April 15, 2008
Tit for tat. Wired’s Ryan Singel reports from the RSA Security Conference in San-Fran and gives us a dose of hope for all those whose systems have been nailed by malware:
Eriksson, a researcher at the Swedish (Norwegian?) security firm Bitsec, uses reverse-engineering tools to find remotely exploitable security holes in hacking software. In particular, he targets the client-side applications intruders use to control Trojan horses from afar, finding vulnerabilities that would let him upload his own rogue software to intruders’ machines.
He demoed the technique publicly for the first time at the RSA conference Friday.
“Most malware authors are not the most careful programmers,” Eriksson said. “They may be good, but they are not the most careful about security.”
In other words, he uses hacker tactics to hack and pwn hacker’s systems. Confused yet?
How he RAT-ed the rat: Ericksson used a software package called a remote administration tool, or RAT, along with some standard hacking utilities to do his counterstrike:
Eriksson first attempted the technique in 2006 with Bifrost 1.1, a piece of free hackware released publicly in 2005. Like many so-called remote administration tools, or RATs, the package includes a server component that turns a compromised machine into a marionette, and a convenient GUI client that the hacker runs on his own computer to pull the hacked PC’s strings.
Using traditional software attack tools, Eriksson first figured out how to make the GUI software crash by sending it random commands, and then found a heap overflow bug that allowed him to install his own software on the hacker’s machine.
Eriksson believes his techniques can even be used to fubar botnets as well. “If there is a vulnerability, it is still game over for the hacker,” Eriksson said (in the Wired report).
The hacker wars are just warming up…