Monday, August 16, 2010

You never get a second chance...

Have you ever heard the saying "You never get a second chance to make a first impression"? The same applies to malware analysis, and information security in general.

This morning I was doing some research into some malicious spam emails that were coming in. They were your normal click-on-a-link-and-be-redirected-to-50-sites emails and I had tracked it down to the last site. After decoding the JS it gave out, I could see the attacks it was going to perform and the URLs it was going to go to. So close to the malicious close.

So I typed the followed at my prompt:

curl -D header.txt ""

See any problems?

Curl writes anything it downloads to standard output by default. In other words, since I didn't redirect the output to a file or use the -O option, the file from the malicious site was written to my screen. Normally, this wouldn't have been such a bad thing except it was gzip compressed, so my screen was filled with binary characters.

No problem, right? All I have to do is download it again, this time redirecting. Here's what happened:

curl -D header.txt "" > 1
% Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current
Dload Upload Total Spent Left Speed
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 0

0 bytes downloaded? What happened?

Many web-based malicious toolkits used by attackers have an option to only allow the attack file to be downloaded once per IP address. This prevents multiple re-infections on clients and analysts (like me) from exploring their site. When I initially requested the file and didn't redirect the output, I used my one shot. The second time I went to download it, the site saw me and didn't let me access it again. Of course, there are ways around this, but thats for another post.

So, what did I take away from this?

1. Everyone makes mistakes. Hell, I make alot of them. If anyone tells you they don't, they're lying. Learn and move on.
2. I need better web download tools. Well, the tools (eg. curl) work fine. I'm flawed. I've already started to create a script that does all that needs done for me. No more mess ups.

I hope others can read this and learn from my mistake. I'd love to hear how others download malicious websites.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Introduction to Malware Analysis Course

Once again I will be teaching my Introduction to Malware Analysis course this year at the NE Ohio Information Security Summit that takes place on October 11-15, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. My course is in the pre-conference training and will take place on Oct 12-13.

The 2 day introduction to malware analysis class is geared to those who want to learn malware analysis or are just starting out. We'll cover all of the basics for malware analysis including setting up your analysis lab, static analysis and dynamic analysis. In the end, you'll walk out of the class with the knowledge of how to take a malware sample and determine what it does, who it contacts and what risk it poses.

The class is structured around labs where you'll use the techniques taught to analyse live malware. Since we will be analyzing actual malware, students will need to bring their own laptops (requirements will be posted closer to the class).

The end of the class will also feature an analysis contest where students will compete to win some cool prizes. Last year I gave away a copies of Hacker and we'll see what happens this year!

Even if you don't take my course, I highly recommend attending the conference. Its an amazing conference for the price ($300 until 9/15). There are lots of great speakers (many of which speak at Black Hat, Defcon, Shmoocon, etc.).

Look forward to seeing you there!