Extracting IP and port from a meterpreter payload

When attacker has already gained access to our network and he managed to steal some passwords or hashes, he is usually looking to break into something more interesting than HR workstation. This is a time when he uses stolen passwords to gain access to servers crucial for his operations.

If you see a service installation event (7045) in your System log, with powershell code containing a gzipped payload, this is most likely an evidence of attacker’s lateral movement.

Evidence of lateral movement

This is how it looks like form attacker’s perspective. Note that despite the 6 hours time difference (different timezone – something to always check for during your investigations), this is the same event.

Attacker exploiting stolen credentials to gain access to a server

Unfortunately the windows event doesn’t tell us straight away who performed the attack. User account that installed a service is the one that got compromised but we don’t know by who. There are multiple ways to associate this event with the attacker. For example you may want to try to correlate with User Logon type 3 from Security log. This will tell you which IP was used to login on compromised credentials, which will be most likely an IP of the attacker.

User logon on compromised credentials. Visible IP of the attacker.

However if you don’t have this information available immediately (let’s say you received only this one event as alert from monitoring) or you just want to confirm it, or you suspect that attacker are using different IPs to login that to perform rest of his actions, you may want to dive into the powershell code.

If you take a closer look this is a gzip compressed payload, so we should decompress it for further investigation. It can be done by powershell of course, CyberChef, Linux command, python and many other tools. After unpacking, code looks like this:

Meterpreter payload after unpacking

Without diving into details it is a powershell code injecting a particular shellcode (the long base64 string) into the memory. However all the artifacts that we are interested in are in the shellcode itself. Therefore we can decode and disassemble it with any x86 disassembler (CyberChef also has this option). After going through code that mostly resolves required WinAPI functions, finally we can see that it pushes two 32-bit values on the stack:

They are related to WinSock API data structure sockaddr (more info here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/WinSock/sockaddr-2). First value from top is an IP address (be careful bytes are reversed on disassembly!) and the second one is a port and a constant 0002 (AF_INET) which indicates it is a TCP/IP stack. If you decode these values you will get the port and the IP.

There is also an x64 version of this payload, it looks a little different on disassembly because of a different calling convention for x64 architecture:

Note that here the entire structure is moved to the stack (not pushed) as a single QWORD (64-bit value)

I created a CyberChef recipe that allows to extract IP address and port from both 32 and 64-bit versions.

{"op":"Regular expression","args":["User defined","[a-zA-Z0-9=/+]{30,}",true,true,false,false,false,false,"List matches"]},{"op":"From Base64","args":["A-Za-z0-9+/=",true]},{"op":"Gunzip","args":[]},{"op":"Regular expression","args":["User defined","[a-zA-Z0-9=/+]{30,}",true,true,false,false,false,false,"List matches"]},{"op":"From Base64","args":["A-Za-z0-9+/=",true]},{"op":"To Hex","args":["None"]},{"op":"Conditional Jump","args":["68([0-9a-f]{8})680200([0-9a-f]{4})",false,"standard",10]},{"op":"Conditional Jump","args":["49bc0200([0-9a-f]{4})([0-9a-f]{8})",false,"reverse",10]},{"op":"Label","args":["standard"]},{"op":"Regular expression","args":["User defined","68([0-9a-f]{8})680200([0-9a-f]{4})",true,true,false,false,false,false,"List capture groups"]},{"op":"Split","args":["\n",":"]},{"op":"Subsection","args":[":([0-9a-f]{4})$",true,true,false]},{"op":"From Base","args":[16]},{"op":"Merge","args":[]},{"op":"Subsection","args":["^([0-9a-f]{8}):",true,true,false]},{"op":"From Hex","args":["Auto"]},{"op":"To Decimal","args":["Space",false]},{"op":"Split","args":[" ","."]},{"op":"Jump","args":["finish",10]},{"op":"Label","args":["reverse"]},{"op":"Regular expression","args":["User defined","49bc0200([0-9a-f]{4})([0-9a-f]{8})",true,true,false,false,false,false,"List capture groups"]},{"op":"Split","args":["\n",":"]},{"op":"Subsection","args":[":([0-9a-f]{8})$",true,true,false]},{"op":"From Hex","args":["Auto"]},{"op":"To Decimal","args":["Space",false]},{"op":"Split","args":[" ","."]},{"op":"Subsection","args":["^([0-9a-f]{4}):",true,true,false]},{"op":"From Base","args":[16]},{"op":"Label","args":["finish"]}]

It can also be found here:

Unfortunately CyberChef seems to be a little bit bugged lately (regular expressions doesn’t load correctly) and it seems to have some issues with branching so I also created a simple JavaScript tool for the same purpose. You can find it here:


It is a standalone script so you can launch it in any browser (tested in Chrome though), paste a meterpreter payload, press Extract IP and it should work.

That should be working for most default meterpreter payloads, although I did not test it enough to be sure. Also for any custom lateral movement payloads this will most likely break. 

Deobfuscating Emotet’s powershell payload

Emotet is a banking trojan, targeting computer users since around 2014. During that time it has changed its structure a lot. Lately we see massive emotet spam campaigns, using multiple phishing methods to bait users to download and launch a malicious payload, usually in the form of a weaponized Word document.

Emotet's chain of infection
Emotet’s chain of infection

First user receives a fake e-mail, trying to persuade him to click on the link, where the weaponized doc is being downloaded. Document is then trying to trick user to enable content and allow macros in order to launch embedded VBA code. VBA is obfuscated. We can also deobfuscate it, but in the end it launches a powershell command. Let’s skip VBA deobuscation today, as I want to focus on powershell. We can obtain powershell command launched by VBA code without deobfuscation, by using any sandbox with powershell auditing. Continue reading “Deobfuscating Emotet’s powershell payload”