Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I took Christmas day off from writing the security roundup, coming in a day early with this week’s installment, dodging New year’s day. The SolarWinds story has continued to dominate the news, so lets dive into it a bit deeper.
Microsoft has published their analysis of Solorigate, and the details are interesting. The added code was carefully written to blend in with the rest of the code, using the name
OrionImprovementBusinessLayer.Initialize, which sounds like a perfectly boring-yet-legitimate function. The actual backdoor is obfuscated using zip compression and base64 encoding.
Once this bootstrap code begins, it runs a series of checks before actually doing anything malicious. It waits 2 weeks after installation to do anything, and then checks the system domain name for any indication it’s running in a test environment. It then checks for certain security applications, like Wireshark, and refuses to run if they are detected. This series of checks all seem to be an effort to avoid detection, and to only run in a deployed environment. Even the Command and Control URL that the backdoor uses is constructed to appear benign. Beyond this, it seems that the malware simply waited for instructions, and didn’t take any automated actions. All the attacks were performed manually.