ProtonMail Artifacts from Memory Dump

“Physical Access = Total Access”. In this post we will take a quick look at pulling ProtonMail artifacts from a Windows 10 process memory dump.

It’s been a very long time since I have posted on my blog. I have been very busy with a couple new book writing projects, but I have missed doing regular blog posts. Ran into this today and thought it would be a good post to hopefully get back on the blogging horse. Let me say before we get started that I am a big ProtonMail fan, and highly recommend it. I am not breaking their encryption or anything fancy like that, just simply pulling artifacts that belong to a ProtonMail session out of the computer’s memory.

Last year I covered how to pull Word documents out of Windows memory using a remote Kali Linux shell.  Using the same techniques and tools covered in that article you can do the same to recover ProtonMail artifacts.

As a test I crafted an e-mail using text from the Boba Fett Wikipedia entry. I figured the word “Boba” would make a good canary, a word that would be easily found in the memory dump.

The test e-mail looked like this in ProtonMail:

Bobba Fett Test 1

I then performed a memory dump on the Firefox process:

  • The “tasklist” command returned the Firefox process ID
  • Then, “procdump64 -ma [Process ID or you can just use ‘firefox.exe’] mem_dump_filename
  • And then, “strings64 mem_dump_filename.dmp > Protonmail.txt

The procdump command copies memory in use by the Firefox process to a file. The resultant file is very large, so the strings command is used to pull text strings out of the dump and save them to a much smaller file called “Protonmail.txt”.

I then manually searched through the resultant .txt file for artifacts.

I found the source e-mail address, and the e-mail subject. A little farther down I found the entire e-mail text as seen below:

Bobba Fett Test 2Comparing the two images you can see that the entire e-mail text was recovered from the memory dump. I was also able to view the contents of every e-mail that was opened during the session (not shown) and most, if not all e-mail contacts that I have in ProtonMail.

This shows that if you have physical access to a system, you could recover ProtonMail artifacts including entire messages from a memory dump. The moral of this story, as a Linux guru once told me – “physical access equals total access”. If you have physical access (including remote access) to a system, you can recover many interesting things from system memory. That is why it is important to secure physical access to your systems.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my book, “Intermediate Security Testing with Kali Linux 2” which has an entire section on performing Forensics with Kali Linux.




Pulling Remote Word Documents from RAM using Kali Linux

Really enjoyed the article on W00tsec about pulling RAW picture images from memory dumps and thought it would be cool if you could use the same process to pull information from a remote system’s memory using Kali – and you can!

In this tutorial we will see how to pull a Word document from a remote machine’s memory, parse it for text and view it in Kali Linux.

The target system is a Windows 7 PC running Office 2010. We will start with a remote metasploit meterpreter shell session already active. So basically we tricked our test system into running our booby trapped file which created a back door to our Kali system.

So we want to grab the remote memory, but we only want the memory in use by the Word process. Following the w00tsec tutorial we just need to use the SysInternals ProcDump command. ProcDump is available from Microsoft’s Technet site, it is part of the SysInternals Suite. This command allows you to pull memory for specific processes.

You may want to grab the SysInternal’s “Strings” program too while you are there. “Strings” is a Windows version of the Linux command that we will be using later.

These programs will need to be uploaded to the target system from Meterpreter.

Next, in the Metasploit DOS shell, type “tasklist” to see what is running on the remote Windows system:


Further down the list we see that the user has an open session of MS Word (WINWORD.EXE):


Run the procdump command using the “-ma” switch and the process name “WINWORD.EXE”, lastly we will call the resultant dump file “word” as seen below:


We now have a memory dump stored on our remote system called “word.dmp”. The file is pretty large, 362 MB, we could just download that file back to our Kali system – but we can shrink it. We are really only looking for text in the memory dump. We have two options here, we can use the SysInternals “Strings” program to work through the data dump and remove all the text from it (significantly reducing the download size) or we can download the whole file en-mass  back to our Kali system and use the Linux “strings” command to parse it.

The choice is yours, but I will say with just using the default program settings in both, the Linux one did a much better job of parsing the file.

But basically the command is the same in both versions, “strings word.dmp > word.txt

Now if we open the resultant text file in Kali, we see a ton of information – System settings, variables that are set on the system, I even found registry keys mentioned. But eventually we will see this (Produced with the Linux strings command):

Kali Strings Result

Compare that to the Word document we have open on the Windows 7 machine:

Original Document

As you can see the Nmap user manual open on our Windows 7 system has been successfully grabbed from memory remotely, and we can now view the text on our Kali system!

I know there are other forensics programs out there that will do basically the same thing, and this is not a forensically sound way of preserving data needed in a legal case, but it is a lot of fun doing this manually and opens up some interesting possibilities!

The best way to defend against these types of attacks are to follow good security practices against social engineering and Phishing type attacks. An attacker would need a remote connection to your system to be able to pull items from your memory. Do not open unknown or unsolicited attachments in e-mails. Be leery of odd sounding links sent to you from a friend’s account and use a script blocker and good AV Internet security program when surfing the web.

Want to learn more about Kali Linux and Metasploit? Check out my book, “Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux“.

Hakin9 Magazine Features “Pulling Passwords from Memory Dump” Article

Hakin9 is well known in the security circles and is just a great magazine. It is known as “A magazine for IT security professionals by IT security professionals”. It covers some of the latest information on attack and defense tactics that are out there.

For those of you who are not familiar with Hakin9, the Worldwide IT Security magazine started in 2005 and is released 4 times a month:

  • Hakin9 (release date:1stof each month) – 50 pages of content dedicated to IT security, few regular columns written by specialists
  • Hakin9 Mobile (release date: 7th of each month) – 40 pages of content devoted to hacking and security of mobile devices and applications
  • Hakin9 Extra (release date: 15thof each month) – 50 pages of strictly topical content dedicated each time to different hot security topic
  • Exploiting Software (release date: 22nd of each month) – 40 pages of content dedicated to latest software exploits and security

This months Exploiting Software magazine has some interesting articles including:

Starting to Write Your Own Linux Schellcode
Buffer Overflow Exploitation A to Z
Anatomy of the Black Hole Exploit Kit
Hacking Applets: A Reverse Engineering Approach
The Gentoo Hardened Project: Or How to Minimize Exploits Risks

And, forgive me for some shameless self promotion, How to Recover Passwords from a Memory Dump.

How to Recover Passwords from a Memory Dump

Malware analysis is an amazing field. To be able to grab a memory dump from a live machine and then have the capabilities to pull useful information from it just amazes the author. Can we find pertinent system settings, and even pull information from them? Were you ever curious about what could be done with a memory dump of an active computer? This article is a short demonstration on how to acquire a memory dump from a running system, and then how to use tools to not only recover the system password hashes from the memory dump, but also how to decode them.

The Hakin9 article I wrote is based on the memory forensics topics & hash cracking posts that have been covered recently here on CyberArms. I am pretty excited about it, and hope you like it too.

Check it out!

Memory Forensics: Pull Process & Network Connections from a Memory Dump

In the previous article, we learned how to pull passwords from a memory dump file. This time, we will cover viewing a process list and network connections out of captured memory files.

Volatility’s “pslist” command can be used to view the processes that were running on a Windows system:

volatility pslist -f memdumpfilename.raw –profile=Win7SP1x86 (Use double dashes in front of profile for some reason they are showing up as a single)

From the output of the command, we see the physical memory location, process name and the PID number of all process that were running on the system. This helps deduce if something was running on the computer that should not have been and as you will see in a future article, allows you to view programs that may be running under the process.

The next step is to view all network connections that were active from the memory dump:

volatility netscan -f memdumpfilename.raw –profile=Win7SP1x86 (Use double dashes in front of profile)

The data returned shows all network connections, including the process name, source and destination IP addresses – including ports. This is just a short snip of what was actually returned, the actual list is easily twice as long. This information helps the analyst see if there were any strange network connections active. Or can help the penetration tester gain valuable information about the network.

The last command that we will look at this time is “bioskbd“.

volatility bioskbd -f memdumpfilename.raw –profile=Win7SP1x86 (Use double dashes in front of profile)

As you can see there is no data returned on this memory dump. But what does “bioskbd” actually do? This interesting command has the ability to pull passwords that are resident from the bios cache buffer. Though most newer systems (like the system that this memory dump was taken from) purge the bios keyboard buffer, many older ones did not. On an old system you might be able to retrieve BIOS boot passwords, or even the passwords for disk encryption systems.

That’s it for this post, on the next Memory Forensics post, we will take a look at pulling malware samples off of a system infected with STUXNET!