Virus Bulletin 2014 Conference Paper

So now that the 2014 Virus Bulletin conference is over, here’s the paper – my 15th VB paper! – written by Eugene Rodionov (ESET), Alexander Matrosov (Intel) and myself:

Bootkits: past, present & future

And here’s the abstract:

Bootkit threats have always been a powerful weapon in the hands of cybercriminals, allowing them to establish persistent and stealthy presence in their victims’ systems. The most recent notable spike in bootkit infections was associated with attacks on 64-bit versions of the Microsoft Windows platform, which restrict the loading of unsigned kernel-mode drivers. However, these bootkits aren’t effective against UEFI-based platforms. So, are UEFI-based machines immune against bootkit threats (or would they be)?

The aim of this presentation is to show how bootkit threats have evolved over time and what we should expect in the near future. Firstly, we will summarize what we’ve learned about the bootkits seen in the wild targeting the Microsoft Windows platform: from TDL4 and Rovnix (which was used by the Carberp banking trojan) up to Gapz (which employs one of the stealthiest bootkit infection techniques seen so far). We will review their infection approaches and the methods they have employed to evade detection and removal from the system.

Secondly, we will look at the security of the increasingly popular UEFI platform from the point of view of the bootkit author, as UEFI is becoming a target of choice for researchers in offensive security, and proof-of-concept bootkits targeting Windows 8 OS using UEFI have already been released. We will focus on various attack vectors against UEFI and discuss available tools and what measures should be taken to mitigate against them. 

David Harley
Small Blue-Green World
ESET Senior Research Fellow

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About David Harley

Computer Security Author/Editor; Independent Antimalware Researcher; CEO at Small Blue-Green World; Senior Research Fellow at ESET.
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