Researchers can't identify programming language used in Duqu, ask for help

The programming language used to write parts of the Duqu malware remains a mystery despite countless hours of analysis

Malware experts from Kaspersky Lab have asked the programming community for help identifying the programming language, compiler or framework that was used to write an important part of the Duqu Trojan, in the hope that it could reveal clues about who created it or why.

"When we checked Duqu it looked totally unknown and that was very curious, because it's unclear why something very custom was developed and used," said Vitaly Kamluk, chief malware expert with Kaspersky Lab's global research & analysis team.

Understanding how a piece of malware was created can offer clues about where to look for it next or the level of resources required for its development, the security expert said.

Some parts of the Duqu payload DLL, the component responsible for interacting with the command and control servers, downloading and executing additional modules, and performing other tasks, were written in standard C++, but a big chunk of it was not.

"This slice is different from others, because it was not compiled from C++ sources. It contains no references to any standard or user-written C++ functions, but is definitely object-oriented," said Kaspersky Lab expert Igor Soumenkov in a blog post that describes the particularities of the unfamiliar code.

Kaspersky researchers refer to this portion of the Trojan as "The Duqu Framework" and believe that it might have been created by a different programming team. The unusual code is also particular to Duqu and doesn't exist in Stuxnet, unlike some other parts that were directly borrowed from the infamous industrial sabotage malware.

"The mysterious programming language is definitively NOT C++, Objective C, Java, Python, Ada, Lua and many other languages we have checked," Soumenkov said, adding that Kaspersky's research team has spent countless hours analyzing the code.

The company's researchers even discussed it with third-party experts, but didn't get any closer to solving the mystery. "It looks absolutely alien," Kamluk said.

Finally, Kaspersky Lab appealed to the entire programming community in the hope that someone might recognize the code constructions and figure out what was framework, toolkit or language was used.

The company has received various suggestions in comments on its blog, that range from F, D, Iron Python, High-Level Assembly, Common LISP, Forth, Erlang, Vala, to more exotic tools like RoseRT, which one user claims was used in secure government projects.

"It took us several weeks to check commonly used programming languages and various compilers," Kamluk said. "So, I guess it may also take some time to check other suggestions."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucian Constantin

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?