Didier Stevens

Thursday 20 April 2017

Malicious Documents: The Matryoshka Edition

Filed under: maldoc,Malware,PDF — Didier Stevens @ 0:02

I must admit that I was (patiently) waiting for the type of malicious document I’m about to describe now. First I’m going to analyze this document with my tools, and after that I’m going to show you some of the mitigations put in place by Adobe and Microsoft.

Malicious document 123-148752488-reg-invoice.pdf is a PDF with an embedded file and JavaScript. Here is pdfid’s report:

As we can notice from this report, the PDF document contains /JavaScript and an /OpenAction to launch this JavaScript upon opening of the PDF file, and also an /EmbeddedFile.

pdf-parser.py searching for JavaScript (option -s javascript) reveals that the JavaScript is in object 5:

Object 5 contains JavaScript (option -o 5 to select object 5, and option -f to decompress the stream with JavaScript):

This script (this.exportDataObject) will save the embedded file (996502.docm) to a temporary file and launch the associated application (if MS Office is installed, Word will be launched). A .docm file is a Word document with macros.

So let’s search for this embedded file:

The embedded file is stored in object 3, as a compressed stream (/FlateDecode).

So let’s decompress and extract the file with pdf-parser: option -f to filter (decompress) and option -d to dump the content. Since I expect the embedded file to be a Word document with macros, I’m going to analyze it with oledump. So in stead of writing the embedded file to disk, I’m going to extract it to stdout (-d -) and pipe it into oledump:

oledump‘s report confirms that it is a Word document with macros. I’m not going to spend much time on the analysis of the VBA code, because the intent of the code becomes clear when we extract all the strings found in the VBA code. First we select and extract all VBA code (options -s a -v) and then we pipe this into re-search to produce a list of unique strings (enclosed in double quotes) with these options: -n str -u

One of the extracted strings contains 3 URLs separated by character V. The macros will download an XOR encoded EXE file from these sites, decode it and execute it.


The first mitigation is in Adobe Reader: the embedded .docm file will not be extracted and launched without user interaction. First the user is presented a dialog box:

Only when clicking OK (the default option), will the .docm file be extracted and launched. Remark that the maldoc authors use some weak social engineering to entice the user to click OK: see in 996502.

When opened in Word, macros will be disabled:

This next mitigation is put into place by Microsoft Word: macros are detected, and by default, they are not executed. Here we see a better attempt at social engineering the user into executing the macros.

You might have expected that this document would be opened in Protected View first. After all, the PDF document was e-mailed to the victims, and Outlook will mark the PDF with a mark-of-web when it is saved to disk:

But Adobe Reader will not propagate that mark-of-web of the PDF document to the extracted Word document (at least the version I tested, version XI). Without mark-of-web, Word will open the document without Protected View.

Another simple mitigation for this type of malicious document that you can put into place but that is not enabled by default, is to disable JavaScript in Adobe Reader.

Remark that these documents do not contain exploits: they just use scripting.

Tuesday 18 April 2017


Filed under: maldoc,Malware,Vulnerabilities — Didier Stevens @ 0:00

I have an analysis of a CVE-2017-0199 maldoc with my tools here, and produced 2 videos:

In the second video, I use nixawk‘s Metasploit module for cve-2017-0199 (not yet merged into the Metasploit GitHub repository at time of writing).

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Quickpost: ClamAV and ZIP File Decryption

Filed under: Malware,Quickpost — Didier Stevens @ 0:00

While reading-up on ClamAV and YARA, I came across something I wanted to try for some time: have ClamAV decrypt and scan a password protected ZIP file.

It can be done by creating a .pwdb password signature file, as explained in section 3.12 of Creating signatures for ClamAV.

I created one signature for password “infected”:


ZipPasswordInfected is the name I gave to the signature.

Engine:81-255 defines the required functionality level of the ClamAV engine. If I’m not mistaken, 81 is version 0.99.

0 indicates that the password is in ASCII.

infected is the password to attempt ZIP decryption.

And then I can pass the password signature file to clamscan with option -d. Or I can put the password signature file in the database directory.

In this example, notepad.exe is stored in a password protected ZIP file (password infected), and is_pe_file.yara is a YARA rule to detect PE files.

clamscan.exe -d is_pe_file.yara -d passwords.pwdb notepad.exe.zip
notepad.exe.zip: YARA.is_PE_File.UNOFFICIAL FOUND

----------- SCAN SUMMARY -----------
Known viruses: 1
Engine version: 0.99.2
Scanned directories: 0
Scanned files: 1
Infected files: 1
Data scanned: 0.21 MB
Data read: 0.14 MB (ratio 1.50:1)
Time: 0.063 sec (0 m 0 s)

Quickpost info

Friday 16 December 2016

Hancitor Maldoc Videos

Filed under: maldoc,Malware — Didier Stevens @ 0:00

I produced 4 videos covering the process hollowing maldoc “Maldoc With Process Hollowing Shellcode“.


Wednesday 14 December 2016

Update: pecheck.py Version 0.6.0 – Overview Of Resources

Filed under: Malware,My Software,Update — Didier Stevens @ 0:00

This new version can produce a compact overview of all the resources in a PE file using option o: -o r.  Here is the overview of resources in an exe (malware) created with iexpress:


It contains a cab file with 2 executables, which are executed after extraction (no surprise):


pecheck-v0_6_0.zip (https)
MD5: D3A9C71AAF63D83884B4FEF2C2C21D03
SHA256: 08DB82F190AEEB065A65FEE0DD03D20B0CC788878C4864B537BBD1807E4D6B71

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Maldoc With Process Hollowing Shellcode

Filed under: maldoc,Malware — Didier Stevens @ 0:00

Last week I came across a new Hancitor maldoc sample. This sample contains encoded shellcode that starts a new (suspended) explorer.exe process, injects its own code (an embedded, encoded exe) and executes it. This process hollowing technique bypasses application whitelisting.

This maldoc uses VBA macros (no surprise) to execute its payload.


The encoded shellcode is a property in stream 17:


I used my decoder.xls method to decode the shellcode (the name of the decoding function is apocope). And then Radare2 and my script to disassemble the shellcode (32-bit and 64-bit shellcode):


The shellcode uses WIN32 API functions like CreateProcess, ZwUnmapViewOfSection, GetThreadContext, ResumeThread, … to inject code into the newly created process (explorer.exe) and execute it. This method is called process hollowing or process replacement.

The explorer.exe process is created in a suspended state, the code for explorer.exe is removed, the code for the payload is injected, the context of the thread is updated and then the thread is resumed. This method bypasses application whitelisting, as explorer.exe is a whitelisted PE-file.

The payload is an PE-file (exe) embedded and encoded in the maldoc in stream 5. STARFALL is the string that indicates the start of the payload. The PE-file is encoded with base64 with each byte XORed with 15 and then 3 subtracted. This file can be detected and extracted with my decode-search.py tool:


This executable was not yet submitted to VirusTotal, most likely because it’s never written to disk. I did submit it: cdcd2ca36ed9a2b060dd4147bc5f7706.

This exe tries to download a payload from 3 URLs:


Friday 14 October 2016

Analyzing Office Maldocs With Decoder.xls

Filed under: maldoc,Malware,My Software — Didier Stevens @ 13:27

There are Office maldocs out there with some complex payload decoding algorithms. Sometimes I don’t have the time to convert the decoding routines to Python, and then I will use the VBA interpreter in Excel. But I have to be careful not to execute the payload, just decode it. In the following video, I show how I do this.

Tools: oledump.py, decoder.xls

Sample: 2f918f49c3f926bb1538eaad6e8e6883

Monday 16 May 2016

New YARA Rule: PE_File_pyinstaller

Filed under: Malware,My Software — Didier Stevens @ 0:00

This is a YARA rule to detect PE files that were created with PyInstaller (a tool to convert Python programs to binary executables).

More info in my ISC Diary entry: Python Malware – Part 1.

  Version 0.0.1 2016/05/14
  Source code put in public domain by Didier Stevens, no Copyright
  Use at your own risk

  Shortcomings, or todo's ;-) :

    2016/05/14: start

import "pe"

rule PE_File_pyinstaller
        author = "Didier Stevens (https://DidierStevens.com)"
        description = "Detect PE file produced by pyinstaller"
        $a = "pyi-windows-manifest-filename"
        pe.number_of_resources > 0 and $a

yara-rules-V0.0.8.zip (https)
MD5: 83D10B0A18D3F8E2C744B8FEA10F5E67
SHA256: 2D47165757F909440F6D1A95FF5C0EA1355B355AE7475D2A0CF821D3B9A6235A

Tuesday 22 March 2016

YARA Rule To Detect VBE Scripts

Filed under: maldoc,Malware,My Software — Didier Stevens @ 0:00

Malicious documents that drop VBE scripts (VBScript Encode scripts) are in the wild. Here is an example:



I have a YARA rule to detect VBE scripts:




yara-rules-V0.0.6.zip (https)
MD5: 01CB37759AC30EEA8D2B66226609C73E
SHA256: 1B56C1D7D0E1A8F500674B74F93F3E7DE6B2EFC85259ABE3A57F1DCA458CCFF8

Friday 11 March 2016

Update: oledump.py Version 0.0.23

Filed under: maldoc,Malware,My Software,Update — Didier Stevens @ 9:44

I’m providing a 2-day training at Brucon Spring Training 2016: “Analysing Malicious Documents“. Use promo-code SPRING16 for a 10% discount.

This new version of oledump brings an update to the –cut option and a new plugin: plugin_hifo.

As I documented in this ISC Diary entry, maldocs can store URLs in properties of userforms:


The plugin plugin_hifo is a simple plugin that looks for streams that end with /o and then searches for strings starting with http (hence the name: http in form /o).


oledump_V0_0_23.zip (https)
MD5: 991910FF4AA47808A5BBCE0CC109D41A
SHA256: 612B6FD06856C7790D2F66B29286E7B89D35D8354ADB167CA512CC1CDE3F6C47

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