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Hidden Rootkits in Windows. Presented by: Brian Bourne, CMS Consulting Inc. CMS Consulting Inc. Microsoft Infrastructure and Security Experts Active Directory - Windows Server - Exchange - SMS - ISA MOM - Clustering - Office – Desktop Deployment - SQL –

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Hidden rootkits in windows
Hidden Rootkits in Windows

Presented by: Brian Bourne, CMS Consulting Inc.

Cms consulting inc
CMS Consulting Inc.

Microsoft Infrastructure and Security Experts

Active Directory - Windows Server - Exchange - SMS - ISA

MOM - Clustering - Office – Desktop Deployment - SQL –

Terminal Services - Security Assessments - Lockdown – Wireless

Training by Experts for Experts

MS Infrastructure – Security - Vista and Office Deployment

Visit us online:www.cms.ca

Downloads – Resources – White Papers

For Security Solutions

For Advanced Infrastructure

For Network Solutions

For Information Worker

For Mobility Solutions


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What is a rootkit?

Kernal mode vs user mode

Popular and New rootkits

History of Rootkits

What can they hide

DEMO – Hacker Defender Anatomy 101

How they hide and go undetected

DEMO - Hacker Defender In Action!

DEMO – Covert Channels


Detection, Protection and Removal

DEMO – Detection

Hardware Virtualization Rootkits




What is a rootkit?

  • A root kit is a set of tools used by an intruder after cracking a computer system. These tools can help the attacker maintain his or her access to the system and use it for malicious purposes. Root kits exist for a variety of operating systems such as Linux, Solaris, and versions of Microsoft Windows

    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rootkit

Types of rootkits 1 of 3
Types of rootkits 1 of 3

  • Persistent RootkitsA persistent rootkit is one associated with malware that activates each time the system boots. Because such malware contain code that must be executed automatically each system start or when a user logs in, they must store code in a persistent store, such as the Registry or file system, and configure a method by which the code executes without user intervention.

  • Memory-Based RootkitsMemory-based rootkits are malware that has no persistent code and therefore does not survive a reboot.

Types of rootkits 2 of 3
Types of rootkits 2 of 3

User-mode RootkitsThere are many methods by which rootkits attempt to evade detection. Example:

  • a user-mode rootkit might intercept all calls to the Windows FindFirstFile/FindNextFile APIs, which are used by file system exploration utilities, including Explorer and the command prompt, to enumerate the contents of file system directories.

  • When an application performs a directory listing that would otherwise return results that contain entries identifying the files associated with the rootkit, the rootkit intercepts and modifies the output to remove the entries.

Types of rootkits 3 of 3
Types of rootkits 3 of 3

Kernel-mode RootkitsKernel-mode rootkits can be even more powerful since, not only can they intercept the native API in kernel-mode, but they can also directly manipulate kernel-mode data structures. A common technique for hiding the presence of a malware process is to remove the process from the kernel's list of active processes. Since process management APIs rely on the contents of the list, the malware process will not display in process management tools like Task Manager or Process Explorer.

Reference: http://www.sysinternals.com

History of rootkits

  • Primitive

  • Binary file replacement (password logging / UNIX)

  • Hiding traces/tracks (log cleaners)



  • More advanced hiding - “stealthy” (Hxdef,HE4Hook)

  • Hooking techniques



  • Direct dynamic manipulation of kernel structures (FU)

  • Difficult for detection software to identify



  • Advanced Memory hooking/hiding (Shadow Walker)

  • Used in collusion with 3rd Generation rootkit

  • Extremely “stealthy”

  • Hardware Virtualization

  • Boot Root Kits





History of Rootkits

Popular rootkits

AFX Rootkit 2005


Hacker Defender


NT Root




Winlogon Hijack

Popular Rootkits

New rootkits
New Rootkits

  • FUTo

  • KIrcBot

  • SubVirt

  • Shadow Walker

  • BluePill (PoC)

  • BootRoot and VBootKit

Commercial stealth
Commercial Stealth

Commercially available products that use rootkit type technologies.

  • Sony DRM

  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith DVD (Alpha-Disc DRM)

  • Norton System Works

  • Hide Folders XP

  • Tracking and Monitoring software

What can they hide
What can they hide

  • Covert Channels

  • Custom GINA’s

  • Files and Directories

  • Processes

  • Registry Keys

  • Services

  • TCP/UPD ports

  • Memory pages (New)

  • VM’s (New)

How they hide and go undetected
How they hide and go undetected

  • Kernel Native API hooking

  • User Native API hooking

  • Dynamic Forking of Win32 EXE

  • Direct Kernel Object Manipulation (DKOM)

  • Interrupt Descriptor Table Hooking

  • Memory Hooking (Shadow Walker)

    Reference: www.security.org.sg / www.hbgary.com / www.rootkit.com

Demo introduction
DEMO Introduction

  • Hacker Defender - Anatomy 101

    • Hxdef100.exe

    • Hxdef100.ini

    • Hxdefdrv.sys (Embedded in hxdef100.exe)

    • Rdrbs100.exe

    • Rdrbs100.ini

    • Bdcli100.exe

      Reference: http://hxdef.czweb.org


Hidden rootkits in windows

Hacker Defender – In Action!

  • Security Compromise - Exploit

  • Avoiding Antivirus Detection

  • Hiding Folders/Files

  • Hiding Services

  • Hiding TCP Ports

    Hacker Defender – Covert Channel

  • Backdoor shell access via SMTP


Hidden rootkits in windows

  • FUTo

  • Security Compromise - Exploit

  • Avoiding Antivirus Detection

  • Changing Security Token

  • Hiding Process



How to detect rootkits?

Hidden rootkits in windows

  • Detecting rootkits

  • F-Secure Blacklight

  • GMER

  • Rootkit Revealer

  • IceSword


Detection results
Detection Results

*1 Could not detect FU because it does not hide folders/files. Only processes.

Detection summary
Detection Summary

  • All “stock” rootkits discovered with various detection tools

  • Custom recompiled rootkits by pass antivirus detection

  • Commercially available customized rootkits that hide files, services, processes, registry keys would not be detected in the compromised OS

Hardware virtualization rootkits
Hardware Virtualization Rootkits

  • Dino Dai Zovi presented an essentially undetectable hypervisor rootkit using:

    • Intel VT processor

    • Mac OS-X

    • “Vitriol” to be demo’d at BlueHat

  • Joanna Rutkowska presented an essentially undetectable hypervisor rootkit using:

    • AMD Pacifica processor

    • Microsoft Vista Beta 2


  • Hardware virtualization rootkits1
    Hardware Virtualization Rootkits

    • Preventing detection was a design goal:

      • – “There is no software-visible bit whose setting indicates whether a logical processor is in VMX non-root operation. This fact may allow a VMM to prevent guest software from determining that it is running in a virtual machine” -- Intel VT-x specification

    • The design goals of AMD and Intel were to provide full virtualization. This means FULL virtualization.

    • There is no hardware bit or register that indicates that the processor is running in VMX non-root mode

    • Read Dino and Joanna’s presentations for details regarding new CPU instructions and how hypervisors work.

    Bypassing vista kernel signed drivers
    Bypassing Vista Kernel Signed Drivers

    • Well Joanna did have some extra complexity to deal with because of Vista requiring all kernel drivers to be signed.

    • Essentially, she figured out a way to cause it to page out null.sys, then modified the pagefile.sys directly using raw disk access to get Vista to run her rootkit. The process:

      • Allocate lots of memory to cause unused drivers code to be paged

      • Replace the paged out code (inside pagefile) with some shellcode

      • Ask kernel to call the driver code which was just replaced

    • “Fixed” in Vista RC2 – by disabling raw disk access from user mode (including administrator)

    Bp detection
    BP Detection

    • Some ideas for BluePill detection were presented by both Dino and Joanna. Essentially they are:

      • Attempt to use VMX to create a VM

        • Bluepill a box with Bluepill – although this exception could be handled and the second Bluepill to run would end up being virtualized also)

      • Attempt to detect VM exit latency

        • Dino demo’d using CPUID, but a number of instructions cause a VM Exit and you could measure latency. Although the timer could be altered by the Bluepill and hence would require an external time source. How could is your stop watch?

      • Joanna came up with an undisclosed method to blue screen a BluePill’ed box, but that’s not really great detection.

    Hardware virtualization rootkits bottom line
    Hardware Virtualization Rootkits Bottom line

    • Arbitrary code can be injected into Vista x64 kernel despite code signing requirement, and in really any other operating system.

    • This could be abused to create “Blue Pill” based malware on processors supporting virtualization

    • BP installs itself on the fly and does not introduce any modifications to BIOS nor hard disk

    • BP can be used in many different ways to create the actual malware

    • BP should be undetectable in any practical way (when fully implemented)

    • Blocking BP based attacks on software level will also prevent ISVs from providing their own VMMs and security products based on SVM technology

    • Changes in hardware (processor) could allow for easy BP detection


    • Defence in Depth practices!

    • Application Layer firewalls

    • Add rootkit detection and removal software to your toolkit

    • Baseline your systems in another kernel (WinPE) using the Microsoft Strider technique for comparing modified/added binaries on a regular basis


    • Rootkit removal tools (eg. “Unhackme” by Greatis Software, F-Secure Blacklight, GMER, IceSword)

    • Clean from another kernel (eg. BackTrack, WinPE, etc)

    • Use technology that reverts back to a previous state if your environment allows for it:

      • Undo disks in Microsoft Virtual PC/Server

      • Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit v1.1

      • Faronics Deep Freeze

      • Symantec Norton GoBack

      • Winternals Recovery Manager

    • Once a machine has been compromised, the only true cleaning method is to low-level format and reload!

    Trends 1 of 2
    Trends 1 of 2

    It’s a cat and mouse game

    • As rootkit detection methods/signatures are updated; so are the techniques/methods of the rootkits evading detection; just like viruses but much more sophisticated

    • Encrypting the memory pages where the rootkit is running to avoid detection

    • Polymorphism

    • Spyware and Viruses utilizing functions of rootkits to hide their presence and payload; This has already happened and will continue to escalate to an extremely “stealthy” version

    Trends 2 of 2
    Trends 2 of 2

    • Memory Hiding (e.g. Shadow Walker)

    • Using other system writeable memory locations. (e.g. VideoCardKit, MTDWin, ACPI, BIOS)

    • Boot sector rootkits (e.g. BootRootKit, VBootKit)

    • Virtual Machine rootkits

    • Database rootkits(presented in concept by Alexander Kornbrust at BH2005)

    • Hardware based rootkit detection

      • Intel Rootkit detection (Code name: LaGrande)

        • TPM (Trusted Platform Module)

      • Co-Pilot (PCI card) http://www.komoku.com


    • Windows Defender

    • Microsoft plans to move device drivers out of the kernel and in to the user level (starting with Vista)

    • Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR)

    • Digital Signatures for Kernel Modules on x64-based Systems Running Windows Vista

    • Microsoft Patch Guard on x64 Based Systems

    • Reference: http://www.microsoft.com

    Need to know

    Stop rootkits from entering and executing in your environment.

    • Non-critical systems can be cleaned and/or reloaded.

    • Critical systems require professional assistance, particularly if forensic evidence is desired.

    • http://www.rootkit.com

    • http://www.antirootkit.com

    • Participate in the Toronto Area Security Klatch http://www.task.to

    Need to Know




    Security education conference in toronto
    Security environment.EducationConference in Toronto

    November 20 – 21, 2007, MTCC, Toronto, ON, Canadahttp://www.sector.ca/

    Cms training offerings
    CMS Training Offerings environment.

    • INSPIRE Infrastructure Workshop

      • 4 days of classroom training - demo intensiveAD, Exchange, ISA, Windows Server, SMS, MOM, Virtual Server

    • Business Desktop Deployment – Deploying Vista/Office

      • 3 days of classroom training - hands on labs (computers provide)Business Desktop Deployment Concepts, Tools, Processes, etc. Vista and Office

    • Securing Internet Information Services

    • Securing ActiveDirectory

    • Securing Exchange 2003

      • 1 day classroom training per topic


    Contacting us
    Contacting Us. environment.


    • Brian Bourne, President – brian@cms.ca

    • Robert Buren, VP Business Development – robert@cms.ca

    • CMS Consulting Inc. – http://www.cms.ca/

    • CMS Training – http://www.cms.ca/training/

    • Toronto Area Security Klatch – http://www.task.to/

    Hidden rootkits in windows

    CMS Consulting Inc. environment.

    Q & A

    Thank You!

    Visit: CMS Consulting at http://www.cms.ca

    Join: Toronto Area Security Klatch at http://www.task.to

    Register: Security Education in Toronto at http://www.sector.ca