Ah I remember some of the nastiest viruses back in the day attaching themselves in the MBR (Master Boot Record) rendering most anti-virus software useless (as it sits on top of the OS).
Now it seems MBR infection is back in fashion for a new age of rootkits.
Security mavens have uncovered a new class of attacks that attach malware to the bowels of a hard drive, making it extremely hard to detect and even harder to remove.
The rootkit modifies a PC’s master boot record (MBR), which is the first sector of a storage device and is used to help a PC locate an operating system to boot after it is turned on. The result: the rootkit is running even before Windows loads. There have been more than 5,000 infections in less than a month, researchers say.
“Master boot record rootkits are able to subvert the Windows kernel before it loads, which gives it a distinct stealth advantage over rootkits that load while Windows is running,” said Matthew Richard, director of the rapid response team for iDefense, a security provider owned by VeriSign. “It gives it a great stealth mechanism that allows it to persist even after removal.” Such rootkits can even survive reinstallation of the operating system, he said.
Pretty stealthy and extremely sticky, time to be a little more wary. MBR infectors are extremely nasty and the majority of people won’t even know they are. Plus as they can subvert the Windows kernel before it even loads…it has a huge stealth advantage.
The new rootkit is part of the arms race between security vendors and malware writers, he said. “We’re definitely making it harder and harder for the bad guys to do stuff to the operating system,” he said. They respond by attacking new parts of a PC.
Every version of Windows, including Vista, is vulnerable to the rootkit.
About 30,000 websites, mostly located in Europe, are actively trying to install the rootkit by exploiting users who have failed to install Windows updates, Richard says. There were 5,000 infections from December 12 to January 7. The rootkit is being spread by the same group responsible for distributing the Torpig banking Trojans, which are used to steal online banking credentials.
- McAfee detects the Trojan as StealthMBR (DAT 5204 or above) or StealthMBR!rootkit
- Symantec as Trojan.Mebroot or Boot.Mebroot
- Sophos uses name Troj/Mbroot-A
- Trend Micro uses the name TROJ_SINOWAL.AD
(Info from Securiteam)
A timeline is available from SANS here.
Source: The Register