Skip to main content

Backdoor Could Be Used On Microsoft SQL Without Detection

By November 4, 2019May 9th, 2022Technology News

If you haven’t heard of Skip-2.0 yet, prepare to be dismayed.

Security researchers have recently discovered an undocumented (until now) backdoor designed for Microsoft SQL servers.

It will allow a hacker working remotely to stealthily take control of a previously compromised system.

Worse, this is not theory or conjecture.  Researchers have found malware strains in the wild that take advantage of the backdoor, allowing attackers to remotely connect to any account on the server running MSSQL version 11 or 12 by using a “magic password.”

As bad as that sounds, it gets worse.  The Skip-2.0 malware contains code that disables the compromised machine’s logging functions, audit mechanisms and event publishing every time the “magic password” is used so that it leaves no trace, which is why it’s so difficult to detect.

This gives the malware the freedom and flexibility to move seamlessly through the target system, where it can copy, change, or delete any content stored on it. That is, all while keeping the system’s owner or user blind and in the dark as to what’s happening. In their most recently published cybersecurity report, the security firm ESET attributed the Skip-2.0 backdoor to an organization known as the Winnti Group, which is a state-sponsored threat actor with Chinese backing.

As evidence in support of this conclusion, the researchers involved with drafting the report point to numerous similarities between Skip-2.0 and other tools developed and used by the Winnti Group, including PortReuse and ShadowPad.

In addition to that, Skip-2.0 utilizes an encrypted ‘VMProtected’ launcher, an ‘inner-0loader’ injector and hooking framework and a custom packer to install its payload, which again, is identical to the structure of other Winnti Group tools.

In basic terms, this is just another malware threat to emerge in the tech world. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it is the fact that MSSQL 11 and 12 are not the most recent versions, so the fix is fairly simple.  Just upgrade to a version beyond 12 and you can avoid the risks associated with this new threat.

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.