Instant Messaging: May 2008 Archives

MSNAgent attempts to hide from security analysts

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Recently I came across a threat facing MSN messenger users that employs extremely devious means of infection.  The actual executable for this MSN worm is hidden in a .jpg file.



The reason there is no preview available is that this isn't a picture, but executable code in the guise of a picture file.


The thing that makes this so interesting is the length at which the attacker is willing to go in order to hide themselves from detection of commonly used security applications.  Only by using certain tools can you see the threat running behind the scenes.  Here you can see an ominously almost legitimate application running called "MSNAgent".



MSN Agent starts up when the computer boots up.


MSNAgent has the ability to connect to a remote server for the purposes of stealing your MSN username and password.  The file "gf1008.exe" is originally saved in the Temporary Internet Files to avoid too much suspicion.  Its on the Desktop in this example for the purposes of testing. 



This is shown to the user whenever the computer is restarted.


Taking a closer look at gf1008.exe shows you the following:


You can see here that this file is directly related to the autostart value "MSNAgent".  It also shows us that it's trying to make a connection to a remote server as well as get the user to change their password presuming for the purpose of phishing the user.



Attempting to find this threat running with other free security apps might be a problem.




Thumbnail image for hijackthis.PNG



Thumbnail image for regedit.PNG

MSNAgent can't be found in the registry through traditional means either.


Hijackthis is one of the common security applications used to verify if there is an infection when users try to get help from other users on a forum.  Most of the time, Hijackthis is the first step when trying to find the threat.


Never fear though.  We detect this threat as MSNAgent.  Using our Microscanner should reveal if you are currently under surveillance.

Here's another fake Instant Messaging application from the creator of the fake Google Talk program currently in circulation. This time round, the victim is MSN Messenger:
Click to Enlarge

Clicking the "Sign In" button opens up a smaller popup - asking you to fill in your .NET Passport details. Of course, filling in your details will result in a fake "Service could not be found message". Once you leave the PC, the attacker happily wanders over, browses to the C Directory and steals your login details.

These programs seem to be flavour of the month at the moment...

We're still trying to pin down exactly how new this is, but it seems someone has released a fake Google Talk application into the wild.

Compare the fake application on the left with the real thing on the right, and note the differences:


Immediately, we can see that the real thing has a rounded curve at the top - the fake is blocky, and looks like a regular Windows application box. There's an "Inbox" link at the top when you start up the fake application - there isn't a link like that when firing up Google Talk for the first time. The Username / Password box is much lower down on the fake application, and (again) the real "Sign In" button is curved on the real application. Finally, you'll see "Forgot your account / Don't have an account" on the genuine Google Talk program - not so on the fake.

How does this work?

Well, the program doesn't connect to the Internet - for this attack to be successful, the hacker needs physical access to a PC that lots of people use. Could be a workplace PC, could be in a school, library, Net Cafe - anywhere where it's possible to run an executable file then retreat to a safe distance while the potential victim sits down and thinks "Just need to check something on IM..."

Assuming the victim enters their login details into the fake application, they will immediately see a fake error message, and probably think no more of it:


Once they've finished whatever they were doing and left the PC, the attacker only has to sit down and browse to the C Drive where they'll see this:


As you probably guessed, any all login details typed into the fake application will be stored in this text file:


We detect this application as Fake Googletalk.

Research Summary Write-Up: Chris Boyd, Director of Malware Research
Additional Research: Chris Mannon, FSL Senior Threat Researcher

A new hacking program is in circulation that lets hackers create executable files easily and with no fuss. When the victim is tricked into running the infection file, a connection is made to the attacker's PC and they can steal any MSN login details stored on the PC. Here's what the attacker sees in his newly created directory after installing the infection creation tool:


Note the selection of text files that accompany the program. We've seen a growing trend for hackers to leave copyright warnings on their programs, and messages of a similar nature elsewhere. Well, the all-out branding assault continues here:


....Belgium Power? Once they're done impressing you with the technical specs of the programs creation, they continue to hit you around the head with more information:


Once you fire up the Client, you can't help but be impressed by the clean, logical layout (very reminiscent of a spreadsheet, actually):
Click to Enlarge

Even better, the desire for being properly credited for their work runs wild here:
Click to Enlarge

According to that screenshot, they consider their Crew name to be a Trademark, and and program itself seems to be Copyrighted (All Rights Reserved). Creating the infection file is as simple as hitting the "Build It" button - when you see this, you're ready to start pushing your infection file to the masses.

Once the attacker has sent the infection file to the victim and convinced them to execute it on their PC, the attacker will be notified like so:


At that point, the attacker simply opens up the "spreadsheet" page and sees this:


The message says "Ready for action" - so very, very true. At this point, the attacker simply opens the "Passwords" tab, hits the "Get MSN Passwords" button and is presented with all the login details stored on the PC:


We detect this as PassHax.

Research Summary Write-Up: Chris Boyd, Director of Malware Research
Additional Research: Chris Mannon, FSL Senior Threat Researcher


About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Instant Messaging category from May 2008.

Instant Messaging: June 2008 is the next archive.

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