Upatre’s gadgetry

May 24, 2014 in Compromise Detection, Forensic Analysis, Malware Analysis

During last week I have seen News reports talking about spam campaign delivering the malware that is using a .gadget file extension. Since one of my spambait accounts got it as well I decided to run a quick test and write down what I found about it.

And just in case you are wondering – despite the Gadgets being retired they still work.

The malicious attachment is called internal_use_only.gadget; Gadget files are zip files so one can enumerate their content e.g. with 7Zip:

Path = internal_use_only.gadget
Type = zip
Physical Size = 6878

   Date      Time    Attr         Size   Compressed  Name
------------------- ----- ------------ ------------  ------------------------
2014-05-16 12:45:26 ....A          335          220  gadget.html
2014-05-16 12:44:14 ....A        10240         6151  main.exe
2014-05-15 22:08:40 ....A          326          199  gadget.xml
------------------- ----- ------------ ------------  ------------------------
                                 10901         6570  3 files, 0 folders

If dropped in a folder, we can see the icon of a Gadget

gadgetThe content of the gadget.xml:


The content of the gadget.html:

gadget_htmland the third file is a small executable called main.exe.

Quick analysis confirmed it’s Upatre, a well-known Zeus downloader.

When main.exe is executed it drops its copy as %TEMP%\ycare.exe and appends the original path to the main.exe so that ycare.exe can delete it once it’s executed. The executed ycare.exe attempts to connect to just* [ . ]com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/1605UKmw.enc or grab the very same file from dot*[ . ]com/fonts/1605UKmw.enc.

If the user is silly enough to open this gadget on the computer the warning popup will show up:


If the user is silly^2 enough, the ‘gadget’ will be ‘added’ to the Sidebar:


– and the malware thingie will run.

The Gadgets leave Gadgetish remnants on the system and they can be potentially used to determine the original attack vector:

  • %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\
  • %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\

and also

  • %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Settings.ini

– the latter will contain the description of Gadget(s) added to the system

Other artifacts are less reliable e.g.:

  • HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\MuiCache

may contain references to Sidebar binaries and

  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

may contain the entry starting Sidebar via

  • C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\sidebar.exe /autoRun

– it’s less reliable, because users may have other Gadgets installed and Sidebar installation is nothing unusual in their environment.

Nothing extraordinary – just yet another creative way to deliver the badness.

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