Re: And You Thought You Were Paranoid...

Dennis L. Mumaugh (att!cuuxb!dlm@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU)
10 Nov 88 22:34:59 GMT

In article <> (Naim
Abdullah) writes:
    One of our staff members here, was suspicious that the recent
    worm may have planted trojan horses for crucial binaries like
    vmunix, fsck etc. He used "ls -l" to compare the sizes on
    our infected machine with that of an uninfected machine and
    satisfied himself that things were ok (actually he got a
    nasty shock when "ls -l" showed up different sizes but then
    he remembered he had recompiled stuff to toss out yp and use
    the BIND stuff and that is why the sizes were different).

    I thought about this and then later remembered Ken Thompson's
    Turing award lecture. Here is a worst case scenario which we
    were spared fortunately.

    In PRINCIPLE "ls -l" is not enough. The worm had root
    privileges, it could have installed a modified /bin/ls so
    that if one of the files being listed was fsck, vmunix, ls,
    telnetd etc (the tampered binaries) /bin/ls would always show
    predetermined sizes. In that situation, "ls -l" wouldn't be

    [ He goes on to explain the infinite recursion assuming the
      cracker is smart and you realize it. And ... gets modified
      so some other program won't fink, recurisively. ]

Yes, after Ken told me about the C compiler and then the NSA
tiger team broke su and had a setuid root shell squirreled away,
I thought a lot about that.

1). You need a read-only copy of the original distribution.
[Begging the question of can you trust the vendor. ]

2). Or, in advance build a disk with trusted utilities and a
unix to use.

3). Have a package audit program [such as the one I have written
at ATT] that verifies checksums. Compute check sums in a special
way. We have a psum that check sums only the text and data part
of a a.out (no headers or symbols).

4). Use a better check sum program. I have an unspoofable check
summer. It encrypts the file with cypher block chaining and
keeps the last [enciphered block] 64 bit result as the check sum.
In normal use it has a built in encryption key. But one can also
provide a private key. Hence the set of possible checksum is
unknowable in advance [ one could compute check sums for all
possible keys I suppose, but life is short]. Thus one can't
diddle a file and fix it to have the correct size and the correct
public checksum and the correct private checksum.

=Dennis	L. Mumaugh
 Lisle,	IL	 ...!{att,lll-crg}!cuuxb!dlm  OR cuuxb!

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