The problems in creating goat files.
Igor G. Muttik


Having more than 6000 of viruses for IBM PC the maintenance and updating of a virus library of samples is a difficult task. Parasitic file infectors are the majority of this great quantity and testing of their properties and creation of samples takes many efforts. To help solving of this problem the author has developed a special tool for antivirus researchers, which allows to create bait files (also called sacrificial goats). Theoretical points of bait creation (infectable objects, unusual infection conditions, environmental requirements) are discussed and detailed description of GOAT package is given.

This paper is an attempt to summarize problems appearing during weeding of suspicious files and replicating of viruses. Safe testing environment based on hardware hard disk drive (HDD) protection is described. The paper also describes DOS peculiarities, appearing when working with long directories.

Possible appearance of viruses targeted against antivirus research environments is discussed.

1. Virus samples

A file-infector virus usually attaches itself to an executable file using appending or prepending technique. Such viruses are called parasitic infectors. Among antivirus researchers these viruses are usually transferred in the "sample form" -- the virus is attached to the do-nothing file of some fixed size (usually divisible with 10**N or 16**N) and simple contents (do- nothing or printing a short message on the screen). The result of infection of such a goat file is called "a virus sample". We have:

Virus sample = Virus(Goat file)

or, simply:

Virus sample = Goat file + Virus

Can we "standardize" virus sample? Unfortunately, not, if speaking in general. All polymorphic viruses have zillions of instances and it is impossible to select some "standard" image of such a virus. Oligomorphic and encrypted viruses are difficult to "standardize" too. Even for non-encrypted viruses the problem is not simple -- they usually have some variables, stored inside their body (especially resident viruses) and, though, their image is variable.

We have many infectable objects in DOS environment. This includes:

Each mentioned object can be infected and, therefore, requires preparation of a "goat object". Fortunately, most types of unusual infection techniques are very rare or even not yet found. And creation of bait objects for bizarre viruses is a rare task -- great majority of known viruses are simple parasitic file infectors. Furthermore, creation of a goat BAT file (or source file) is rather easy -- one can use a text editor to make a bait for the virus. To create a goat floppy diskette we can use standard FORMAT utility.

Antivirus researchers are mostly disappointed with a problem of "virus glut" [Skulason]. "Virus glut" means an increase of the number of known viruses at a rapid rate. Great majority of this amount is file viruses. So, in most cases, an attention of antivirus researchers is focused on the parasitic file infectors. We'll discuss only this type of viruses in the rest of the paper.

To try to replicate a virus one have to have a set of goat files. Most antivirus researchers have their own pre-created sets of files, produced using an ASM source or directly from the DEBUG utility. This approach has a drawback -- if new goat file is required it should be created manually. And if we need a lot of files (ex., for testing of polymorphic virus detection rate) -- the process must be repeated many times.

Obviously, specific automated tool has many more options and capabilities. It can create even sets of files on one invocation. It is convenient to use a set of goat files with linearly increasing length (say, 1000, 2000, ...20000). If the virus leaves alone short victims after infection -- this will be easily noticeable. And file growth can be calculated subtracting the size of the infected file from the original size.

2. Infection of a goat file

From the point of view of an antivirus researcher all incoming suspicious samples should be classified in one of the following groups (for definition -- see VIRUS-L FAQ [FAQ]):

Mentioned classification problem is usually called "weeding". There are automated and manual methods, used to weed a set of files. The following automated tools are used:

Manual "weeding" methods are used after automatic ones:

We should take into account that the infected sample may be compressed with one of the EXE-packers (PKLITE, LZEXE, DIET, EXEPACK, COMPACK, PGMPACK, KVETCH, SHRINK, TINYPROG, WWPACK, AXE, IMPLODE, AVPACK, etc.). In such a case UNP and UUP programs should be used to remove the compression code before the manual analysis.

Visual checks of incoming suspicious files are usually made using DEBUG or HIEW (Hackers View) -- wonderful viewer of executable files. Last one combines features of simple ASCII/HEX viewer with a built-in disassembler/assembler (both 86 and 32-bit modes) and binary file editor. I can hardly recommend this utility for all antivirus researchers.

Every antivirus researcher faces a problem, when he needs to start the infected (or just suspicious) program or trojan horse. The typical solution is to use a special goat PC (usually old PC/XT/AT). But the malware can easily destroy data on the hard disk of this PC. It can even cause malfunction of the hardware (ex., low-level format IDE disk, if any). It will take significant time and effort to restore your testing environment. The hardware protection of the hard disk of your PC can only be a 100%-reliable solution. To make hardware protection you will need some switch, which selects an operation mode -- "normal"/"protected".

"Turbo" switch is rarely used in the computer operation. The reasons are the following. First, any user will usually select the highest possible speed to minimize response time of the software. Second, most available BIOSes support toggling of turbo mode using the keyboard (for example, AMI BIOS uses [Alt]-[Ctrl]-[+] to set the higher speed and [Alt]-[Ctrl]-[-] to set the lower speed). Therefore, you can easily replace your connection of "Turbo" switch to the motherboard with a simple jumper. Now your "Turbo" switch connector is free for use as hard-disk protection switch. Typically connector of "Turbo" switch has three contacts (and switch shorts two left contacts, or two right ones). The use of this switch to turn on/off the disk protection looks an elegant solution.

Now find the jumper on your hard disk controller, which enables its operation (examine controller manual if needed). Most MFM, IDE and SCSI controllers have such a jumper. Remove this "HDD-enable" jumper and substitute it with the connector of "Turbo" switch (connector should replace the jumper on the controller and short the contacts instead of the jumper).

Now, after described modification, you can easily turn off HDD simply pressing "Turbo" switch and return it to operation pressing it once more.

LED indicator (or simple LED) of your PC (which usually shows the current frequency of processor operation) is wired to the turbo switch and reflects its state. You can easily configure the LED indicator to reflect current mode of operation (say, "On"/"FF").

To work without HDD you will need some media instead of it. Ideal solution is to use a ramdrive. You have to add the following statement to your CONFIG.SYS -- DEVICE=RAMDRIVE.SYS nnnn (where nnnn stands for the size of ramdrive in kilobytes; you may also need /e switch to use extended memory). Size of ramdrive <2MB is usually not sufficient, so better select 2-4MB.

First, copy all software, needed for virus testing (plus suspicious files) to your virtual disk. After your hard disk will be switched off all programs will be inaccessible, so make a good selection (in my case it took around 1MB or more). Now you are ready to disable hard disk. But DOS still thinks that HDD is present. Its internal buffers and cache utilities (if any) still remember the current contents of some portions of your hard disk in the computer memory.

The most obvious solution is the elimination of all "notes" about hard disk presence. To simulate the absence of hard disk on the PC, I wrote a special program, which clears INT_41h and INT_46h (pointers to the HDD disk tables), and sets number of available hard disks (BIOS variable at [0:475h]) to zero. To reroute any access from hard disk (ex., drives C:, D:, E:) to the virtual disk, I use DOS' SUBST utility, which replaces drives C:, D: and E: with the virtual disk drive letter (F: in my case). SUBST also clears HDD cache contents. Finally, DOS environment variables (ex., COMSPEC and PATH) should be rewritten to point on the ramdrive objects.

The problem of infecting a goat file, having a sample of possible virus is called "replicating". Very often one researcher asks the others -- "I have a sample of what I think is a virus, but cannot replicate it. Have you tried? If anybody succeeded in doing this -- send me a sample, please..." And that repeats very frequently. We see that "replication problem" is one of the most common problems. The question is to find correct computer environment and meet all virus infection conditions. Obviously, both problems can be solved with the help of full disassembly of the viral code, but that is not very practical approach, because it takes much time. Usually, suspicious files are simply tested in so-called "goat computer". Only in case of problems (files do not replicate, but look suspicious) they are disassembled and analyzed in deep. We already saw one approach to the replication problem -- to ask for help from other researchers. There are also other options:

To replicate a virus we have to feed him a goat file, which meets virus internal infection conditions. This must be done in the environment, which is appropriate for the current virus. Fortunately, to make viruses more infective, they are usually made to operate in the wide range of environments. On the other hand, sometimes, numerous limitations are implemented to simplify the viral code (ex., Ping-Pong, Vindicator, Yale and Exeheader.Mz1 viruses work only on 88/86 processors; 3APA3A and MIREA.4156 viruses require 16 bit FAT hard disk; AT144 virus requires 286 processor or higher; Green_Caterpillar virus needs CMOS clock; Lovechild virus requires only MS-DOS 3.2; Nightfall virus does not replicate without XMS driver [Brown]; EMMA virus requires presence of EMS [Kaspersky]; etc.). In the case of specific requirements only random environment selection or manual analysis of the virus internals may help to find the correct environment.

Parasitic file infectors can theoretically infect all following types of files:

There are following infection conditions (except file type):

Most common infection condition is file type (COM/EXE) and, second, size of the victim. Very short files are usually avoided, because their growth is too noticeable and also to avoid infection of do-nothing goat files (like primitive INT_20, 2-byte files).

Most file infectors are targeted against simple DOS executables -- COM files and EXE files (with MZ or ZM marker). Some file infectors are capable to infect DOS drivers of SYS type (ex., SVC.4644, SVC.4661, SVC.4677, Alpha.4000, Astra, Astra_II, Cysta or Comsysexe, Terminator.3275, CCBB, Talon or Daemaen, Ontario, VLAD.Hemlock, Face.2521, etc.). All other formats of executables need reclamation of the virgin lands from virus writers. For example, there are only few known Windows viruses up to date (all infecting only executables in NE-EXE format).

Speaking of the contents of goat files, we should mention that viruses, which check the internals of the victim file are rather rare. I do not mean a selfcheck to avoid multiple infections of the same file. I mean checking of virus-free areas (same as inspection of the uninfected file). Nevertheless, such viruses exist. Lucretia virus looks for an 0xE8 byte (Intel x86 CALL instruction) in the file and replaces the offset of the call to point on the viral body. Warlock virus avoids all files having 0Eh byte at the start of program code (includes all LZEXE-packed programs). Raptor virus does not infect EXE files with SS in the header equal to 07BC, 141D, ...2894 (13 entries). Behavior of Internal.1381 virus depends on the contents of EXE header too. Moreover, there are Zerohunter viruses, which look for a series of zeroes (412 bytes for Zerohunter.412 and 415 for Zerohunter.415) in the file and infect the victim overwriting this block of zeroes, if found. Zerohunter viruses are typical representatives of the class of "cavity viruses" (like Helicopter.777, Grog.Hop, Gorlovka.1022/1024, Russian_Anarchy.2048, Locust.2486, Tony.338, etc.).

There are also viruses of exeheader type -- Dragon, Hobbit, SkidRow, Mike, VVM, Bob, XAM, Mz1, Pure, etc. They infect only EXE files having a long block of zeroes (around 200-300 bytes) in the EXE header (it is 512 bytes by default). They can be regarded as a subclass of cavity viruses.

Many viruses do not infect some programs. They usually avoid command processor COMMAND.COM and certain antivirus or widely used programs (archivers, command-line shells, etc.). The following reason come to my mind: infection of COMMAND.COM is very noticeable and causes many incompatibilities, so virus writers simply filter-off COMMAND.COM to avoid compatibility problems. This approach has a drawback (from the virus writer's point of view), as the infection of COMMAND.COM with a resident virus guarantees that the computer will come up with a virus installed in memory, because COMMAND.COM is always automatically invoked during the boot process. Viruses try to avoid antivirus programs -- they normally check own integrity and virus will be detected in a minute.

More difficult case -- if the virus infects only on certain days of week, or during the first 20 minutes of an hour (like Vienna.644.a does). For example, Kylie virus affects the victim if current year is not 1990. Fumble virus infects only on even dates. Virus called Invisible avoids certain COM files by doing checksum on the name of the victim. Viruses of Phoenix family (also called Live_after_Death) avoid some file sizes and about 1/8 of files are left uninfected. Russian Mirror (Beeper) virus infects only every third executed file. Some of these viruses are called "sparse" infectors. Random environment/goat selection may not help in this case and viruses have to be traced and/or disassembled.

Many viruses require a JMP instruction in the beginning of victim file (ex., first versions of Yankee_Doodle, Russian_Tiny.143, Rust.1710, Screen.1014, Leapfrog.516, etc.)

All mentioned exclusions and conditions must be taken into account when trying to create goat files suitable for the infection and if the virus does not replicate.

Almost all viruses try to "mark" their victims to avoid multiple infections of the same file, because growing of files beyond some reasonable limit cannot go unnoticed (because of waste of disk space and delays for the reinfections) and may even cause infected file to hang (ex., COM file >64k). Viruses use different "infection markers":

Some viruses use perfectly legal markers -- for example, seconds value (say, all infected files have 33s) or file length (say, all infected files' lengths are divisible with 23). If, occasionally, our goat file will carry a "marker" of the virus, it will not be infected. Fortunately, most viruses use specific markers. In fact, viruses have to behave in such a way to be infective. Therefore, it is usually easy to make an infectable goat file if the first attempt of replication failed because of the coincidence with a legal virus marker.

After a try to infect a goat we have to detect possible changes. If we see a file growth (in a directory listing) -- the reason is obvious: longer files are virus children. One additional test is recommended -- to check whether virus child is itself replicating. In some cases (because of the errors in the virus) it is not and, though, must be classified as intended, not a virus. Visual checks after the attack are made just like before the attack -- see 2.1.

If the virus has stealth or semi-stealth properties -- the detection of infected samples is somewhat more complex. The best approach is to preserve all goat files, involved in the test and inspect them after clean reboot (copy them to a floppy disk if your HDD is disabled as described in 2.2). More simple, but not that reliable method -- try to remove the virus from the interrupt chains using, say MARK/RELEASE programs by TurboPower Software (MARK should be installed before the first start of the virus, it remembers the whole interrupt table; RELEASE should be started after the attack to restore old interrupt table and remove the virus from the interrupt chain). Unfortunately, this approach might not work if the virus uses tunneling. In principle, we can use an integrity checker to compare test files before and after the virus attack. This generic method can even detect almost all stealth viruses if used in the low-level disk access mode. For example, this mode is available in Russian integrity checker ADInf.

3. "Polymorphics detection rate"

In the products reviews we frequently read something like that: "... the 'Polymorphic' test-set contains a mammoth 4796 infected files" [TOP] or "When tested against the 500 positively replicating Mutation Engine (MtE) samples, all but two were correctly detected as infected" [Jackson]. Why all these tests need so many samples of the same virus? The answer is simple -- because of great variability of polymorphic viruses (more correctly -- because of the variability of the virus decryptor). Any scanner coping with the polymorphics have to decrypt the body of the virus and locate a search-string. Other approach is to try to distinguish the viral decryptor from a normal non-viral code. Both methods can produce both false positives and false negatives. They are, of course, rather rare, but practically (and even theoretically) unavoidable. To find out the misses of the scanner number of tested samples should be very big. That is why almost all comparisons of the scanners are performed using huge quantities of samples. That is, of course, rather time consuming and not very convenient, but unavoidable practice.

How can we speedup the tests and preparation of samples? The first idea is to put virus samples on the fast media -- virtual disk looks the ideal selection. But can we enhance DOS' access to the drive?

When experimenting with creation of hundreds of files I have noticed a very interesting peculiarity. After creating some number of files in the directory (in my case it was around 700 files) all additional files needed much more time to be created! Obviously, some internal resource of DOS was exhausted. To shed the light on this effect I have run the same task -- creation of 100*N goat files (N=1..10) using GOATS (with zero size increase; i.e., all goats were identical), but varied number of BUFFERS (as written in CONFIG.SYS). Note, that disk cache (SMARTDRV) was not active, because files were created on the virtual disk. Collected data is given in the table:

    Time needed to create given number of files (in seconds +/-1).
          FILES   100  200   300   400   500   600   700  800   900   1000
         15        6   12    19    28*   40    51    64   80    96    118
         48        6   12    19    27    35    45    55   70*   90    112
         58        6   12    19    26    35    45    55   70    82*   103
         68        6   12    19    26    35    45    55   70    82     98
         Note: "*" -- shows number of files, when significant slowdown occurs.

 1. We see that total time depends much on the number of BUFFERS.
 2. At some place significant slowdown always occurs (compare columns to see).
 3. Moment of this slowdown depends on the number of BUFFERS.
 4. For creation of 1000 files 68 BUFFERS are sufficient.
 5. For 48 BUFFERS slowdown occurred at around 720 files.
 6. For 58 BUFFERS slowdown occurred at around 870 files.

Thus, addition of 10 BUFFERS (10*512=5120 bytes) shifts the limit on (870-720=150) files. We can calculate how much bytes are needed per file -- 5120/150=34.1. Surprisingly, it is very close to the directory entry size! That is an additional evidence that slowdown occurs when there is no more space in BUFFERS to store current directory (and DOS needs to reload it from disk).

I have also found an interesting fact (not yet known to me) -- the creation of files in a fresh directory takes much less time, than the creation of the same amount of files in the same directory after removing of 1000 files! And the time for creation of 1000 files in used directory is approximately three times more, comparably to a fresh directory! That is because DOS scans a directory only until it encounters zero entry. And for used directory there are no such entries (at least near the beginning) and DOS has to scan the whole list of deleted entries.

Thus, we have to create bait files in a set of fresh directories of moderate size. Same applies to the tests of scanners against huge virus collections -- fresh and short directories will be scanned faster.

4. GOAT software package

After discussing some theoretical points, let's turn to the realization of these ideas in the GOAT package [GOAT]. This package is a set of tools for antivirus researchers, which help to create bait files (also called sacrificial goat files or, simply, goat files).

The purpose of the programs can be explained using the following table:

 You need                                                       Use

 Bait file with some special internal structure              GOAT.COM
 A series of bait files of different sizes                   GOATS.COM
 Files of the same size, but with different contents         GOATSET.BAT
 Many identical files to infect them with polymorphic virus  FLOCK.COM

Using GOAT.COM you can manually select the size, the name of a sacrificial goat file and vary its internals to meet the criteria, which the virus uses when deciding "to infect or not to infect" the victim file. You can enter the size of a sacrificial goat file in any of given formats: decimal, hexadecimal or in kilobytes. Size of the victim files can be as small as 2 bytes and as much as many gigabytes (it is stored in 32-bit variable). GOAT.COM is very flexible -- it can create COM, EXE, SYS(COM) and SYS(EXE) files, with code at the beginning, in the middle, or at the very end of the goat file. Files can be filled with zeroes, NOPs, two types of pattern and even filled with random garbage. You can add stack segment for the EXE files, vary header size, and ... many other options are available. GOATS.COM file is intended to create a series of bait files with linearly increasing length. Length increase step is changeable. GOATS.COM has the same flexibility as GOAT.COM.

FLOCK.COM is a creator of up to 1000000 identical files. You can infect them with a polymorphic virus to test its behavior and properties. FLOCK.COM uses the same engine as GOAT.COM and GOATS.COM. Thus, all flexibility of GOAT.COM is available too.

GOATSET.BAT produces some sort of "a standard set" of files of the same size. These files are different (internal contents or attribute is variable). GOATSET.BAT needs GOAT.COM for the execution. GOAT.COM should be located in the current directory accessible via PATH environment variable.

A small batch file RUN-ALL.BAT will help you to run (or infect, if you have a resident virus) all generated bait files.

Usage of the main program -- GOAT.COM looks like this (others are similar):

         GOAT  Size  [Filename]  [/switch]  [/switch] ...

         Size - decimal, hexadecimal, or in kbytes
                 (Example: 10000, 3E00h, FF00h, 31k, 512K, 2048k)
         Filename - file to create. If no - makes GOAT000, GOAT001, ...

Short reference of all available switches is given below in the alphabetical order:

 /Annnn  - set device Attribute (default=0C853h)
 /B      - place code at bottom of file (default - at start)
 /C[n]   - set selfcheck level (by default equal to 2, the highest)
                 (/C means /C0; i.e., no selfchecking at all)
 /Dnnn   - create maximum 'nnn' subdirectories (default=10)
                 (recognized only by FLOCK.COM, ignored by GOAT and GOATS)
 /E      - create EXE file (if size > 65280 - done automatically)
 /Fnnn   - create maximum 'nnn' files in a subdirectory (default=500)
                 (recognized only by FLOCK.COM, ignored by GOAT and GOATS)
 /H, /?  - Help screen
 /Inn    - use fill byte 'nn' instead of standard zero-fill
                 (ex., decimal /i100 or hexadecimal notation /iE5h)
 /J      - remove JMP at code start (default - JMP present)
 /Knnnn  - add 'nnnn' bytes of STACK segment to the bottom of EXE file
                 (stack segment is filled with 'STACK' by default)
 /Mnnnn  - place code in the middle of the file exactly at nnnn
                 position ('nnnn' is 32-bit value, but see limitations below)
 /N[nnnn]        - fill goat file with pseudorandom bytes. The parameter
                 (if given) is a random number generator seed.
                 RNG uses multiplicative congruental method with 2**32 period
 /O      - do not make long EXE (>256K) with internal overlay structure
 /P      - fill free file space with pattern 00, 01, .. FE, FF, 00, ..
 /R      - make file ReadOnly (default - normal)
 /S      - make short (32 bytes) EXE header (default - 512 bytes)
 /Tnn    - set timestamp seconds field = nn (<63, even: 0, 1Eh, 62, ..)
 /V      - set SS:SP equal to CS:IP
 /W      - make word pattern (0000, 0001, ...FFFF, 0000)
 /X      - suppress signature defined in the INI file using "Motto="
 /Y      - create device driver (SYS file)
 /Z      - make 'ZM' EXE header instead of 'MZ'
 /9      - fill free file space with NOPs (default - with zeroes)

GOAT.COM, GOATS.COM and FLOCK.COM programs use the same set of command line switches. Most switches are self-explanatory.

Pattern inside the goat file always reflects the current offsets in the file (i.e., it is "anchored" to the absolute location in the file). For example, at the file offset 1A2Bh you will see bytes "2B", "2C", "2D", ... (for byte pattern). Word pattern at the same location will look like this -- "2B", "1A", "2C", "1A", etc. Sometimes pattern filling is very useful.

Switch /Knnnn adds stack segment at the bottom of the EXE file. Size of the stack segment is limited -- 16 < nnnn < 65536. Obviously, SP always points on the bottom of stack segment (i.e., SP=nnnn). Small and odd values in /K switch should be avoided, because they can hang computer or cause "Exception #13" (QEMM frequent warning), when SP goes through the stack segment boundary (i.e., half of a word is written at SS:0000 and other half -- at SS:FFFF).

Switches /Fnnn and /Dnnn are recognized only by FLOCK.COM (GOAT.COM and GOATS.COM simply ignore them). You can specify the desired number of files and subdirectories to create. By default, 10 subdirectories with 500 files in each are created.

By default GOAT.COM, GOATS.COM and FLOCK.COM programs produce sacrificial file of COM type. This applies to any given size, which meets the following criterion:

2 < Size_of_COM < 65280

The magic number 65280 is a maximum size of COM file, which must fit in a segment size (64k=65536) without PSP size (256):

65536 - 256 = 65280.

When placing the code at the bottom of the COM file, which size is around 64K, code may lay too close to SS:SP (SS=CS for COM files; SP=FFFE) and the program may hang when run, because stack will likely overwrite the code. Therefore, if the spacing between IP and SP is less than 64 bytes, the goat generation is aborted and output file is not created (You will see a warning -- "Goat IP will be too close to SP. Abort!").

When the size specified in the command line is greater than 65280 (or equal to), EXE file is generated automatically (you do not need to write /E or /S switch explicitly). Such a file will have a normal 512-bytes EXE header in the beginning. When you need to create EXE file shorter than 65280 bytes, use /E (or /S, /Z or /Knnnn) command line switch.

You may like to put your preferences (signature, switches, filename templates, etc.) into a separate file -- GOAT.INI (common for GOAT.COM, GOATS.COM and FLOCK.COM). Use any text editor to create or modify INI file. The sample GOAT.INI file is given below:

 Motto="Antivirus test file."   ;all output bait files will carry this string.
 GOATfiles=FPROT                ;files will be FPROT000.COM, FPROT001.COM, ..
 GOATSfiles=ESASS               ;files will be ESASS000.COM, ESASS001.COM, ...
 FLOCKfiles=S&S                 ;files will be S&S000.COM, S&S001.COM, ...
 FLOCKdirs=HEAP                 ;directories created - HEAP000, HEAP001,
 STACKfill="*MYSTACK"           ;fill stack with '*MYSTACK*MYSTACK*MYSTACK'
 SYSname="DRIVERXX"             ;this string is inserted into SYS header
 Switches=/F200/D50             ;make 50 dirs, 200 files in each. 10000 in
 Switches=/C1                   ;to turn off registers check and avoid
                                ;warning "Your PC might be infected..."
 Switches=/iF6h                 ;always fill free file space with 0F6h byte
 Switches=/O                    ;never make overlaid EXE files

GOAT.INI may be located in the current directory or in the path of started program. The first location has priority over the second. GOAT.INI may not exist. In that case programs use built-in defaults.

Filename and subdirectory templates are limited to 5 symbols, because p rograms always add '000' and then start incrementing this number until it becomes '999'. Any string exceeding the limit of 5 symbols will result in the following error message:

"Error in the INI file line #nnn"

The bait files created with GOAT.COM, GOATS.COM and FLOCK.COM (if they have the same size) are absolutely identical in their internal structure and properties.

Created sacrificial goat file contains a small program, which displays its type (COM, EXE or SYS), size in hexadecimal and in decimal (only when goat file is of enough size, i.e., space for code itself is at least 70 bytes). Sacrificial goat file consists of the two parts: the small portion of code (70 bytes or, if space not allows, just 2 bytes) and a block of zeroes, NOPs or pattern of variable size (00..FF, 0000...FFFE or random pattern). Zeroes (or NOPs or pattern) take all space of the file, free from the code. EXE files have additionally an EXE-header. Non-used part of the EXE header is always filled with zeroes. SYS files have additionally a device header, strategy and interrupt routines.

The output of a sample goat file (the size of the sample was 100 bytes) is the following:

"Goat file (COM). Size=00000064h/0000000100d bytes."

File type (COM/EXE/SYS) and real numbers are inserted into the goat file message at the moment of creation.

Usually GOAT.COM, GOATS.COM and FLOCK.COM programs create output sacrificial files in the following order: GOAT000.COM, GOAT001.COM, GOAT002.COM, etc. Same applies to EXE files: GOAT000.EXE, GOAT001.EXE, GOAT002.EXE, etc. If some file in a row (say GOAT050.COM or GOAT050.EXE) already exists -- the next file number is selected automatically (it will be GOAT051.COM or GOAT051.EXE). Thus, we cannot generate both GOAT050.COM and GOAT050.EXE in the same directory. This rule does not apply for SYS files (ex., GOAT000.COM and GOAT000.SYS are allowed). This naming strategy is used to give some freedom for companion viruses.

Note, that definitions, given in the INI file may change default file (and subdirectory) naming.

There are two formats of DOS device drivers -- old format (a'la COM, understood by all DOS versions >2.0) and new format (a'la EXE, introduced in MS-DOS 3.0). Drivers of old type can only be started from CONFIG.SYS using DEVICE statement. The entry point is defined in special SYS header. Drivers of new (EXE) type can additionally be started as a normal executables from the DOS command prompt. Drivers of EXE type have two entry points -- one for invocation from CONFIG.SYS/DEVICE (as written in the SYS header, which goes after EXE header) and the other is defined by CS:IP fields in the EXE header (this one works only when file is started from the command line). The other advantage of EXE format driver -- it is not limited to 64K, like old type of drivers. Such new drivers can exceed 64K, but pointers to Strategy and Interrupt routines must fit into first 64k (they are limited to 16-bits).

To create device driver (SYS) file use switch /Y. Goat drivers of the old (COM) style will print message "Goat file (SYS). Size=..." when DOS requests an initialization of the driver (during CONFIG.SYS processing). Files in new format (SYS&EXE) will do the same, but will print this message also when run from the DOS command line as a normal EXE file. In both cases this driver file prints the same message. Note, that EXE device drivers bear a "(SYS)" designator inside, but are always named as EXE files (to enable start from the command line as a normal executable).

Minimal size of the device driver is around 150 bytes (including SYS header). This limit increases for SYS&EXE files (it should include additionally the size of the EXE header -- 32 bytes for /S; 512 bytes for /E).

5. "A standard set" of goat files.

Let's imagine that we know that we have a sample of the virus (ex., we got the sample from knowledgeable antivirus researcher), but we have no information about properties of the virus. This situation frequently occurs in practice. First, we test it against a set of files of different lengths (say, 1000, 2000, ...10000 bytes). Now we see that the virus infected 8 files (3000, ...10000) and conclude that the virus avoids short victims (<3000). The "standard set" of goat files may help you to find out which files are preferred by the virus (ex.: virus may infect only COM files starting with JMP). Checking "a standard set" after virus attack, you can easily understand which files are infectable.

Now we have another question -- does the virus infect all files longer than 3000 bytes regardless of their contents? We have to test the virus against a set of files of fixed size, but different contents. To simplify this task GOAT package has the generator of "a standard set" of baits of given size -- it is called GOATSET.BAT. Yes, this file is really a DOS batch file, issuing a series of calls to GOAT.COM with different parameters. GOATSET.BAT makes COM, EXE and SYS files. Files are filled with zeroes or NOPs (90h), with initial JMP (0E9h) or without it. Some files carry ReadOnly attribute. EXE files are with normal (512 bytes) and short (32 bytes) EXE headers, with MZ and ZM markers.

GOATSET.BAT needs only one command line parameter -- size of the files in the set. After invocation 52 files of the same size are generated -- 12 COM, 34 EXE, 2 SYS and 4 SYS&EXE files. GOATSET.BAT also writes a report file GOATSET.LOG and places there a full description of the generated bait files set.

Being a BAT file, GOATSET.BAT is fully customizable. It can be easily changed with any text editor.

6. Future threats

Fortunately, there are only few viruses, that try to avoid infecting goat files. One of them is Sarov.1400. It uses primitive algorithm to avoid victims with many repeated bytes.

Corresponding code is:

 0100 8B161C00   MOV     DX,[001C]       ;LOAD RELATIVE OFFSET IN FILE
 0104 33C9       XOR     CX,CX
 0106 D1EA       SHR     DX,1
 0108 B80042     MOV     AX,4200 ;LSEEK TO CHECKED FILE AREA
 010B E80F01     INT     21
 010E BAD804     MOV     DX,04D8 ;BUFFER LOCATION
 0111 B43F       MOV     AH,3F   ;READ 100 BYTES FROM FILE
 0113 B96400     MOV     CX,0064 ;SIZE OF BLOCK TO CHECK
 0116 8BFA       MOV     DI,DX   ;DI -> BUFFER
 0118 CD21       INT     21
 011A 268A05     MOV     AL,ES:[DI]      ;GET FIRST BYTE (ES=DS)
 011D 47 INC     DI      ;SKIP TO NEXT BYTE
 0120 7455       JZ      DON'T_INFECT   ;ALL BYTES ARE THE SAME!
 INFECT_THE_FILE:        ...

Without any doubt, more and more anti-goat viruses will appear in future. We can also expect appearance of more viruses, which avoid victims placed on virtual disk. Or viruses, which do not infect files with certain typical lengths (divisible with 10**N and 16**N). Fortunately, most virus writers have not yet realized that such features are a very strong weapon. I would say, comparable with polymorphicity, because in most cases full disassembly of the virus will be required and that takes time. Moreover, such anti-goat tricks are programmed much more easily than any polymorphic engine.

There are a lot of viruses, which try to complicate their investigation. Viruses use anti-tracing techniques: SVC.4644, Ieronim, XPEH (family of viruses), Zherkov (called also Loz), Magnitogorsk, HideNowt, OneHalf.3544, OneHalf.3577, Cornucopia, etc. A wonderful set of antitracing capabilities is found in Compact Polymorphic Engine (CPE 0.11b), which is actually a virus creation tool.

Some viruses, when they detect that they are being traced switch to the "trojan" mode and try to damage files, floppies and/or hard disks. That looks like a revenge of virus writer for an attempt of antivirus researcher to catch the virus. Many viruses have such a behavior -- for example, recently found RDA.Fighter.5871/5969/7408 (overwrites random sectors on the HDD) [Daniloff], rather old Maltese Amoeba (destroys 4 sectors on each of the first 30 cylinders of all drives), CLME.Ming.1952 (overwrites 34 first sectors on all drives), DR&ET.1710 (erases 128 first sectors on HDDs), Gambler.288 (destroys first 10 sectors on drive C:), Kotlas (removes original non-infected copy of MBR), SumCMOS.6000 (tries to corrupt HDD).

The most nasty idea -- to use destructive capabilities (a'la trojan) if the virus senses the antivirus environment. For example, when virus detected goat files.