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ESET eggheads have shed more light on the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) rootkit being used by the Kremlin's Fancy Bear hacking crew.
Dubbed Lojax, the software nasty embeds itself within the motherboard firmware of infected Windows PCs, allowing it to run as soon as the machine is powered up or reset, allowing it to ideally spy on the user and evade detection by the operating system or any antivirus tools. The firmware executes at the lowest levels, underneath OS kernels and apps, with full system access.
ESET - Whistle - Lojax - Disclosure - September
While ESET blew the whistle on Lojax with a disclosure back in September, the nitty-gritty of how the malware operates was withheld until the annual Computer Chaos Club conference at the end of December, where researcher Frederic Vachon described in a presentation how the UEFI-based rootkit is able to hide in modern firmware. ESET was able to get its hands on a copy of Lojax when one of its customers' computers picked up the cyber-nasty.
In short, Lojax – a modified version of the legitimate Lojack anti-theft software – starts out as a poisoned application delivered via spear phishing emails that, when run by hoodwinked victims, unpacks and runs code that hijacks a vulnerable driver, which is loaded by the UEFI firmware during startup, to install the rootkit in flash memory.
UEFI - Mechanism - DXE - Device - Drivers
UEFI has a mechanism called DXE that locates and runs device drivers needed to get a machine going, before the OS is booted. Lojax tampers with one of the loaded drivers so that it flips the switch on the firmware's write protection, disabling the safeguard and allowing the chips' contents to be overwritten. At that point, the malware can inject its rootkit into the...
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