Remote Services: Direct Cloud VM Connections

Adversaries may leverage Valid Accounts to log directly into accessible cloud hosted compute infrastructure through cloud native methods. Many cloud providers offer interactive connections to virtual infrastructure that can be accessed through the Cloud API, such as Azure Serial Console[1], AWS EC2 Instance Connect[2][3], and AWS System Manager.[4].

Methods of authentication for these connections can include passwords, application access tokens, or SSH keys. These cloud native methods may, by default, allow for privileged access on the host with SYSTEM or root level access.

Adversaries may utilize these cloud native methods to directly access virtual infrastructure and pivot through an environment.[5] These connections typically provide direct console access to the VM rather than the execution of scripts (i.e., Cloud Administration Command).

ID: T1021.008
Sub-technique of:  T1021
Platforms: IaaS
Contributors: Thanabodi Phrakhun, @naikordian
Version: 1.0
Created: 02 June 2023
Last Modified: 27 October 2023


ID Mitigation Description
M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program

If direct virtual machine connections are not required for administrative use, disable these connection types where feasible.

M1018 User Account Management

Limit which users are allowed to access compute infrastructure via cloud native methods.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0028 Logon Session Logon Session Creation

Monitor cloud audit logs and host logs for logon session events. These can be found in CloudTrail, Unified Audit Logs, Windows Event Logs and /var/log/auth.log or /var/log/secure for Linux systems.