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IDT /dev/kmem rootkit method

This can be done using several methods including overwriting the first several bytes of the syscall with a jump to other code, or modifying the function pointers. The method we will be discussing involves the IDT though. First it is important to have a basic understanding of the process involved.

Brief explanation on how syscalls are invoked:

syscalls are generally called from libc wrappers, i.e write() is a wrapper for sys_write(). The user space app calls write() which ultimately signals the kernel that a syscall needs to be executed. The primary action that transpires between the user space application and the kernel is a software interrupt. Software interrupts incur an exception, which causes the system to switch to kernel mode and execute the exception handler. In the event of a syscall, the handler is the system_call() function (system call handler). The interrupt for this on x86 is the 0x80 instruction (exception vector 128). Modern x86 processors now include a feature called sysenter, which is a faster way to enter the kernel and execute a syscall, but we will not be discussing that in this paper.

In order to know which syscall is being invoked, the syscall number is stored in %eax, this is a standard convention we all follow. The system_call() function verifies the syscall number in %eax is valid, if it proves to be so, it invokes the syscall through:

 call *sys_call_table(,%eax,4)

Each syscall table element is 4 bytes (keep in mind the syscall table is an array of function pointers), and therefore the kernel multiplies %eax by four to arrive at its destination within the table. All parameters are passed through registers. As already stated, %eax holds the syscall number and for all the syscall parameters the following registers are used: ebx, ecx, edx, esi, edi. There are certain syscalls i.e mmap() where there will be too many arguments, in this case you can simply use the stack and store a pointer to it in ebx. How does one obtain the sys_call_table? Here is a common method. This code will work on 2.6 linux systems.

 #include < stdio.h >
 #include < sys/types.h >
 #include < fcntl.h >
 #include < stdlib.h >

 int kfd;

 	 unsigned short limit;
 	 unsigned int base;
 } __attribute__ ((packed)) idtr;

 	 unsigned short off1;
 	 unsigned short sel;
 	 unsigned char none, flags;
  	 unsigned short off2;
 } __attribute__ ((packed)) idt;

 int readkmem (unsigned char *mem, 
              unsigned off, 
              int bytes)
	  if (lseek64 (kfd, (unsigned long long) off, 
                                    SEEK_SET) != off)
       	 	 return -1;

 	 if (read (kfd, mem, bytes) != bytes) 
        	 return -1;

 int main (void)
 	 unsigned long sct_off;
 	 unsigned long sct;
  	 unsigned char *p, code[255];
 	 int i;

/* request IDT and fill struct */

	asm ("sidt %0":"=m" (idtr));

	if ((kfd = open ("/dev/kmem", O_RDONLY)) == -1)
	if (readkmem ((unsigned char *)&idt, 
               idtr.base + 8 * 0x80, sizeof (idt)) == -1)
        	printf("Failed to read from /dev/kmem\n");
	sct_off = (idt.off2 < < 16) | idt.off1;

	if (readkmem (code, sct_off, 0x100) == -1)
        	printf("Failed to read from /dev/kmem\n");

/* find the code sequence that calls SCT */

 sct = 0;
	for (i = 0; i < 255; i++)
        	if (code[i] == 0xff && code[i+1] == 0x14 && 
                                        code[i+2] == 0x85)
                	sct = code[i+3] + (code[i+4] < < 8) + 
                        (code[i+5] < < 16) + (code[i+6] < < 24);
	if (sct)
 	   	printf ("sys_call_table: 0x%x\n", sct);
	close (kfd);

The general idea from here is that once we have the address of the syscall table, we can make a copy of it in memory then modify certain values to point to replacement code. i.e modify sys_write to point to a replacement write. We will also modify the system_call() interrupt handler by replacing the call *sys_call_table_address with the address of our new table. This will leave the original sys_call_table intouched, but also no longer in use by means of int $0x80. Our new sys_call_table will be the one in use.

The technical details of writing a rootkit of such a nature are not significant to this paper, and are heavily documented in other papers. The important thing here is that we understand what is necessary to detect such a kernel rootkit, and the obvious answer is that the consistency of the interrupt handler must be checked. A snapshot should be taken after a fresh kernel compilation. Where do we want to look?

Within kernel memory we are interested in the first N bytes of (idt.off2 < < 16) | idt.off1 as shown in the code above. The modification that should be noticed is the 4 bytes after \xff\x14\x85, the memory address to the sys_call_table will no longer be the same.

There will be a new tool to perform this simple analysis available soon on this site [www.RootkitAnalytics.com].

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