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The adversary is trying to run malicious code.
Execution consists of techniques that result in adversary-controlled code running on a local or remote system. Techniques that run malicious code are often paired with techniques from all other tactics to achieve broader goals, like exploring a network or stealing data. For example, an adversary might use a remote access tool to run a PowerShell script that does Remote System Discovery.
T1059.001 Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell
Adversaries may abuse PowerShell commands and scripts for execution. PowerShell is a powerful interactive command-line interface and scripting environment included in the Windows operating system.(Citation: TechNet PowerShell) Adversaries can use PowerShell to perform a number of actions, including discovery of information and execution of code. Examples include the
Start-Process cmdlet which can be used to run an executable and the
Invoke-Command cmdlet which runs a command locally or on a remote computer (though administrator permissions are required to use PowerShell to connect to remote systems).
PowerShell may also be used to download and run executables from the Internet, which can be executed from disk or in memory without touching disk.
A number of PowerShell-based offensive testing tools are available, including Empire, PowerSploit, PoshC2, and PSAttack.(Citation: Github PSAttack)
PowerShell commands/scripts can also be executed without directly invoking the
powershell.exe binary through interfaces to PowerShell's underlying
System.Management.Automation assembly DLL exposed through the .NET framework and Windows Common Language Interface (CLI).(Citation: Sixdub PowerPick Jan 2016)(Citation: SilentBreak Offensive PS Dec 2015)(Citation: Microsoft PSfromCsharp APR 2014)
TA0005 Defense Evasion
The adversary is trying to avoid being detected.
Defense Evasion consists of techniques that adversaries use to avoid detection throughout their compromise. Techniques used for defense evasion include uninstalling/disabling security software or obfuscating/encrypting data and scripts. Adversaries also leverage and abuse trusted processes to hide and masquerade their malware. Other tactics’ techniques are cross-listed here when those techniques include the added benefit of subverting defenses.
T1564.003 Hide Artifacts: Hidden Window
Adversaries may use hidden windows to conceal malicious activity from the plain sight of users. In some cases, windows that would typically be displayed when an application carries out an operation can be hidden. This may be utilized by system administrators to avoid disrupting user work environments when carrying out administrative tasks.
On Windows, there are a variety of features in scripting languages in Windows, such as PowerShell, Jscript, and Visual Basic to make windows hidden. One example of this is
powershell.exe -WindowStyle Hidden. (Citation: PowerShell About 2019)
Similarly, on macOS the configurations for how applications run are listed in property list (plist) files. One of the tags in these files can be
apple.awt.UIElement, which allows for Java applications to prevent the application's icon from appearing in the Dock. A common use for this is when applications run in the system tray, but don't also want to show up in the Dock.
Adversaries may abuse these functionalities to hide otherwise visible windows from users so as not to alert the user to adversary activity on the system.(Citation: Antiquated Mac Malware)
The adversary is trying to figure out your environment.
Discovery consists of techniques an adversary may use to gain knowledge about the system and internal network. These techniques help adversaries observe the environment and orient themselves before deciding how to act. They also allow adversaries to explore what they can control and what’s around their entry point in order to discover how it could benefit their current objective. Native operating system tools are often used toward this post-compromise information-gathering objective.
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)
TA0011 Command and Control
The adversary is trying to communicate with compromised systems to control them.
Command and Control consists of techniques that adversaries may use to communicate with systems under their control within a victim network. Adversaries commonly attempt to mimic normal, expected traffic to avoid detection. There are many ways an adversary can establish command and control with various levels of stealth depending on the victim’s network structure and defenses.
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.* © 2024 The MITRE Corporation. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of The MITRE Corporation.
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)
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