BPFdoor: Stealthy Linux malware bypasses firewalls for remote access

BPFdoor is a Linux/Unix backdoor that allows threat actors to remotely connect to a Linux shell to gain complete access to a compromised device.
The malware does not need to open ports, it can’t be stopped by firewalls, and can respond to commands from any IP address on the web, making it the ideal tool for corporate espionage and persistent attacks.
BPFdoor is a passive backdoor, meaning that it can listen on one or more ports for incoming packets from one or more hosts, that attackers can use to send commands remotely to the compromised network.
The malware uses a Berkeley Packet Filter (the BPF in the backdoor’s name) sniffer, that works at the network layer interface being able to see all network traffic and send send packets to any destination.
Because of its positioning at such a low level, BPF does not abide by any firewall rules.
It has versions for Linux and Solaris SPARC systems but it could be ported to BSD as well.
BPFdoor parses only ICMP, UDP, and TCP packets, checking them for a specific data value, and also a password for the latter two types of packets.

What makes BPFDoor stand out is that it can can monitor any port for the magic packet, even if those ports are used by other legitimate services, such as webservers, FTP, or SSH.

If the TCP and UDP packets have the right “magic” data and a correct password, the backdoor springs into action executing a supported command, such as setting up a bind or reverse shell.
Analysts discovered that ICMP packets don’t need a password, which allowed him to scan the internet for running BPFdoor implants using the ping function.
The analysts were able to find BPFdoor activity on networks of organizations in various geographies, most notably the U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong, Turkey, India, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
Surprisingly, they discovered 11 Speedtest servers infected with BPFdoor. The researcher said that it is unclear how these machines were compromised, especially since they run on closed-source software.
The malware employs some clever anti-evasion tactics:

-Resides in system memory and deploys anti-forensics action (wipes the process environment, albeit unsuccessfully as it leaves it empty)
-Loads a Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) sniffer allowing it to work in front of any locally running firewalls to see packets
-Modifies ‘iptables’ rules when receiving a relevant packet to allow attacker communication through the local firewall
-Masquerades the binary under a name similar to a common Linux system daemon
-Renames and runs itself as /dev/shm/kdmtmpflush
-Changes the date of the binary (timestomping) to October 30, 2008, before deleting it.

Technical analysis on BPFdoor, notes that the malware comes with several hardcoded names that match command strings inside relevant packets:

justtryit, justrobot, and justforfun to establish a bind shell on ports 42391 through 42491
socket or sockettcp to set up a reverse shell to an IP address present in the packet
Part of BPFdoor’s techniques to evade detection is to rename the binary to appear as a normal Linux daemon using the choices below:

/sbin/udevd -d
/sbin/mingetty /dev/tty7
/usr/sbin/console-kit-daemon –no-daemon
hald-addon-acpi: listening on acpi kernel interface /proc/acpi/event
dbus-daemon –system
pickup -l -t fifo -u
avahi-daemon: chroot helper
/sbin/auditd -n

The threat actor updated BPFdoor regularly, improving each release with different names for commands, processes, or files.
For instance, newer variants of the implant switched from using command keywords to MD5 hashes, likely in an attempt to avoid trivial detection.
While the detection rate for this implant improved, the malware went virtually invisible for a long time.

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