Valid Accounts

Adversaries may obtain and abuse credentials of existing accounts as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. Compromised credentials may be used to bypass access controls placed on various resources on systems within the network and may even be used for persistent access to remote systems and externally available services, such as VPNs, Outlook Web Access and remote desktop. Compromised credentials may also grant an adversary increased privilege to specific systems or access to restricted areas of the network. Adversaries may choose not to use malware or tools in conjunction with the legitimate access those credentials provide to make it harder to detect their presence.

The overlap of permissions for local, domain, and cloud accounts across a network of systems is of concern because the adversary may be able to pivot across accounts and systems to reach a high level of access (i.e., domain or enterprise administrator) to bypass access controls set within the enterprise. [1]

ID: T1078
Sub-techniques:  T1078.001, T1078.002, T1078.003, T1078.004
Tactics: Defense Evasion, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, Initial Access
Platforms: AWS, Azure, Azure AD, GCP, Linux, Office 365, SaaS, Windows, macOS
Permissions Required: Administrator, User
Effective Permissions: Administrator, User
Data Sources: AWS CloudTrail logs, Authentication logs, Process monitoring, Stackdriver logs
Defense Bypassed: Anti-virus, Firewall, Host intrusion prevention systems, Network intrusion detection system, Process whitelisting, System access controls
CAPEC ID: CAPEC-560
Contributors: Mark Wee; Netskope; Praetorian
Version: 2.1
Created: 31 May 2017
Last Modified: 23 March 2020

Procedure Examples

Name Description
APT18

APT18 actors leverage legitimate credentials to log into external remote services.[29]

APT28

APT28 has used legitimate credentials to gain initial access, maintain access, and exfiltrate data from a victim network. The group has specifically used credentials stolen through a spearphishing email to login to the DCCC network. The group has also leveraged default manufacturer's passwords to gain initial access to corporate networks via IoT devices such as a VOIP phone, printer, and video decoder.[21][22][23]

APT33

APT33 has used valid accounts for initial access and privilege escalation.[16][17]

APT39

APT39 has used stolen credentials to compromise Outlook Web Access (OWA). [33]

APT41

APT41 used compromised credentials to log on to other systems.[36]

Carbanak

Carbanak actors used legitimate credentials of banking employees to perform operations that sent them millions of dollars.[9]

Dragonfly 2.0

Dragonfly 2.0 compromised user credentials and used valid accounts for operations.[12]

Duqu

Adversaries can instruct Duqu to spread laterally by copying itself to shares it has enumerated and for which it has obtained legitimate credentials (via keylogging or other means). The remote host is then infected by using the compromised credentials to schedule a task on remote machines that executes the malware.[6]

FIN10

FIN10 has used stolen credentials to connect remotely to victim networks using VPNs protected with only a single factor.[24]

FIN4

FIN4 has used legitimate credentials to hijack email communications.[13][14]

FIN5

FIN5 has used legitimate VPN, RDP, Citrix, or VNC credentials to maintain access to a victim environment.[18][19][20]

FIN6

To move laterally on a victim network, FIN6 has used credentials stolen from various systems on which it gathered usernames and password hashes.[26][27]

FIN8

FIN8 has utilized Valid Accounts during and Persistence and Lateral Movement.[10]

Leviathan

Leviathan has used valid, compromised email accounts for defense evasion, including to send malicious emails to other victim organizations.[15]

Linux Rabbit

Linux Rabbit acquires valid SSH accounts through brute force. [7]

menuPass

menuPass has used valid accounts shared between Managed Service Providers and clients to move between the two environments.[11]

Night Dragon

Night Dragon has used compromised VPN accounts to gain access to victim systems.[30]

OilRig

OilRig has used compromised credentials to access other systems on a victim network.[31][32]

PittyTiger

PittyTiger attempts to obtain legitimate credentials during operations.[8]

SeaDuke

Some SeaDuke samples have a module to extract email from Microsoft Exchange servers using compromised credentials.[5]

Soft Cell

Soft Cell leveraged valid accounts to maintain access to a victim network.[35]

Suckfly

Suckfly used legitimate account credentials that they dumped to navigate the internal victim network as though they were the legitimate account owner.[25]

TEMP.Veles

TEMP.Veles has used compromised VPN accounts.[34]

Threat Group-3390

Threat Group-3390 actors obtain legitimate credentials using a variety of methods and use them to further lateral movement on victim networks.[28]

Mitigations

Mitigation Description
Application Developer Guidance

Ensure that applications do not store sensitive data or credentials insecurely. (e.g. plaintext credentials in code, published credentials in repositories, or credentials in public cloud storage).

Password Policies

Applications and appliances that utilize default username and password should be changed immediately after the installation, and before deployment to a production environment. [4] When possible, applications that use SSH keys should be updated periodically and properly secured.

Privileged Account Management

Audit domain and local accounts as well as their permission levels routinely to look for situations that could allow an adversary to gain wide access by obtaining credentials of a privileged account. [1] [2] These audits should also include if default accounts have been enabled, or if new local accounts are created that have not be authorized. Follow best practices for design and administration of an enterprise network to limit privileged account use across administrative tiers. [3]

Detection

Configure robust, consistent account activity audit policies across the enterprise and with externally accessible services. [37] Look for suspicious account behavior across systems that share accounts, either user, admin, or service accounts. Examples: one account logged into multiple systems simultaneously; multiple accounts logged into the same machine simultaneously; accounts logged in at odd times or outside of business hours. Activity may be from interactive login sessions or process ownership from accounts being used to execute binaries on a remote system as a particular account. Correlate other security systems with login information (e.g., a user has an active login session but has not entered the building or does not have VPN access).

Perform regular audits of domain and local system accounts to detect accounts that may have been created by an adversary for persistence. Checks on these accounts could also include whether default accounts such as Guest have been activated. These audits should also include checks on any appliances and applications for default credentials or SSH keys, and if any are discovered, they should be updated immediately.

References

  1. Microsoft. (2016, April 15). Attractive Accounts for Credential Theft. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  2. Microsoft. (2016, April 16). Implementing Least-Privilege Administrative Models. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  3. Plett, C., Poggemeyer, L. (12, October 26). Securing Privileged Access Reference Material. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  4. undefined. (n.d.). Risks of Default Passwords on the Internet. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  5. Symantec Security Response. (2015, July 13). “Forkmeiamfamous”: Seaduke, latest weapon in the Duke armory. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  6. Symantec Security Response. (2011, November). W32.Duqu: The precursor to the next Stuxnet. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  7. Anomali Labs. (2018, December 6). Pulling Linux Rabbit/Rabbot Malware Out of a Hat. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  8. Bizeul, D., Fontarensky, I., Mouchoux, R., Perigaud, F., Pernet, C. (2014, July 11). Eye of the Tiger. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  9. Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team. (2015, February). CARBANAK APT THE GREAT BANK ROBBERY. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  10. Elovitz, S. & Ahl, I. (2016, August 18). Know Your Enemy: New Financially-Motivated & Spear-Phishing Group. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  11. PwC and BAE Systems. (2017, April). Operation Cloud Hopper. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  12. US-CERT. (2018, March 16). Alert (TA18-074A): Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  13. Vengerik, B. et al.. (2014, December 5). Hacking the Street? FIN4 Likely Playing the Market. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  14. Vengerik, B. & Dennesen, K.. (2014, December 5). Hacking the Street? FIN4 Likely Playing the Market. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  15. Axel F, Pierre T. (2017, October 16). Leviathan: Espionage actor spearphishes maritime and defense targets. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  16. Davis, S. and Carr, N. (2017, September 21). APT33: New Insights into Iranian Cyber Espionage Group. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  17. Ackerman, G., et al. (2018, December 21). OVERRULED: Containing a Potentially Destructive Adversary. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  18. Scavella, T. and Rifki, A. (2017, July 20). Are you Ready to Respond? (Webinar). Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  19. Higgins, K. (2015, October 13). Prolific Cybercrime Gang Favors Legit Login Credentials. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  1. Bromiley, M. and Lewis, P. (2016, October 7). Attacking the Hospitality and Gaming Industries: Tracking an Attacker Around the World in 7 Years. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  2. Hacquebord, F.. (2017, April 25). Two Years of Pawn Storm: Examining an Increasingly Relevant Threat. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  3. Mueller, R. (2018, July 13). Indictment - United States of America vs. VIKTOR BORISOVICH NETYKSHO, et al. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  4. MSRC Team. (2019, August 5). Corporate IoT – a path to intrusion. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  5. FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence. (2017, June 16). FIN10: Anatomy of a Cyber Extortion Operation. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  6. DiMaggio, J.. (2016, May 17). Indian organizations targeted in Suckfly attacks. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  7. FireEye Threat Intelligence. (2016, April). Follow the Money: Dissecting the Operations of the Cyber Crime Group FIN6. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  8. McKeague, B. et al. (2019, April 5). Pick-Six: Intercepting a FIN6 Intrusion, an Actor Recently Tied to Ryuk and LockerGoga Ransomware. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  9. Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit Threat Intelligence. (2015, August 5). Threat Group-3390 Targets Organizations for Cyberespionage. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  10. Adair, S. (2017, February 17). Detecting and Responding to Advanced Threats within Exchange Environments. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  11. McAfee® Foundstone® Professional Services and McAfee Labs™. (2011, February 10). Global Energy Cyberattacks: “Night Dragon”. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  12. Unit 42. (2017, December 15). Unit 42 Playbook Viewer. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  13. Davis, S. and Caban, D. (2017, December 19). APT34 - New Targeted Attack in the Middle East. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  14. Hawley et al. (2019, January 29). APT39: An Iranian Cyber Espionage Group Focused on Personal Information. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  15. Miller, S, et al. (2019, April 10). TRITON Actor TTP Profile, Custom Attack Tools, Detections, and ATT&CK Mapping. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  16. Cybereason Nocturnus. (2019, June 25). Operation Soft Cell: A Worldwide Campaign Against Telecommunications Providers. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  17. Fraser, N., et al. (2019, August 7). Double DragonAPT41, a dual espionage and cyber crime operation APT41. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  18. Microsoft. (2016, April 15). Audit Policy Recommendations. Retrieved June 3, 2016.