Chapter 5. Runtime Patching

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All I need to find you, Louis, is follow the corpses of rats.

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, ANNE RICE

Call hooks and other methods of modifying software logic are powerful for sure, but they're old techniques, they're well published, and they're easily detected by anti-rootkit technology. Runtime patching offers a more-obscure way to achieve the same results. Runtime patching is not new, but in the published material relating to rootkits it typically has not been showcased.

Most material relating to code patches goes back to the days of software cracking and piracy. But applied in rootkits, runtime patching is one of the most advanced techniques possible. Armed with this technique, you should be able to build undetectable rootkits, even against modern intrusion-prevention systems. If you combine runtime patching with low-level hardware manipulation (such as page-table management,) you will be operating on the bleeding edge of rootkits.

The logic of software can be modified in several ways. The most obvious way is to modify the source code and then recompile the software. This is the practice of developers. The second way is to directly modify the bits and bytes that result from compilation the binary software. This is what software crackers do, and is the basic approach to removing copy protection on software. The third way is to modify the data that is stored in memory when the software executes. In-memory data structures control how a program behaves; thus, changing this data changes the program logic. Good examples of this are "game trainers" that alter games to, for example, give the player 10 million gold pieces.

Modifying code logic is simple in comparison to rewriting or replacing files on the system with Trojan devices. By flipping a few bytes here and there, you can turn off most security functions. Of course, you have to be able to read and write the memory where these security functions reside. Since our rootkits operate from the kernel, we have full access to the memory space of the computer, so this typically isn't a problem.

In this chapter you will learn how to modify code logic using one of the strongest methods available: the direct code-byte patch method. You also will learn how to combine this with other powerful methods, such as detour patching and jump templates, to develop a very deadly and hard-to-detect rootkit.

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    Rootkits(c) Subverting the Windows Kernel
    Rootkits: Subverting the Windows Kernel
    ISBN: 0321294319
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2006
    Pages: 111

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