PRIVATELOG Relies on Common Log File System to Evade Detection – E Hacking News


Researchers have revealed data about a new malware family that uses the Common Log File System (CLFS) to conceal a second-stage payload in registry transaction files in order to avoid detection. The malware, named PRIVATELOG, and its installer, STASHLOG, were discovered by FireEye’s Mandiant Advanced Practices team. Details about the threat actor’s identity and motivations are still unknown. 

CLFS (Common Log File System) is a general-purpose logging subsystem for producing high-performance transaction logs that is available to both kernel-mode and user-mode applications. It debuted with Windows Server 2003 R2 and has since been incorporated into subsequent Windows operating systems. CLFS can be used for event logging as well as data logging. TxF and TxR employ CLFS to save transactional state changes before committing a transaction. Any integrated Windows utility will not be able to examine the Binary Log File(s) created by CLFS. 

CLFS’s goal, like that of any other transactional logging system, is to record a series of steps required for a particular activity so that they can be accurately replayed in the future to commit the transaction to secondary storage or undone if necessary.

Despite the fact that the malware has yet to be found in real-world attacks aimed at consumer environments or seen launching any second-stage payloads, Mandiant believes PRIVATELOG is still in development, might be the work of a researcher, or could be used in a highly targeted attack. 

“Because the file format is not widely used or documented, there are no available tools that can parse CLFS log files. This provides attackers with an opportunity to hide their data as log records in a convenient way, because these are accessible through API functions. This is similar in nature to malware which may rely, for example, on the Windows Registry or NTFS Extended Attributes to hide their data, which also provide locations to store and retrieve binary data with the Windows API.” explained Mandiant researchers.

PRIVATELOG and STASHLOG have features that allow malicious software to remain undetected on infected machines, such as the use of obfuscated strings and control flow techniques that are specifically designed to make static analysis difficult. 

Mandiant researchers examined a PRIVATELOG sample that is an un-obfuscated 64-bit DLL named prntvpt.dll that contains exports that are similar to those found in legal prntvpt.dll files. By hijacking the search order used to load DLLs, PRIVATELOG expects to be loaded from PrintConfig.dll. YARA rules are provided by Mandiant to detect PRIVATELOG and STASHLOG malware, as well as it’s variations.

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