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Remote System Discovery

Adversaries will likely 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. Adversaries may also use local host files in order to discover the hostname to IP address mappings of remote systems.


Examples of tools and commands that acquire this information include "ping" or "net view" using Net. The contents of the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts file can be viewed to gain insight into the existing hostname to IP mappings on the system.


Specific to Mac, the bonjour protocol to discover additional Mac-based systems within the same broadcast domain. Utilities such as "ping" and others can be used to gather information about remote systems. The contents of the /etc/hosts file can be viewed to gain insight into existing hostname to IP mappings on the system.


Utilities such as "ping" and others can be used to gather information about remote systems. The contents of the /etc/hosts file can be viewed to gain insight into existing hostname to IP mappings on the system.


In cloud environments, the above techniques may be used to discover remote systems depending upon the host operating system. In addition, cloud environments often provide APIs with information about remote systems and services.

ID: T1018
Tactic: Discovery
Platform: Linux, macOS, Windows, GCP, Azure, AWS
Permissions Required: User, Administrator, SYSTEM
Data Sources: Network protocol analysis, Process monitoring, Process use of network, Process command-line parameters
Contributors: Praetorian; RedHuntLabs (@redhuntlabs)
Version: 2.0
Created: 31 May 2017
Last Modified: 08 October 2019

Procedure Examples

Name Description

APT3 has a tool that can detect the existence of remote systems.[15][25]


APT32 used the net view command to show all shares available, including the administrative shares such as C$ and ADMIN$. APT32 also used the ping command.[26]


BRONZE BUTLER typically use ping and Net to enumerate systems.[27]


Carbon uses the net view command.[12]

Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike uses the native Windows Network Enumeration APIs to interrogate and discover targets in a Windows Active Directory network.[3]


Comnie runs the net view command

Deep Panda

Deep Panda has used ping to identify other machines of interest.[22]

Dragonfly 2.0

Dragonfly 2.0 likely obtained a list of hosts in the victim environment.[21]


Epic uses the net view command on the victim’s machine.[7]


FIN5 has used the open source tool Essential NetTools to map the network and build a list of targets.[23]


FIN6 used publicly available tools (including Microsoft's built-in SQL querying tool, osql.exe) to map the internal network and conduct reconnaissance against Active Directory, Structured Query Language (SQL) servers, and NetBIOS.[20]


FIN8 uses dsquery and other Active Directory utilities to enumerate hosts.[28]


Ke3chang has used network scanning and enumeration tools, including Ping.[24]


Kwampirs collects a list of available servers with the command net view.[10]


Leafminer used Microsoft’s Sysinternals tools to gather detailed information about remote systems.[31]


menuPass uses scripts to enumerate IP ranges on the victim network. menuPass has also issued the command net view /domain to a PlugX implant to gather information about remote systems on the network.[29][30]


MURKYTOP has the capability to identify remote hosts on connected networks.[8]


Commands such as net view can be used in Net to gather information about available remote systems.[1]


njRAT can identify remote hosts on connected networks.[18]


Nltest may be used to enumerate remote domain controllers using options such as /dclist and /dsgetdc.[4]

Olympic Destroyer

Olympic Destroyer uses Windows Management Instrumentation to enumerate all systems in the network.[16]


OSInfo performs a connection test to discover remote systems in the network[15]


Ping can be used to identify remote systems within a network.[2]


RATANKBA runs the net view /domain and net view commands.[11]


Remsec can ping or traceroute a remote host.[14]


Shamoon scans the C-class subnet of the IPs on the victim's interfaces.[9]


SHOTPUT has a command to list all servers in the domain, as well as one to locate domain controllers on a domain.[6]

Soft Cell

Soft Cell used a modified version of nbtscan to identify available NetBIOS name servers over the network as well as ping to identify remote systems.[32]


Sykipot may use net view /domain to display hostnames of available systems on a network.[13]

Threat Group-3390

Threat Group-3390 has used the net view command.[19]


Turla surveys a system upon check-in to discover remote systems on a local network using the net view and net view /DOMAIN commands.[7]


WannaCry scans its local network segment for remote systems to try to exploit and copy itself to.[17]


yty uses the net view command for discovery.[5]


This type of attack technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on the abuse of system features.


System and network discovery techniques normally occur throughout an operation as an adversary learns the environment. Data and events should not be viewed in isolation, but as part of a chain of behavior that could lead to other activities, such as Lateral Movement, based on the information obtained.

Normal, benign system and network events related to legitimate remote system discovery may be uncommon, depending on the environment and how they are used. Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell.


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  2. Microsoft. (n.d.). Ping. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
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  4. ss64. (n.d.). NLTEST.exe - Network Location Test. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
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  11. Trend Micro. (2017, February 27). RATANKBA: Delving into Large-scale Watering Holes against Enterprises. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  12. GovCERT. (2016, May 23). Technical Report about the Espionage Case at RUAG. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
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  14. Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis Team. (2016, August 9). The ProjectSauron APT. Technical Analysis. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
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  16. Mercer, W. and Rascagneres, P. (2018, February 12). Olympic Destroyer Takes Aim At Winter Olympics. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  1. Counter Threat Unit Research Team. (2017, May 18). WCry Ransomware Analysis. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  2. Fidelis Cybersecurity. (2013, June 28). Fidelis Threat Advisory #1009: "njRAT" Uncovered. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  3. Pantazopoulos, N., Henry T. (2018, May 18). Emissary Panda – A potential new malicious tool. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  4. FireEye Threat Intelligence. (2016, April). Follow the Money: Dissecting the Operations of the Cyber Crime Group FIN6. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  5. US-CERT. (2018, March 16). Alert (TA18-074A): Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  6. Alperovitch, D. (2014, July 7). Deep in Thought: Chinese Targeting of National Security Think Tanks. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  7. 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.
  8. Smallridge, R. (2018, March 10). APT15 is alive and strong: An analysis of RoyalCli and RoyalDNS. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  9. Chen, X., Scott, M., Caselden, D.. (2014, April 26). New Zero-Day Exploit targeting Internet Explorer Versions 9 through 11 Identified in Targeted Attacks. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  10. Dahan, A. (2017). Operation Cobalt Kitty. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  11. Counter Threat Unit Research Team. (2017, October 12). BRONZE BUTLER Targets Japanese Enterprises. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  12. Elovitz, S. & Ahl, I. (2016, August 18). Know Your Enemy: New Financially-Motivated & Spear-Phishing Group. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  13. PwC and BAE Systems. (2017, April). Operation Cloud Hopper: Technical Annex. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  14. FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence. (2017, April 6). APT10 (MenuPass Group): New Tools, Global Campaign Latest Manifestation of Longstanding Threat. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  15. Symantec Security Response. (2018, July 25). Leafminer: New Espionage Campaigns Targeting Middle Eastern Regions. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  16. Cybereason Nocturnus. (2019, June 25). Operation Soft Cell: A Worldwide Campaign Against Telecommunications Providers. Retrieved July 18, 2019.