Trojan.Mdropper

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Discovered: March 19, 2005
Updated: November 17, 2015 11:27:04 PM
Type: Trojan
Systems Affected: Windows

Trojan.Mdropper is a detection name used by Symantec to identify malicious software programs that exploit Microsoft Word or Excel vulnerabilities to drop other malware on to the compromised computer.

A Trojan.Mdropper is a type of Trojan whose purpose is to deliver an enclosed payload onto a destination host computer. A dropper is a means to an end rather than the end itself. In other words, the dropper is usually used at the start or in the early stages of a malware attack.

Once this threat is executed, its own code is simply to load itself into memory and then extract the malware payload and write it to the file system. It may perform any installation procedures and execute the newly dropped malware. The dropper usually ceases to execute at this point as its primary function has been accomplished.

This type of threat is used by malware creators to disguise their malware. They create confusion amongst users by making them look like legitimate Microsoft Word or Excel files. They may also perform actions that mislead the user into thinking that nothing untoward is happening on the computer when in fact the Trojan may have already dropped and executed other malicious software.

If a Symantec antivirus product displays a detection alert for this threat, it means the computer is already protected against this threat and the Symantec product will effectively remove this threat from the computer.

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version March 19, 2005
  • Latest Rapid Release version October 15, 2018 revision 034
  • Initial Daily Certified version March 19, 2005 revision 007
  • Latest Daily Certified version October 15, 2018 revision 033
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date March 23, 2005

Click here for a more detailed description of Rapid Release and Daily Certified virus definitions.

Writeup By: Jarrad Shearer and Hon Lau

Discovered: March 19, 2005
Updated: November 17, 2015 11:27:04 PM
Type: Trojan
Systems Affected: Windows

Trojan.Mdropper is a detection name used by Symantec to identify malicious software programs that exploit Microsoft Word or Excel vulnerabilities to drop other malware on to the compromised computer.


Background information
A Trojan.Mdropper is a type of Trojan whose purpose is to deliver an enclosed payload onto a destination host computer. A dropper is a means to an end rather than the end itself. In other words, the dropper is usually used at the start or in the early stages of a malware attack.

Throughout the history of malicious software, the creators of malware have always looked for ways to bypass security software and stealthily install malware onto computers. Using a dropper is one method that is often used. Droppers primarily act as container files or an envelope in which to transport a malware payload from one computer to another. Once a dropper is executed, its own code is simply to load itself into memory and then extract the malware payload and write it to the file system. It may perform any installation procedures and execute the newly dropped malware. The dropper usually ceases to execute at this point as its primary function has been accomplished.

Malware authors use droppers as a method to confuse the user and make it more difficult for them to notice anything untoward that may be happening. In the case of Trojan.Mdropper, the threat exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Word or Excel to drop its payload. The user opens a file that is purportedly a Word or Excel file and when the file is opened, the threat drops its payload in the background, sight unseen. An error message may be displayed or the file may open correctly but regardless the user is unaware that other files have been dropped and executed and are performing other malicious activities with the user being totally unaware.





Who creates droppers?
Trojan.Mdroppers are created by malware authors to help distribute their creations. They provide an easy, low cost, and low risk means of disguising their software and covering their tracks during malware distribution. The droppers can be easily made to look like any other Word or Excel file by giving them Word or Excel icons and extension names to avoid them being recognized by users.


What is dropped?
The content that is dropped varies from one example to the next. The malicious files that are dropped may include executable file types, such as .exe, .com, .scr and .dll. When these are executed they may perform any number of malicious actions.


Are there any tell-tale signs?
Droppers containing malicious software are generally discrete programs that attempt to mask their true purpose by masquerading as other software in the classic sense of the term Trojan horse. Some droppers may drop and execute their payloads while displaying a fake error message, while others may show nothing at all.

In the latter case it is possible that any tell-tale signs seen may be those caused by the dropped payload rather than the dropper itself. File system comparison programs run before and after execution of the dropper may show additional files created by the dropper if no rootkits are dropped and executed. Other signs may include registry changes or other system configuration changes that may be made by the dropper as it drops and installs its payload.


What are the risks?
The dangers posed by droppers are somewhat open-ended. As a dropper may enclose virtually anything at all, the scope of the damage it can potentially cause is only limited to what it can successfully dropped. On a positive note, even if the original dropper file itself is not detected by security software, there is a chance that the dropped payload may already be detected as an attempt is made to write it to the disk.


What can I do to minimize the risks?
As a general rule, users should always run up-to-date antivirus software with real-time protection such as Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360 or Symantec Endpoint Protection . In addition, a firewall -- or better still, an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) -- will help to block download activities initiated by these types of malicious programs. Program controls such as those found in Symantec Endpoint Protection can also help to prevent programs such as these from executing in the first place.

This threat may exploit one of several vulnerabilities found in Microsoft Word and Excel. Applying software updates to the affected software will help to reduce the risk of compromise. Examples of vulnerabilities used by this threat are as follows:



How can I find out more?
Advanced users can submit a sample to Threat Expert to obtain a detailed report of the system and file system changes caused by a threat.

Recommendations

Symantec Security Response encourages all users and administrators to adhere to the following basic security "best practices":

  • Use a firewall to block all incoming connections from the Internet to services that should not be publicly available. By default, you should deny all incoming connections and only allow services you explicitly want to offer to the outside world.
  • Enforce a password policy. Complex passwords make it difficult to crack password files on compromised computers. This helps to prevent or limit damage when a computer is compromised.
  • Ensure that programs and users of the computer use the lowest level of privileges necessary to complete a task. When prompted for a root or UAC password, ensure that the program asking for administration-level access is a legitimate application.
  • Disable AutoPlay to prevent the automatic launching of executable files on network and removable drives, and disconnect the drives when not required. If write access is not required, enable read-only mode if the option is available.
  • Turn off file sharing if not needed. If file sharing is required, use ACLs and password protection to limit access. Disable anonymous access to shared folders. Grant access only to user accounts with strong passwords to folders that must be shared.
  • Turn off and remove unnecessary services. By default, many operating systems install auxiliary services that are not critical. These services are avenues of attack. If they are removed, threats have less avenues of attack.
  • If a threat exploits one or more network services, disable, or block access to, those services until a patch is applied.
  • Always keep your patch levels up-to-date, especially on computers that host public services and are accessible through the firewall, such as HTTP, FTP, mail, and DNS services.
  • Configure your email server to block or remove email that contains file attachments that are commonly used to spread threats, such as .vbs, .bat, .exe, .pif and .scr files.
  • Isolate compromised computers quickly to prevent threats from spreading further. Perform a forensic analysis and restore the computers using trusted media.
  • Train employees not to open attachments unless they are expecting them. Also, do not execute software that is downloaded from the Internet unless it has been scanned for viruses. Simply visiting a compromised Web site can cause infection if certain browser vulnerabilities are not patched.
  • If Bluetooth is not required for mobile devices, it should be turned off. If you require its use, ensure that the device's visibility is set to "Hidden" so that it cannot be scanned by other Bluetooth devices. If device pairing must be used, ensure that all devices are set to "Unauthorized", requiring authorization for each connection request. Do not accept applications that are unsigned or sent from unknown sources.
  • For further information on the terms used in this document, please refer to the Security Response glossary.

Writeup By: Jarrad Shearer and Hon Lau

Discovered: March 19, 2005
Updated: November 17, 2015 11:27:04 PM
Type: Trojan
Systems Affected: Windows

You may have arrived at this page either because you have been alerted by your Symantec product about this risk, or you are concerned that your computer has been affected by this risk.

Before proceeding further we recommend that you run a full system scan . If that does not resolve the problem you can try one of the options available below.



FOR NORTON USERS
If you are a Norton product user, we recommend you try the following resources to remove this risk.

Removal Tool


If you have an infected Windows system file, you may need to replace them using from the Windows installation CD .


How to reduce the risk of infection
The following resources provide further information and best practices to help reduce the risk of infection.


FOR BUSINESS USERS
If you are a Symantec business product user, we recommend you try the following resources to remove this risk.

Identifying and submitting suspect files
Submitting suspicious files to Symantec allows us to ensure that our protection capabilities keep up with the ever-changing threat landscape. Submitted files are analyzed by Symantec Security Response and, where necessary, updated definitions are immediately distributed through LiveUpdate™ to all Symantec end points. This ensures that other computers nearby are protected from attack. The following resources may help in identifying suspicious files for submission to Symantec.


Removal Tool

If you have an infected Windows system file, you may need to replace them using from the Windows installation CD .


How to reduce the risk of infection
The following resource provides further information and best practices to help reduce the risk of infection.
Protecting your business network



MANUAL REMOVAL
The following instructions pertain to all current Symantec antivirus products.

1. Performing a full system scan
How to run a full system scan using your Symantec product


2. Restoring settings in the registry
Many risks make modifications to the registry, which could impact the functionality or performance of the compromised computer. While many of these modifications can be restored through various Windows components, it may be necessary to edit the registry. See in the Technical Details of this writeup for information about which registry keys were created or modified. Delete registry subkeys and entries created by the risk and return all modified registry entries to their previous values.

Writeup By: Jarrad Shearer and Hon Lau