Malware in a MSG

Even though sending malware via zipped attachments in spam emails is nothing new and had been around for eons but many people are still puzzled at how it works. Thus, I will go through with you on how to do it with Profiler. I will try to fill in required information about where to look out for information and how decode some of the information.

Firstly, we are going to learn how are a bit about the .msg file format and how is it used to store a message object in a .msg file, which then can be shared between clients or message stores that use the file system.

From an investigator’s point of view, you should always analyze the .msg file without installing Outlook. In order to analyze the .msg file without Outlook, we can read more about the file format from:


The purpose of this post is to give a better technical understanding of how attackers makes use spam emails to spread malware.

[ Sample used in the analysis ]
MD5: BC1DF9947B9CF27B2A826E3B68C897B4
SHA256: C7AC39F8240268099EC49A3A4FF76174A50F1906BBB40AE6F88425AF303A44BB
Sample: Sample

[ Part 1 : Getting Started ]
For those who want to follow along, this is a link to the .msg file. Do note, this is a MALICIOUS file, so please do the analysis in a “safe” environment. The password to the attachment is “infected29A

Now, let’s start getting our hands dirty…and open the suspicious .msg file.

The msg file is already flagged by Profiler, as it contains some suspicious features.
Each “__substg” contains valuable pieces of information. The first four of the eight digits at the end tells you what kind of information it is (Property). The last four digits tells you the type (binary, ascii, Unicode, etc)

  • 0x007d: Message header
  • 0x0C1A: Sender name
  • 0x0C1F: Sender email
  • 0x0E1D: Subject (normalized)
  • 0x1000: Message body

[ Part 2 : Email investigation ]
If we are interested in email investigation, let’s check out the following file, “__substg1.0_0C1F001F”.

As we can see below, the sender’s email address is “
But is it really sent from Netherlands?

Well, let’s check out the message header located in “__substg1.0_007D001F” to verify that.

If we were to do through the message header, do a whois on “” and check out the MX server. We can confirm that the sender is spoofing email as well.

From the message header, we can conclude that the sender sent the email from “” as shown in the image and the extracted message header as shown below.

    Received: from [] ([])
    by (8.14.4/8.13.8) with ESMTP id u44L8X41032666
    for <>; Thu, 5 May 2016 06:08:35 +0900

Whois information showed that IP address where this spam email is sent from is from Vietnam.
But it doesn’t mean that the attacker is from Vietnam. Anyone in the world can buy web hosting services in Vietnam. This is just to let you know that the attacker is definitely not sending from “

[ Part 3 : Email investigation ]
Using this information opening the “__substg1.0_0E1D001F” file and we can see the subject, “Re:

Hmmmm…this doesn’t look any useful at all. Let’s try opening the file, “__substg1.0_1000001F”, containing the “subject body” instead.

      “Hi, info

Please find attached document you requested. The attached file is your account balance and transactions history.

Muriel Quinn”

Awesome, Muriel Quinn is sending me my account balance and transactions history which I may or may not have requested at all. Awesome, he is also attaching the files to the email just for me. This is definitely suspicious to me.

[ Part 4 : Email attachment ]
Now that we are interested in the attachments, let’s look at “Root Entry/__attach_version1.0_#00000000” and refer to the specifications again.

  • //Attachments (37xx):
  • 0x3701: Attachment data
  • 0x3703: Attach extension
  • 0x3704: Attach filename
  • 0x3707: Attach long filenm
  • 0x370E: Attach mime tag

If we were to look at “__substg1.0_3704001F”, we will see that the filename of the attachment is called “” and the display name “__substg1.0_3001001F” of the attachment is called “”.

Now let’s look at the actual data located within “__substg1.0_37010102” as shown below.

Now, let’s press “Ctrl+A” to select the entire contents. Then copy it into a new file as shown in the image below.

But as we can see on the left, Profiler can identify what is inside the attachment. There are 3 Javascript files inside the .zip file.

Now let’s fire up “New Text View” and copy the contents of “transactions 774219.js” as shown below.

Press “Ctrl+R” and select “Beautify JavaScript” and Profiler will “JSBeautify” it for you. But let’s add some “Colouring” to it by doing “Right-click -> Language -> JavaScript” as shown below.

We can use Profiler to debug the JavaScript but I shall leave that as an exercise for the readers.
The decoded JavaScript will look something like this.

As we can see from the image above, it is downloading from “http://infograffo[.]com[.]br/lkdd9ikfds” and saving it as “ew3FbUdAB.exe” in the victims’ TEMP directory.

We won’t be going through on reversing the malware.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoyed reading this and would be happy to receive your feedback!

PDF/XDP Malware Reversing

Recently version 2.6 of Profiler has been released and among the improvements support for XDP has been introduced. For those of you who are unfamiliar with XPD, here’s the Wikipedia description:

“XML Data Package (XDP) is an XML file format created by Adobe Systems in 2003. It is intended to be an XML-based companion to PDF. It allows PDF content and/or Adobe XML Forms Architecture (XFA) resources to be packaged within an XML container.

XDP is XML 1.0 compliant. The XDP may be a standalone document or it may in turn be carried inside a PDF document.

XDP provides a mechanism for packaging form components within a surrounding XML container. An XDP can also package a PDF file, along with XML form and template data. When the XFA (XML Forms Architecture) grammars used for an XFA form are moved from one application to another, they must be packaged as an XML Data Package.”

So I’ll use the occasion to show the reversing of a nice PDF with all the goodies. Let’s open the suspicious PDF.

The PDF is already heavily flagged by Profiler, as it contains many suspicious features.

If we take a look, just out of curiosity, at the object 8 of the PDF we will notice that the XDP data contains a bogus endstream keyword to fool the parsers of security solutions.

Profiler handles this correctly, so we don’t have to do anything, just worth mentioning.

Let’s take a look at the raw XDP data.

As you can see, it is completely unreadable because of the XML escaped characters. Even this is not really important for us, since the XML parser of Profiler handles this automatically, again just worth mentioning.

So let’s open directly the embedded XDP child and we can see a readable and nicely indented XML.

We can see that the XML contains JavaScript code, but Profiler already warns us of this. So let’s just click on the warning.

The code isn’t readable. So let’s select the JavaScript portion and then press Ctrl+R->Beautify JavaScript.

Much better, isn’t it?

The code is quite easy to understand although it’s obfuscated. It takes a value straight from the XDP, processes it and then calls eval on it.

This is the value it takes:

What we want is the result of the processing, before eval is called. So what I did is to modify slightly the JavaScript code like this:

I didn’t paste now the entire value in here as it was way too big, but I did so in the code edit:

At this point, we can just press Ctrl+R->Debug/Execute JavaScript and get the result of the execution.

We will get the following code:

What it does is basically to spray the heap using an array. It changes the payload based on the version of Adobe Reader. The version is retrieved by calling the _l5 function.

Now we could just examine the _l1 or _l2 payloads directly, but just to make sure I let the code generate a spray portion. So I changed the code accordingly and avoided to actually spray a lot of data.

We can run this script in the JavaScript debugger (Ctrl+R->Debug JavaScript).

The final print will give us the payload in memory. We can copy the just the initial part, avoiding the padding. Let’s paste the string into a text editor in Profiler and then Ctrl+R->Hex string to bytes.

If we look at the payload, we can see that the beginning (the marked portion) looks like ROP code. So in order to avoid looking for the gadgets in memory, let’s skip the ROP as it most likely is only going to jump to the actual shellcode. Let’s assume that is the case and thus focus on the data which follows.

We can see a web address at the end of the data. So we could just assume that the shellcode downloads an executable and runs it. But just for the sake of completeness, let’s analyze it.

We can of course disassemble the shellcode by applying a filter to it (Ctrl+T->x86 disasm). But what we’ll do is to use a debugger via Ctrl+R->Shellcode to execute. This way we can quickly step through what it does.

Here’s the commented code:

So yes, in the end it just downloads the file from the address we’ve seen and tries to execute it, then tries to register it as a COM object. Some AV-evasion techniques are also present.