nysm: A stealth post-exploitation container

nysm: A stealth post-exploitation container

With the rise in popularity of offensive tools based on eBPF, going from credential stealers to rootkits hiding their own PID, a question came to our mind: Would it be possible to make eBPF invisible in its own eyes? From there, we created nysm, an eBPF stealth container meant to make offensive tools fly under the radar of System Administrators, not only by hiding eBPF, but much more:

  • bpftool
  • bpflist-bpfcc
  • ps
  • top
  • sockstat
  • ss
  • rkhunter
  • chkrootkit
  • lsof
  • auditd
  • etc…

All these tools go blind to what goes through the nysm. It hides:

  • New eBPF programs ⚙️
  • New eBPF maps 🗺️
  • New eBPF links 🔗
  • New Auditd generated logs 📰
  • New PIDs 🪪
  • New sockets 🔌

How it works

In general

As eBPF cannot overwrite returned values or kernel addresses, our goal is to find the lowest level call interacting with a userspace address to overwrite its value and hide the desired objects.

To differentiate nysm events from the others, everything runs inside a separated PID namespace.

Hide eBPF objects

bpftool has some features nysm wants to evade: bpftool prog list, bpftool map list, and bpftool link list.

As with any eBPF program, bpftool uses the bpf() system call, and more specifically with the BPF_PROG_GET_NEXT_ID, BPF_MAP_GET_NEXT_ID and BPF_LINK_GET_NEXT_ID commands. The result of these calls is stored in the userspace address pointed by the attr argument.

To overwrite uattr, a tracepoint is set on the bpf() entry to store the pointed address in a map. Once done, it waits for the bpf() exit tracepoint. When bpf() exists, nysm can read and write through the bpf_attr structure. After each BPF_*_GET_NEXT_ID, bpf_attr.start_id is replaced by bpf_attr.next_id.

In order to hide specific IDs, it checks bpf_attr.next_id and replaces it with the next ID that was not created in nysm.

The program, map, and link IDs are collected from security_bpf_prog()security_bpf_map(), and bpf_link_prime().

Hide Auditd logs

Auditd receives its logs from recvfrom() which stores its messages in a buffer.

If the message received was generated by a nysm process through audit_log_end(), it replaces the message length in its nlmsghdr header by 0.


Hiding PIDs with eBPF is nothing new. nysm hides new alloc_pid() PIDs from getdents64() in /proc by changing the length of the previous record.

As getdents64() requires to loop through all its files, the eBPF instructions limit is easily reached. Therefore, nysm uses tail calls before reaching it.

Hide sockets

Hiding sockets is a big word. In fact, opened sockets are already hidden from many tools as they cannot find the process in /proc. Nevertheless, ss uses socket() with the NETLINK_SOCK_DIAG flag which returns all the currently opened sockets. After that, ss receives the result through recvmsg() in a message buffer and the returned value is the length of all these messages combined.

Here, the same method as for the PIDs is applied: the length of the previous message is modified to hide nysm sockets.

These are collected from the connect() and bind() calls.

Install & Use

Copyright (C) 2023 eeriedusk