Security Market Segment LS
Monday, 31 October 2016 08:47

New code injection method affects all Windows versions Featured


Researchers at cyber-security firm enSilo have discovered a method of code injection in all versions of Windows that cannot be eliminated as it is part of the operating system design.

The design flaw allows for code injection and is dubbed AtomBomb as it makes use of the system's atom tables.

As Microsoft defines it, "An atom table is a system-defined table that stores strings and corresponding identifiers. An application places a string in an atom table and receives a 16-bit integer, called an atom, that can be used to access the string. A string that has been placed in an atom table is called an atom name."

In a blog post describing the method of attack, enSilo's Tal Liberman wrote: "Our research team has uncovered a new way to leverage mechanisms of the underlying Windows operating system in order to inject malicious code. Threat actors can use this technique, which exists by design of the operating system, to bypass current security solutions that attempt to prevent infection."

He said AtomBombing affected all Windows versions, adding that enSilo researchers had, in particular, tested against Windows 10.

"Unfortunately, this issue cannot be patched since it doesn’t rely on broken or flawed code – rather on how these operating system mechanisms are designed," Liberman added.

The issue that enSilo revealed provides a method for attackers to inject code, something they use to add malicious code into legitimate processes, making it easier to bypass security products, hide from the user, and extract sensitive information that would otherwise be unattainable.

"For example, let’s say an attacker was able to persuade a user to run a malicious executable, evil.exe," Liberman said. "Any kind of decent application-level firewall installed on the computer would block that executable’s communication.

"To overcome this issue, evil.exe would have to find a way to manipulate a legitimate program, such as a Web browser, so that it would carry out communication on behalf of evil.exe."

He said atom tables were provided by the operating system to allow applications to store and access data. They could also be used to share data between applications.

"What we found is that a threat actor can write malicious code into an atom table and force a legitimate program to retrieve the malicious code from the table. We also found that the legitimate program, now containing the malicious code, can be manipulated to execute that code."

There are various methods of code injection and Liberman said his team had found a new one called PowerLoadEx "which enabled an attacker to inject code without actually needing to write code or data to the injected process".

He said once a code injection technique "was well-known, security products focus on preventing attackers from compromising the endpoints (such as anti-virus and host intrusion prevention systems), typically updating their signatures accordingly. So once the (method of) injection is known, it can be detected and mitigated by the security products.

But, he said, because AtomBombing was a new code injection technique, it bypassed anti-virus, next-generation anti-virus and other endpoint infiltration prevention solutions.

Asked by a reader whether he had spoken to anyone at Microsoft about this defect in the operating system design, Liberman responded that AtomBombing was not dependent on a vulnerability in Windows, adding, "Rather it leverages legitimate building blocks of Windows."

In response to another query, he wrote: "This technique can be used post-infection to inject code from one process to another. For example, on a computer protected by modern security software a malicious executable such as evil.exe will not be able to communicate because it would be blocked by a firewall. It would need to inject code into a browser in order to communicate which will also be blocked by any standard AV. By using AtomBombing evil.exe can inject code into a Web browser undetected by said AV and then have the Web browser communicate on its behalf undetected by said firewall."

Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here


It's all about Webinars.

Marketing budgets are now focused on Webinars combined with Lead Generation.

If you wish to promote a Webinar we recommend at least a 3 to 4 week campaign prior to your event.

The iTWire campaign will include extensive adverts on our News Site and prominent Newsletter promotion and Promotional News & Editorial. Plus a video interview of the key speaker on iTWire TV which will be used in Promotional Posts on the iTWire Home Page.

Now we are coming out of Lockdown iTWire will be focussed to assisting with your webinatrs and campaigns and assassistance via part payments and extended terms, a Webinar Business Booster Pack and other supportive programs. We can also create your adverts and written content plus coordinate your video interview.

We look forward to discussing your campaign goals with you. Please click the button below.



iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.


Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous




Guest Opinion

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News