Time to Take Your Blue Pill

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2007-08-02 Print this article Print

The creator of the famous Vista virtualized rootkit has posted the completely rearchitected code online.

LAS VEGAS—Joanna Rutkowska has posted her Blue Pill virtualized rootkit for free and open download here, she said during her presentation-cum-skeptics-slapdown at Black Hat on Aug. 1.

Researchers at Matasano earlier in the day delivered presentations on ways to detect the virtualized rootkit in a session titled "Dont Tell Joanna, The Virtualized Rootkit Is Dead." Rutkowska ended the day with her own session, "IsGameOver(), anyone?" in which she answered her own question: No, the game wasnt over, given that Matasanos rootkit detection techniques didnt quite work.
Along with colleague Alexander Tereshkin at her newly launched Invisible Things Lab, Rutkowska has rebuilt Blue Pill from scratch. As described on the BluePill.org site where shes posted the rootkit for download, the new rootkit has been completely rearchitected with a common hypervisor virtual machine layer architecture.
Its new features include on-the-fly loading and unloading—presumably a crucial component of the rootkits new ability to play chicken as it runs and hides from timing determination detection attacks, aka Blue Chicken Technology. Click here to read about the earlier research claims that the "Blue Pill" rootkit was detectable. The new Blue Pill also includes support for nested hypervisors—a capability that will allow the rootkit to survive when a target system simulates an environment and thus forces its simulation to simulate. Rutkowska has also listed Blue Pills current limitations. They include what she calls an overly simple cycle emulation in the rootkits RDTSC (read time stamp counter). Also, Blue Chicken has a TimeBomb setting algorithm that "seems to contain a mysterious race condition that causes a BSoD [Blue Screen of Death, aka stop error] from time to time after the [timebomb] is set," she says on her site. Also, Virtual PC 2007 with enabled hardware virtualization currently crashes when run inside a Blue-Pilled machine. The nesting feature also has a feature that Rutkowska said might cause a crash due to CPU identification interception. Also, among other things, the new Blue Pill lacks support for intercepting "exotic" high-precision local timers, she said. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEKs Security Watch blog.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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