Max van der Horst
Security Specialist NorthWave
Technical Security Specialist with experience in strategic and tactical reasoning inside the Cyber Security domain. Special interests include Cyber Threat Intelligence and the impact of geopolitics on Cyber Security, the (mis)application of cryptography and knowledge sharing / tutoring. I have previously worked in both operational and strategic roles, resulting in having learnt the value and application of both.
Currently, I am studying at the Security and Network Engineering master’s at the University of Amsterdam besides working as a Security Specialist for Northwave. In my evening hours, I am researching and participating in the global Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure for the Dutch Institute for Vulnerability Disclosure and acting as board secretary for the DIVD Academy.
WSL 2 and Security: Productivity Booster or Achilles Heel?
Recent malware attacks on WSL 2 (Windows Subsystem for Linux 2) have been opening up the discussion on whether or not WSL 2 can be used for efficient and undetected cyber-attacks. However, does (the lack of) Windows’s security relate to these attacks? This research focuses on the ability of Windows to fend off or detect any attacks originating from WSL 2 with the goal of shedding a light on some weaker points inherent to the use of the subsystem.
Furthermore, some attacks are forged with the goal of cross-referencing to suggest recommendations that make Windows safer against the proposed classes of attacks. Through so-called attacker stories, the research includes the evaluation of multiple points of interest in the subsystem on which experiments have been conducted on three levels of security. The results of these experiments show that attacks are possible that mostly revolve around the inability of Windows to detect activity within WSL 2. Therefore, the proposed recommendations largely focus on expanding the detection capabilities of Windows to include logs from within WSL 2 as well as publishing in-depth documentation and making potential security risk features optional.
With the finalization of the attack scenarios and recommendations, the conclusion could be drawn that Windows detects events passing through Windows itself, however, lacks detective capability for activity in WSL 2. This makes WSL 2 a very interesting attack vector and defense evasion tool for a potential threat actor. By implementing the recommendations, these options become a lot more limited.
This presentation is co-presented with Rares Bratean, Senior Threat Intelligence Analyst at Signify.
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