Story image

New GhostHook attack technique outsmarts Microsoft PatchGuard

26 Jun 17

A new attack technique called GhostHook may be the first malware ever to completely bypass Microsoft's PatchGuard, enabling it to gain rootkit on 64-bit Windows 10 devices.

CyberArk Labs researchers made the proof-of-concept last week, saying that GhostHook could be a major threat. Microsoft PatchGuard was designed to make Windows 10 more secure by preventing attackers from hooking a rootkit at the kernel level.

According to CyberArk Labs blog, hooking techniques gives attackers control over how software or an operating system behaves.

Researchers say that this kind of control is not part of an initial attack or elevation technique; rather it is something that can be used once attackers have control over the device. Essentially, it's a stealth mechanism.

While hooking is used for legitimate purposes such as programming, debugging and system utilities, it can also be exploited for malicious use.

Attackers are now able to easily bury a rootkit in the kernel - an area where security solutions such as antivirus, firewalls, endpoint products and PatchGuard itself can't detect the malware.

This kind of potential attack could pave the way for sophisticated 64-bit malware such as Shamoon. Attackers will be able to make network attacks longer for reconnaissance and conduct more devastating attacks, researchers warn.

However researchers contacted Microsoft about the vulnerability - only to be shrugged off. The blog details Microsoft's response, which said that the attacker must already be running kernel code on a system.

Because of that, it doesn't meet requirements for a security update - but it may be fixed in future Windows operating systems.

"Microsoft does not seem to realize that PatchGuard is a kernel component that should not be bypassed, since PatchGuard blocks rootkits from activities such as SSDT hooking, not from executing code in kernel-mode," researchers counter.

How to stay safe when shopping online
Online shopping is a great way to avoid the crowds – but there are risks.
Dell EMC embeds security in latest servers
Dell EMC's 14th generation of PowerEdge servers has comprehensive management tools to provide security across hardware and firmware.
Why data backups should be a part of daily operations
"Disaster recovery needs to address complete system failure and provide a set of security policies to govern disaster incidents."
Businesses focusing on threats from within - survey
Over 50% of respondents reported that 100 days of dwell time or more was representative of their organisation.
GCSB welcomes Inspector-General's report on intelligence warrants
Intelligence warrants can include surveillance, private communications interception, searches of physical places and things, and the seizure of communications, information and things.
Corelight and Exabeam partner to improve network monitoring
The combination of lateral movement and siloed usage of point security products leaves many security teams vulnerable to compromise.
SailPoint releases first identity annual report
SailPoint’s research found that many organisations are lacking maturity in their governance processes over identities.
Disruption in the supply chain: Why IT resilience is a collective responsibility
"A truly resilient organisation will invest in building strong relationships while the sun shines so they can draw on goodwill when it rains."