Home > malware report, OS X > Analysis of OSX Starfield

Analysis of OSX Starfield

When you download an application or installer from legitimate website, you establish a level of trust expecting not to be tricked or deceived.

Distribution:

The installer is distributed by Starfield a technology and research branch of Go Daddy Group. If you are Go Daddy user, when you logged-in, this tool is available in the tool section as:

1)  Desktop Notified Installer

2) It is also offered as “Web-Based Email Tools plugin” promising that this tool will enable image paste.

It’s possible that this installer will be distributed elsewhere.

When you download the installer, you’ll notice two things:

1) It is telling you “Double-click to Install”

2) It is not the installer itself, instead it is a shortcut link.

Why?

It is a social engineering trick. It attempts to trigger user’s immediate impulse to respond based from a command or instruction.

Let’s check ACL using terminal:

 

$ ls -al /Volumes/install

total 8

 

drwxr-xr-x  7 test  staff  306 23 Dec 03:50 .
drwxrwxrwt@ 6 root  admin  204 12 Jan 23:42 ..
drwxr-xr-x  2 test  staff   68 23 Dec 03:50 .Trashes
lrwxr-xr-x  1 test  staff   20 23 Dec 03:49 Double-click to Install -> StarfieldInstall.app
drwxr-xr-x@ 3 test  staff  102 23 Dec 03:49 StarfieldInstall.app

 

The application is basically hidden. Obviously, It discourages user to inspect the package. Back in the terminal, let’s run this command to unhide:

 

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
$ killall Finder

Installation: What happens when you ‘double click’ it?  You’ll notice that it requires root privilege.

In this stage, it is already too late because even if you decide to discard or cancel the authorization, the tricky ‘StarfieldInstall.app’ has already installed itself as follows:

1)  It creates a ‘Starfield’ folder in the Application directory.  In this folder, you’ll find a copy of itself and an update component.

/Application/Starfield/StarfieldInstall.app

/Application/Starfield/starfieldupdate.app

2) It is set to run at login by adding ‘starfieldupdate’ in the Login Items.

3) It is always running in the background.

 

$ lsof -c Starfield
COMMAND   PID USER   FD     TYPE     DEVICE  SIZE/OFF    NODE NAME
Starfield 221 test  cwd      DIR       14,2      1394       2 /
Starfield 221 test  txt      REG       14,2     93668 1294527 /Applications/Starfield/starfieldupdate.app/Contents/MacOS/StarfieldUpdate
Starfield 221 test  txt      REG       14,2   1064960 2655251 /private/var/folders/ur/urE9xwfCE+a922ltbYjezk+++TU/-Caches-/com.apple.LaunchServices-025504.csstore
Starfield 221 test  txt      REG       14,2   1054960   25052 /usr/lib/dyld
Starfield 221 test  txt      REG       14,2 206983168 2609511 /private/var/db/dyld/dyld_shared_cache_i386
Starfield 221 test    0r     CHR        3,2       0t0     297 /dev/null
Starfield 221 test    1     PIPE 0x079a7640     16384         ->0x079a76a4
Starfield 221 test    2     PIPE 0x079a7640     16384         ->0x079a76a4
Starfield 221 test    3r     REG       14,2       163   42178 /private/etc/security/audit_control
Starfield 221 test    4u  KQUEUE                              count=1, state=0x2
Starfield 221 test    5r     REG       14,2     93668 1294527 /Applications/Starfield/starfieldupdate.app/Contents/MacOS/StarfieldUpdate
Starfield 221 test   66r     REG       14,2       611   42177 /private/etc/security/audit_class

So, when you thought it’s gone, it’s not because ‘StarfieldInstall’ sleeps and activates again to request your password. It will continue to annoy you with repeated request until it gets authorized.

On a sidenote, ‘StarfieldUpdate.app’ gets the following information:
  • OS version and CPU Type
  • Local user
  • Previous installation
  • Starfield installation component versions

And performs the following:

  • Checks user privilege on the system by checking if user is admin or if the user can be elevated to admin.
  • StarfieldInstall launches ‘starfieldupdate.app’ which is kept in the background.
  • ‘starfieldupdate.app’ is responsible for initial installation (first run) and updates.
  • The initial installation path of Starfield would be:
/Applications/Starfield
/Library/Application Support/Starfield
/Library/Internet Plug-ins/
/Library/Application Support/Mozilla/Extensions/{ec8030f7-c20a-464f-9b0e-13a3a9e97384}
  • Dumps data log of its activity especially the installation. Notice the name ‘starfield’ in the ~/Library/Logs/ folder.

 

Launch.cpp(18): Launching /Applications/Starfield/StarfieldUpdate.app runme
StarfieldInstall.cpp(862): Starting v1.0.4.9 with command: -psn_0_1011959
StarfieldInstall.cpp(879): OS Version 10.6 x86
StarfieldInstall.cpp(880): Local user test (test)
StarfieldInstall.cpp(881): User can become administrator.
StarfieldUpdate.cpp(90): Starting v1.0.3.3 with command: -psn_0_1007862
StarfieldUpdate.cpp(119): launchargs runme
StarfieldUpdate.cpp(144): Local user test
StarfieldUpdate.cpp(145): User can become administrator.
StarfieldUpdate.cpp(162): Launching /Applications/Starfield/StarfieldInstall.app
Launch.cpp(18): Launching /Applications/Starfield/StarfieldInstall.app

Payload:

The payload is mainly handled by ‘StarfieldInstall.app’. When the user inputs the password, the installation continues by sending a HTTP request to the server as follows:

GET /moduleinfo HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: StarfieldInstall/1.0
Host: na.secureserver.net
Accept: *.*

‘Moduleinfo’ is a JSON text which ‘StarfieldInstall.app’ parses and evaluating the content of a JSON string. For example, it reads and evaluate which package appropriate to the user: Windows or Mac.


{ "win" :

, "mac" :

It also evaluates the installation requirement, example:

 

, "mac" :
[ { "file" : "StarfieldInstall.App"
, "version" : 4
, "source" : "starfieldinstall.zip"
, "app" : "*"
, "type" : "util"
, "adminRequired" : false
, "osMin" : [10,4]
}

‘StarfieldInstall’ compares this requirement defined by JSON file ‘moduleinfo’ before it downloads, extracts and run the latest package resulting to installation of the following:

starfieldinstall.zip

starfieldupdate.zip

fileedittool64.plugin.zip

fileedittool.zip

WBETools14.plugin

wbetools64.zip

copypaste.xpi

zoomext.xpi

offdavhelper_mac4.zip

offdavhelper_mac.zip

offsettings.bundle.zip

wbesettings.bundle.zip

drivemapreconnect.zip

backupstatus.zip

offsync_mac.zip

desktoptools.zip

wbedesktopnotifier.zip

So far we have 17 files here and 4 of these files do not require root password. It is important to take note that  ‘StarfieldUpdate.app’ is always running in the background and launch ‘StarfieldInstall.app’ to perform the following:

– Evaluating JSON text ‘moduleinfo’ for update

– Download and installation of latest versions

– Discovery of products installed

– Running privileged shell command

It installs two Firefox extensions and plugins, which is persistent. It means that you can’t just click ‘uninstall’ to remove it . In Firefox, click Tools and Addons to view the installed Extensions and Plugins as shown below:

Another notable process created is ‘OffSyncService’ which is always running in the background .

In conclusion, this is a nasty and abusive application that performs remote activities and installation of unwanted plugins and application without user consent. It is a bloatware and a backdoor.

  1. Scubagal
    January 15, 2011 at 4:39 am

    I have a Go Daddy account, and now have this StarField on my computer, but did not know it until a few days ago. It originally installed back in November, when I signed up for my site. I only started receiving pop ups that look exactly like the one at the top of this post a couple of days ago. Go Daddy says that it is “for E-Mail” and “Workspace”, and to just allow permission for it to run. So far, I have just hit “Cancel” because I don’t trust it. Now, when my I Mac reboots, I am suddenly getting a message that programs in the “startupitems” folder do not have proper security settings. When I run a virus scan, no threat is detected. Is there a safe way to uninstall this program? How can I be sure it is gone?

    Thanks!

  2. Marlinex
    January 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I’ve been wondering about this starfield business for a while. Right now, my impulse is to remove my blogs from hosting at GoDaddy.com and to uninstall everything. I was able to remove all the files and library entries you mentioned and all GoDaddy issued products (through a number of safe reboots!). Does that render me safe at this point? Any other recommendations or concerns I should be aware of?

    • January 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Marlinex,

      If you have thoroughly removed it, then there’s nothing to worry about. I have published the same removal instruction I used to clean my affected Mac. You may want to double check it.

  3. January 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I had to search for a while since I couldn’t find a perfect match for a keyword search for “starfield uninstall”. But anyway, I’m going to check out your uninstall link above and attempt to remove it. I have to use GoDaddy for a company I do work for. The experience has been so-so, but the cockiness of installing such crap on my system has really run my patience low.

  4. N. Cheatham
    September 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Can I uninstall Starfield without compromising my website and email hosted by GoDaddy?

  1. January 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

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