Update: The new Estonian company that hosted the command & control server, Starline Web Services, was shut down. The domain name chase continues!
The Srizbi botnet is back online after being shut down by the closure of the criminal hosting company McColo Corp two weeks ago. Srizbi’s command and controls servers, now moved to an Estonian hosting provider, took back control of the botnet in the last few days.The Srizbi Botnet
The Srizbi botnet is mostly a spam-generating botnet. According to security firm FireEye, there are 50 variants of the bot, which controls altogether around 500 000 zombies across the world. The most virulent forms of Srizbi are said to control around 50 000 bots.
The Srizbi botnet had a backup procedure in case its C&C servers went down, that is why it got back online very fast. Included in the bot, is a procedure that generates domain names and tries to contact it to see if the C&C is available. Therefore the owners, knowing the random-generating domain name algorithm of the botnet, only had to register one or more of the domain names that will be generated by the bots and install their new control and command server on a machine registered a valid domain name. That is enough for bots to download a new version, pointing to a new address for the botnet. To explain it using pseudo-code, it would look something like this:
Function FindBackupCommand() String GeneratedDomainName = GeneratePossibleDomain(); If (CanResolve(GeneratedDomainName)) String CommandServerIpAddress = Resolve(GenerateDomainName) If (IsCommandServer(CommandServerIpAddress)) SetNewCommandServer(CommandServerIpAddress) String Command = RetrieveNewCommand(CommandServerIpAddress) Execute(Command) End Function
More information can be found about the random name generation algorithm at FireEye. Interestingly enough, the algorithm is based on date to generate a new set of possible domains names by period. FireEye had successfully discovered this function after McColo closed, but due to financial constraints, they could not register all the domain names that the bot generated. That would have implied registering more than 450 domains each week…
“We have registered a couple hundred domains,” Fengmin Gong, chief security content officer at FireEye Inc., “but we made the decision that we cannot afford to spend so much money to keep registering so many [domain] names.“
According to the Symantec Srizbi webpage, the worm creates windbg48.sys and another randomly named.SYS file in the %SYSTEM% folder. It then registers the wingdbg48.sys as a driver by inserting the hidden HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\windbg48 key into the Windows Registry. Srizbi hides those keys by running in Kernel mode and hooking the ZwOpenKey and ZwEnumerateKey kernel functions among others. It might also try to block access to the registry. A tool is available in order to access the registry anyway.
It will also hide its files by hooking the NTFS file system driver. As if it was not enough, it will also modify the TCP/IP network drivers to bypass Firewalls and Intrusion Detection systems. It will also work in Safe Mode.
For those who wish to go deeper, Windows has two levels of execution: user mode and kernel mode. Usually, applications run in user mode, which protects the kernel from applications so they won’t mess up the system. Kernel mode is a privileged mode where services and drivers have access to system resources such as the processor but also the memory… Hooking kernel functions is done by redirecting calls made to the kernel to a custom function. There are a couple of ways to do that in kernel mode, and one of them is to alter the System Service Descriptor Table, which is a table that maps every kernel function to an address in memory. By modifying this table to the address of your custom function, you could hook the kernel. This however would be easily detected by any anti-virus.
Another way is to insert an unconditional jump instruction into the kernel function by modifying the function directly in memory. The advantage of this method is that it’s much harder to detect, and can reproduce the same functionality of the hooked function. This is called inline function hooking.
Function HookKernel() AddressZwOpenKey = GetAddressOf(“ZwOpenKey”) AddressZwOpenKeyX = GetAddressOf(“ZwOpenKeyX”) Byte JumpBytes = GetBytes(“JMP ” + AddressZwOpenKeyX); // Should look like [E5, 00, 00, 00, 00] WriteBytesDirectToMemory(AddressZwOpenKey, JumpBytes) End Function
This why this Trojan can also work in Safe Mode. I don’t know if this particular Trojan uses inline function hooking, but rootkits that uses this kind of hooking are quite hard and dangerous to remove.Return of Srizbi
When McColo Corp. closed two weeks ago following and investigation by the Washington Post’s Security Fix, it made the news across the Internet as this hosting company was considered responsible for around 75 percent of all the spam sent across the web. Although many rejoiced, including me, at the sudden drop of spam as soon as McColo was turn off, everyone knew it was only temporary before the cyber criminals would found another hosting company.
Few knew that this random domain name generating routine was coded to connect to another C&C server though. As soon as it came back online, the first command it received was for a Russian spam campaign. By generating domain names such as yrytdyip.com, auaopagr.com, qpqduqud.com or ydywryfu.com, it was unthinkable for FireEye to register every possibility generated by Srizbi. It is becoming harder and harder to fight botnets on a technical basic. Fortunately, the economic fight could maybe put an end to spam, as mentioned in this Ars Technica article:
http://www.securityfocus.com/infocus/1850, (accessed on November 27, 2008) “Fallback C&C channels“, Alex Lanstein, Atif Mushtaq, Julia Wolf, and Todd Rosenberry, FireEye, November 16, 2008, http://blog.fireeye.com/research/2008/11/fallback-cc-channels-part-deux.html#more (accessed on November 27, 2008)
“… it suggests that spammers may be extremely sensitive to costs-more so than was previously believed. Even a small increase in the cost of sending an e-mail, they postulate, could have significant ramifications for the botnet industry, and might slow the rate at which it grows or put some spam operations out of business altogether.“