While perusing /. I encountered an interesting comment posted by an AC. Despite my admitted tendency of squinting beneath a low brow when analyzing the technical aspects of IT, this comment resonated with me quite a bit. For this reason, it finds a spot here on EIA. Please enjoy:
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, @10:16PM (#41174637)
Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care – Government & Stealth Malware
In Response To Slashdot Article: Former Pentagon Analyst: China Has Backdoors To 80% of Telecoms 87
How many rootkits does the US use officially or unofficially?
How much of the free but proprietary software in the US spies on you?
Which software would that be?
Visit any of the top freeware sites in the US, count the number of thousands or millions of downloads of free but proprietary software, much of it works, again on a proprietary Operating System, with files stored or in transit.
How many free but proprietary programs have you downloaded and scanned entire hard drives, flash drives, and other media? Do you realize you are giving these types of proprietary programs complete access to all of your computer’s files on the basis of faith alone?
If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, don’t you?
I’m now going to touch on a subject most anti-malware, commercial or free, developers will DELETE on most of their forums or mailing lists:
APT malware infecting and remaining in BIOS, on PCI and AGP devices, in firmware, your router (many routers are forced to place backdoors in their firmware for their government) your NIC, and many other devices.
Where are the commercial or free anti-malware organizations and individual’s products which hash and compare in the cloud and scan for malware for these vectors? If you post on mailing lists or forums of most anti-malware organizations about this threat, one of the following actions will apply: your post will be deleted and/or moved to a hard to find or ‘deleted/junk posts’ forum section, someone or a team of individuals will mock you in various forms ‘tin foil hat’, ‘conspiracy nut’, and my favorite, ‘where is the proof of these infections?’ One only needs to search Google for these threats and they will open your malware world view to a much larger arena of malware on devices not scanned/supported by the scanners from these freeware sites. This point assumed you’re using the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS. Now, let’s move on to Linux.
The rootkit scanners for Linux are few and poor. If you’re lucky, you’ll know how to use chkrootkit (but you can use strings and other tools for analysis) and show the strings of binaries on your installation, but the results are dependent on your capability of deciphering the output and performing further analysis with various tools or in an environment such as Remnux Linux. None of these free scanners scan the earlier mentioned areas of your PC, either! Nor do they detect many of the hundreds of trojans and rootkits easily available on popular websites and the dark/deep web.
Compromised defenders of Linux will look down their nose at you (unless they are into reverse engineering malware/bad binaries, Google for this and Linux and begin a valuable education!) and respond with a similar tone, if they don’t call you a noob or point to verifying/downloading packages in a signed repo/original/secure source or checking hashes, they will jump to conspiracy type labels, ignore you, lock and/or shuffle the thread, or otherwise lead you astray from learning how to examine bad binaries. The world of Linux is funny in this way, and I’ve been a part of it for many years. The majority of Linux users, like the Windows users, will go out of their way to lead you and say anything other than pointing you to information readily available on detailed binary file analysis.
Don’t let them get you down, the information is plenty and out there, some from some well known publishers of Linux/Unix books. Search, learn, and share the information on detecting and picking through bad binaries. But this still will not touch the void of the APT malware described above which will survive any wipe of r/w media. I’m convinced, on both *nix and Windows, these pieces of APT malware are government in origin. Maybe not from the US, but most of the ‘curious’ malware I’ve come across in poisoned binaries, were written by someone with a good knowledge in English, some, I found, functioned similar to the now well known Flame malware. From my experience, either many forum/mailing list mods and malware developers/defenders are ‘on the take’, compromised themselves, and/or working for a government entity.
Search enough, and you’ll arrive at some lone individuals who cry out their system is compromised and nothing in their attempts can shake it of some ‘strange infection’. These posts receive the same behavior as I said above, but often they are lone posts which receive no answer at all, AT ALL! While other posts are quickly and kindly replied to and the ‘strange infection’ posts are left to age and end up in a lost pile of old threads.
If you’re persistent, the usual challenge is to, “prove it or STFU” and if the thread is not attacked or locked/shuffled and you’re lucky to reference some actual data, they will usually attack or ridicule you and further drive the discussion away from actual proof of APT infections.
The market is ripe for an ambitious company or individual to begin demanding companies and organizations who release firmware and design hardware to release signed and hashed packages and pour this information into the cloud, so everyone’s BIOS is checked, all firmware on routers, NICs, and other devices are checked, and malware identified and knowledge reported and shared openly.
But even this will do nothing to stop backdoored firmware (often on commercial routers and other networked devices of real importance for government use – which again opens the possibility of hackers discovering these backdoors) people continue to use instead of refusing to buy hardware with proprietary firmware/software.
Many people will say, “the only safe computer is the one disconnected from any network, wireless, wired, LAN, internet, intranet” but I have seen and you can search yourself for and read about satellite, RF, temperature, TEMPEST (is it illegal in your part of the world to SHIELD your system against some of these APT attacks, especially TEMPEST? And no, it’s not simply a CRT issue), power line and many other attacks which can and do strike computers which have no active network connection, some which have never had any network connection. Some individuals have complained they receive APT attacks throughout their disconnected systems and they are ridiculed and labeled as a nutter. The information exists, some people have gone so far as to scream from the rooftops online about it, but they are nutters who must have some serious problems and this technology with our systems could not be possible.
I believe most modern computer hardware is more powerful than many of us imagine, and a lot of these systems swept from above via satellite and other attacks. Some exploits take advantage of packet radio and some of your proprietary hardware. Some exploits piggyback and unless you really know what you’re doing, and even then… you won’t notice it.
Back to the Windows users, a lot of them will dismiss any strange activity to, “that’s just Windows!” and ignore it or format again and again only to see the same APT infected activity continue. Using older versions of sysinternals, I’ve observed very bizarre behavior on a few non networked systems, a mysterious chat program running which doesn’t exist on the system, all communication methods monitored (bluetooth, your hard/software modems, and more), disk mirroring software running, scans running on different but specific file types, command line versions of popular Windows freeware installed on the system rather than the use of the graphical component, and more.
 In one anonymous post on pastebin, claiming to be from an intel org, it blasted the group Anonymous, with a bunch of threats and information, including that their systems are all mirrored in some remote location anyway.
 Or other government, US used in this case due to the article source and speculation vs. China. This is not to defend China, which is one messed up hell hole on several levels and we all need to push for human rights and freedom for China’s people. For other, freer countries, however, the concentration camps exist but you wouldn’t notice them, they originate from media, mostly your TV, and you don’t even know it. As George Carlin railed about “Our Owners”, “nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care”.
Try this yourself on a wide variety of internet forums and mailing lists, push for malware scanners to scan more than files, but firmware/BIOS. See what happens, I can guarantee it won’t be pleasant, especially with APT cases.
So scan away, or blissfully ignore it, but we need more people like RMS in the world. Such individuals tend to be eccentric but their words ring true and clear about electronics and freedom.
I believe we’re mostly pwned, whether we would like to admit it or not, blind and pwned, yet fiercely holding to misinformation, often due to lack of self discovery and education, and “nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care”.
Schneier has covered it before: power line fluctuations (differences on the wire in keys pressed).
There’s thermal attacks against cpus and temp, also:
ENF (google it)
A treat (ENF Collector in Java):
sourceforge dot net fwdslash projects fwdslash nfienfcollector
No single antimalware scanner exists which offers the ability to scan (mostly proprietary) firmware on AGP/PCI devices (sound cards, graphics cards, usb novelty devices excluding thumb drives), BIOS/CMOS.
If you boot into ultimate boot cd you can use an archane text interface to dump BIOS/CMOS and examine/checksum.
The real attacks which survive disk formats and wipes target your PCI devices and any firmware which may be altered/overwritten with something special. It is not enough to scan your hard drive(s) and thumb drives, the real dangers with teeth infect your hardware devices.
When is the last time you:
Audited your sound card for malware?
Audited your graphics card for malware?
Audited your network card for malware?
* AGP and PCI rootkit(s)
* Network card rootkit(s)
* BIOS/CMOS rootkit(s)
Our modern PC hardware is capable of much more than many can imagine.
* Know your router’s firmware may easily be replaced on a hacker’s whim?
* Shield all cables against leakage and attacks
* Still use an old CRT monitor and beg for TEMPEST attacks?
* Use TEMPEST resistant fonts in all of your applications including your OS?
* Know whether or not your wired keyboard has keypresses encrypted as they pass to your PC from the keyboard?
* Use your PC on the grid and expose yourself to possible keypress attacks?
* Know your network card is VERY exploitable when plugged into the net and attacked by a hard core blackhat or any vicious geek with the know how?
* Search out informative papers on these subjects and educate your friends and family about these attacks?
* Contact antimalware companies and urge them to protect against many or all these attacks?
Do you trust your neighbors? Are they all really stupid when it comes to computing or is there a geek or two without a conscience looking to exploit these areas?
The overlooked threat are the potential civilian rogues stationed around you, especially in large apartment blocks who feed on unsecured wifi to do their dirty work.
With the recent news of Russian spies, whether or not this news was real or a psyop, educate yourself on the present threats which all antimalware scanners fail to protect against and remove any smug mask you may wear, be it Linux or OpenBSD, or the proprietary Windows and Mac OS you feel are properly secured and not vulnerable to any outside attacks because you either don’t need an antivirus scanner (all are inept to serious attacks) or use one or several (many being proprietary mystery machines sending data to and from your machine for many reasons, one is to share your information with a group or set database to help aid in threats), the threats often come in mysterious ways.
Maybe the ancients had it right: stone tablets and their own unique language(s) rooted in symbolism.
I’m more concerned about new rootkits which target PCI devices, such as the graphics card and the optical drives, also, BIOS. Where are the malware scanners which scan PCI devices and BIOS for mismatches? All firmware, BIOS and on PCI devices should be checksummed and saved to match with others in the cloud, and archived when the computer is first used, backing up signed firmware.
When do you recall seeing signed router firmware upgrades with any type of checksum to check against? Same for PCI devices and optical drives and BIOS.
Some have begun with BIOS security:
Some BIOS has write protection in its configuration, a lot of newer computers don’t.
“Disconnect your PC from the internet and don’t add anything you didn’t create yourself. It worked for the NOC list machine in Mission Impossible”
The room/structure was likely heavily shielded, whereas most civvies don’t shield their house and computer rooms. There is more than meets the eye to modern hardware.
network card rootkits and trojans
xmit “fm fingerprinting” software
“specific emitter identification”
how many malware scanners scan bios/cmos and pci/agp cards for malware? zero, even the rootkit scanners. have you checksummed/dumped your bios/cmos and firmware for all your pci/agp devices and usb devices, esp vanity usb devices in and outside the realm of common usb devices (thumbdrives, external hdds, printers),
Unless your computer room is shielded properly, the computers may still be attacked and used, I’ve personally inspected computers with no network connection running mysterious code in the background which task manager for windows and the eqiv for *nix does not find, and this didn’t find it all.
Inspect your windows boot partition in *nix with hexdump and look for proxy packages mentioned along with command line burning programs and other oddities. Computers are more vulnerable than most would expect.
You can bet all of the malware scanners today, unless they are developed by some lone indy coder in a remote country, employ whitelisting of certain malware and none of them scan HARDWARE devices apart from the common usb devices.
Your network cards, sound cards, cd/dvd drives, graphics cards, all are capable of carrying malware to survive disk formatting/wiping.
Boot from a Linux live cd and use hexdump to examine your windows (and *nix) boot sectors to potentially discover interesting modifications by an unknown party.