Update Date
02/05/2024

Class: Trojan-PSW

Trojan-PSW programs are designed to steal user account information such as logins and passwords from infected computers. PSW is an acronym of Password Stealing Ware. When launched, a PSW Trojan searches system files which store a range of confidential data or the registry. If such data is found, the Trojan sends it to its “master.” Email, FTP, the web (including data in a request), or other methods may be used to transit the stolen data. Some such Trojans also steal registration information for certain software programs.

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Platform: BAT

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Family: Disco

No family description

Tactics and Techniques: Mitre*

TA0001
Initial Access

Adversaries may send spearphishing emails with a malicious link in an attempt to gain access to victim systems. Spearphishing with a link is a specific variant of spearphishing. It is different from other forms of spearphishing in that it employs the use of links to download malware contained in email, instead of attaching malicious files to the email itself, to avoid defenses that may inspect email attachments. Spearphishing may also involve social engineering techniques, such as posing as a trusted source.


All forms of spearphishing are electronically delivered social engineering targeted at a specific individual, company, or industry. In this case, the malicious emails contain links. Generally, the links will be accompanied by social engineering text and require the user to actively click or copy and paste a URL into a browser, leveraging User Execution. The visited website may compromise the web browser using an exploit, or the user will be prompted to download applications, documents, zip files, or even executables depending on the pretext for the email in the first place.


Adversaries may also include links that are intended to interact directly with an email reader, including embedded images intended to exploit the end system directly. Additionally, adversaries may use seemingly benign links that abuse special characters to mimic legitimate websites (known as an “IDN homograph attack”).(Citation: CISA IDN ST05-016) URLs may also be obfuscated by taking advantage of quirks in the URL schema, such as the acceptance of integer- or hexadecimal-based hostname formats and the automatic discarding of text before an “@” symbol: for example, `hxxp://google.com@1157586937`.(Citation: Mandiant URL Obfuscation 2023)


Adversaries may also utilize links to perform consent phishing, typically with OAuth 2.0 request URLs that when accepted by the user provide permissions/access for malicious applications, allowing adversaries to Steal Application Access Tokens.(Citation: Trend Micro Pawn Storm OAuth 2017) These stolen access tokens allow the adversary to perform various actions on behalf of the user via API calls. (Citation: Microsoft OAuth 2.0 Consent Phishing 2021)


T1566.002
Phishing: Spearphishing Link

Adversaries may send spearphishing emails with a malicious link in an attempt to gain access to victim systems. Spearphishing with a link is a specific variant of spearphishing. It is different from other forms of spearphishing in that it employs the use of links to download malware contained in email, instead of attaching malicious files to the email itself, to avoid defenses that may inspect email attachments. Spearphishing may also involve social engineering techniques, such as posing as a trusted source.


All forms of spearphishing are electronically delivered social engineering targeted at a specific individual, company, or industry. In this case, the malicious emails contain links. Generally, the links will be accompanied by social engineering text and require the user to actively click or copy and paste a URL into a browser, leveraging User Execution. The visited website may compromise the web browser using an exploit, or the user will be prompted to download applications, documents, zip files, or even executables depending on the pretext for the email in the first place.


Adversaries may also include links that are intended to interact directly with an email reader, including embedded images intended to exploit the end system directly. Additionally, adversaries may use seemingly benign links that abuse special characters to mimic legitimate websites (known as an “IDN homograph attack”).(Citation: CISA IDN ST05-016) URLs may also be obfuscated by taking advantage of quirks in the URL schema, such as the acceptance of integer- or hexadecimal-based hostname formats and the automatic discarding of text before an “@” symbol: for example, `hxxp://google.com@1157586937`.(Citation: Mandiant URL Obfuscation 2023)


Adversaries may also utilize links to perform consent phishing, typically with OAuth 2.0 request URLs that when accepted by the user provide permissions/access for malicious applications, allowing adversaries to Steal Application Access Tokens.(Citation: Trend Micro Pawn Storm OAuth 2017) These stolen access tokens allow the adversary to perform various actions on behalf of the user via API calls. (Citation: Microsoft OAuth 2.0 Consent Phishing 2021)


TA0002
Execution

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


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


T1047
Windows Management Instrumentation

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


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


T1053.005
Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

Adversaries may abuse the Windows Task Scheduler to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. There are multiple ways to access the Task Scheduler in Windows. The schtasks utility can be run directly on the command line, or the Task Scheduler can be opened through the GUI within the Administrator Tools section of the Control Panel. In some cases, adversaries have used a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler, and alternatively, adversaries have used the Windows netapi32 library to create a scheduled task.


The deprecated at utility could also be abused by adversaries (ex: At), though at.exe can not access tasks created with schtasks or the Control Panel.


An adversary may use Windows Task Scheduler to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for persistence. The Windows Task Scheduler can also be abused to conduct remote Execution as part of Lateral Movement and/or to run a process under the context of a specified account (such as SYSTEM). Similar to System Binary Proxy Execution, adversaries have also abused the Windows Task Scheduler to potentially mask one-time execution under signed/trusted system processes.(Citation: ProofPoint Serpent)


Adversaries may also create “hidden” scheduled tasks (i.e. Hide Artifacts) that may not be visible to defender tools and manual queries used to enumerate tasks. Specifically, an adversary may hide a task from `schtasks /query` and the Task Scheduler by deleting the associated Security Descriptor (SD) registry value (where deletion of this value must be completed using SYSTEM permissions).(Citation: SigmaHQ)(Citation: Tarrask scheduled task) Adversaries may also employ alternate methods to hide tasks, such as altering the metadata (e.g., `Index` value) within associated registry keys.(Citation: Defending Against Scheduled Task Attacks in Windows Environments)


T1129
Shared Modules

Adversaries may execute malicious payloads via loading shared modules. Shared modules are executable files that are loaded into processes to provide access to reusable code, such as specific custom functions or invoking OS API functions (i.e., Native API).


Adversaries may use this functionality as a way to execute arbitrary payloads on a victim system. For example, adversaries can modularize functionality of their malware into shared objects that perform various functions such as managing C2 network communications or execution of specific actions on objective.


The Linux & macOS module loader can load and execute shared objects from arbitrary local paths. This functionality resides in `dlfcn.h` in functions such as `dlopen` and `dlsym`. Although macOS can execute `.so` files, common practice uses `.dylib` files.(Citation: Apple Dev Dynamic Libraries)(Citation: Linux Shared Libraries)(Citation: RotaJakiro 2021 netlab360 analysis)(Citation: Unit42 OceanLotus 2017)


The Windows module loader can be instructed to load DLLs from arbitrary local paths and arbitrary Universal Naming Convention (UNC) network paths. This functionality resides in `NTDLL.dll` and is part of the Windows Native API which is called from functions like `LoadLibrary` at run time.(Citation: Microsoft DLL)


T1204.001
User Execution: Malicious Link

An adversary may rely upon a user clicking a malicious link in order to gain execution. Users may be subjected to social engineering to get them to click on a link that will lead to code execution. This user action will typically be observed as follow-on behavior from Spearphishing Link. Clicking on a link may also lead to other execution techniques such as exploitation of a browser or application vulnerability via Exploitation for Client Execution. Links may also lead users to download files that require execution via Malicious File.


T1204.002
User Execution: Malicious File

An adversary may rely upon a user opening a malicious file in order to gain execution. Users may be subjected to social engineering to get them to open a file that will lead to code execution. This user action will typically be observed as follow-on behavior from Spearphishing Attachment. Adversaries may use several types of files that require a user to execute them, including .doc, .pdf, .xls, .rtf, .scr, .exe, .lnk, .pif, and .cpl.


Adversaries may employ various forms of Masquerading and Obfuscated Files or Information to increase the likelihood that a user will open and successfully execute a malicious file. These methods may include using a familiar naming convention and/or password protecting the file and supplying instructions to a user on how to open it.(Citation: Password Protected Word Docs)


While Malicious File frequently occurs shortly after Initial Access it may occur at other phases of an intrusion, such as when an adversary places a file in a shared directory or on a user’s desktop hoping that a user will click on it. This activity may also be seen shortly after Internal Spearphishing.


TA0003
Persistence

Adversaries may abuse the Windows Task Scheduler to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. There are multiple ways to access the Task Scheduler in Windows. The schtasks utility can be run directly on the command line, or the Task Scheduler can be opened through the GUI within the Administrator Tools section of the Control Panel. In some cases, adversaries have used a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler, and alternatively, adversaries have used the Windows netapi32 library to create a scheduled task.


The deprecated at utility could also be abused by adversaries (ex: At), though at.exe can not access tasks created with schtasks or the Control Panel.


An adversary may use Windows Task Scheduler to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for persistence. The Windows Task Scheduler can also be abused to conduct remote Execution as part of Lateral Movement and/or to run a process under the context of a specified account (such as SYSTEM). Similar to System Binary Proxy Execution, adversaries have also abused the Windows Task Scheduler to potentially mask one-time execution under signed/trusted system processes.(Citation: ProofPoint Serpent)


Adversaries may also create “hidden” scheduled tasks (i.e. Hide Artifacts) that may not be visible to defender tools and manual queries used to enumerate tasks. Specifically, an adversary may hide a task from `schtasks /query` and the Task Scheduler by deleting the associated Security Descriptor (SD) registry value (where deletion of this value must be completed using SYSTEM permissions).(Citation: SigmaHQ)(Citation: Tarrask scheduled task) Adversaries may also employ alternate methods to hide tasks, such as altering the metadata (e.g., `Index` value) within associated registry keys.(Citation: Defending Against Scheduled Task Attacks in Windows Environments)


T1053.005
Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

Adversaries may abuse the Windows Task Scheduler to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. There are multiple ways to access the Task Scheduler in Windows. The schtasks utility can be run directly on the command line, or the Task Scheduler can be opened through the GUI within the Administrator Tools section of the Control Panel. In some cases, adversaries have used a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler, and alternatively, adversaries have used the Windows netapi32 library to create a scheduled task.


The deprecated at utility could also be abused by adversaries (ex: At), though at.exe can not access tasks created with schtasks or the Control Panel.


An adversary may use Windows Task Scheduler to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for persistence. The Windows Task Scheduler can also be abused to conduct remote Execution as part of Lateral Movement and/or to run a process under the context of a specified account (such as SYSTEM). Similar to System Binary Proxy Execution, adversaries have also abused the Windows Task Scheduler to potentially mask one-time execution under signed/trusted system processes.(Citation: ProofPoint Serpent)


Adversaries may also create “hidden” scheduled tasks (i.e. Hide Artifacts) that may not be visible to defender tools and manual queries used to enumerate tasks. Specifically, an adversary may hide a task from `schtasks /query` and the Task Scheduler by deleting the associated Security Descriptor (SD) registry value (where deletion of this value must be completed using SYSTEM permissions).(Citation: SigmaHQ)(Citation: Tarrask scheduled task) Adversaries may also employ alternate methods to hide tasks, such as altering the metadata (e.g., `Index` value) within associated registry keys.(Citation: Defending Against Scheduled Task Attacks in Windows Environments)


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)


T1556
Modify Authentication Process

Adversaries may modify authentication mechanisms and processes to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. The authentication process is handled by mechanisms, such as the Local Security Authentication Server (LSASS) process and the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) on Windows, pluggable authentication modules (PAM) on Unix-based systems, and authorization plugins on MacOS systems, responsible for gathering, storing, and validating credentials. By modifying an authentication process, an adversary may be able to authenticate to a service or system without using Valid Accounts.


Adversaries may maliciously modify a part of this process to either reveal credentials or bypass authentication mechanisms. Compromised credentials or access may be used to bypass access controls placed on various resources on systems within the network and may even be used for persistent access to remote systems and externally available services, such as VPNs, Outlook Web Access and remote desktop.


TA0004
Privilege Escalation

Adversaries may abuse the Windows Task Scheduler to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. There are multiple ways to access the Task Scheduler in Windows. The schtasks utility can be run directly on the command line, or the Task Scheduler can be opened through the GUI within the Administrator Tools section of the Control Panel. In some cases, adversaries have used a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler, and alternatively, adversaries have used the Windows netapi32 library to create a scheduled task.


The deprecated at utility could also be abused by adversaries (ex: At), though at.exe can not access tasks created with schtasks or the Control Panel.


An adversary may use Windows Task Scheduler to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for persistence. The Windows Task Scheduler can also be abused to conduct remote Execution as part of Lateral Movement and/or to run a process under the context of a specified account (such as SYSTEM). Similar to System Binary Proxy Execution, adversaries have also abused the Windows Task Scheduler to potentially mask one-time execution under signed/trusted system processes.(Citation: ProofPoint Serpent)


Adversaries may also create “hidden” scheduled tasks (i.e. Hide Artifacts) that may not be visible to defender tools and manual queries used to enumerate tasks. Specifically, an adversary may hide a task from `schtasks /query` and the Task Scheduler by deleting the associated Security Descriptor (SD) registry value (where deletion of this value must be completed using SYSTEM permissions).(Citation: SigmaHQ)(Citation: Tarrask scheduled task) Adversaries may also employ alternate methods to hide tasks, such as altering the metadata (e.g., `Index` value) within associated registry keys.(Citation: Defending Against Scheduled Task Attacks in Windows Environments)


T1053.005
Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

Adversaries may abuse the Windows Task Scheduler to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. There are multiple ways to access the Task Scheduler in Windows. The schtasks utility can be run directly on the command line, or the Task Scheduler can be opened through the GUI within the Administrator Tools section of the Control Panel. In some cases, adversaries have used a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler, and alternatively, adversaries have used the Windows netapi32 library to create a scheduled task.


The deprecated at utility could also be abused by adversaries (ex: At), though at.exe can not access tasks created with schtasks or the Control Panel.


An adversary may use Windows Task Scheduler to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for persistence. The Windows Task Scheduler can also be abused to conduct remote Execution as part of Lateral Movement and/or to run a process under the context of a specified account (such as SYSTEM). Similar to System Binary Proxy Execution, adversaries have also abused the Windows Task Scheduler to potentially mask one-time execution under signed/trusted system processes.(Citation: ProofPoint Serpent)


Adversaries may also create “hidden” scheduled tasks (i.e. Hide Artifacts) that may not be visible to defender tools and manual queries used to enumerate tasks. Specifically, an adversary may hide a task from `schtasks /query` and the Task Scheduler by deleting the associated Security Descriptor (SD) registry value (where deletion of this value must be completed using SYSTEM permissions).(Citation: SigmaHQ)(Citation: Tarrask scheduled task) Adversaries may also employ alternate methods to hide tasks, such as altering the metadata (e.g., `Index` value) within associated registry keys.(Citation: Defending Against Scheduled Task Attacks in Windows Environments)


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
Access Token Manipulation

Adversaries may modify access tokens to operate under a different user or system security context to perform actions and bypass access controls. Windows uses access tokens to determine the ownership of a running process. A user can manipulate access tokens to make a running process appear as though it is the child of a different process or belongs to someone other than the user that started the process. When this occurs, the process also takes on the security context associated with the new token.


An adversary can use built-in Windows API functions to copy access tokens from existing processes; this is known as token stealing. These token can then be applied to an existing process (i.e. Token Impersonation/Theft) or used to spawn a new process (i.e. Create Process with Token). An adversary must already be in a privileged user context (i.e. administrator) to steal a token. However, adversaries commonly use token stealing to elevate their security context from the administrator level to the SYSTEM level. An adversary can then use a token to authenticate to a remote system as the account for that token if the account has appropriate permissions on the remote system.(Citation: Pentestlab Token Manipulation)


Any standard user can use the runas command, and the Windows API functions, to create impersonation tokens; it does not require access to an administrator account. There are also other mechanisms, such as Active Directory fields, that can be used to modify access tokens.


T1134.004
Access Token Manipulation: Parent PID Spoofing

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


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


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


TA0005
Defense Evasion

Adversaries may attempt to make an executable or file difficult to discover or analyze by encrypting, encoding, or otherwise obfuscating its contents on the system or in transit. This is common behavior that can be used across different platforms and the network to evade defenses.


Payloads may be compressed, archived, or encrypted in order to avoid detection. These payloads may be used during Initial Access or later to mitigate detection. Sometimes a user’s action may be required to open and Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information for User Execution. The user may also be required to input a password to open a password protected compressed/encrypted file that was provided by the adversary. (Citation: Volexity PowerDuke November 2016) Adversaries may also use compressed or archived scripts, such as JavaScript.


Portions of files can also be encoded to hide the plain-text strings that would otherwise help defenders with discovery. (Citation: Linux/Cdorked.A We Live Security Analysis) Payloads may also be split into separate, seemingly benign files that only reveal malicious functionality when reassembled. (Citation: Carbon Black Obfuscation Sept 2016)


Adversaries may also abuse Command Obfuscation to obscure commands executed from payloads or directly via Command and Scripting Interpreter. Environment variables, aliases, characters, and other platform/language specific semantics can be used to evade signature based detections and application control mechanisms. (Citation: FireEye Obfuscation June 2017) (Citation: FireEye Revoke-Obfuscation July 2017)(Citation: PaloAlto EncodedCommand March 2017)


T1027
Obfuscated Files or Information

Adversaries may attempt to make an executable or file difficult to discover or analyze by encrypting, encoding, or otherwise obfuscating its contents on the system or in transit. This is common behavior that can be used across different platforms and the network to evade defenses.


Payloads may be compressed, archived, or encrypted in order to avoid detection. These payloads may be used during Initial Access or later to mitigate detection. Sometimes a user’s action may be required to open and Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information for User Execution. The user may also be required to input a password to open a password protected compressed/encrypted file that was provided by the adversary. (Citation: Volexity PowerDuke November 2016) Adversaries may also use compressed or archived scripts, such as JavaScript.


Portions of files can also be encoded to hide the plain-text strings that would otherwise help defenders with discovery. (Citation: Linux/Cdorked.A We Live Security Analysis) Payloads may also be split into separate, seemingly benign files that only reveal malicious functionality when reassembled. (Citation: Carbon Black Obfuscation Sept 2016)


Adversaries may also abuse Command Obfuscation to obscure commands executed from payloads or directly via Command and Scripting Interpreter. Environment variables, aliases, characters, and other platform/language specific semantics can be used to evade signature based detections and application control mechanisms. (Citation: FireEye Obfuscation June 2017) (Citation: FireEye Revoke-Obfuscation July 2017)(Citation: PaloAlto EncodedCommand March 2017)


T1036.005
Masquerading: Match Legitimate Name or Location

Adversaries may match or approximate the name or location of legitimate files or resources when naming/placing them. This is done for the sake of evading defenses and observation. This may be done by placing an executable in a commonly trusted directory (ex: under System32) or giving it the name of a legitimate, trusted program (ex: svchost.exe). In containerized environments, this may also be done by creating a resource in a namespace that matches the naming convention of a container pod or cluster. Alternatively, a file or container image name given may be a close approximation to legitimate programs/images or something innocuous.


Adversaries may also use the same icon of the file they are trying to mimic.


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
Access Token Manipulation

Adversaries may modify access tokens to operate under a different user or system security context to perform actions and bypass access controls. Windows uses access tokens to determine the ownership of a running process. A user can manipulate access tokens to make a running process appear as though it is the child of a different process or belongs to someone other than the user that started the process. When this occurs, the process also takes on the security context associated with the new token.


An adversary can use built-in Windows API functions to copy access tokens from existing processes; this is known as token stealing. These token can then be applied to an existing process (i.e. Token Impersonation/Theft) or used to spawn a new process (i.e. Create Process with Token). An adversary must already be in a privileged user context (i.e. administrator) to steal a token. However, adversaries commonly use token stealing to elevate their security context from the administrator level to the SYSTEM level. An adversary can then use a token to authenticate to a remote system as the account for that token if the account has appropriate permissions on the remote system.(Citation: Pentestlab Token Manipulation)


Any standard user can use the runas command, and the Windows API functions, to create impersonation tokens; it does not require access to an administrator account. There are also other mechanisms, such as Active Directory fields, that can be used to modify access tokens.


T1134.004
Access Token Manipulation: Parent PID Spoofing

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


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


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


T1140
Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information

Adversaries may use Obfuscated Files or Information to hide artifacts of an intrusion from analysis. They may require separate mechanisms to decode or deobfuscate that information depending on how they intend to use it. Methods for doing that include built-in functionality of malware or by using utilities present on the system.


One such example is the use of certutil to decode a remote access tool portable executable file that has been hidden inside a certificate file.(Citation: Malwarebytes Targeted Attack against Saudi Arabia) Another example is using the Windows copy /b command to reassemble binary fragments into a malicious payload.(Citation: Carbon Black Obfuscation Sept 2016)


Sometimes a user’s action may be required to open it for deobfuscation or decryption as part of User Execution. The user may also be required to input a password to open a password protected compressed/encrypted file that was provided by the adversary. (Citation: Volexity PowerDuke November 2016)


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

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


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


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


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)


T1556
Modify Authentication Process

Adversaries may modify authentication mechanisms and processes to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. The authentication process is handled by mechanisms, such as the Local Security Authentication Server (LSASS) process and the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) on Windows, pluggable authentication modules (PAM) on Unix-based systems, and authorization plugins on MacOS systems, responsible for gathering, storing, and validating credentials. By modifying an authentication process, an adversary may be able to authenticate to a service or system without using Valid Accounts.


Adversaries may maliciously modify a part of this process to either reveal credentials or bypass authentication mechanisms. Compromised credentials or access may be used to bypass access controls placed on various resources on systems within the network and may even be used for persistent access to remote systems and externally available services, such as VPNs, Outlook Web Access and remote desktop.


T1562.001
Impair Defenses: Disable or Modify Tools

Adversaries may modify and/or disable security tools to avoid possible detection of their malware/tools and activities. This may take many forms, such as killing security software processes or services, modifying / deleting Registry keys or configuration files so that tools do not operate properly, or other methods to interfere with security tools scanning or reporting information. Adversaries may also disable updates to prevent the latest security patches from reaching tools on victim systems.(Citation: SCADAfence_ransomware)


Adversaries may also tamper with artifacts deployed and utilized by security tools. Security tools may make dynamic changes to system components in order to maintain visibility into specific events. For example, security products may load their own modules and/or modify those loaded by processes to facilitate data collection. Similar to Indicator Blocking, adversaries may unhook or otherwise modify these features added by tools (especially those that exist in userland or are otherwise potentially accessible to adversaries) to avoid detection.(Citation: OutFlank System Calls)(Citation: MDSec System Calls)


Adversaries may also focus on specific applications such as Sysmon. For example, the “Start” and “Enable” values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlWMIAutologgerEventLog-Microsoft-Windows-Sysmon-Operational may be modified to tamper with and potentially disable Sysmon logging.(Citation: disable_win_evt_logging)


On network devices, adversaries may attempt to skip digital signature verification checks by altering startup configuration files and effectively disabling firmware verification that typically occurs at boot.(Citation: Fortinet Zero-Day and Custom Malware Used by Suspected Chinese Actor in Espionage Operation)(Citation: Analysis of FG-IR-22-369)


In cloud environments, tools disabled by adversaries may include cloud monitoring agents that report back to services such as AWS CloudWatch or Google Cloud Monitor.


Furthermore, although defensive tools may have anti-tampering mechanisms, adversaries may abuse tools such as legitimate rootkit removal kits to impair and/or disable these tools.(Citation: chasing_avaddon_ransomware)(Citation: dharma_ransomware)(Citation: demystifying_ryuk)(Citation: doppelpaymer_crowdstrike) For example, adversaries have used tools such as GMER to find and shut down hidden processes and antivirus software on infected systems.(Citation: demystifying_ryuk)


Additionally, adversaries may exploit legitimate drivers from anti-virus software to gain access to kernel space (i.e. Exploitation for Privilege Escalation), which may lead to bypassing anti-tampering features.(Citation: avoslocker_ransomware)


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)


TA0006
Credential Access

Adversaries may modify authentication mechanisms and processes to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. The authentication process is handled by mechanisms, such as the Local Security Authentication Server (LSASS) process and the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) on Windows, pluggable authentication modules (PAM) on Unix-based systems, and authorization plugins on MacOS systems, responsible for gathering, storing, and validating credentials. By modifying an authentication process, an adversary may be able to authenticate to a service or system without using Valid Accounts.


Adversaries may maliciously modify a part of this process to either reveal credentials or bypass authentication mechanisms. Compromised credentials or access may be used to bypass access controls placed on various resources on systems within the network and may even be used for persistent access to remote systems and externally available services, such as VPNs, Outlook Web Access and remote desktop.


T1556
Modify Authentication Process

Adversaries may modify authentication mechanisms and processes to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. The authentication process is handled by mechanisms, such as the Local Security Authentication Server (LSASS) process and the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) on Windows, pluggable authentication modules (PAM) on Unix-based systems, and authorization plugins on MacOS systems, responsible for gathering, storing, and validating credentials. By modifying an authentication process, an adversary may be able to authenticate to a service or system without using Valid Accounts.


Adversaries may maliciously modify a part of this process to either reveal credentials or bypass authentication mechanisms. Compromised credentials or access may be used to bypass access controls placed on various resources on systems within the network and may even be used for persistent access to remote systems and externally available services, such as VPNs, Outlook Web Access and remote desktop.


TA0007
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.


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)


T1049
System Network Connections Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of network connections to or from the compromised system they are currently accessing or from remote systems by querying for information over the network.


An adversary who gains access to a system that is part of a cloud-based environment may map out Virtual Private Clouds or Virtual Networks in order to determine what systems and services are connected. The actions performed are likely the same types of discovery techniques depending on the operating system, but the resulting information may include details about the networked cloud environment relevant to the adversary’s goals. Cloud providers may have different ways in which their virtual networks operate.(Citation: Amazon AWS VPC Guide)(Citation: Microsoft Azure Virtual Network Overview)(Citation: Google VPC Overview) Similarly, adversaries who gain access to network devices may also perform similar discovery activities to gather information about connected systems and services.


Utilities and commands that acquire this information include netstat, “net use,” and “net session” with Net. In Mac and Linux, netstat and lsof can be used to list current connections. who -a and w can be used to show which users are currently logged in, similar to “net session”. Additionally, built-in features native to network devices and Network Device CLI may be used (e.g. show ip sockets, show tcp brief).(Citation: US-CERT-TA18-106A)


T1082
System Information Discovery

An adversary may attempt to get detailed information about the operating system and hardware, including version, patches, hotfixes, service packs, and architecture. Adversaries may use the information from System Information Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


Tools such as Systeminfo can be used to gather detailed system information. If running with privileged access, a breakdown of system data can be gathered through the systemsetup configuration tool on macOS. As an example, adversaries with user-level access can execute the df -aH command to obtain currently mounted disks and associated freely available space. Adversaries may also leverage a Network Device CLI on network devices to gather detailed system information (e.g. show version).(Citation: US-CERT-TA18-106A) System Information Discovery combined with information gathered from other forms of discovery and reconnaissance can drive payload development and concealment.(Citation: OSX.FairyTale)(Citation: 20 macOS Common Tools and Techniques)


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud providers such as AWS, GCP, and Azure allow access to instance and virtual machine information via APIs. Successful authenticated API calls can return data such as the operating system platform and status of a particular instance or the model view of a virtual machine.(Citation: Amazon Describe Instance)(Citation: Google Instances Resource)(Citation: Microsoft Virutal Machine API)


T1120
Peripheral Device Discovery

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


TA0010
Exfiltration

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.


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 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.


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.


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

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