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Author Topic: When testing untrustworthy software, remember virtual machines can be escaped  (Read 953 times)

mouser

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For those of us who occasionally test "untrustworthy" software from sources we can't be sure of, using a virtual machine is generally considered "safe".  Whatever happens in a virtual machine stays in a virtual machine -- or so we hope.

This is just a reminder that malware authors are actively trying to find ways to break out of virtual machines and infect the host pc, and to be careful.

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Contestants at this year's Pwn2Own hacking competition in Vancouver just pulled off an unusually impressive feat: they compromised Microsoft's heavily fortified Edge browser in a way that escapes a VMware Workstation virtual machine it runs in. The hack fetched a prize of $105,000, the highest awarded so far over the past three days.


cranioscopical

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So one should be cagey?

Deozaan

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That's why I always test untrustworthy software on Amazon instances. Let them deal with the malware. :D :P

(I don't actually do that.)

wraith808

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(I don't actually do that.)

(That you'll admit :))

panzer

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I used to test software on CIA's computers but one day they said that I have managed to infect their entire grid with malware they created and that I have to test software at NSA from now on.

Shades

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So one should be cagey?


The "vault" at fault, you could say...  :P

MilesAhead

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Amazon instances

It may be best to use digital paper.  Burn it when done.  :)

cranioscopical

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So one should be cagey?


The "vault" at fault, you could say...  :P

You know that this will end in gridlock.

MilesAhead

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So one should be cagey?


The "vault" at fault, you could say...  :P

No doubt a combination of factors caused it to take a tumble.

f0dder

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While VMs can be escaped, you should keep in mind that a VM escape is an extremely valuable 0day.

So, if you get a piece of "interesting software" containing a VM escape, there's basically two scenarios:

1) you're targeted by a nation-state, YOU'RE GONNA DIE AND THERE'S NOTHING THAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.
2) you're dealing with a potentially nasty piece of malware, but it's using publically-known escape techniques.

Keep your VM software up-to-date! And don't even think about using sandboxing/containerizing software for testing BadStuff.

PS: while you're not super likely to find VM-escape in the wild, it's a lot more common for malware to have VM detection - meaning it won't activate when running in a VM, so it lulls you into a false feeling of safety.
- carpe noctem

mouser

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F0dder -- thank you for your wisdom -- very helpful.


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PS: while you're not super likely to find VM-escape in the wild, it's a lot more common for malware to have VM detection - meaning it won't activate when running in a VM, so it lulls you into a false feeling of safety.

Excellent point I hadn't even considered.