Update Date
01/31/2024

Class: Backdoor

Backdoors are designed to give malicious users remote control over an infected computer. In terms of functionality, Backdoors are similar to many administration systems designed and distributed by software developers. These types of malicious programs make it possible to do anything the author wants on the infected computer: send and receive files, launch files or delete them, display messages, delete data, reboot the computer, etc. The programs in this category are often used in order to unite a group of victim computers and form a botnet or zombie network. This gives malicious users centralized control over an army of infected computers which can then be used for criminal purposes. There is also a group of Backdoors which are capable of spreading via networks and infecting other computers as Net-Worms do. The difference is that such Backdoors do not spread automatically (as Net-Worms do), but only upon a special “command” from the malicious user that controls them.

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Platform: MSIL

The Common Intermediate Language (formerly known as Microsoft Intermediate Language, or MSIL) is an intermediate language developed by Microsoft for the .NET Framework. CIL code is generated by all Microsoft .NET compilers in Microsoft Visual Studio (Visual Basic .NET, Visual C++, Visual C#, and others).

Family: Backdoor.MSIL.Androm

No family description

Tactics and Techniques: Mitre*

TA0001
Initial Access

Adversaries may move onto systems, possibly those on disconnected or air-gapped networks, by copying malware to removable media and taking advantage of Autorun features when the media is inserted into a system and executes. In the case of Lateral Movement, this may occur through modification of executable files stored on removable media or by copying malware and renaming it to look like a legitimate file to trick users into executing it on a separate system. In the case of Initial Access, this may occur through manual manipulation of the media, modification of systems used to initially format the media, or modification to the media’s firmware itself.


Mobile devices may also be used to infect PCs with malware if connected via USB.(Citation: Exploiting Smartphone USB ) This infection may be achieved using devices (Android, iOS, etc.) and, in some instances, USB charging cables.(Citation: Windows Malware Infecting Android)(Citation: iPhone Charging Cable Hack) For example, when a smartphone is connected to a system, it may appear to be mounted similar to a USB-connected disk drive. If malware that is compatible with the connected system is on the mobile device, the malware could infect the machine (especially if Autorun features are enabled).


T1091
Replication Through Removable Media

Adversaries may move onto systems, possibly those on disconnected or air-gapped networks, by copying malware to removable media and taking advantage of Autorun features when the media is inserted into a system and executes. In the case of Lateral Movement, this may occur through modification of executable files stored on removable media or by copying malware and renaming it to look like a legitimate file to trick users into executing it on a separate system. In the case of Initial Access, this may occur through manual manipulation of the media, modification of systems used to initially format the media, or modification to the media’s firmware itself.


Mobile devices may also be used to infect PCs with malware if connected via USB.(Citation: Exploiting Smartphone USB ) This infection may be achieved using devices (Android, iOS, etc.) and, in some instances, USB charging cables.(Citation: Windows Malware Infecting Android)(Citation: iPhone Charging Cable Hack) For example, when a smartphone is connected to a system, it may appear to be mounted similar to a USB-connected disk drive. If malware that is compatible with the connected system is on the mobile device, the malware could infect the machine (especially if Autorun features are enabled).


TA0002
Execution

Adversaries may abuse Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to execute malicious commands and payloads. WMI is an administration feature that provides a uniform environment to access Windows system components. The WMI service enables both local and remote access, though the latter is facilitated by Remote Services such as Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) and Windows Remote Management (WinRM).(Citation: MSDN WMI) Remote WMI over DCOM operates using port 135, whereas WMI over WinRM operates over port 5985 when using HTTP and 5986 for HTTPS.(Citation: MSDN WMI)(Citation: FireEye WMI 2015)


An adversary can use WMI to interact with local and remote systems and use it as a means to execute various behaviors, such as gathering information for Discovery as well as remote Execution of files as part of Lateral Movement. (Citation: FireEye WMI SANS 2015) (Citation: FireEye WMI 2015)


T1047
Windows Management Instrumentation

Adversaries may abuse Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to execute malicious commands and payloads. WMI is an administration feature that provides a uniform environment to access Windows system components. The WMI service enables both local and remote access, though the latter is facilitated by Remote Services such as Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) and Windows Remote Management (WinRM).(Citation: MSDN WMI) Remote WMI over DCOM operates using port 135, whereas WMI over WinRM operates over port 5985 when using HTTP and 5986 for HTTPS.(Citation: MSDN WMI)(Citation: FireEye WMI 2015)


An adversary can use WMI to interact with local and remote systems and use it as a means to execute various behaviors, such as gathering information for Discovery as well as remote Execution of files as part of Lateral Movement. (Citation: FireEye WMI SANS 2015) (Citation: FireEye WMI 2015)


T1059.005
Command and Scripting Interpreter: Visual Basic

Adversaries may abuse Visual Basic (VB) for execution. VB is a programming language created by Microsoft with interoperability with many Windows technologies such as Component Object Model and the Native API through the Windows API. Although tagged as legacy with no planned future evolutions, VB is integrated and supported in the .NET Framework and cross-platform .NET Core.(Citation: VB .NET Mar 2020)(Citation: VB Microsoft)


Derivative languages based on VB have also been created, such as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and VBScript. VBA is an event-driven programming language built into Microsoft Office, as well as several third-party applications.(Citation: Microsoft VBA)(Citation: Wikipedia VBA) VBA enables documents to contain macros used to automate the execution of tasks and other functionality on the host. VBScript is a default scripting language on Windows hosts and can also be used in place of JavaScript on HTML Application (HTA) webpages served to Internet Explorer (though most modern browsers do not come with VBScript support).(Citation: Microsoft VBScript)


Adversaries may use VB payloads to execute malicious commands. Common malicious usage includes automating execution of behaviors with VBScript or embedding VBA content into Spearphishing Attachment payloads (which may also involve Mark-of-the-Web Bypass to enable execution).(Citation: Default VBS macros Blocking )


T1203
Exploitation for Client Execution

Adversaries may exploit software vulnerabilities in client applications to execute code. Vulnerabilities can exist in software due to unsecure coding practices that can lead to unanticipated behavior. Adversaries can take advantage of certain vulnerabilities through targeted exploitation for the purpose of arbitrary code execution. Oftentimes the most valuable exploits to an offensive toolkit are those that can be used to obtain code execution on a remote system because they can be used to gain access to that system. Users will expect to see files related to the applications they commonly used to do work, so they are a useful target for exploit research and development because of their high utility.


Several types exist:


### Browser-based Exploitation


Web browsers are a common target through Drive-by Compromise and Spearphishing Link. Endpoint systems may be compromised through normal web browsing or from certain users being targeted by links in spearphishing emails to adversary controlled sites used to exploit the web browser. These often do not require an action by the user for the exploit to be executed.


### Office Applications


Common office and productivity applications such as Microsoft Office are also targeted through Phishing. Malicious files will be transmitted directly as attachments or through links to download them. These require the user to open the document or file for the exploit to run.


### Common Third-party Applications


Other applications that are commonly seen or are part of the software deployed in a target network may also be used for exploitation. Applications such as Adobe Reader and Flash, which are common in enterprise environments, have been routinely targeted by adversaries attempting to gain access to systems. Depending on the software and nature of the vulnerability, some may be exploited in the browser or require the user to open a file. For instance, some Flash exploits have been delivered as objects within Microsoft Office documents.


TA0003
Persistence

Adversaries may make new tokens and impersonate users to escalate privileges and bypass access controls. For example, if an adversary has a username and password but the user is not logged onto the system the adversary can then create a logon session for the user using the `LogonUser` function. The function will return a copy of the new session’s access token and the adversary can use `SetThreadToken` to assign the token to a thread.


This behavior is distinct from Token Impersonation/Theft in that this refers to creating a new user token instead of stealing or duplicating an existing one.


T1134.003
Access Token Manipulation: Make and Impersonate Token

Adversaries may make new tokens and impersonate users to escalate privileges and bypass access controls. For example, if an adversary has a username and password but the user is not logged onto the system the adversary can then create a logon session for the user using the `LogonUser` function. The function will return a copy of the new session’s access token and the adversary can use `SetThreadToken` to assign the token to a thread.


This behavior is distinct from Token Impersonation/Theft in that this refers to creating a new user token instead of stealing or duplicating an existing one.


T1543.003
Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service

Adversaries may create or modify Windows services to repeatedly execute malicious payloads as part of persistence. When Windows boots up, it starts programs or applications called services that perform background system functions.(Citation: TechNet Services) Windows service configuration information, including the file path to the service’s executable or recovery programs/commands, is stored in the Windows Registry.


Adversaries may install a new service or modify an existing service to execute at startup in order to persist on a system. Service configurations can be set or modified using system utilities (such as sc.exe), by directly modifying the Registry, or by interacting directly with the Windows API.


Adversaries may also use services to install and execute malicious drivers. For example, after dropping a driver file (ex: `.sys`) to disk, the payload can be loaded and registered via Native API functions such as `CreateServiceW()` (or manually via functions such as `ZwLoadDriver()` and `ZwSetValueKey()`), by creating the required service Registry values (i.e. Modify Registry), or by using command-line utilities such as `PnPUtil.exe`.(Citation: Symantec W.32 Stuxnet Dossier)(Citation: Crowdstrike DriveSlayer February 2022)(Citation: Unit42 AcidBox June 2020) Adversaries may leverage these drivers as Rootkits to hide the presence of malicious activity on a system. Adversaries may also load a signed yet vulnerable driver onto a compromised machine (known as “Bring Your Own Vulnerable Driver” (BYOVD)) as part of Exploitation for Privilege Escalation.(Citation: ESET InvisiMole June 2020)(Citation: Unit42 AcidBox June 2020)


Services may be created with administrator privileges but are executed under SYSTEM privileges, so an adversary may also use a service to escalate privileges. Adversaries may also directly start services through Service Execution. To make detection analysis more challenging, malicious services may also incorporate Masquerade Task or Service (ex: using a service and/or payload name related to a legitimate OS or benign software component).


T1546.001
Event Triggered Execution: Change Default File Association

Adversaries may establish persistence by executing malicious content triggered by a file type association. When a file is opened, the default program used to open the file (also called the file association or handler) is checked. File association selections are stored in the Windows Registry and can be edited by users, administrators, or programs that have Registry access or by administrators using the built-in assoc utility.(Citation: Microsoft Change Default Programs)(Citation: Microsoft File Handlers)(Citation: Microsoft Assoc Oct 2017) Applications can modify the file association for a given file extension to call an arbitrary program when a file with the given extension is opened.


System file associations are listed under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.[extension], for example HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.txt. The entries point to a handler for that extension located at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\[handler]. The various commands are then listed as subkeys underneath the shell key at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\[handler]shell\[action]command. For example:


* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellopencommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprintcommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprinttocommand


The values of the keys listed are commands that are executed when the handler opens the file extension. Adversaries can modify these values to continually execute arbitrary commands.(Citation: TrendMicro TROJ-FAKEAV OCT 2012)


T1546.008
Event Triggered Execution: Accessibility Features

Adversaries may establish persistence and/or elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by accessibility features. Windows contains accessibility features that may be launched with a key combination before a user has logged in (ex: when the user is on the Windows logon screen). An adversary can modify the way these programs are launched to get a command prompt or backdoor without logging in to the system.


Two common accessibility programs are C:WindowsSystem32sethc.exe, launched when the shift key is pressed five times and C:WindowsSystem32utilman.exe, launched when the Windows + U key combination is pressed. The sethc.exe program is often referred to as “sticky keys”, and has been used by adversaries for unauthenticated access through a remote desktop login screen. (Citation: FireEye Hikit Rootkit)


Depending on the version of Windows, an adversary may take advantage of these features in different ways. Common methods used by adversaries include replacing accessibility feature binaries or pointers/references to these binaries in the Registry. In newer versions of Windows, the replaced binary needs to be digitally signed for x64 systems, the binary must reside in %systemdir%, and it must be protected by Windows File or Resource Protection (WFP/WRP). (Citation: DEFCON2016 Sticky Keys) The Image File Execution Options Injection debugger method was likely discovered as a potential workaround because it does not require the corresponding accessibility feature binary to be replaced.


For simple binary replacement on Windows XP and later as well as and Windows Server 2003/R2 and later, for example, the program (e.g., C:WindowsSystem32utilman.exe) may be replaced with “cmd.exe” (or another program that provides backdoor access). Subsequently, pressing the appropriate key combination at the login screen while sitting at the keyboard or when connected over Remote Desktop Protocol will cause the replaced file to be executed with SYSTEM privileges. (Citation: Tilbury 2014)


Other accessibility features exist that may also be leveraged in a similar fashion: (Citation: DEFCON2016 Sticky Keys)(Citation: Narrator Accessibility Abuse)


* On-Screen Keyboard: C:WindowsSystem32osk.exe

* Magnifier: C:WindowsSystem32Magnify.exe

* Narrator: C:WindowsSystem32Narrator.exe

* Display Switcher: C:WindowsSystem32DisplaySwitch.exe

* App Switcher: C:WindowsSystem32AtBroker.exe


T1546.011
Event Triggered Execution: Application Shimming

Adversaries may establish persistence and/or elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by application shims. The Microsoft Windows Application Compatibility Infrastructure/Framework (Application Shim) was created to allow for backward compatibility of software as the operating system codebase changes over time. For example, the application shimming feature allows developers to apply fixes to applications (without rewriting code) that were created for Windows XP so that it will work with Windows 10. (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


Within the framework, shims are created to act as a buffer between the program (or more specifically, the Import Address Table) and the Windows OS. When a program is executed, the shim cache is referenced to determine if the program requires the use of the shim database (.sdb). If so, the shim database uses hooking to redirect the code as necessary in order to communicate with the OS.


A list of all shims currently installed by the default Windows installer (sdbinst.exe) is kept in:


* %WINDIR%AppPatchsysmain.sdb and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagsinstalledsdb


Custom databases are stored in:


* %WINDIR%AppPatchcustom & %WINDIR%AppPatchAppPatch64Custom and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagscustom


To keep shims secure, Windows designed them to run in user mode so they cannot modify the kernel and you must have administrator privileges to install a shim. However, certain shims can be used to Bypass User Account Control (UAC and RedirectEXE), inject DLLs into processes (InjectDLL), disable Data Execution Prevention (DisableNX) and Structure Exception Handling (DisableSEH), and intercept memory addresses (GetProcAddress).


Utilizing these shims may allow an adversary to perform several malicious acts such as elevate privileges, install backdoors, disable defenses like Windows Defender, etc. (Citation: FireEye Application Shimming) Shims can also be abused to establish persistence by continuously being invoked by affected programs.


T1546.012
Event Triggered Execution: Image File Execution Options Injection

Adversaries may establish persistence and/or elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by Image File Execution Options (IFEO) debuggers. IFEOs enable a developer to attach a debugger to an application. When a process is created, a debugger present in an application’s IFEO will be prepended to the application’s name, effectively launching the new process under the debugger (e.g., C:dbgntsd.exe -g notepad.exe). (Citation: Microsoft Dev Blog IFEO Mar 2010)


IFEOs can be set directly via the Registry or in Global Flags via the GFlags tool. (Citation: Microsoft GFlags Mar 2017) IFEOs are represented as Debugger values in the Registry under HKLMSOFTWARE{Wow6432Node}MicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionImage File Execution Options where <executable> is the binary on which the debugger is attached. (Citation: Microsoft Dev Blog IFEO Mar 2010)


IFEOs can also enable an arbitrary monitor program to be launched when a specified program silently exits (i.e. is prematurely terminated by itself or a second, non kernel-mode process). (Citation: Microsoft Silent Process Exit NOV 2017) (Citation: Oddvar Moe IFEO APR 2018) Similar to debuggers, silent exit monitoring can be enabled through GFlags and/or by directly modifying IFEO and silent process exit Registry values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionSilentProcessExit. (Citation: Microsoft Silent Process Exit NOV 2017) (Citation: Oddvar Moe IFEO APR 2018)


Similar to Accessibility Features, on Windows Vista and later as well as Windows Server 2008 and later, a Registry key may be modified that configures “cmd.exe,” or another program that provides backdoor access, as a “debugger” for an accessibility program (ex: utilman.exe). After the Registry is modified, pressing the appropriate key combination at the login screen while at the keyboard or when connected with Remote Desktop Protocol will cause the “debugger” program to be executed with SYSTEM privileges. (Citation: Tilbury 2014)


Similar to Process Injection, these values may also be abused to obtain privilege escalation by causing a malicious executable to be loaded and run in the context of separate processes on the computer. (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017) Installing IFEO mechanisms may also provide Persistence via continuous triggered invocation.


Malware may also use IFEO to Impair Defenses by registering invalid debuggers that redirect and effectively disable various system and security applications. (Citation: FSecure Hupigon) (Citation: Symantec Ushedix June 2008)


T1555
Credentials from Password Stores

Adversaries may search for common password storage locations to obtain user credentials. Passwords are stored in several places on a system, depending on the operating system or application holding the credentials. There are also specific applications and services that store passwords to make them easier for users to manage and maintain, such as password managers and cloud secrets vaults. Once credentials are obtained, they can be used to perform lateral movement and access restricted information.


TA0004
Privilege Escalation

Adversaries may inject code into processes in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. Process injection is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process. Running code in the context of another process may allow access to the process’s memory, system/network resources, and possibly elevated privileges. Execution via process injection may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


There are many different ways to inject code into a process, many of which abuse legitimate functionalities. These implementations exist for every major OS but are typically platform specific.


More sophisticated samples may perform multiple process injections to segment modules and further evade detection, utilizing named pipes or other inter-process communication (IPC) mechanisms as a communication channel.


T1055
Process Injection

Adversaries may inject code into processes in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. Process injection is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process. Running code in the context of another process may allow access to the process’s memory, system/network resources, and possibly elevated privileges. Execution via process injection may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


There are many different ways to inject code into a process, many of which abuse legitimate functionalities. These implementations exist for every major OS but are typically platform specific.


More sophisticated samples may perform multiple process injections to segment modules and further evade detection, utilizing named pipes or other inter-process communication (IPC) mechanisms as a communication channel.


T1055.004
Process Injection: Asynchronous Procedure Call

Adversaries may inject malicious code into processes via the asynchronous procedure call (APC) queue in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. APC injection is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process.


APC injection is commonly performed by attaching malicious code to the APC Queue (Citation: Microsoft APC) of a process’s thread. Queued APC functions are executed when the thread enters an alterable state.(Citation: Microsoft APC) A handle to an existing victim process is first created with native Windows API calls such as OpenThread. At this point QueueUserAPC can be used to invoke a function (such as LoadLibrayA pointing to a malicious DLL).


A variation of APC injection, dubbed “Early Bird injection”, involves creating a suspended process in which malicious code can be written and executed before the process’ entry point (and potentially subsequent anti-malware hooks) via an APC. (Citation: CyberBit Early Bird Apr 2018) AtomBombing (Citation: ENSIL AtomBombing Oct 2016) is another variation that utilizes APCs to invoke malicious code previously written to the global atom table.(Citation: Microsoft Atom Table)


Running code in the context of another process may allow access to the process’s memory, system/network resources, and possibly elevated privileges. Execution via APC injection may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


T1134.002
Access Token Manipulation: Create Process with Token

Adversaries may create a new process with an existing token to escalate privileges and bypass access controls. Processes can be created with the token and resulting security context of another user using features such as CreateProcessWithTokenW and runas.(Citation: Microsoft RunAs)


Creating processes with a token not associated with the current user may require the credentials of the target user, specific privileges to impersonate that user, or access to the token to be used. For example, the token could be duplicated via Token Impersonation/Theft or created via Make and Impersonate Token before being used to create a process.


While this technique is distinct from Token Impersonation/Theft, the techniques can be used in conjunction where a token is duplicated and then used to create a new process.


T1134.004
Access Token Manipulation: Parent PID Spoofing

Adversaries may spoof the parent process identifier (PPID) of a new process to evade process-monitoring defenses or to elevate privileges. New processes are typically spawned directly from their parent, or calling, process unless explicitly specified. One way of explicitly assigning the PPID of a new process is via the CreateProcess API call, which supports a parameter that defines the PPID to use.(Citation: DidierStevens SelectMyParent Nov 2009) This functionality is used by Windows features such as User Account Control (UAC) to correctly set the PPID after a requested elevated process is spawned by SYSTEM (typically via svchost.exe or consent.exe) rather than the current user context.(Citation: Microsoft UAC Nov 2018)


Adversaries may abuse these mechanisms to evade defenses, such as those blocking processes spawning directly from Office documents, and analysis targeting unusual/potentially malicious parent-child process relationships, such as spoofing the PPID of PowerShell/Rundll32 to be explorer.exe rather than an Office document delivered as part of Spearphishing Attachment.(Citation: CounterCept PPID Spoofing Dec 2018) This spoofing could be executed via Visual Basic within a malicious Office document or any code that can perform Native API.(Citation: CTD PPID Spoofing Macro Mar 2019)(Citation: CounterCept PPID Spoofing Dec 2018)


Explicitly assigning the PPID may also enable elevated privileges given appropriate access rights to the parent process. For example, an adversary in a privileged user context (i.e. administrator) may spawn a new process and assign the parent as a process running as SYSTEM (such as lsass.exe), causing the new process to be elevated via the inherited access token.(Citation: XPNSec PPID Nov 2017)


T1543.003
Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service

Adversaries may create or modify Windows services to repeatedly execute malicious payloads as part of persistence. When Windows boots up, it starts programs or applications called services that perform background system functions.(Citation: TechNet Services) Windows service configuration information, including the file path to the service’s executable or recovery programs/commands, is stored in the Windows Registry.


Adversaries may install a new service or modify an existing service to execute at startup in order to persist on a system. Service configurations can be set or modified using system utilities (such as sc.exe), by directly modifying the Registry, or by interacting directly with the Windows API.


Adversaries may also use services to install and execute malicious drivers. For example, after dropping a driver file (ex: `.sys`) to disk, the payload can be loaded and registered via Native API functions such as `CreateServiceW()` (or manually via functions such as `ZwLoadDriver()` and `ZwSetValueKey()`), by creating the required service Registry values (i.e. Modify Registry), or by using command-line utilities such as `PnPUtil.exe`.(Citation: Symantec W.32 Stuxnet Dossier)(Citation: Crowdstrike DriveSlayer February 2022)(Citation: Unit42 AcidBox June 2020) Adversaries may leverage these drivers as Rootkits to hide the presence of malicious activity on a system. Adversaries may also load a signed yet vulnerable driver onto a compromised machine (known as “Bring Your Own Vulnerable Driver” (BYOVD)) as part of Exploitation for Privilege Escalation.(Citation: ESET InvisiMole June 2020)(Citation: Unit42 AcidBox June 2020)


Services may be created with administrator privileges but are executed under SYSTEM privileges, so an adversary may also use a service to escalate privileges. Adversaries may also directly start services through Service Execution. To make detection analysis more challenging, malicious services may also incorporate Masquerade Task or Service (ex: using a service and/or payload name related to a legitimate OS or benign software component).


T1546.001
Event Triggered Execution: Change Default File Association

Adversaries may establish persistence by executing malicious content triggered by a file type association. When a file is opened, the default program used to open the file (also called the file association or handler) is checked. File association selections are stored in the Windows Registry and can be edited by users, administrators, or programs that have Registry access or by administrators using the built-in assoc utility.(Citation: Microsoft Change Default Programs)(Citation: Microsoft File Handlers)(Citation: Microsoft Assoc Oct 2017) Applications can modify the file association for a given file extension to call an arbitrary program when a file with the given extension is opened.


System file associations are listed under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.[extension], for example HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.txt. The entries point to a handler for that extension located at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\[handler]. The various commands are then listed as subkeys underneath the shell key at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\[handler]shell\[action]command. For example:


* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellopencommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprintcommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprinttocommand


The values of the keys listed are commands that are executed when the handler opens the file extension. Adversaries can modify these values to continually execute arbitrary commands.(Citation: TrendMicro TROJ-FAKEAV OCT 2012)


T1546.008
Event Triggered Execution: Accessibility Features

Adversaries may establish persistence and/or elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by accessibility features. Windows contains accessibility features that may be launched with a key combination before a user has logged in (ex: when the user is on the Windows logon screen). An adversary can modify the way these programs are launched to get a command prompt or backdoor without logging in to the system.


Two common accessibility programs are C:WindowsSystem32sethc.exe, launched when the shift key is pressed five times and C:WindowsSystem32utilman.exe, launched when the Windows + U key combination is pressed. The sethc.exe program is often referred to as “sticky keys”, and has been used by adversaries for unauthenticated access through a remote desktop login screen. (Citation: FireEye Hikit Rootkit)


Depending on the version of Windows, an adversary may take advantage of these features in different ways. Common methods used by adversaries include replacing accessibility feature binaries or pointers/references to these binaries in the Registry. In newer versions of Windows, the replaced binary needs to be digitally signed for x64 systems, the binary must reside in %systemdir%, and it must be protected by Windows File or Resource Protection (WFP/WRP). (Citation: DEFCON2016 Sticky Keys) The Image File Execution Options Injection debugger method was likely discovered as a potential workaround because it does not require the corresponding accessibility feature binary to be replaced.


For simple binary replacement on Windows XP and later as well as and Windows Server 2003/R2 and later, for example, the program (e.g., C:WindowsSystem32utilman.exe) may be replaced with “cmd.exe” (or another program that provides backdoor access). Subsequently, pressing the appropriate key combination at the login screen while sitting at the keyboard or when connected over Remote Desktop Protocol will cause the replaced file to be executed with SYSTEM privileges. (Citation: Tilbury 2014)


Other accessibility features exist that may also be leveraged in a similar fashion: (Citation: DEFCON2016 Sticky Keys)(Citation: Narrator Accessibility Abuse)


* On-Screen Keyboard: C:WindowsSystem32osk.exe

* Magnifier: C:WindowsSystem32Magnify.exe

* Narrator: C:WindowsSystem32Narrator.exe

* Display Switcher: C:WindowsSystem32DisplaySwitch.exe

* App Switcher: C:WindowsSystem32AtBroker.exe


T1546.011
Event Triggered Execution: Application Shimming

Adversaries may establish persistence and/or elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by application shims. The Microsoft Windows Application Compatibility Infrastructure/Framework (Application Shim) was created to allow for backward compatibility of software as the operating system codebase changes over time. For example, the application shimming feature allows developers to apply fixes to applications (without rewriting code) that were created for Windows XP so that it will work with Windows 10. (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


Within the framework, shims are created to act as a buffer between the program (or more specifically, the Import Address Table) and the Windows OS. When a program is executed, the shim cache is referenced to determine if the program requires the use of the shim database (.sdb). If so, the shim database uses hooking to redirect the code as necessary in order to communicate with the OS.


A list of all shims currently installed by the default Windows installer (sdbinst.exe) is kept in:


* %WINDIR%AppPatchsysmain.sdb and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagsinstalledsdb


Custom databases are stored in:


* %WINDIR%AppPatchcustom & %WINDIR%AppPatchAppPatch64Custom and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagscustom


To keep shims secure, Windows designed them to run in user mode so they cannot modify the kernel and you must have administrator privileges to install a shim. However, certain shims can be used to Bypass User Account Control (UAC and RedirectEXE), inject DLLs into processes (InjectDLL), disable Data Execution Prevention (DisableNX) and Structure Exception Handling (DisableSEH), and intercept memory addresses (GetProcAddress).


Utilizing these shims may allow an adversary to perform several malicious acts such as elevate privileges, install backdoors, disable defenses like Windows Defender, etc. (Citation: FireEye Application Shimming) Shims can also be abused to establish persistence by continuously being invoked by affected programs.


T1546.012
Event Triggered Execution: Image File Execution Options Injection

Adversaries may establish persistence and/or elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by Image File Execution Options (IFEO) debuggers. IFEOs enable a developer to attach a debugger to an application. When a process is created, a debugger present in an application’s IFEO will be prepended to the application’s name, effectively launching the new process under the debugger (e.g., C:dbgntsd.exe -g notepad.exe). (Citation: Microsoft Dev Blog IFEO Mar 2010)


IFEOs can be set directly via the Registry or in Global Flags via the GFlags tool. (Citation: Microsoft GFlags Mar 2017) IFEOs are represented as Debugger values in the Registry under HKLMSOFTWARE{Wow6432Node}MicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionImage File Execution Options where <executable> is the binary on which the debugger is attached. (Citation: Microsoft Dev Blog IFEO Mar 2010)


IFEOs can also enable an arbitrary monitor program to be launched when a specified program silently exits (i.e. is prematurely terminated by itself or a second, non kernel-mode process). (Citation: Microsoft Silent Process Exit NOV 2017) (Citation: Oddvar Moe IFEO APR 2018) Similar to debuggers, silent exit monitoring can be enabled through GFlags and/or by directly modifying IFEO and silent process exit Registry values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionSilentProcessExit. (Citation: Microsoft Silent Process Exit NOV 2017) (Citation: Oddvar Moe IFEO APR 2018)


Similar to Accessibility Features, on Windows Vista and later as well as Windows Server 2008 and later, a Registry key may be modified that configures “cmd.exe,” or another program that provides backdoor access, as a “debugger” for an accessibility program (ex: utilman.exe). After the Registry is modified, pressing the appropriate key combination at the login screen while at the keyboard or when connected with Remote Desktop Protocol will cause the “debugger” program to be executed with SYSTEM privileges. (Citation: Tilbury 2014)


Similar to Process Injection, these values may also be abused to obtain privilege escalation by causing a malicious executable to be loaded and run in the context of separate processes on the computer. (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017) Installing IFEO mechanisms may also provide Persistence via continuous triggered invocation.


Malware may also use IFEO to Impair Defenses by registering invalid debuggers that redirect and effectively disable various system and security applications. (Citation: FSecure Hupigon) (Citation: Symantec Ushedix June 2008)


TA0005
Defense Evasion

Adversaries may rename legitimate system utilities to try to evade security mechanisms concerning the usage of those utilities. Security monitoring and control mechanisms may be in place for system utilities adversaries are capable of abusing. (Citation: LOLBAS Main Site) It may be possible to bypass those security mechanisms by renaming the utility prior to utilization (ex: rename rundll32.exe). (Citation: Elastic Masquerade Ball) An alternative case occurs when a legitimate utility is copied or moved to a different directory and renamed to avoid detections based on system utilities executing from non-standard paths. (Citation: F-Secure CozyDuke)


T1036.003
Masquerading: Rename System Utilities

Adversaries may rename legitimate system utilities to try to evade security mechanisms concerning the usage of those utilities. Security monitoring and control mechanisms may be in place for system utilities adversaries are capable of abusing. (Citation: LOLBAS Main Site) It may be possible to bypass those security mechanisms by renaming the utility prior to utilization (ex: rename rundll32.exe). (Citation: Elastic Masquerade Ball) An alternative case occurs when a legitimate utility is copied or moved to a different directory and renamed to avoid detections based on system utilities executing from non-standard paths. (Citation: F-Secure CozyDuke)


T1055.004
Process Injection: Asynchronous Procedure Call

Adversaries may inject malicious code into processes via the asynchronous procedure call (APC) queue in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. APC injection is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process.


APC injection is commonly performed by attaching malicious code to the APC Queue (Citation: Microsoft APC) of a process’s thread. Queued APC functions are executed when the thread enters an alterable state.(Citation: Microsoft APC) A handle to an existing victim process is first created with native Windows API calls such as OpenThread. At this point QueueUserAPC can be used to invoke a function (such as LoadLibrayA pointing to a malicious DLL).


A variation of APC injection, dubbed “Early Bird injection”, involves creating a suspended process in which malicious code can be written and executed before the process’ entry point (and potentially subsequent anti-malware hooks) via an APC. (Citation: CyberBit Early Bird Apr 2018) AtomBombing (Citation: ENSIL AtomBombing Oct 2016) is another variation that utilizes APCs to invoke malicious code previously written to the global atom table.(Citation: Microsoft Atom Table)


Running code in the context of another process may allow access to the process’s memory, system/network resources, and possibly elevated privileges. Execution via APC injection may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


T1070
Indicator Removal

Adversaries may delete or modify artifacts generated within systems to remove evidence of their presence or hinder defenses. Various artifacts may be created by an adversary or something that can be attributed to an adversary’s actions. Typically these artifacts are used as defensive indicators related to monitored events, such as strings from downloaded files, logs that are generated from user actions, and other data analyzed by defenders. Location, format, and type of artifact (such as command or login history) are often specific to each platform.


Removal of these indicators may interfere with event collection, reporting, or other processes used to detect intrusion activity. This may compromise the integrity of security solutions by causing notable events to go unreported. This activity may also impede forensic analysis and incident response, due to lack of sufficient data to determine what occurred.


T1070.004
Indicator Removal: File Deletion

Adversaries may delete files left behind by the actions of their intrusion activity. Malware, tools, or other non-native files dropped or created on a system by an adversary (ex: Ingress Tool Transfer) may leave traces to indicate to what was done within a network and how. Removal of these files can occur during an intrusion, or as part of a post-intrusion process to minimize the adversary’s footprint.


There are tools available from the host operating system to perform cleanup, but adversaries may use other tools as well.(Citation: Microsoft SDelete July 2016) Examples of built-in Command and Scripting Interpreter functions include del on Windows and rm or unlink on Linux and macOS.


T1070.006
Indicator Removal: Timestomp

Adversaries may modify file time attributes to hide new or changes to existing files. Timestomping is a technique that modifies the timestamps of a file (the modify, access, create, and change times), often to mimic files that are in the same folder. This is done, for example, on files that have been modified or created by the adversary so that they do not appear conspicuous to forensic investigators or file analysis tools.


Timestomping may be used along with file name Masquerading to hide malware and tools.(Citation: WindowsIR Anti-Forensic Techniques)


T1134.002
Access Token Manipulation: Create Process with Token

Adversaries may create a new process with an existing token to escalate privileges and bypass access controls. Processes can be created with the token and resulting security context of another user using features such as CreateProcessWithTokenW and runas.(Citation: Microsoft RunAs)


Creating processes with a token not associated with the current user may require the credentials of the target user, specific privileges to impersonate that user, or access to the token to be used. For example, the token could be duplicated via Token Impersonation/Theft or created via Make and Impersonate Token before being used to create a process.


While this technique is distinct from Token Impersonation/Theft, the techniques can be used in conjunction where a token is duplicated and then used to create a new process.


T1134.003
Access Token Manipulation: Make and Impersonate Token

Adversaries may make new tokens and impersonate users to escalate privileges and bypass access controls. For example, if an adversary has a username and password but the user is not logged onto the system the adversary can then create a logon session for the user using the `LogonUser` function. The function will return a copy of the new session’s access token and the adversary can use `SetThreadToken` to assign the token to a thread.


This behavior is distinct from Token Impersonation/Theft in that this refers to creating a new user token instead of stealing or duplicating an existing one.


T1134.004
Access Token Manipulation: Parent PID Spoofing

Adversaries may spoof the parent process identifier (PPID) of a new process to evade process-monitoring defenses or to elevate privileges. New processes are typically spawned directly from their parent, or calling, process unless explicitly specified. One way of explicitly assigning the PPID of a new process is via the CreateProcess API call, which supports a parameter that defines the PPID to use.(Citation: DidierStevens SelectMyParent Nov 2009) This functionality is used by Windows features such as User Account Control (UAC) to correctly set the PPID after a requested elevated process is spawned by SYSTEM (typically via svchost.exe or consent.exe) rather than the current user context.(Citation: Microsoft UAC Nov 2018)


Adversaries may abuse these mechanisms to evade defenses, such as those blocking processes spawning directly from Office documents, and analysis targeting unusual/potentially malicious parent-child process relationships, such as spoofing the PPID of PowerShell/Rundll32 to be explorer.exe rather than an Office document delivered as part of Spearphishing Attachment.(Citation: CounterCept PPID Spoofing Dec 2018) This spoofing could be executed via Visual Basic within a malicious Office document or any code that can perform Native API.(Citation: CTD PPID Spoofing Macro Mar 2019)(Citation: CounterCept PPID Spoofing Dec 2018)


Explicitly assigning the PPID may also enable elevated privileges given appropriate access rights to the parent process. For example, an adversary in a privileged user context (i.e. administrator) may spawn a new process and assign the parent as a process running as SYSTEM (such as lsass.exe), causing the new process to be elevated via the inherited access token.(Citation: XPNSec PPID Nov 2017)


T1205
Traffic Signaling

Adversaries may use traffic signaling to hide open ports or other malicious functionality used for persistence or command and control. Traffic signaling involves the use of a magic value or sequence that must be sent to a system to trigger a special response, such as opening a closed port or executing a malicious task. This may take the form of sending a series of packets with certain characteristics before a port will be opened that the adversary can use for command and control. Usually this series of packets consists of attempted connections to a predefined sequence of closed ports (i.e. Port Knocking), but can involve unusual flags, specific strings, or other unique characteristics. After the sequence is completed, opening a port may be accomplished by the host-based firewall, but could also be implemented by custom software.


Adversaries may also communicate with an already open port, but the service listening on that port will only respond to commands or trigger other malicious functionality if passed the appropriate magic value(s).


The observation of the signal packets to trigger the communication can be conducted through different methods. One means, originally implemented by Cd00r (Citation: Hartrell cd00r 2002), is to use the libpcap libraries to sniff for the packets in question. Another method leverages raw sockets, which enables the malware to use ports that are already open for use by other programs.


On network devices, adversaries may use crafted packets to enable Network Device Authentication for standard services offered by the device such as telnet. Such signaling may also be used to open a closed service port such as telnet, or to trigger module modification of malware implants on the device, adding, removing, or changing malicious capabilities. Adversaries may use crafted packets to attempt to connect to one or more (open or closed) ports, but may also attempt to connect to a router interface, broadcast, and network address IP on the same port in order to achieve their goals and objectives.(Citation: Cisco Synful Knock Evolution)(Citation: Mandiant – Synful Knock)(Citation: Cisco Blog Legacy Device Attacks) To enable this traffic signaling on embedded devices, adversaries must first achieve and leverage Patch System Image due to the monolithic nature of the architecture.


Adversaries may also use the Wake-on-LAN feature to turn on powered off systems. Wake-on-LAN is a hardware feature that allows a powered down system to be powered on, or woken up, by sending a magic packet to it. Once the system is powered on, it may become a target for lateral movement.(Citation: Bleeping Computer – Ryuk WoL)(Citation: AMD Magic Packet)


T1222.001
File and Directory Permissions Modification: Windows File and Directory Permissions Modification

Adversaries may modify file or directory permissions/attributes to evade access control lists (ACLs) and access protected files.(Citation: Hybrid Analysis Icacls1 June 2018)(Citation: Hybrid Analysis Icacls2 May 2018) File and directory permissions are commonly managed by ACLs configured by the file or directory owner, or users with the appropriate permissions. File and directory ACL implementations vary by platform, but generally explicitly designate which users or groups can perform which actions (read, write, execute, etc.).


Windows implements file and directory ACLs as Discretionary Access Control Lists (DACLs).(Citation: Microsoft DACL May 2018) Similar to a standard ACL, DACLs identifies the accounts that are allowed or denied access to a securable object. When an attempt is made to access a securable object, the system checks the access control entries in the DACL in order. If a matching entry is found, access to the object is granted. Otherwise, access is denied.(Citation: Microsoft Access Control Lists May 2018)


Adversaries can interact with the DACLs using built-in Windows commands, such as `icacls`, `cacls`, `takeown`, and `attrib`, which can grant adversaries higher permissions on specific files and folders. Further, PowerShell provides cmdlets that can be used to retrieve or modify file and directory DACLs. Specific file and directory modifications may be a required step for many techniques, such as establishing Persistence via Accessibility Features, Boot or Logon Initialization Scripts, or tainting/hijacking other instrumental binary/configuration files via Hijack Execution Flow.


T1497.002
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: User Activity Based Checks

Adversaries may employ various user activity checks to detect and avoid virtualization and analysis environments. This may include changing behaviors based on the results of checks for the presence of artifacts indicative of a virtual machine environment (VME) or sandbox. If the adversary detects a VME, they may alter their malware to disengage from the victim or conceal the core functions of the implant. They may also search for VME artifacts before dropping secondary or additional payloads. Adversaries may use the information learned from Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors.(Citation: Deloitte Environment Awareness)


Adversaries may search for user activity on the host based on variables such as the speed/frequency of mouse movements and clicks (Citation: Sans Virtual Jan 2016) , browser history, cache, bookmarks, or number of files in common directories such as home or the desktop. Other methods may rely on specific user interaction with the system before the malicious code is activated, such as waiting for a document to close before activating a macro (Citation: Unit 42 Sofacy Nov 2018) or waiting for a user to double click on an embedded image to activate.(Citation: FireEye FIN7 April 2017)


T1518
Software Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of software and software versions that are installed on a system or in a cloud environment. Adversaries may use the information from Software Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


Adversaries may attempt to enumerate software for a variety of reasons, such as figuring out what security measures are present or if the compromised system has a version of software that is vulnerable to Exploitation for Privilege Escalation.


T1548
Abuse Elevation Control Mechanism

Adversaries may circumvent mechanisms designed to control elevate privileges to gain higher-level permissions. Most modern systems contain native elevation control mechanisms that are intended to limit privileges that a user can perform on a machine. Authorization has to be granted to specific users in order to perform tasks that can be considered of higher risk. An adversary can perform several methods to take advantage of built-in control mechanisms in order to escalate privileges on a system.


TA0006
Credential Access

Adversaries may search the Registry on compromised systems for insecurely stored credentials. The Windows Registry stores configuration information that can be used by the system or other programs. Adversaries may query the Registry looking for credentials and passwords that have been stored for use by other programs or services. Sometimes these credentials are used for automatic logons.


Example commands to find Registry keys related to password information: (Citation: Pentestlab Stored Credentials)


* Local Machine Hive: reg query HKLM /f password /t REG_SZ /s

* Current User Hive: reg query HKCU /f password /t REG_SZ /s


T1552.002
Unsecured Credentials: Credentials in Registry

Adversaries may search the Registry on compromised systems for insecurely stored credentials. The Windows Registry stores configuration information that can be used by the system or other programs. Adversaries may query the Registry looking for credentials and passwords that have been stored for use by other programs or services. Sometimes these credentials are used for automatic logons.


Example commands to find Registry keys related to password information: (Citation: Pentestlab Stored Credentials)


* Local Machine Hive: reg query HKLM /f password /t REG_SZ /s

* Current User Hive: reg query HKCU /f password /t REG_SZ /s


TA0007
Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of services running on remote hosts and local network infrastructure devices, including those that may be vulnerable to remote software exploitation. Common methods to acquire this information include port and/or vulnerability scans using tools that are brought onto a system.(Citation: CISA AR21-126A FIVEHANDS May 2021)


Within cloud environments, adversaries may attempt to discover services running on other cloud hosts. Additionally, if the cloud environment is connected to a on-premises environment, adversaries may be able to identify services running on non-cloud systems as well.


Within macOS environments, adversaries may use the native Bonjour application to discover services running on other macOS hosts within a network. The Bonjour mDNSResponder daemon automatically registers and advertises a host’s registered services on the network. For example, adversaries can use a mDNS query (such as dns-sd -B _ssh._tcp .) to find other systems broadcasting the ssh service.(Citation: apple doco bonjour description)(Citation: macOS APT Activity Bradley)


T1046
Network Service Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of services running on remote hosts and local network infrastructure devices, including those that may be vulnerable to remote software exploitation. Common methods to acquire this information include port and/or vulnerability scans using tools that are brought onto a system.(Citation: CISA AR21-126A FIVEHANDS May 2021)


Within cloud environments, adversaries may attempt to discover services running on other cloud hosts. Additionally, if the cloud environment is connected to a on-premises environment, adversaries may be able to identify services running on non-cloud systems as well.


Within macOS environments, adversaries may use the native Bonjour application to discover services running on other macOS hosts within a network. The Bonjour mDNSResponder daemon automatically registers and advertises a host’s registered services on the network. For example, adversaries can use a mDNS query (such as dns-sd -B _ssh._tcp .) to find other systems broadcasting the ssh service.(Citation: apple doco bonjour description)(Citation: macOS APT Activity Bradley)


T1083
File and Directory Discovery

Adversaries may enumerate files and directories or may search in specific locations of a host or network share for certain information within a file system. Adversaries may use the information from File and Directory Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


Many command shell utilities can be used to obtain this information. Examples include dir, tree, ls, find, and locate.(Citation: Windows Commands JPCERT) Custom tools may also be used to gather file and directory information and interact with the Native API. Adversaries may also leverage a Network Device CLI on network devices to gather file and directory information (e.g. dir, show flash, and/or nvram).(Citation: US-CERT-TA18-106A)


T1087.001
Account Discovery: Local Account

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of local system accounts. This information can help adversaries determine which local accounts exist on a system to aid in follow-on behavior.


Commands such as net user and net localgroup of the Net utility and id and groupson macOS and Linux can list local users and groups. On Linux, local users can also be enumerated through the use of the /etc/passwd file. On macOS the dscl . list /Users command can be used to enumerate local accounts.


T1120
Peripheral Device Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to gather information about attached peripheral devices and components connected to a computer system.(Citation: Peripheral Discovery Linux)(Citation: Peripheral Discovery macOS) Peripheral devices could include auxiliary resources that support a variety of functionalities such as keyboards, printers, cameras, smart card readers, or removable storage. The information may be used to enhance their awareness of the system and network environment or may be used for further actions.


T1497.002
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: User Activity Based Checks

Adversaries may employ various user activity checks to detect and avoid virtualization and analysis environments. This may include changing behaviors based on the results of checks for the presence of artifacts indicative of a virtual machine environment (VME) or sandbox. If the adversary detects a VME, they may alter their malware to disengage from the victim or conceal the core functions of the implant. They may also search for VME artifacts before dropping secondary or additional payloads. Adversaries may use the information learned from Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors.(Citation: Deloitte Environment Awareness)


Adversaries may search for user activity on the host based on variables such as the speed/frequency of mouse movements and clicks (Citation: Sans Virtual Jan 2016) , browser history, cache, bookmarks, or number of files in common directories such as home or the desktop. Other methods may rely on specific user interaction with the system before the malicious code is activated, such as waiting for a document to close before activating a macro (Citation: Unit 42 Sofacy Nov 2018) or waiting for a user to double click on an embedded image to activate.(Citation: FireEye FIN7 April 2017)


T1497.003
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: Time Based Evasion

Adversaries may employ various time-based methods to detect and avoid virtualization and analysis environments. This may include enumerating time-based properties, such as uptime or the system clock, as well as the use of timers or other triggers to avoid a virtual machine environment (VME) or sandbox, specifically those that are automated or only operate for a limited amount of time.


Adversaries may employ various time-based evasions, such as delaying malware functionality upon initial execution using programmatic sleep commands or native system scheduling functionality (ex: Scheduled Task/Job). Delays may also be based on waiting for specific victim conditions to be met (ex: system time, events, etc.) or employ scheduled Multi-Stage Channels to avoid analysis and scrutiny.(Citation: Deloitte Environment Awareness)


Benign commands or other operations may also be used to delay malware execution. Loops or otherwise needless repetitions of commands, such as Pings, may be used to delay malware execution and potentially exceed time thresholds of automated analysis environments.(Citation: Revil Independence Day)(Citation: Netskope Nitol) Another variation, commonly referred to as API hammering, involves making various calls to Native API functions in order to delay execution (while also potentially overloading analysis environments with junk data).(Citation: Joe Sec Nymaim)(Citation: Joe Sec Trickbot)


Adversaries may also use time as a metric to detect sandboxes and analysis environments, particularly those that attempt to manipulate time mechanisms to simulate longer elapses of time. For example, an adversary may be able to identify a sandbox accelerating time by sampling and calculating the expected value for an environment’s timestamp before and after execution of a sleep function.(Citation: ISACA Malware Tricks)


T1518
Software Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of software and software versions that are installed on a system or in a cloud environment. Adversaries may use the information from Software Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


Adversaries may attempt to enumerate software for a variety of reasons, such as figuring out what security measures are present or if the compromised system has a version of software that is vulnerable to Exploitation for Privilege Escalation.


T1518.001
Software Discovery: Security Software Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of security software, configurations, defensive tools, and sensors that are installed on a system or in a cloud environment. This may include things such as firewall rules and anti-virus. Adversaries may use the information from Security Software Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


Example commands that can be used to obtain security software information are netsh, reg query with Reg, dir with cmd, and Tasklist, but other indicators of discovery behavior may be more specific to the type of software or security system the adversary is looking for. It is becoming more common to see macOS malware perform checks for LittleSnitch and KnockKnock software.


Adversaries may also utilize cloud APIs to discover the configurations of firewall rules within an environment.(Citation: Expel IO Evil in AWS) For example, the permitted IP ranges, ports or user accounts for the inbound/outbound rules of security groups, virtual firewalls established within AWS for EC2 and/or VPC instances, can be revealed by the DescribeSecurityGroups action with various request parameters. (Citation: DescribeSecurityGroups – Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud)


TA0008
Lateral Movement

Adversaries may move onto systems, possibly those on disconnected or air-gapped networks, by copying malware to removable media and taking advantage of Autorun features when the media is inserted into a system and executes. In the case of Lateral Movement, this may occur through modification of executable files stored on removable media or by copying malware and renaming it to look like a legitimate file to trick users into executing it on a separate system. In the case of Initial Access, this may occur through manual manipulation of the media, modification of systems used to initially format the media, or modification to the media’s firmware itself.


Mobile devices may also be used to infect PCs with malware if connected via USB.(Citation: Exploiting Smartphone USB ) This infection may be achieved using devices (Android, iOS, etc.) and, in some instances, USB charging cables.(Citation: Windows Malware Infecting Android)(Citation: iPhone Charging Cable Hack) For example, when a smartphone is connected to a system, it may appear to be mounted similar to a USB-connected disk drive. If malware that is compatible with the connected system is on the mobile device, the malware could infect the machine (especially if Autorun features are enabled).


T1091
Replication Through Removable Media

Adversaries may move onto systems, possibly those on disconnected or air-gapped networks, by copying malware to removable media and taking advantage of Autorun features when the media is inserted into a system and executes. In the case of Lateral Movement, this may occur through modification of executable files stored on removable media or by copying malware and renaming it to look like a legitimate file to trick users into executing it on a separate system. In the case of Initial Access, this may occur through manual manipulation of the media, modification of systems used to initially format the media, or modification to the media’s firmware itself.


Mobile devices may also be used to infect PCs with malware if connected via USB.(Citation: Exploiting Smartphone USB ) This infection may be achieved using devices (Android, iOS, etc.) and, in some instances, USB charging cables.(Citation: Windows Malware Infecting Android)(Citation: iPhone Charging Cable Hack) For example, when a smartphone is connected to a system, it may appear to be mounted similar to a USB-connected disk drive. If malware that is compatible with the connected system is on the mobile device, the malware could infect the machine (especially if Autorun features are enabled).


TA0011
Command and Control

Adversaries may communicate using application layer protocols associated with web traffic to avoid detection/network filtering by blending in with existing traffic. Commands to the remote system, and often the results of those commands, will be embedded within the protocol traffic between the client and server.


Protocols such as HTTP/S(Citation: CrowdStrike Putter Panda) and WebSocket(Citation: Brazking-Websockets) that carry web traffic may be very common in environments. HTTP/S packets have many fields and headers in which data can be concealed. An adversary may abuse these protocols to communicate with systems under their control within a victim network while also mimicking normal, expected traffic.


T1071.001
Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols

Adversaries may communicate using application layer protocols associated with web traffic to avoid detection/network filtering by blending in with existing traffic. Commands to the remote system, and often the results of those commands, will be embedded within the protocol traffic between the client and server.


Protocols such as HTTP/S(Citation: CrowdStrike Putter Panda) and WebSocket(Citation: Brazking-Websockets) that carry web traffic may be very common in environments. HTTP/S packets have many fields and headers in which data can be concealed. An adversary may abuse these protocols to communicate with systems under their control within a victim network while also mimicking normal, expected traffic.


T1095
Non-Application Layer Protocol

Adversaries may use an OSI non-application layer protocol for communication between host and C2 server or among infected hosts within a network. The list of possible protocols is extensive.(Citation: Wikipedia OSI) Specific examples include use of network layer protocols, such as the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), transport layer protocols, such as the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), session layer protocols, such as Socket Secure (SOCKS), as well as redirected/tunneled protocols, such as Serial over LAN (SOL).


ICMP communication between hosts is one example.(Citation: Cisco Synful Knock Evolution) Because ICMP is part of the Internet Protocol Suite, it is required to be implemented by all IP-compatible hosts.(Citation: Microsoft ICMP) However, it is not as commonly monitored as other Internet Protocols such as TCP or UDP and may be used by adversaries to hide communications.


TA0040
Impact

Adversaries may exploit software vulnerabilities that can cause an application or system to crash and deny availability to users. (Citation: Sucuri BIND9 August 2015) Some systems may automatically restart critical applications and services when crashes occur, but they can likely be re-exploited to cause a persistent denial of service (DoS) condition.


Adversaries may exploit known or zero-day vulnerabilities to crash applications and/or systems, which may also lead to dependent applications and/or systems to be in a DoS condition. Crashed or restarted applications or systems may also have other effects such as Data Destruction, Firmware Corruption, Service Stop etc. which may further cause a DoS condition and deny availability to critical information, applications and/or systems.


T1499.004
Endpoint Denial of Service: Application or System Exploitation

Adversaries may exploit software vulnerabilities that can cause an application or system to crash and deny availability to users. (Citation: Sucuri BIND9 August 2015) Some systems may automatically restart critical applications and services when crashes occur, but they can likely be re-exploited to cause a persistent denial of service (DoS) condition.


Adversaries may exploit known or zero-day vulnerabilities to crash applications and/or systems, which may also lead to dependent applications and/or systems to be in a DoS condition. Crashed or restarted applications or systems may also have other effects such as Data Destruction, Firmware Corruption, Service Stop etc. which may further cause a DoS condition and deny availability to critical information, applications and/or systems.


T1529
System Shutdown/Reboot

Adversaries may shutdown/reboot systems to interrupt access to, or aid in the destruction of, those systems. Operating systems may contain commands to initiate a shutdown/reboot of a machine or network device. In some cases, these commands may also be used to initiate a shutdown/reboot of a remote computer or network device via Network Device CLI (e.g. reload).(Citation: Microsoft Shutdown Oct 2017)(Citation: alert_TA18_106A)


Shutting down or rebooting systems may disrupt access to computer resources for legitimate users while also impeding incident response/recovery.


Adversaries may attempt to shutdown/reboot a system after impacting it in other ways, such as Disk Structure Wipe or Inhibit System Recovery, to hasten the intended effects on system availability.(Citation: Talos Nyetya June 2017)(Citation: Talos Olympic Destroyer 2018)


T1565
Data Manipulation

Adversaries may insert, delete, or manipulate data in order to influence external outcomes or hide activity, thus threatening the integrity of the data. By manipulating data, adversaries may attempt to affect a business process, organizational understanding, or decision making.


The type of modification and the impact it will have depends on the target application and process as well as the goals and objectives of the adversary. For complex systems, an adversary would likely need special expertise and possibly access to specialized software related to the system that would typically be gained through a prolonged information gathering campaign in order to have the desired impact.


* © 2024 The MITRE Corporation. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of The MITRE Corporation.

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