HP z620 UEFI Backdoor
April 25, 2021

Firmware Analysis

Picking apart firmware is quite interesting to me and so I thought it would be fun to reverse engineer my desktop’s BIOS and see what I could find.

Extracting UEFI Modules

My desktop is an HP z620 and the latest BIOS version is J61_0396.bin. Most UEFI BIOS images are a collection of modules (drivers, microcode, applications, etc…) that can be extracted and examined. The drivers and applications are PE32+ executables which is convenient as many reverse engineering tools support this executable format. We can examine/modify the BIOS image with UEFITool and pick apart the sections of interest.

An easy section to look at is where the POST logo is stored. Here it’s conveniently called “Logo” and we can extract it as a .bmp file and see it is the same logo shown during POST.

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Sifting through the remaining sections, BiosDiags and AbsoluteDriver stood out as interesting as they are both applications.

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Reverse Engineering BiosDiags.efi

After extracting the BiosDiags section (Right-click “PE32 Image Section” -> “Extract Body”), let’s open it up in Ghidra to have a look…

Note: to help with analyzing BIOS images, the plugins ghidra-firmware-utils and efiSeek are helpful.

Looking for strings, rpcnetp.exe shows up inside shortly followed by the familiar MZ header which indicates a PE executable file. Interesting… The suspected PE executable is in the .data section of BiosDiags.efi which further raises suspicion that this is an embedded program to be dumped somewhere and not executed as part of BiosDiags.efi.

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Running BiosDiags.efi

Let’s confirm our suspicions and run BiosDiags.efi in QEMU with an attached disk with Windows XP installed to see what happens.

An easy way to run EFI programs is launch QEMU with a UEFI BIOS, get a UEFI shell and invoke the program from there. Download a UEFI shell (or use this one) and build an EFI-bootable FAT32 disk.

dd if=/dev/zero of=disk.img bs=1M count=64
mkfs.msdos disk.img
mmd -i disk.img ::/EFI
mmd -i disk.img ::/EFI/BOOT

## Copy in shell & BiosDiags.efi
mcopy -i disk.img Shell.efi ::/EFI/BOOT/Bootx64.efi
mcopy -i disk.img BiosDiags.efi ::/

Invoke QEMU and attach a disk image with Windows XP installed (you can install the OVMF UEFI firmware on Ubuntu with apt install ovmf)

qemu-system-x86_64 -drive format=raw,file=disk.img \
    -smp 2 -m 4096 -bios /usr/share/qemu/OVMF.fd \
    -drive media=disk,file=WindowsXP_1.vmdk 

Once QEMU starts up, you can drop into a shell and invoke BiosDiags.efi



Booting up XP we can see that two new files are implanted in C:\Windows\System32\ as suspected (rpcnetp.exe and rpcnetp.dll) and rpcnetp.exe is running as SYSTEM on the machine. Nice!


It is worth noting that trying this again on a Windows 7 machine does not produce the same results, and no rpcnet.exe is dropped.

WPBT (Windows Platform Binary Table)

This sort of behavior looks a lot like a bootkit but, to my surprise, Windows provides an official way to do this via the Windows Platform Binary Table (WPBT). In essence, the WPBT allows UEFI firmware to register a PE file to be run during system initialization by inserting it into an ACPI table. The ACPI table format looks like this (see above link for full details):


It appears as if this is exactly what is going on here. Let’s have a look.

In this function, 0x80005de0, we can see it accessing some ACPI tables in the beginning.

In Microsoft’s documentation for WPBT, UEFI firmware is supposed to allocate memory for the WPBT ACPI table via the AllocatePages() service with an allocation type of AllocateAnyPages and the EfiACPIReclaimMemory flag set. This is exactly what we see later on inside 0x80005de0 :).


Lines 64 & 65 perform this allocation, with line 68 invoking a function that takes in the PE code for the dropped rpcnetp.exe file. Finally, line 69 stores the result in Table which is our ACPI table that will be used to implement WPBT.


Continuing on, we can see the WPBT fields being filled out per the specification. Line 111 sets the mandatory WPBT signature (0x54425057 translates to “WPBT”). On line 119 we can see the DAT_800010a8 value referenced again and set as the length of the PE data (puVar14 is a 32-bit variable so puVar14[9] = 4*9 -> 36). The content flag is set to 1 (indicating a PE file) and finally the memory location is set to that allocated buffer the PE data was copied into above.

Skipping over some lines, we eventually come to the end of the function where we can see the new ACPI table being installed with InstallConfigurationTable() and it’s GUID, exactly as outlined in Microsoft’s documentation.


Dropped file analysis

Running both the files through Virustotal shows both files flagging 1 AV out of 67 (rpcnetp.exe rpcnetp.dll)

Digging further, it appears this program is called “Computrace” and has been around for a while. I suppose the string at the beginning of the EFI file should have alerted me to this as well…


If you’re interested, you can read more about it here from this Blackhat 14 Presentation which goes over what it does.

Closing thoughts

While it appears as if Computrace does not deploy on newer Windows installations, it is important to realize this method of stealthily dropping executables into a OS install is a very real concept and is being used. Microsoft provides a way for vendors to do this so it is highly likely other software is being installed this way as well. Although other operating systems, like Linux, don’t provide a built-in way to do this, accessing the disk in a pre-boot environment and dropping executables or modifying the guest OS is quite realistic. Since BIOS code is mostly black-box software that runs with high privilege before the OS boots, one should realize the trust we place in this firmware that we cannot control nor do we understand everything it does.


HP BIOS & EFI Modules

BiosDiags.efi:71b01f0ad7c1d990771aa675bc814d5f9b50a7958c005173cda0165139235666 J61_0396.bin:05e89382e73afb280f637acbfa1029e9107dd30c78df37b6a00f184657f5f2c3


OVMF.fd:96a9aad279ac9fdb7d452b70cee71587a917aaa428e4c40e9a9cb35f5d718259 Shell.efi:04c89f19efee2a22660fd4650ff9add88e962d102b1b713e535f4e32a07c5185


rpcnetp.dll:56c9ab9a663af6af931b3c76f32ed0f7402d6ed39f3538f72cb2757886ef7c40 rpcnetp.exe:1c6a20980a186225979f5e91bc48eaf77c67f50eea85eba9db4c3ec55c61d55f