Newly Observed Ursnif Variant Employs Malicious TLS Callback Technique to Achieve Process Injection


TLS (Thread Local Storage) callbacks are provided by the Windows
operating system to support additional initialization and termination
for per-thread data structures.

As previously
, malicious TLS callbacks, as an anti-analysis trick, have
been observed for quite some time and can allow for PE files to
include malicious TLS callback functions to be executed prior to the
AddressOfEntryPoint field (the normal start of intended execution) in
the PE header. In essence, unsuspecting analysts and automated
security tools can miss the actual entry point to malcode if they do
not account for it in the beginning of their analysis and insert a
breakpoint on the regular offset pointed to by AddressOfEntryPoint.

We recently came across a Ursnif/Gozi-ISFB sample that manipulated
TLS callbacks while injecting to child process. Though many of the
malware binaries (or their packers) use some variation of
GetThreadContext/SetThreadContext or CreateRemoteThread Windows API
functions to change the entry point of the remote process during
injection, this sample (and the related cluster) is using a relatively
lesser-known stealth technique. This little deviation from the
standard textbook approach may cause some generic unpackers or tools
to break following the execution flow, if they do not account for the technique.


Since early 2017, we have regularly observed the abuse of
compromised Sharepoint accounts to host malicious payloads, with
distribution of URIs via spam emails. Some of the major campaigns
we’ve observed involve distributing Dridex within the UK and
Ursnif/Gozi-ISFB in Australia. The recently observed Ursnif variant
discussed in this post was discovered via a spam email. A sample lure
can been seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Malicious email lure
distributing Ursnif

After clicking on the “REVIEW DOCUMENT” button, the malware
downloads a ZIP file named from the
following location:


The ZIP file contains a malicious JavaScript file that, when
executed, will download and execute the Ursnif/Gozi-ISFB payload.

The activities of the distribution are difficult to identify within
an organization’s normal network activity because the command and
control (C2) server of this payload communicates over HTTPS and the
compromised Sharepoint accounts being used also communicate over HTTPS.

Variant Analysis

On execution, the observed sample (MD5:
13794d1d8e87c69119237256ef068043) tries to create a child process
named svchost.exe (using the svchost.exe file from the
System32 folder) using the CreateProcessW API function in suspended mode.

Next, for process hollowing of svchost.exe, the malware
creates a section object and maps the section using
ZwMapViewOfSection. It uses the memset function to fill the mapped
section with zeroes, and then leverages memcpy to copy the unpacked
DLL to that region. The malware then resolves three lower level API
functions by walking the ntdll.dll module.

The malware then constructs its entry shellcode into a newly mapped
region in memory.

In an effort to manipulate and identify the mapped sections of the
child process, it reads out the PEB structure of the process using a
call to ZwReadVirtualMemory.

The malware will then change protection permissions of the PE header
of the child process to enable write access to that page. It then uses
a call to ZwWriteVirtualMemory to write 18 bytes of buffer at offset
0x40 from the start of svchost.exe process executable in the
target child process. The malware then cleverly changes the region
protection back to “read only” to avoid suspicion.

Again, it repeats the procedure of changing protections for the PE
image of svchost.exe to write 8 bytes at an offset of 0x198
bytes from the start of the process executable.

The Stealthy Tweak

This buffer, when correctly placed at the offset, will represent the
TLS directory offset for the process because offset 0x198 is the
location of the TLS directory in PE executable, and the next DWORD
represents the size of the directory (seen in Figure 2). Notice how
the malware writes the offset 0x40 for directory and the size 0x18
bytes in an effort to point to the buffer it had already crafted at
offset 0x40 with size 0x18 bytes.

Figure 2: TLS directory location and size

The TLS directory structure, when used to parse out that buffer of
0x18 bytes, points to an offset containing a list of pointers
representing AddressOfCallBacks (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: TLS directory structure with pointers

If we take a look at offset 0xe058, it points to the list of
AddressOfCallBacks (Figure 4), and if we go to the offset 0xe058 in
memory we are pointed to the only callback address at offset 0xe068 –
which is in fact the actual entry point code (Figure 5).

Figure 4: Offset 0xe058

Figure 5: Offset 0xe068 in memory

Finally, the malware unmaps the view using ZwUnmapViewOfSection and
calls ResumeThread to begin malicious execution of its injected
process (from the injected TLS callback address instead of the regular
AddressOfEntryPoint listed in the PE header). Hence, the execution
will first land at the injected TLS callback (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Actual entry point


The leaked
source code
of Ursnif/Gozi-ISFB used the standard DllMain call
entry point to initialize the injected DLL image and execute its entry
(see Figure 7).

Figure 7: DllMain call used in leaked
Ursnif source code

This newer variant shows that actors are not only modifying the
malware to evade signatures, they are also equipping them with
stealthier techniques. Unaware debugging environments or detection
frameworks can potentially miss the actual hidden TLS callback entry
point, allowing the malware to perform its malicious activities under
the hood.

Indicators of Compromise

MD5 :
SHA256 : 772bc1ae314dcea525789bc7dc5b41f2d4358b755ec221d783ca79b5555f22ce

Filename : YourMYOBSupply_Order.js
MD5 :
SHA256 : 9f7413a57595ffe33ca320df26231d30a521596ef47fb3e3ed54af1a95609132

Filename : download[1].aspx
MD5 :
SHA256 : e498b56833da8c0170ffba4b8bcd04f85b99f9c892e20712d6c8e3ff711fa66c

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