Duqu exploits zero-day Microsoft bug

Powered by SC Magazine
 

But some say evidence on Stuxnet link is 'circumstantial at best'.

 

Duqu, the so-called "son of Stuxnet" trojan, contains a dropper program that exploits a previously unknown vulnerability in the Windows kernel, researchers said Tuesday.

This could add merit to some security industry suspicions that Duqu is a sophisticated piece of malware, possibly containing underlying Stuxnet code.

Analysts have suggested that Duqu was created to conduct reconnaissance of target industrial control systems, and may be a precursor to another Stuxnet-like attack.

The zero-day exploit was confirmed by the Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security (CrySyS), a Budapest, Hungary-based facility that originally discovered Duqu.

"We immediately provided competent organisations with the necessary information such that they can take appropriate steps for the protection of the users," a brief statement from CrySyS said.

 

Duqu's installation process : Symantec

 

One of those organisations was Symantec, whose own research team studied how the zero-day exploit eventually leads to the installation of Duqu.

 

 

"The installer file is a Microsoft Word document that exploits a previously unknown kernel vulnerability that allows code execution," Symantec researcher Vikram Thakur said.

 

 

"When the file is opened, malicious code executes and installs the main Duqu binaries."

 

 

The installation file recovered appeared to be specially crafted to attack an organisation within an eight-day window in August, according to Thakur.

 

 

As reported, the Duqu binaries were configured to erase the malware after 36 days.

 

 

The Microsoft Security Response Center, in a tweet, said it was  working to close the hole. Stuxnet spread by leveraging an unprecedented  four zero-day vulnerabilities, all of which have since been patched.

 

 

Once on a system, Duqu can spread via Server Message Block (SMB)  shares to other computers through attacker commands, Thakur said.

 

 

So  far, researchers have confirmed infections at six organizations in  eight countries: Iran, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Ukraine, India,  Sudan and Vietnam.

 

 

Meanwhile, authorities in India have confiscated a hard drive at a Mumbai web hosting firm believed to be part of a Duqu command-and-control server, according to reports.

 

 

Still, not everyone is sold on Duqu's motives. According to a Dell SecureWorks research note, published late last week, Duqu does not contain any code specifically designed to infiltrate industrial control systems.

 

 

Researchers believe this makes the trojan quite distinct from Stuxnet.

 

 

"Both Duqu and Stuxnet are highly complex programs with multiple components," they wrote.

 

 

"All of the similarities from a software point of view are in the 'injection' component implemented by the kernel driver. The ultimate payloads of Duqu and Stuxnet are significantly different and unrelated.

 

 

"One could speculate the injection components share a common source, but supporting evidence is circumstantial at best and insufficient to confirm a direct relationship."

 

 

Thakur said there are no existing, reliable workarounds for the Duqu zero-day exploit.

 

 

In lieu of these, organisations should follow traditional best practices, such as "avoiding documents from unknown parties and utilising alternative software".

 

 

Although the origin of Stuxnet, meant to sabotage Iran's nuclear power program by targeting Siemens software, has never been determined, it is widely believed to have originated in the United States or Israel.

 

 

While Iranian officials reportedly have denied that Stuxnet caused any major damage, some experts believe the attack significantly set back the country's nuclear program.

 

 

- WIth Darren Pauli

 

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition


Duqu exploits zero-day Microsoft bug
 
 
 
Top Stories
Content, cost & constant innovation: How Foxtel plans to take on Netflix
Nell Payne inhabits the “brave new world of blue strings and networking”. Just don't ask her to put a TV screen on your microwave.
 
Westpac fires starting pistol on core banking upgrade
St George readies itself for move to Celeriti.
 
Sending in the drones
Margins are getting tighter in the industrial services industry, so Transfield Services' Stephen Phillips looks offshore - and to the skies - for the solutions he needs to keep pace.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Microsoft launches Office for Android preview
May 22, 2015
Microsoft has launched a preview of Office for Android smartphones. Pre-release versions of ...
Microsoft is working on an iOS email chat feature called Flow
May 22, 2015
Microsoft is working on a new chat app, but at the moment we know more about what we DON'T know, ...
Windows 10 free upgrade: Microsoft details who gets what
May 22, 2015
Microsoft was meant to be streamlining its OS with Windows 10, so why is upgrading so confusing? ...
Windows 10 has an edition to suit everyone's needs
May 15, 2015
Microsoft unveils a mind-melting six editions of Windows 10 ahead of its Winter 2015 launch. ...
Firefox 38 FINAL released, debuts new tab-based preferences
May 13, 2015
Mozilla has unveiled the latest version of Firefox 38.0 FINAL for desktop, with Firefox for ...
Latest Comments
Polls
Should Optus make a bid for iiNet?

   |   View results
Yes
  43%
 
No
  57%
TOTAL VOTES: 562

Vote