COTTONMOUTH-II: NSA Exploit of the Day
Today’s item from the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog:
(TS//SI//REL) COTTONMOUTH-II (CM-II) is a Universal Serial Bus (USB) hardware Host Tap, which will provide a covert link over USB link into a target network. CM-II is intended to be operate with a long haul relay subsystem, which is co-located within the target equipment. Further integration is needed to turn this capability into a deployable system.
(TS//SI//REL) CM-II will provide software persistence capability, “in-field” re-programmability, and covert communications with a host software implant over the USB. CM-II will also communicate with Data Network Technologies (DNT) software (STRAITBIZARRE) through a covert channel implemented on the USB, using this communication channel to pass commands and data between hardware and software implants. CM-II will be a GENIE-compliant implant based on CHIMNEYPOOL.
(TS//SI//REL) CM-II consists of the CM-I digital hardware and the long haul relay concealed somewhere within the target chassis. A USB 2.0 HS hub with switches is concealed in a dual stacked USB connector, and the two parts are hard-wired, providing a intra-chassis link. The long haul relay provides the wireless bridge into the target’s network.
Unit Cost: 50 units: $200K
Status: Availability—September 2008
Status: Availability—January 2009
Unit Cost: 50 units: $1,015K
In the comments, feel free to discuss how the exploit works, how we might detect it, how it has probably been improved since the catalog entry in 2008, and so on.