would make things alot more interesting.

Well thats it, Cats out of the bag. Lets see what happens. 

-disclaimer  This blog was designed to explore futuristic concepts and memes of cyberwar and all their implications.  This is a conceptual thought exercise only, Not an endorsement.

So It looks like Team Cymru implemented my Gamechanger #1 idea to solve the notification challenges…


The BIN (Bank Identification Number) Feed comprises a near-real-time list of bank accounts and credit cards that have been identified by Team Cymru as potentially compromised. This data comes from Team Cymru’s unique insight into the Underground Economy. This service is provided to verified financial institutions at no cost to them.

The BIN Feed is provided through a secure web portal to vetted and verified financial institutions only. Data is carefully isolated, so that each financial institution can only view data on their own customers’ potentially compromised accounts. Representatives of financial institutions may contact the Team Cymru Outreach Team at with details of their BIN/IIN numbers to request access to this data. Please provide details of your institutional affiliation and allow time for us to verify and validate your request.

I am going to have to give this the whole 2 DIGITS up.

One of the things sorely lacking in the industry is a reliable standardized index for the weaponization rating of malware.  Security vendors are typically overwhelmed/AndOr to Lazy to do this in a capitalistic bubble they call their business plan.  Malware analysts such as myself have seen this obvious need for a while now.  This Rating system applies to Pardon the hype buzz wordz but APT, targeted attacks, advanced obfuscation and protection tools, and cybercrime banking malware alike.  In the end they all ‘mostly’ implement into their design some type of hopefully advanced mechanisms to either circumvent host hardening, exploit prevention mechanisms, network detection and host detection.  They also implement highly advanced anti-analysis and obfuscation – armoring techniques.  This list goes on and on.  However  there is no standard for this and not much debate so I am proposing the following. 

WEAPONIZATION INDEX Scoring System for Malware

A Malware Weaponization Index is calculated to indicate the level of sophistication and advanced techniques leveraged to avoid detection, achieve persistence, maintain survivalbility, and prevent remediation along with an assessment on the precisness of organizational and informational targeting, and the sophistication of its propogation and exploitation vectors such as code exploiting 0-day vulnerabilities. This will help in supporting Triage Operations for analysis such as dealing with APT, highly customized code, or advanced botnets.

Each of these categories is given a weighted rating culminating in an overall score.  As techniques become more mainstream and commonplace, or out of date they drop off the scale and new techniques are added. 

  • Percentage of custom developed code versus code reuse
  • Number of exploitable vulnerabilities in the malcode
  • Number of software development flaws
  • Percentage optimized to inefficient code
  • Use of advanced rootkit techniques, Direct Kernel Object Modification DKOM, malicious hypervisors
  • Encryption robustness evaluation (XOR versus AES, RC5, Public/Private key)
  • Usage of code integrity checking
  • Awareness of operation in virtualized or sandbox environments
  • Implementation of attacks against custom or little used software
  • Implementation of highly advanced anti-debugging techniques
  • Custom targeting of narrowly focused data sets (automatic searching for critical keyword based content)
  • Implementation custom code packing techniques
  • Implementation of virtualized packers
  • Awareness of hypervisor monitoring
  • Malware that runs completely from memory
  • Malware that is designed to foil memory forensics
  • Malware that protects its critical data such as encryption keys in memory
  • Malware implements destructive or highly disruptive capabilities
  • Malware that armors itself against inspection and hooking techniques
  • Malware that utilizes secure deletion techniques to foil disk based forensics
  • Malware that runs in the kernel using little know native functions
  • Malware that uses unique and innovative persistence techniques
  • Malware developed in languages not commonly used
  • Level of sophistication in metamorphic and polymorphic techniques
  • Level of detection based on AV scanning
  • Any hardware based embedded attacks such as Cisco routers, wireless infrastructure
  • Any exploits against real time operating systems, or weapons platforms

Excellent reads. Israeli E-Attack on Syria  and   Apparently tied to and Senior programs which embarrassingly enough I was not even aware of.  My god the realm of open source intell…

Completely unrelated to cyber but .   Actualy vis a vis China, it realistically shows us that the Cyber conflicts we are dealing with are outstandingly narrow in scope and focus that the full spectrum of conflict with the big dogs in power politics.  Let’s not forget the bigger picture SuperGeeks….  This type of stuff is the real deal in the RealPolitic World that will be the next 50-100 years…