NEWS FROM THE LAB - November 2014


Friday, November 28, 2014

Warning: State-Sponsored Attackers Posted by Sean @ 17:09 GMT

Updated our door today, just to be clear…

Warning: we believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer.
Print your own.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Out-of-Band Flash Player Update for CVE-2014-8439 Posted by Timo @ 16:35 GMT

Adobe has released an out-of-band update to fix a vulnerability in Flash Player which was reported by F-Secure.

We discovered the vulnerability while analyzing a Flash exploit from an exploit kit called Angler. We received the sample from Kafeine, a renowned exploit kit researcher. He asked us to identify the vulnerability which was successfully exploited with Flash Player but not with That would imply the vulnerability was something patched in APSB14-22. However, based on the information that we had received via Microsoft Active Protections Program the exploit didn't match any of the vulnerabilities patched in APSB14-22 (CVE-2014-0558, CVE-2014-0564, or CVE-2014-0569).

We considered the possibility that maybe the latest patch prevented the exploit from working and the root cause of the vulnerability was still unfixed so we contacted the Adobe Product Security Incident Response Team. They confirmed our theory and released an out-of-band update to provide additional hardening against a vulnerability in the handling of a dereferenced memory pointer that could lead to code execution, CVE-2014-8439.

Kafeine reported Angler exploiting this vulnerability already in October 21st 2014, soon followed by Astrum and Nuclear exploit kits. Considering the exploit kit authors reverse engineered October's Flash update in two days, installing the update immediately is paramount, whether you do it manually or automatically.

F-Secure detects the Flash exploits mentioned in this post with the following detections:

  •  Exploit:SWF/Salama.H
  •  Exploit:SWF/CVE-2014-0515.C

Post by — Timo


Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Regin Espionage Toolkit Posted by Antti @ 22:54 GMT

Regin is the latest in the line of sophisticated espionage toolkits used to target a range of organizations around the world. As already reported, it's one of the more complex pieces of malware around, and just like many of the other toolkits it also has a long history behind it. We first encountered Regin nearly six years ago in early 2009, when we found it hiding on a Windows server in a customer environment in Northern Europe.

The server had shown symptoms of trouble, as it had been occasionally crashing with the infamous Blue Screen of Death. A driver with an innocuous name of "pciclass.sys" seemed to be causing the crashes. Upon closer analysis it was obvious that the driver was in fact a rootkit, more precisely one of the early variants of Regin.

Regin File Header

As can be seen from the screenshot above, the driver was apparently compiled already on 7th of March 2008, but other samples with earlier timestamps indicate that the campaign is even older than this.

The driver turned out to be just one component of a multi-stage threat. The embedded configuration in the driver showed it could use either a registry key or the NTFS filesystem Extended Attributes to load the next stage of the malware.

Regin config

We've seen at least the following registry keys being used for the next stage payload:

  •  \REGISTRY\Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{9B9A8ADB-8864-4BC4-8AD5-B17DFDBB9F58}:Class
  •  \REGISTRY\Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4F20E605-9452-4787-B793-D0204917CA58}:Class
  •  \REGISTRY\Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\RestoreList:VideoBase

The following folders containing an NTFS Extended Attribute with the name "_" have also been seen to store the next stage payload, which can actually be split between two different attributes:

  •  %WINDIR%
  •  %WINDIR%\security
  •  %WINDIR%\repair
  •  %WINDIR%\msapps
  •  %WINDIR%\msagent
  •  %WINDIR%\Cursors
  •  %WINDIR%\fonts
  •  %WINDIR%\Temp
  •  %WINDIR%\msagent\chars
  •  %WINDIR%\Help
  •  %WINDIR%\inf
  •  %WINDIR%\Spool\Printers
  •  %WINDIR%\CertSrv

During 2013 and 2014, as we have been analyzing the later versions of Regin, the complexity and the level of sophistication in the attacks has become very evident. We would place Regin in the same category of highly sophisticated espionage campaigns together with the likes of Stuxnet, Flame, and Turla/Snake.

As always, attribution is difficult with cases like this. Our belief is that this malware, for a change, isn't coming from Russia or China.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Video: R.I.P. Internet #Slush14 Posted by Sean @ 12:46 GMT

Mikko gave an excellent presentation at Slush 2014 on Tuesday. Check it out!

R.I.P. Internet

Additional Slush videos are available on YouTube.


Friday, November 14, 2014

OnionDuke: APT Attacks Via the Tor Network Posted by FSLabs @ 05:00 GMT

Recently, research was published identifying a Tor exit node, located in Russia, that was consistently and maliciously modifying any uncompressed Windows executables downloaded through it. Naturally this piqued our interest, so we decided to peer down the rabbit hole. Suffice to say, the hole was a lot deeper than we expected! In fact, it went all the way back to the notorious Russian APT family MiniDuke, known to have been used in targeted attacks against NATO and European government agencies. The malware used in this case is, however, not a version of MiniDuke. It is instead a separate, distinct family of malware that we have since taken to calling OnionDuke. But lets start from the beginning.

When a user attempts to download an executable via the malicious Tor exit node, what they actually receive is an executable "wrapper" that embeds both the original executable and a second, malicious executable. By using a separate wrapper, the malicious actors are able to bypass any integrity checks the original binary might contain. Upon execution, the wrapper will proceed to write to disk and execute the original executable, thereby tricking the user into believing that everything went fine. However, the wrapper will also write to disk and execute the second executable. In all the cases we have observed, this malicious executable has been the same binary (SHA1: a75995f94854dea8799650a2f4a97980b71199d2, detected as Trojan-Dropper:W32/OnionDuke.A). This executable is a dropper containing a PE resource that pretends to be an embedded GIF image file. In reality, the resource is actually an encrypted dynamically linked library (DLL) file. The dropper will proceed to decrypt this DLL, write it to disk and execute it.

A flowchart of the infection process
A flowchart of the infection process

Once executed, the DLL file (SHA1: b491c14d8cfb48636f6095b7b16555e9a575d57f, detected as Backdoor:W32/OnionDuke.B) will decrypt an embedded configuration (shown below) and attempt to connect to hardcoded C&C URLs specified in the configuration data. From these C&Cs the malware may receive instructions to download and execute additional malicious components. It should be noted, that we believe all five domains contacted by the malware are innocent websites compromised by the malware operators, not dedicated malicious servers.

Screenshot of the embedded configuration data
A screenshot of the embedded configuration data

Through our research, we have also been able to identify multiple other components of the OnionDuke malware family. We have, for instance, observed components dedicated to stealing login credentials from the victim machine and components dedicated to gathering further information on the compromised system like the presence of antivirus software or a firewall. Some of these components have been observed being downloaded and executed by the original backdoor process but for other components, we have yet to identify the infection vector. Most of these components don't embed their own C&C information but rather communicate with their controllers through the original backdoor process.

One component, however, is an interesting exception. This DLL file (SHA1 d433f281cf56015941a1c2cb87066ca62ea1db37, detected as Backdoor:W32/OnionDuke.A) contains among its configuration data a different hardcoded C&C domain, and also evidence suggesting that this component may abuse Twitter as an additional C&C channel. What makes the domain interesting, is it was originally registered in 2011 with the alias of "John Kasai". Within a two-week window, "John Kasai" also registered the following domains:,,,,,,,,,, and This is significant because the domains and have previously been identified as C&C domains used by MiniDuke. This strongly suggests that although OnionDuke and MiniDuke are two separate families of malware, the actors behind them are connected through the use of shared infrastructure.

A graph showing the infrastructure shared between OnionDuke and MiniDuke
A visualization of the infrastructure shared between OnionDuke and MiniDuke

Based on compilation timestamps and discovery dates of samples we have observed, we believe the OnionDuke operators have been infecting downloaded executables at least since the end of October 2013. We also have evidence suggesting that, at least since February of 2014, OnionDuke has not only been spread by modifying downloaded executables but also by infecting executables in .torrent files containing pirated software. However, it would seem that the OnionDuke family is much older, both based on older compilation timestamps and also on the fact that some of the embedded configuration data make reference to an apparent version number of 4 suggesting that at least three earlier versions of the family exist.

During our research, we have also uncovered strong evidence suggesting that OnionDuke has been used in targeted attacks against European government agencies, although we have so far been unable to identify the infection vector(s). Interestingly, this would suggest two very different targeting strategies. On one hand is the "shooting a fly with a cannon" mass-infection strategy through modified binaries and, on the other, the more surgical targeting traditionally associated with APT operations.

In any case, although much is still shrouded in mystery and speculation, one thing is certain. While using Tor may help you stay anonymous, it does at the same time paint a huge target on your back. It's never a good idea to download binaries via Tor (or anything else) without encryption. The problem with Tor is that you have no idea who is maintaining the exit node you are using and what their motives are. VPNs (such as our Freedome VPN) will encrypt your connection all the way through the Tor network, so the maintainers of Tor exit nodes will not see your traffic and can't tamper with it.


  •  a75995f94854dea8799650a2f4a97980b71199d2
  •  b491c14d8cfb48636f6095b7b16555e9a575d57f
  •  d433f281cf56015941a1c2cb87066ca62ea1db37

Detected as: Trojan-Dropper:W32/OnionDuke.A, Backdoor:W32/OnionDuke.A, and Backdoor:W32/OnionDuke.B.

Post by — Artturi (@lehtior2)


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What grade does your favorite app get? Posted by Sean @ 13:31 GMT

Forbes' Parmy Olson published a short article about PrivacyGrade on Tuesday. What is PrivacyGrade?

From PrivacyGrade's FAQ:

The goal of is to help raise awareness of the behaviors that many smartphone apps have that may affect people's privacy. PrivacyGrade provides detailed information about an app's privacy-related behaviors. We summarize these behaviors in the form of a grade, ranging from A+ (most privacy sensitive) to D (least privacy sensitive).

Here's our App Permissions' grade:

PrivacyGrade, F-Secure App Permissions A+

Grading apps can be a very subjective thing.

For example, social network integration might be of more concern to some than ad networks and location permissions — but whatever your personal criteria — the folks at PrivacyGrade have compiled some very interesting statistics.

  •  Most Popular Permissions
  •  Third Party Libraries


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November Posted by Anonymous @ 13:27 GMT

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

Switch On Freedom

The Economist: How Guy Fawkes became the face of post-modern protest


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vote For Freedome Beta Posted by Sean @ 15:19 GMT

We recently invited testers to try our Freedome VPN Beta for Android. Well, now it's even easier to try as it's now available on Play.

The B is for Beta.

F-Secure Freedome VPN Beta

This version of Freedome includes an App Security feature which scans for bad apps.

Besides three months of free service, testers are eligible to win a Freedome-themed hoodie.

Karen, Päivi ja Nemo

So, make Päivi's day (Freedome's Senior Product Manager, seen on the right) and install the Beta.

Check the app's page on Play for the feedback address.