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Delta of woot-project attack, analysis and recovery


This tutorial attempts to cover everything I have learned about the "delta of woot-project" web site defacing attack. I believe that it scans the internet for sites with open port 22 ssh services. It then detects whether SSH1 is supported and attempts to use vulnerabilities in SSH1 to gain root access and deface the site. If it was just site defacement it might not be that bad but it installs many trojan software binaries. I highly recommend a new software install from scratch with a hard drive reformat. This tutorial attempts to cover a system recovery but in no way guarantees that the system was sanitized. In fact I would assume it did not but here it is anyway.

Attack description:

I believe that the "delta of woot-project" attack exploits the SSH1 vulnerabilities. The following links describe the SSH1 exploit:

The attacker uses a C scanning program sshs.c (author Jenkins@madsite.org) which checks a list of IP addresses for the pressence of SSH-1.5-1.2.27 or SSH-1.99-OpenSSH_2.2.0p1. The vulnerabilities in SSH1 are exploited to gain root access.

It then installs new binaries so the commands "ps" and "pstree" used to monitor processes are useless when trying to find the hacker installed processes. It also installs new network monitoring binaries to replace "netstat" and many of the other commands you might use to diagnose system problems caused by the exploit. The exploit starts a few background processes, the purpose of which I do not fully understand. The exploit also creates a user "woot". This entry must be deleted from the files /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow. The attack results in a serious compromise of your system so extensive that I can not readily determine it's full extent. Again I recommend a full reinstall of your system and hard drive re-format (with new sector sizes).

See the YoLinux Internet Server Security Tutorial - Installing OpenSSH (using protocol SSH2) and avoid this problem!

System audit:

If the web page defacement was not a big enough clue that you have been hit with the "delta of woot-project" attack, you can also use the "chkrootkit" tool to audit your system and find many of the known trojans.

Download chkrootkit from http://www.chkrootkit.org/

Un-tar the package and compile:

  • make sense (Compile C programs)
  • ./chkrootkit (Run shell script and call programs.)
For more info see YoLinux Internet Security Tutorial: CHKROOTKIT: Performing a trojan/worm/virus file scan.

I am certain that this will NOT report all the trojans left on your system.

Hacker file discovery:

  • Find regular non-device files hidden in /dev: find /dev -type f -print
    The file /dev/MAKEDEV is acceptable.
    Results: /dev/cui220 and /dev/cui221 (Config files used by hacker trojans.)
  • Find executables set with "stickey" bit so that they execute with root privileges (many of these are legit):
    • find / \( -perm -4000 -o -perm -2000 \) -type f -exec ls -ldb {} \;
    • find / -type f -perm +6000 -ls
    Compare with another system to find differences.
  • Find hidden cleverly named executables:
    • find / -name "..." -print
      Result: /home/httpd/cgi-bin/... CGI left by hackers for web access of comprimised server.
    • Clever dot and space for a file name: find / -name ". " -print

System recovery:

Let me start by saying that one may not be able to fully recover the system. I recommend that you reinstall the operating system and re-format your hard drive with new sector sizes. The following was more of an experiment to see how clean I could get the system after this attack. I also wanted to try and discover how extensive and damaging the "delta of woot-project" exploit was and gain insight into the attack.

My first attempt to remove trojan binaries failed:

[root prompt]# rm /bin/ps
rm: remove write-protected file `/bin/ps'? y
rm: cannot unlink `/bin/ps': Operation not permitted

The trojaned binaries could not be deleted at first. One must change the file attributes first using the chattr -i file-name command.

chattr -i /bin/ps
rm -f /bin/ps

The following is a list of binaries I deleted and the Red Hat RPM used to replace them.

rpm -ivh --force net-tools-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force bash-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force sysklogd-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force procps-...rpm

 rpm -ivh --force mgetty-...rpm mgetty-viewfax-...rpm mgetty-voice-...rpm mgetty-sendfax-...rpm

rm -f /usr/lib/libgpm.so
rpm -ivh --force gpm-...rpm gpm-devel-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force psmisc-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force rsh-...rpm rsh-server-...rpm

/usr/lib/bind                 - Change directory attribute: chattr -i /usr/lib/bind
rpm -ivh --force bind-...rpm bind-devel-...rpm bind-utils-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force sh-utils-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force modutils-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force uucp-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force mount-...rpm

rpm -ivh --force mingetty-...rpm

rpm -Uvh --force kernel-...rpm kernel-utils-...rpm kernel-ibcs-...rpm kernel-doc-...rpm kernel-headers-...rpm kernel-pcmcia-cs-...rpm


The "delta of woot-project" exploit also installed /sbin/ipchains-l and pt07 background processes and binaries.

It is important to use the command pstree -p or ps -auxw to find rogue processes and kill them: kill -9 process-id
(The newly installed commands ps and pstree. The hacker replaced the original commands with versions which hide the hacker processes)

Also reset inetd/xinetd processes. View boot configurataion: chkconfig --list | grep on
Turn off any process you do not wish to run: chkconfig --del init-process
See init scripts in the directory /etc/rc.d/init.d/

To turn off anonymous FTP, edit /etc/ftpaccess:
Change class all real,guest,anonymous * to class all real,guest *
This got changed by the attacker.

The most obvious and important change is to the /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow files. Delete the entry "woot".

Update: The box was hacked again. Probably a trojan back door left behind after the first attack. A DOS (Denial Of Service) network load was generated by launching a process called slice2.

To further clean things up I updated the system with the latest kernel RPM. Lets see if these guys break in again. I'll keep you posted.

I discovered a very clever backdoor. The CGI program /home/httpd/cgi-bin/... was left behind. A very clever hiding of a backdoor I had not found the first time. Running the strings command against this executable reveals that it is a method of executing any command input by the user via the web. Of course it had the "Sticky" bit set to execute with the privilege of root. (Crafty buggers)

A DOS attack was launched from the host against its victims by the hacker. The misnamed process was called squid and it wouldn't die and was re-spawned each time. The top command was used to identify the process. I removed the line in the file: /etc/inittab


At this point, we had no more time to devote to this exercise so we gave up and put in the new drive with a new install.


If your system has been comprimised by this or a similar attack, then it's time to realize that you can't win. Wipe the drive and re-install the OS.


Hacker IRC: irc.madsite.org:6667 #woot-project


"Hacking Linux Exposed"
by Brian Hatch, James B. Lee, George Kurtz
ISBN #0072127732, McGraw-Hill

From the same authors of "Hacking Exposed".

"Maximum Linux Security: A Hacker's Guide to Protecting Your Linux Server and Workstation"
by Anonymous and John Ray
ISBN #0672321343, Sams

Covers not only audit and protection methods but also investigates and explains the attacks and how they work.

"Network Intrusion Detection: An Analyst's Handbook"
by Stephen Northcutt, Donald McLachlan, Judy Novak
ISBN #0735710082, New Riders Publishing
"SSH, the Secure Shell : The Definitive Guide"
by Daniel J. Barrett, Richard Silverman
ISBN #0596000111, O'Reilly & Associates
"Computer Security Incident Handling Step by Step"
by Stephen Northcutt
ISBN #0967299217
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