Threat Level: green Handler on Duty: Jim Clausing

SANS ISC: Analyzing (malicious) SWF file actions SANS ISC InfoSec Forums

Participate: Learn more about our honeypot network

Sign Up for Free!   Forgot Password?
Log In or Sign Up for Free!
Analyzing (malicious) SWF file actions
Couple of days ago, Steve P. reported a web page that, when viewed, somehow redirected his browser to another, phishing web site. I initially thought that the original web page just used simple redirection (with or without help from JavaScript), but after analyzing the original site I found out that phishers used something different.
(I’ll use this opportunity to ask developers of legitimate web sites to try to make their code a bit more readable – stripping all spaces and tabs from your code and using cryptic names for variables doesn’t help analysts at all)
So, the web site that had the redirection had the following HTML code embedded:

<P><embed src=""
height="4" width="3"></P>

As you can see above, the web site (which is still live, but the target phishing site has been removed) is actually pulling an SWF (Macromedia Adobe Flash) file. In other words, the redirection was caused by the malicious SWF file, which also means that this will work only if you have Flash installed. While this was obvious, I got interested into how to analyze actions embedded in SWF files so I found two nice (and free!) utilities that you might want to bookmark, in case you need to do the same thing in the future.


The first utility is actually a collection called SWFTools ( This utility is for all you guys that prefer to analyze malware under Linux. The collection consists of various command line utilities for various manipulations of SWF files. The most useful one for our analysis is called swfdump. This small utility can disassemble action tags in SWF files and that’s exactly what we need in this case:

$ swfdump -a cocino.swf
[HEADER] File version: 6
[HEADER] File is zlib compressed. Ratio: 86%
[HEADER] File size: 296 (Depacked)
[HEADER] Frame rate: 12.000000
[HEADER] Frame count: 1
[HEADER] Movie width: 10.00
[HEADER] Movie height: 10.00
[009] 3 SETBACKGROUNDCOLOR (ff/ff/ff)
[00c] 263 DOACTION
( 259 bytes) action: GetUrl URL:"" Label:""
( 0 bytes) action: End
[001] 0 SHOWFRAME 1 (00:00:00,000)
[000] 0 END

And the action taken is clearly visible at0x00c – the SWF file uses the GetUrl() action and redirects the browser to the target site.


The second utility that you can use to analyze this file is JSwiff ( JSwiff is a Java framework for SWF file creation and manipulation. As it’s completely written in Java, you can start JSwiff on any platform.
JSwiff is a very simple GUI based utility that will immediately show all SWF headers and tags, as you can see below:


BojanI will be teaching next: Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking - SANS Pen Test Hackfest Europe 2021


396 Posts
ISC Handler
Jun 7th 2007

Sign Up for Free or Log In to start participating in the conversation!