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Posted by Raashid Bhat on 6 Apr 2023
Here’s the second in our three-part series focused on protecting against Tofsee malware. This spambot is prolific, but various vaccines and kill switches are available to defend against Tofsee. Our malware researchers are sharing two vaccines and a network-based kill switch in this series.
If you’re wondering what malware vaccines are and how they can be utilized, or you’d like to read about the first vaccine our researchers have shared relating to Tofsee and its binary file, read this blog post. Alternatively, keep reading to learn about a second vaccine our team has produced, focused on polluting Tofsee’s internal configuration store.
During the runtime of Tofsee and the communications with its command and control (C&C) server, Tofsee stores various configuration values pertinent to the proper runtime of the code in a memory-based structure which we call the InMemoryConfig store. This is a circular linked list structure, and Tofsee defines it as follows:
InMemoryConfig store structure
Each ConfigValue buffer has its internal structure based on the ConfigType value. This chained config is dumped and stored in various locations on the infected system so Tofsee can retrieve it after a reboot.
The various configuration storage locations are:
1 %USERPROFILE%\:.repos (ADS)
2 %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings:.repos
3 %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\UsrClass.dat.repos
1: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Control Panel\\Buses\\Config0
A simple Tofsee xor algorithm encodes the data stored in one of these places:
Once retrieved and decoded, this data looks something like this in its raw parsed form:
The config stores of particular interest to us are the work_srv and start_srv structures. Both are retrieved during the initial C&C connection of the Tofsee botnet.
Tofsee has a tier-2 C&C ecosystem. The malware uses the hardcoded C&Cs in the binary only once to retrieve a list of tier-2 peers. These tier-2 piers then act as forwarding C&Cs and are stored in the work_srv and start_srv config stores.
work_srv and start_srv have the following definition in the memory:
In order to vaccinate Tofsee from connecting to first-tier or second-tier C&Cs, we can pollute these config stores’ values before the start of the infection chain.
work_srv will point to a controlled sinkhole IP. In this example, we’re going to point it to 127.0.0.1. In addition to this, we will recalculate the crc32 of data buffer so that it passes the integrity check inside the binary:
Modified value for wrk_srv ( with proper crc32 hash value)
To create a vaccine, the above binary blob has to be encoded using the same algorithm and written back to one of the config store paths file or registry:
“Config0” modified registry value for vaccine
When Tofsee makes the connection, it only connects to the local sinkhole.
The final of our Tofsee series looks at a network-based kill switch to protect against this malware.
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6 April 2023
In part three, we focus on using a network kill switch - causing an out-of-bounds read error, leading to Tofsee crashing.
We've been busy reverse engineering Tofsee malware to provide you with the code required for two malware vaccines and a network-based kill switch.
12 October 2022
One of the Spamhaus Project's malware specialists has been battling GuLoader, attempting to analyze this tricky malware. Here they share their findings and explain how you can extract URLs from GuLoader.