The Slingshot APT – kernel injecting trojan found in the wild by kaspersky

originally taken from her:



Ring0 loader This loader is compressed in module_id 0xBF000001. Actually, there might be more than one, so in case the first loader fails, there may be a second loader in the binary with module_id 0xBF000002. At this stage, Slingshot uses its internal logging system actively:

Slingshot checks if there is any kernel-mode payload and any loader available, and then the loaders are run one after the other. Upon starting, this loader gets SeLoadDriverPrivilege for installing malicious drivers into the system that it will later abuse for obtaining kernel privileges. In order to avoid leaving any traces of this activity in system logs, it renames the ETW-logs, and for the Security and System logs adds the .tmp extension. After execution, the loader removes the extensions. The final goal of this module is to load the Cahnadr module (kernel mode main payload, described below) into kernel mode. As previously stated, Slingshot has different ways to load code into kernel mode, each using its own loader. The simplest loader is used for 32-bit systems where Driver Signature Enforcement (DSE), which requires signed drivers, does not apply. This loader simply saves the driver on disk and loads it. When the driver is loaded, the loader shares the malicious payload with it by calling DeviceIoControl with control code 0x222000. This driver receives commands from the user-mode loader via DeviceIoControl. The only available command in this case allows running this code as a WorkItem into the System Worker Threads pool, which is a pool used by legitimate software for running quick tasks


In cases where the operating system supports DSE, the loader exploits a couple of legitimate but vulnerable drivers that allow writing in MSR registers. Successful exploitation of the drivers would allow to set in the MSR_LSTAR register a handler that, after running Sleep, calls Cahnadr


In order to prevent patch protection, the handler restores the original MSR register. This loader leverages the following drivers: 312E31851E0FC2072DBF9A128557D6EF Goad.sys – driver for x86 systems 5F9785E7535F8F602CB294A54962C9E7 SpeedFan.sys – CVE-2007-5633 9a237fa07ce3ed06ea924a9bed4a6b99 Sandra.sys – CVE-2010-1592 978CD6D9666627842340EF774FD9E2AC ElbyCDIO.sys – CVE-2009-0824 It is important to mention that the digital signatures in these drivers are still not revoked. All the drivers above are loaded into the kernel directly by creating the required keys in the registry and calling the ntdll!NtLoadDriver function. The service key name in the registry starts with the PCX* prefix.


Cahnadr – main kernel-mode payload This payload can be considered the main orchestrator, running in kernel mode and providing the necessary capabilities for all the other, user-mode payloads. This component is responsible for different features, including: 1. Anti-debugging actions and checking if the kernel is patched or not 2. Calling system services directly to hide malicious activities 3. Hooks KTHREAD.ServiceTable for threads 4. Rootkit actions for hiding traffic 5. Injecting user-mode payload (main malicious payload) into services.exe 6. Providing malicious API for user-mode modules 7. Providing communications via network 8. Notifying GollumApp payload about process-related events, providing interfaces for manipulating their memory 9. Monitoring all network devices 10. Providing sniffer functionality on the following protocols: ARP, TCP, UDP, DNS, ICMP, HTTP Anti-debug techniques include: • If kernel is already being debugged, it calls KdDisableDebugger() terminating the debugging process • It hooks LiveKd debugger driver’s routines IRP_MJ_CREATE, IRP_MJ_READ, FastIoDeviceControl • Installs notifiers to monitor PsSetLoadImageNotifyRoutine. If the LoadImageNotify event happens when LiveKdD.sys is loaded, the module patches the entry point that leads to error STATUS_FAILED_DRIVER_ENTRY In order to detect if the kernel is patched, it checks the kernel image in memory with the following kernel files on disk: • \\SystemRoot\\system32\\kernel_name • \\SystemRoot\\LastGood\\system32\\kernel_name • \\SystemRoot\\$*\\system32\\kernel_name For newer x32 versions it also checks win32k.sys at the same paths. It is important to note that Cahnadr checks only CheckSum and TimeStamp values for the kernel image in memory. If one of them is different, it means that the kernel was patched, and it terminates its execution. Actually, it needs an unpatched kernel and win32k.sys to get the origin function from KeServiceDescriptorTable and KeServiceDescriptorTableShadow, which will be used to directly interact with system services and hooking the KTHREAD.ServiceTable on x32 systems. In order to hide calls, it can associate system services to some Zw*, Rtl*, Nt* functions. Instead of taking the addresses for these functions from SSDT, Cahnadr extracts them from the kernel image on disk for unpatched kernels. It also implements code to find a function address by its name by comparing exported routines from ntdll and ntoskrnl addresses: if the address of the exported functions is the same as the system service address, it means the address was correctly found. Ntdll.dll exported functions addresses are also taken from the image stored on disk to avoid hooks set by other programs.


Not all functions are mandatory to be found, there is a flag for each of them. All listed routines are used for injecting malicious code into user-mode processes. For newer x32 versions this list was highly extended, adding debug-related functions and functions for suspending and resuming threads and processes. For x32 systems, Cahnadr hooks KTHREAD.ServiceTable. It copies the KeServiceDescriptorTable and KeServiceDescriptorTableShadow, then fills it with the original handlers restored from disk and changes the address in KTHREAD.ServiceTable to pointer to a new structure. This is used to inject threads into user mode: once a component is injected as a separate thread, Cahnadr patches its KTHREAD.ServiceTable with the original handlers in order to hide its malicious functionality and avoid possible installed hooks. Cahnadr also provides the following API functionality: • Direct disk access: read/write by raw-offset, defragmentation ban, etc. These routines are used for working with the virtual file system • Read/write into memory by raw address • Routines for injecting code into a process as a separate thread. It is possible to set the thread state and choose the preferred routine for creating the thread (NtCreateThreadEx or NtCreateThread). For GollumApp it is obligatory to use NtCreateThread • Get the access token by process_id • Get the SERVICE_DESCRIPTOR_TABLE address • Get the DRIVER_OBJECT object pointer by driver name • Get detailed information about processes opened in csrss.exe (start time, time in kernel mode, time in user mode, number of calls ZwRead and ZwWrite, among of data received/sent via ZwRead/ZwWrite) • Get handle for process_1 in process_2. In other words, opens process_1 from process_2. This way process_2 gets the handle of process_1 • Close handle that belongs to any process • Provides network functionality: add a new network-related task, delete an old one, turn on/off a network task, send information about all active network tasks to GollumApp • Hooks the ServiceTable in KTHREAD in the specified thread or process (only on x32), providing: setting/deleting a hook by ThreadID, setting/deleting hook for all threads by PID, checking if thread/process was hooked • Sets time to sleep before shutdown Cahnadr calls PsSetCreateProcessNotifyRoutine, PsSetCreateThreadNotifyRoutine routines in order to automate installing hooks. Created processes will be hooked if their parent process was hooked, as will threads if their process was hooked. Shutdown notifications are detected by calling the IoRegisterShutdownNotification routine. When a notification is received, it is sent to GollumApp with the time that GollumApp can spend for completion. While GollumApp works, Cahnadr sleeps. It installs bugcheck notifications by calling the KeRegisterBugCheckReasonCallback routine. When a notification is received it calls KeBugCheck with the undocumented POWER_FAILURE_SIMULATE parameter, which is a way to reboot from kernel mode without BSOD and crush dump. This way, in case a fatal error occurs, Cahnadr reboots the system without creating a memory dump on disk. The communication between kernel and user mode modules is implemented in different ways for x32 and x64 components. In x64 components Cahnadr sets IRP-requests handlers for the ‘null.sys’ driver. Each handler contains a ‘jmp’ operation to the malicious code located in the ‘null.sys’ image in memory. This is how hooks are typically set in this APT, making them harder to detect.


However malicious and legitimate IRP-handlers have a conflicting component, as both null.sys and Cahnadr can process requests to IRP-MJ-CLOSE. That’s why only one hook and three ordinary handlers are set. After that, user mode modules can send data to Cahnadr by calling CreateFile(\\\\.\\NUL, …) + DeviceIoControl. In x32 components another approach was used. Cahnadr registers a RegistryCallback routine by calling CmRegisterCallback to monitor all operations in the registry. When any user mode module sends something to Cahnadr it sets the ArbitraryUserPointer field of the TIB pointer to the related data, starting with 0x2BADDOOD, and then calls RegEnumKeyW which triggers the kernel mode callback..


Cahnadr hooks the following routines in order to hide its traffic, perform different tasks and provide additional functionality for the user mode components: • ndis!NdisMSendNetBufferListsComplete • ndis!NdisMIndicateReceiveNetBufferLists These routines are callbacks run by network drivers to notify handlers with all data sent or received. The function lists in PNET_BUFFER_LIST all packets and their related event. Cahnadr checks if there are Slingshot-related packets in this list, and if so, removes them. Let´s explain this in more detail: The trick is that all the malware is allocated to a particular pool that allows discriminating it from other benign calls. NdisAllocateNetBufferListPool creates NET_BUFFER_LIST, that is initialized calling NdisAllocateNetBufferAndNetBufferList. When the network driver sends data, it gets into such a NET_BUFFER structure, which in turn, gets into NET_BUFFER_LIST. The callbacks routine NdisMSendNetBufferListsComplete, that gets the NET_BUFFER_LISTs with data successfully sent, is hooked. Malware simply checks if any entry in NET_BUFFER_LIST was allocated from the malware pool and, if so, will simply not return it to the original handler. This sniffer has a list of tasks, each one associated with a list of handlers. Inbound and outbound packets are examined and passed to the appropriate task’s processor, which calls all handlers associated with the task. The result determines whether malware should hide the package. We have seen three types of task: HTTP: This is the only handler that notifies GollumApp (user mode payload, described below) that HTTP data is being transferred. ARPf: (two handlers for this type). The first one notifies GollumApp when an ARP-request is received and/or when an ARP-response is sent. The second one stores this information in its internal storage, collecting information about the network structure. This task is enabled by default. IP2f: (two handlers of this type). The first one checks if the package comes from the malware operators, only to decide whether the package should be hidden. This is decided by XORing two Timestamps values from the Options field in the TCP-header (RFC1323, code 0x080A). If the result is equal to 0xDEADFOOD then this package should be hidden. The second one notifies GollumApp that some TCP/UDP or ICMP packets that suit malicious filters were found. For instance, for TPC traffic this filter uses the same described XOR procedure with the constant 0xDADAE000, sending GollumApp the seqNumber, askNumber and src port values. For UDP, packets with a length of 0x55 bytes containing DNS responses, it checks that the field dns.Identifier equals 0x212. In that case, the packet is hidden and GollumApp is notified with the resolved IP and TTL of the packet. For ICMP, packets containing the «Destination port unreachable» error it checks that the overlying protocol contains the constant 0xE17F (57727). In that case, GollumApp is notified with ip.Destination, ip.identification, ip.length. This task is enabled by default. The malware identifies HTTP traffic by checking the ASK flag in TCP protocol, and by finding the HTTP signature in the TCP package body. This task is disabled by default, however GollumApp can enable it. Additionally, this kernel mode module provides the following functionality for user mode components: • ARP-query: obtains the MAC-address for a specified IP address. Requires network interface as a parameter • ARP-reply: sends its own MAC address as a response to a specified ARP-request, regardless of whether the IP from the request and the infected computer are the same or not • Sends custom network package, where all fields can be customized from the Ethernet-layer • Sends custom IPV4 package Cahnadr supports IEEE 802.11 standard, allowing it to operate with WiFi frames. Network interfaces are traced using Plug-and-Play notifications with EventCategory – PNPNOTIFY_DEVICE_INTERFACE_INCLUDE_EXISTING_INTERFACES. When a network interface change event happens, all hooks listed above apply and Cahnadr checks the category of the new interface (bridge/wan/lan). Depending on the type of interface, it gets different data that is written in thee malware´s storage: • Ethernet: MAC-address and maximum frame size • Wireless (802.11) Access Point MAC-address and authentication state


What is WannaCry ?

Wanna Cry, also known as WannaCrypt, WannaCryptor, and WannaDecryptor, is a type of ransomware. Ransomware is a malicious software that will seal your device (PC, tablet or mobile), infect your files and display a message demanding for ransom. The affected users are asked to pay the ransom amount via Bitcoin or similar payment modes. Following the payment, the files will be released, however,  failure to pay the amount will result in damage of data that can’t be repaired. On the other hand, paying the ransom doesn’t ensure retrieval of an encrypted data.

The mode of attack implemented by ransomware includes infecting targets through traditional methods. This comprises of phishing, identity theft, malicious emails, and dodgy attachments. Once the PC has been infected with the malware, the software code checks the system for additional targets through networks and infects the new found victims.

What does WannaCry ransomware do?

There are different kinds of ransomware that might affect your Windows OS but all of them will lock your PC and prevent you from using it normally. In order to restore it to a normal state, the malicious software will demand of something in the form of ransom.

The malware targets any users with Windows OS installed in their home computer or workplace and servers used by a government agency or healthcare department.

Ransomware can:

  • Encrypt files so you can’t access them.
  • Prevent you from accessing your Windows system.
  • Stops the running of certain apps like your web browser.

Windows OS affected by ransomware

Windows OS that are older and not updated are more vulnerable to be attacked by this particular malware. The following Windows operating systems are named to be more affected by ransomware:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003

However, if you have installed the latest version of Windows or you are regular on updating your system, the PC is less likely to be infected by the WannaCry ransomware. Listed are a few of the OS that are less susceptible to get infected:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

If the recent version of these listed Windows OS have not been updated in a timely manner, there are still high chances of being a target.

But, if your device runs on MacOS, ChromeOS or Linux or mobile operating systems like iOS and Android, you need not worry about this specific threat.

Note: The new tool named WanaKiwi is “able” to decrypt the data locked by ransom software, works on both Windows 2008, 7, XP and Vista, and has been proven effective by some security companies.