Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Little Links, Big Headaches

This post was authored by Earl CarterJaeson Schultz.

Talos is always fascinated by the endless creativity of those who send spam. Miscreants who automate sending spam using botnets are of particular interest. Talos has been tracking a spam botnet that over the past several months that has been spamming weight loss products, male erectile dysfunction medication, and dating/casual sex websites.  These are all typical products one would expect to be purveyed through spam. What interests us about this spam are some of the ways the spam is constructed to try and evade detection (a.k.a. spam filters).

Beginning in March, Talos noted an absolute explosion in the usage of link shortening services in spam. After looking into the cause we found botnet ‘unknown2250’, as it is called by the Composite Block List (CBL), to be one of the primary parties responsible for this massive increase.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Microsoft Patch Tuesday - May 2015

Today, Microsoft has released their monthly set of security bulletins designed to address security vulnerabilities within their products.  This month’s release sees a total of 13 bulletins being released which address 48 CVEs. Three of the bulletins are listed as Critical and address vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, GDI+ Font Parsing, and Windows Journal.  The remaining ten bulletins are marked as Important and address vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office, Sharepoint, .NET, Silverlight, Service Control Manager, Windows Kernel, VBScript/JScript, Microsoft Management Console, and Secure Channel.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Threat Spotlight: Rombertik - Gazing Past the Smoke, Mirrors, and Trap Doors

This post was authored by Ben Baker and Alex Chiu.

Executive Summary


Threat actors and security researchers are constantly looking for ways to better detect and evade each other.  As researchers have become more adept and efficient at malware analysis, malware authors have made an effort to build more evasive samples.  Better static, dynamic, and automated analysis tools have made it more difficult for attackers to remain undetected. As a result, attackers have been forced to find methods to evade these tools and complicate both static and dynamic analysis.

It becomes critical for researchers to reverse engineer evasive samples to find out how attackers are attempting to evade analysis tools. It is also important for researchers to communicate how the threat landscape is evolving to ensure that these same tools remain effective. A recent example of these behaviors is a malware sample Talos has identified as Rombertik. In the process of reverse engineering Rombertik, Talos discovered multiple layers of obfuscation and anti-analysis functionality. This functionality was designed to evade both static and dynamic analysis tools, make debugging difficult. If the sample detected it was being analyzed or debugged it would ultimately destroy the master boot record (MBR).

Talos’ goal is to protect our customer’s networks.  Reverse engineering Romberik helps Talos achieve that goal by better understanding how attackers are evolving to evade detection and make analysis difficult. Identifying these techniques gives Talos new insight and knowledge that can be communicated to Cisco’s product teams.  This knowledge can then be used to harden our security products to ensure these anti-analysis techniques are ineffective and allow detection technologies to accurately identify malware to protect customers.