Portable Executable (PE) backdooring and Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR)

This blog will go over on how to backdoor windows executable.  The intent is to show how a windows PE can be hijacked and introduced a reverse shell while still allowing the executable to maintain its functionality. We will go over how ASLR provides  security feature that randomises the base address of executables/DLLs and positions of other memory segments like stack and heap. This prevents exploits from reliably jumping to a certain function/piece of code. 

This is why you shouldn't trust any executables that you are introducing to your system without verifying its source or checksum.


Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Address_space_layout_randomization  

tftpd32.exe - is free, open-source TFTP server that is also includes a variety of different services, including DHCP, TFTP, DNS, and even syslog and functions as a TFTP Client as well
PsExec.exe - is a command-line tool that lets you execute processes on remote systems and redirect console applications' output to the local system so that these applications appear to be running locally. 


Immunity Debugger (http://debugger.immunityinc.com/ID_register.py) 
LordPE (http://www.malware-analyzer.com/pe-tools) 
XVI32 (http://www.chmaas.handshake.de/delphi/freeware/xvi32/xvi32.htm)


0x0 - Adding a New Section...Code Cave

There are basically two (or more?) ways to get a code cave (1) Find available address space and (2) add a new executable section.

"The concept of a code cave is often employed by hackers and reverse engineers to execute arbitrary code in a compiled program. It can be a helpful method to make modifications to a compiled program in the example of including additional dialog boxes, variable modifications or even the removal of software key validation checks. Often using a call instruction commonly found on many CPU architectures, the code jumps to the new subroutine and pushes the next address onto the stack. After execution of the subroutine a return instruction can be used to pop the previous location off of the stack into the program counter. This allows the existing program to jump to the newly added code without making significant changes to the program flow itself."

(1) Finding a code cave using backdoor-factory

(2) Using LordPE to add a new executable section.

For this blog, we will add a new section. As seen above, I added a section with 1000 virtual size, raw size 400. Also note that virtual offset is 0004B000 as we will need this value to calculate the Relative Value Address (RVA). Since ASLR is enabled, we will use RVA in order to dynamically do our jumps and address redirections.

0x1 - Entry point and New Section address

Using immunity debugger, we get the address of the new section (from this on this will be called code cave)

We can see that the address is currently pointing to 010AB000, however, the 2 higher-bytes of the adressare irrelevant due to ASLR.

We can see the entry point once we open up tftpd32.exe in immunity debugger and verify the memoy map. We will be hijacking the first instruction to make the jump to our code cave. Also, note that we will need to reintroduce these two instructions after the backdoor.

If ASLR was not enabled, we could have easily done a jmp 010AB000. That said, we will need to do some calculations to always hit the code cave regardless if its address is randomized.
To calculate the RVA, we will need the virtual offset and the entry point.

4B000 (VOffset) - 1208C (EntryPoint) = 3 8F74. This mean that we will do a jmp 38F74. 

Using nasm_shell.rb, we generate the following opcodes.

Our first instruction will be updated with E9 6F8F0300 which will do a jump to our code cave.

...if we reload the program, ASLR kicks in as we can see the higher 2 bytes have changed. The same opcodes but different address.

We take the jump and it lands us to the beginning of our code cave.

0x2 - Backdoor/Reverse Shell Code

Once in our code cave, we will add a Metasploit reverse shellcode

We will create the payload in hex format and binary copy it to the program using immunity debugger.

Before the reverse shell can be copied, all the registers and flags have to be said which can be done with PUSHAD and PUSHFD instructions. This is needed to maintain the integrity of the original program execution.

Once reverse shellcode is added, registers and flags are restored to their original state using POPFD and POPAD. However before that, we need to adjust the value of ESP to point it to the original stack/ESP value. 

In my case, here are the ESP values

Before shellcode: 0025F908
After shellcode: 0025F70C

We will need to add 1FC to the ESP to align it, then execute the POPFD and POPAD instructions to restore the registers and flags

At this point, if we add a breakpoint at the end of our shellcode and run the program...we should get a reverse shell to our Kali netcat listener.

As you can see that we have successfully hijacked code execution and redirected it to our code cave containing our reverse shellcode.

0x3 - Restoring Original Program Instructions

Remember the two instruction at the entry point before they were hijacked.? We will now need to restore these two instructions so the program can run as intended.

Keep in mind that we are still dealing with ASLR which means we will need calculate the RVA once again.

0096 BF15 - 0095 0000 = RVA 1 BF15 (this will be our CALL RVA_1 BF15) (additional offset by 10000)

0096 2091 - 0095 0000 = RVA 1 2091 (this will be our JMP RVA_1 2091)  (additional offset by 10000)

At address 010AB169 or RVA 4B169 (virtual offset + 169)


RVA_4B169 - RVA_1 BF15 

At address 010AB16E or RVA 4B16E (virtual offset + 16E)

RVA_4B16E- RVA_1 2091

Add these instructions or opcodes as shown below:

And we are done...somewhat.

0x4 - WaitForSingleObject

Our reverse shell calls the WaitForSingleObject function which pushes an ESI value of -1. As a result, tftpd32.exe will not execute until we exit the reverse shell. This mean that we will need to change the ESI value from -1 to 0.

We will trace code execution in immunity debugger using 'Trace Over' command.

Line 5 has DEC ESI instructions which makes ESI = FFFFFFFF. This means that all we need to do is cancel the DEC ESI instructions (making it NOP works just fine)!  

We should now be able to successfully execute the program while it also simultaneously sends a reverse shell to Kali.

Thanks for reading.