Open-source tool to ease security researchers' quest for secrecy

Security startup CrowdStrike plans to release this month an open-source tool that makes it easier for researchers to secretly monitor malware communications with a command-and-control server.

Called Tortilla, the tool will be available for free on CrowdStrike's Website July 31, the day it is presented by developer Jason Geffner at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas, Nev. The release will include the source code and an executable.

Tortilla corrects the unique hurdles in using Windows workstations for clandestine malware research. The problem stems from Windows' limitations in supporting Tor, an online anonymity network.

Researchers use Tor to hide their computers' IP addresses while monitoring communications between malware and a C&C server and observing the malicious payloads uploaded by the latter.

Anonymity is important because researchers do not want to tip off criminals or hackers working for nation states that they are being watched. Doing so could lead to the subjects denying access to the server, feeding false information to the researcher or taking down the server completely.

"They can do anything they want to misdirect us or mislead us," Geffner said.

The malware creators, who are often tied to organized crime groups, could also trace the IP address directly to the researcher, if he's using a home computer, or the company he works for.

[Also see (premium): Black Hat targets the C-level]

"The more that we keep secret, the better," Geffner said.

The problem researchers face on Windows stems from the operating system's lack of native support for Socket Secure (SOCKS), which is the Internet protocol Tor uses to route network packets through proxies in order to hide the originating computer.

To get around the problem researchers will use other hardware or run the malware on a different operating system running on a virtual machine. VMs are often used to run malware in order to seal it off from the rest of the computer and its software.

Tortilla enables the researcher to use Tor on any Windows computer running XP or later without jumping through hoops. In addition, researchers can use any browser or plugin and any networking software. Tor normally supports only a special version of Firefox.

CloudStrike plans to provide Tortilla with no strings attached, Geffner said. "[Researchers] are free to use it as they like."

Read more about malware/cybercrime in CSOonline's Malware/Cybercrime section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CrowdStrikeBlack Hat ConferenceapplicationsData Protection | Malwarelegalsoftwaredata protectioncybercrimeTortilla

More about Socket

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Antone Gonsalves

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts