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Added to the Dr.Web virus database: 2020-07-29

Virus description added:



Compilation date:

06.05.2019 08:35:45

SHA1 hash:



It is a multi-module backdoor written in C/C++ and Assembler and designed to run on 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems. It is used in targeted attacks on information systems for gaining unauthorized access to data and transferring it to C&C servers. Its key feature is utilizing plug-ins that contain the main backdoor’s functionality. It is a malicious DLL whose original name — hpqhvsei.dll — is found in the export table. Like BackDoor.ShadowPad.1, this modification has a lot in common with the malware samples of the BackDoor.PlugX family.

Operating routine

Export functions are absent. The timestamp from the export table is identical to that from the PE header.

The first execution steps generally correspond to the BackDoor.ShadowPad.1:

  • Decrypting the shellcode and transferring control to it
  • The shellcode loads the main Root module, which is stored in a special format
  • The Root module loads remaining modules.

The exception is that there is no exhaustive search through the handles to find objects whose names contain TosBtKbd.exe.

The string encryption algorithm is almost identical, but the constants differ:

def decrypt(addr):
key = get_wide_word(addr)
result = b""
i = 2
b = get_wide_byte(addr + i)
while i < 0xFFA:
    result += bytes([b ^ (key & 0xFF)])
    key = (((key * 0xDB070000) - ((key >> 0x10) * 0x390624F9)) - 0x71A4D6B1) & 0xFFFFFFFF
    i += 1
    b = get_wide_byte(addr + i)
    if not result[-1]:
return result[:-1]

The algorithm for loading additional modules is also similar to BackDoor.ShadowPad.1; however, there are new modules in this sample. The backdoor has 16 modules in total. A list of their names with codes and timestamps is provided in the following table:

Module name Code Timestamp
Config 0x66 2019-05-06 08:33:07
Disk 0x12C 2019-05-06 08:29:55
ImpUser 0x6A 2019-05-06 08:33:18
Install 0x67 2019-05-06 08:33:34
KeyLogger 0x132 2019-05-06 08:30:26
Online 0x68 2019-05-06 08:33:13
PIPE 0xCF 2019-05-06 08:29:11
Plugins 0x65 2019-05-06 08:33:02
Process 0x12D 2019-05-06 08:30:00
RecentFiles 0x13D 2019-05-06 08:31:23
Register 0x12F 2019-05-06 08:30:10
Screen 0x133 2019-05-06 08:30:31
Servcie (the original spelling) 0x12E 2019-05-06 08:30:05
Shell 0x130 2019-05-06 08:30:15
TCP 0xC8 2019-05-06 08:28:45
UDP 0xCA 2019-05-06 08:28:56

For each loadable module a structure is formed that is added to the list that modules can use to call each other's functions. To work with this list and for other auxiliary tasks, the Root module exports the function table.

During initialization of the Plugins module, a top-level exception handler is registered. In BackDoor.ShadowPad.1 this handler generated a string with information about the exception for debugging purposes. However, in BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 it only terminates the thread that caused the exception. In this case, the mechanism is similar to BackDoor.PlugX.28.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb
screen BackDoor.PlugX.28 #drweb

The key difference between the functions in this case is that PlugX operates on an object containing a linked list of all running threads, while ShadowPad directly terminates the current thread. However, in general, there is an analogue with the ShadowPad object, which stores loaded modules as a list.

struct all_modules //shadowpad
    LIST_ENTRY list;
    DWORD modules_count;
    CRITICAL_SECTION crit_sect;
struct obj_threads //plugx
    CRITICAL_SECTION crit_sect;
    LIST_ENTRY list;
    DWORD threads_running;

The main payload execution starts with the Install module. Similar to BackDoor.ShadowPad.1, at the beginning of this stage, the backdoor obtains the necessary privileges. It is worth noting that the first stages of operation are similar to those of the PlugX backdoors we studied earlier. The illustrations below show a comparison between the BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 and BackDoor.PlugX.38 algorithms.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb
screen BackDoor.PlugX.38 #drweb

Then the malware initializes the configuration using the Config module. There is also a similarity with BackDoor.PlugX at this stage. At the beginning, the backdoor checks the first four bytes of the buffer where the encrypted configuration should be stored. If the bytes are 0x58585858 (XXXX" in ASCII), then:

  • In the BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 an empty configuration is initialized;
  • In the BackDoor.ShadowPad.1 a default configuration is initialized.

In BackDoor.PlugX, the first 8 bytes are checked for equality with the string XXXXXXXX.

struct config
  WORD off_id;
  WORD offset_1;
  WORD bin_path_offset;
  WORD svc_name_offset;
  WORD svc_display_name_svc;
  WORD svc_description_off;
  WORD reg_key_install_off;
  WORD reg_value_name_off;
  WORD inject_target_1;
  WORD inject_target_2;
  WORD inject_target_3;
  WORD inject_target_4;
  WORD off_srv_0;
  WORD off_srv_1;
  WORD off_srv_2;
  WORD off_srv_3;
  WORD off_srv_4;
  WORD off_srv_5;
  WORD off_srv_6;
  WORD off_srv_7;
  WORD off_srv_8;
  WORD zero_2A;
  WORD zero_2C;
  WORD zero_2E;
  WORD zero_30;
  WORD zero_32;
  WORD zero_34;
  WORD zero_36;
  WORD off_proxy_1;
  WORD off_proxy_2;
  WORD off_proxy_3;
  WORD off_proxy_4;
  DWORD timeout_multiplier;
  DWORD field_54;
  WORD port_to_scan;
  WORD scan_by_adapter_flag;
  DWORD ip_addr_1;
  DWORD ip_addr_2;

The illustrations below show a comparison between the BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 and BackDoor.PlugX.28 algorithms.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb
screen BackDoor.PlugX.38 #drweb

After initializing the configuration, the backdoor checks the value of mode in the shellarg structure passed from the module loader. Actions in accordance with the value of mode are similar to those of BackDoor.ShadowPad.1.

With the mode 5 or mode 6 values, the backdoor searches the list for a module with the code 0x6A (ImpUser) and calls a function from its table. In the BackDoor.ShadowPad.1 the ImpUser module was missing. This module is used for injecting into a process that is created either with the environment of the current session, or by a remotely connected user. In the context of this process, further commands from the C&C server will be processed, which must be received through a pipe from another running instance of the backdoor. Thus, the backdoor running with mode 5 or mode 6 acts as a “server” for the pipe connection, and its second instance relays commands to it from the C&C server. Below is a list of processes that the backdoor attempts to inject a payload into:

  • dllhost.exe
  • conhost.exe
  • svchost.exe

Similar functionality exists in the PlugX family of backdoors. For example, in BackDoor.PlugX.38 the named thread DoImpUserProc is responsible for this.

BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 (decrypting the module name)
screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb
screen BackDoor.PlugX.38 #drweb
screen BackDoor.PlugX.38 #drweb

If the values are mode 7 or mode 8, the backdoor attempts to perform a UAC Bypass using the DLL hijack of dpx.dll library, loaded by the wusa.exe process (it has the autoElevate property), and the IFileOperation COM interface. To do this, it extracts its copy — dpx.dll (1d4a2acc73a7c6c83a2625efa8cc04d1f312325c), which attempts to run the original copy of the backdoor with elevated privileges.

The patterns of BackDoor.ShadowPad.3, depending on the value of the shellarg.mode parameter, are similar to the behavior of PlugX. In the shellarg structure of the BackDoor.PlugX.28 there is a op_mode parameter, which determines the work patterns of the malware (installation in the system, injection, function interception, etc.).

Main functionality

BackDoor.ShadowPad.3, similar to BackDoor.ShadowPad.1, can achieve persistence either as a service or by using the autorun key. The service name, its description, display name, and registry parameter name are stored in the configuration. Like the PlugX family, BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 uses mutexes with names that depend on the process ID to synchronize the restarted program process and the parent process.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb
screen BackDoor.PlugX.38 #drweb

This backdoor also uses a mutex to prevent restarts. The name for the mutex is generated by a special function of the Config module.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb

The same function is also used to generate the name of the file that stores the configuration, the directory where screen screenshots are stored, and so on. The result of generation depends on the seed transferred to the function and the serial number of the system volume. A similar approach to generating unique names was used in BackDoor.PlugX.28:

int __usercall gen_string@(DWORD seed@, s *result, LPCWSTR base)
  DWORD v3; // edi
  DWORD v4; // eax
  signed int v5; // ecx
  signed int i; // edi
  DWORD v7; // eax
  WCHAR Buffer; // [esp+10h] [ebp-250h]
  __int16 v10; // [esp+16h] [ebp-24Ah]
  __int16 name[34]; // [esp+210h] [ebp-50h]
  DWORD FileSystemFlags; // [esp+254h] [ebp-Ch]
  DWORD MaximumComponentLength; // [esp+258h] [ebp-8h]
  DWORD serial; // [esp+25Ch] [ebp-4h]
  v3 = a1;
  GetSystemDirectoryW(&Buffer, 0x200u);
  v10 = 0;
  if ( GetVolumeInformationW(
          0x200u) )
    v4 = 0;
    v4 = GetLastError();
  if ( v4 )
    serial = v3;
    serial ^= v3;
  v5 = (serial & 0xF) + 3;
  for ( i = 0; i < v5; serial = 8 * (v7 - (serial >> 3) + 20140121) - ((v7 - (serial >> 3) + 20140121) >> 7) - 20140121 )
    v7 = serial << 7;
    name[i++] = serial % 0x1A + 'a';
  name[v5] = 0;
  string::wcopy(a2, base);
  string::wconcat(a2, (LPCWSTR)name);
  return 0;

Before connecting to the C&C server, the backdoor uses a function to generate a string with the 0x434944 seed (CID in ASCII). This string is used as a key name and registry parameter to store the ID of the infected computer. The ID itself is an array of 8 random bytes. Thus, the backdoor attempts to save the following structure in the registry at <HKEY>\Software\<CID_generated>\<CID_generated> (it is also possible to save it in the HKLM or HKCU sections):

struct id_time
      BYTE id[8];
      SYSTEMTIME current_time;

It should be noted that the previously analyzed PlugX samples also generate a computer ID before starting a dialog with the server and save it in the registry. A certain seed is used for generation.

After creating the ID, the backdoor performs a network scan and starts interacting with the C&C server. Network scanning is necessary to search for other infected systems on the local network. To do this, 4 separate threads are started:

  1. scanning the range between two IP addresses specified in the backdoor configuration
  2. scanning the entire address range for each network adapter found in the system
  3. opening the port specified in the configuration
  4. opening the specified port and relaying packets between the local client and the actual C&C server

Scanning sends a TCP packet containing the unique identifier of the infected computer. The response is a similar packet. If the IDs do not match, the IP address from which the packet is received becomes the address of the C&C server for the backdoor. For local communication, the port used is the one hardcoded in the configuration in the config.port_to_scan parameter. There are 2 scanning modes available:

  • All addressess in the range between the two specified in the configuration are scanned (config.ip_addr_1 and config.ip_addr_2)
  • All subnets available to the infected computer are scanned (searching for network adapters)

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb

A Network Discover (TCP) firewall rule is created to open the listening port for an incoming connection.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb

The rule is created using the FirewallAPI functions of the INetFwMgr COM interface.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb

To work in server mode the backdoor opens a port from the configuration and waits for an incoming connection from clients. When a new connection is received, a tunnel is created between the local client and the actual C&C server. Network communication in scanning and tunneling mode is performed using the TCP module. The format and structure of the packet are similar to BackDoor.ShadowPad.1.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb

The functionality of the backdoor in server mode in the local network is also present in the PlugX samples. In particular, in BackDoor.PlugX.38 the JoProc named threads are used for this purpose:

  • JoProcListen (a tunnel between the local client and the C&C server)
  • JoProcBroadcast (network broadcasting)
  • JoProcBroadcastRecv (processing responses to broadcasted messages)

After initializing the local tunnel, BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 starts to establish the connection to the C&C server. At the first stage, the backdoor attempts to connect directly to the server specified in the configuration as a string. If the attempt fails, it retrieves the proxy server settings from the configuration and attempts to connect to the server using the proxy.

After a successful connection, it sends a packet with 0 to 31 random bytes written in the body. The response is a command for a plug-in. The commands for Plugins, Config, Install, and Online are identical to the BackDoor.ShadowPad.1 commands with some exceptions:

  • The 0x670001 command for the Install module is used to uninstall the backdoor;
  • The command format for the Online module is 0x68005X instead of 0x68000X.

Processing commands for modules

Command ID Description
0x6A0000 To establish a connection to the pipe designed for relaying data from the C&C server to the process with injection. After the connection, a tunnel is created between the C&C server and the process with injection.
0x6A0001 Sends information about all processes injected by the ImpUser
Command ID Description
0x12C0000 To get a list of letters and types of disks

To specify the directory; the response is a list of attached files and folders in the directory (the depth is 1 level). The following data is sent for each item:

  • name;
  • file attributes
  • creation time
  • last access time
  • time of last recording
  • size
0x12C0002 To specify the file name; the backdoor checks whether the file exists
0x12C0003 To create the directory specified in the command
0x12C0004 To get information about the file specified in the command: attributes and time (when created, last accessed, and recorded)
0x12C0005 To set attributes (file and temporary) for the file specified in the command
0x12C0006 To execute SHFileOperationW with the arguments specified in the command
0x12C0007 Process with the lpCommandLine argument specified in the command
0x12C0008 To read or write a file
0x12C000A To get a list of files by mask in the specified directory (recursively). The mask can contain the “?” and “*” symbols
0x12C000C To clear the cache by the URL specified in the command (DeleteUrlCacheEntryW), then download the file from this URL and clear the cache again
Command ID Description

To obtain a list of processes The following data is gathered for each process:

  • PID;
  • bitness
  • domain
  • username
  • version of the executable file
  • executable file icon data
0x12D0001 To terminate the process; the command specifies the process ID

The name of the module with spelling mistake is contained in the code.

Command ID Description

To get a list of all services. The following data is gathered for each service:

  • service name
  • description
  • service display name
  • path to the binary file
  • value of the ServiceDLL parameter
0x12F0000 To stop a service
0x12F0000 To delete a service
0x12F0001 To start a service
0x12F0002 To pause a service
0x12F0003 To resume a service
Command ID Description
0x12F0000 To get a list of nested keys in the registry key specified by the command
0x12F0001 To create a registry key
0x12F0002 To delete a registry key
0x12F0003 To get a list of parameters and their values in the registry key specified by the command
0x12F0004 To set the parameter value
0x12F0005 To delete a parameter

The module contains a single command — 0x1300000. This command creates the command shell cmd.exe with I / O redirection through pipes to the C&C server.


When initializing the KeyLogger module, a hook of the WH_KEYBOARD_LL type is set. Keystrokes with window names are recorded in a log file. The file name and path are generated using the previously specified function.

Command ID Description
0x1320000 To get a log file
0x1320001 To delete a log file

The Screen module takes a screenshot during initialization and saves it in the directory whose name and path are generated. The screenshot settings and JPEG encoding parameters are contained in the configuration file located in the Log subdirectory of the backdoor home directory.

Command ID Description

To get a list of connected displays with the following information:

  • name
  • description
  • screen resolution in pixels (height and width)
0x1330001 To take and send a screenshot to the server
0x1330002 To start a remote desktop service (RDP simulation)
0x1330010 To send a screenshot storage path
0x1330011 To send a file with screenshot parameters to the server
0x1330012 To receive a new file from the server with the settings for screenshots

The module is designed to work with recent files and has one command — 0x13D0000. When the command is received, the backdoor lists all files with the .lnk extension in %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent and retrieves information for each of them using the COM interfaces IShellLinkW and IPersistFile.

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad.3 #drweb

It is also worth noting that ShadowPad and PlugX use identical encryption algorithms:

screen BackDoor.ShadowPad #drweb

ShadowPad uses this algorithm to encrypt the shellcode, which in turn is used to encrypt plug-ins and packets.

screen BackDoor.PlugX #drweb

BackDoor.PlugX.26 uses a similar algorithm to decrypt the shellcode from the file.

Curing recommendations

  1. If the operating system (OS) can be loaded (either normally or in safe mode), download Dr.Web Security Space and run a full scan of your computer and removable media you use. More about Dr.Web Security Space.
  2. If you cannot boot the OS, change the BIOS settings to boot your system from a CD or USB drive. Download the image of the emergency system repair disk Dr.Web® LiveDisk , mount it on a USB drive or burn it to a CD/DVD. After booting up with this media, run a full scan and cure all the detected threats.
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After booting up, run a full scan of all disk partitions with Dr.Web Anti-virus for Linux.

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  1. If the mobile device is operating normally, download and install Dr.Web for Android. Run a full system scan and follow recommendations to neutralize the detected threats.
  2. If the mobile device has been locked by Android.Locker ransomware (the message on the screen tells you that you have broken some law or demands a set ransom amount; or you will see some other announcement that prevents you from using the handheld normally), do the following:
    • Load your smartphone or tablet in the safe mode (depending on the operating system version and specifications of the particular mobile device involved, this procedure can be performed in various ways; seek clarification from the user guide that was shipped with the device, or contact its manufacturer);
    • Once you have activated safe mode, install the Dr.Web for Android onto the infected handheld and run a full scan of the system; follow the steps recommended for neutralizing the threats that have been detected;
    • Switch off your device and turn it on as normal.

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