Late last week, reports began to surface that the Israeli police (along with other regional law enforcement) were targeted by a malware attack. The entry vector was described as a phishing campaign sent from Benny Gantz (head of the Israeli Defense Forces). Initially, details and indicators around the malware were beyond sparse. Aside from the FROM: address, little was known that could assist in any sort of investigation. After nearly 24 hours from the first reports, both details and samples of the malware started to flow. As soon as we could confirm details of the phish email and the malicious attachments, we were able to cross-reference sample data already in our malware database and connect the dots.
This is where, from the research side, things begin to get fun.
Automated malware analysis is nothing new to our industry. Most vendors (ourselves included) have tools to handle this internally, and assist our skilled human analysts with proper classification, documentation, and other recurring tasks that must occur with the daily barrage of new and unique malicious binaries. The bar for this threat, however, has been raised. With ValidEdge, we were able to generate enormous amounts of usable and actionable data from the execution of malware samples. We get feedback from basic static analysis, as well as from runtime data. We get all the usual system modification data, and full and complete network/communication data, and samples and memory dumps from second-level threats (dropped, created, downloaded entities). And it’s all done in a safe environment, with extremely robust reporting.
To fully illustrate, let’s focus on the Trojan that affected the Israeli police. In the McAfee universe, we detect this threat as Generic Dropper.p.
To start with, you simply submit your sample(s) to the ValidEdge appliance/host. The ways to do that vary depending on implementation. In my setup, it’s as simple as dropping the file, via FTP, on the appliance, then picking up the results set the same way (different directory on the FTP server). Easy and fast. I immediately had a set of results from my submission of the following sample:
The result sets are organized as a specific directory structure.
This is where we typically end with most tools. The exception here, from my experience, is that there is much more data generated by the appliance to start taking action on. The way in which the information is organized is also very friendly and workable. Some basic examples follow:
From here we can get enough static data to build a picture of the malware and its behavior. We also have network data and full memory dumps and screenshots at our disposal should we need to dig further.
All the secondary/dropped files are presented as well. As such, these can be easily analyzed in context.
Dropped files, specific to this threat, are detected via McAfee Global Threat Intelligence along with the current DATs.
At this point you have plenty of information to understand what this threat is doing, how it communicates, and much more. Some would argue that deep malware analysis is an art form. But to embark on that sort of journey you need enough data to make constructive, creative, and accurate decisions. Tools like ValidEdge do exactly that.
If you would like to learn more, you can read the following sources:
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