Masquerading: Masquerade Task or Service

Adversaries may attempt to manipulate the name of a task or service to make it appear legitimate or benign. Tasks/services executed by the Task Scheduler or systemd will typically be given a name and/or description.[1][2] Windows services will have a service name as well as a display name. Many benign tasks and services exist that have commonly associated names. Adversaries may give tasks or services names that are similar or identical to those of legitimate ones.

Tasks or services contain other fields, such as a description, that adversaries may attempt to make appear legitimate.[3][4]

ID: T1036.004
Sub-technique of:  T1036
Tactic: Defense Evasion
Platforms: Linux, Windows
Permissions Required: Administrator, SYSTEM, User
Data Sources: Command: Command Execution, Scheduled Job: Scheduled Job Metadata, Scheduled Job: Scheduled Job Modification, Service: Service Creation, Service: Service Metadata
Version: 1.0
Created: 10 February 2020
Last Modified: 24 April 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0099 APT-C-36

APT-C-36 has disguised its scheduled tasks as those used by Google.[5]

G0016 APT29

APT29 named tasks \Microsoft\Windows\SoftwareProtectionPlatform\EventCacheManager in order to appear legitimate.[6]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has used hidden or non-printing characters to help masquerade service names, such as appending a Unicode no-break space character to a legitimate service name. APT32 has also impersonated the legitimate Flash installer file name "install_flashplayer.exe".[7]

S0438 Attor

Attor's dispatcher disguises itself as a legitimate task (i.e., the task name and description appear legitimate).[8]

S0534 Bazar

Bazar can create a task named to appear benign.[9]

S0471 build_downer

build_downer has added itself to the Registry Run key as "NVIDIA" to appear legitimate.[10]

G0008 Carbanak

Carbanak has copied legitimate service names to use for malicious services.[11]

S0261 Catchamas

Catchamas adds a new service named NetAdapter in an apparent attempt to masquerade as a legitimate service.[12]

S0126 ComRAT

ComRAT has used a task name associated with Windows SQM Consolidator.[13]

S0538 Crutch

Crutch has established persistence with a scheduled task impersonating the Outlook item finder.[14]

S0527 CSPY Downloader

CSPY Downloader has attempted to appear as a legitimate Windows service with a fake description claiming it is used to support packed applications.[15]

S0554 Egregor

Egregor has masqueraded the svchost.exe process to exfiltrate data.[16]

S0343 Exaramel for Windows

The Exaramel for Windows dropper creates and starts a Windows service named wsmprovav with the description "Windows Check AV" in an apparent attempt to masquerade as a legitimate service.[17]

G0037 FIN6

FIN6 has renamed the "psexec" service name to "mstdc" to masquerade as a legitimate Windows service.[18]

G0046 FIN7

FIN7 has created a scheduled task named "AdobeFlashSync" to establish persistence.[19]

G0117 Fox Kitten

Fox Kitten has named the task for a reverse proxy lpupdate to appear legitimate.[20]

S0410 Fysbis

Fysbis has masqueraded as the rsyncd and dbus-inotifier services.[4]

S0588 GoldMax

GoldMax has impersonated systems management software to avoid detection.[21]

G0126 Higaisa

Higaisa named a shellcode loader binary svchast.exe to spoof the legitimate svchost.exe.[22][23]

S0259 InnaputRAT

InnaputRAT variants have attempted to appear legitimate by adding a new service named OfficeUpdateService.[24]

S0260 InvisiMole

InvisiMole has attempted to disguise itself by registering under a seemingly legitimate service name.[25]

S0581 IronNetInjector

IronNetInjector has been disguised as a legitimate service using the name PythonUpdateSrvc.[26]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has disguised services to appear as benign software or related to operating system functions.[27]

S0236 Kwampirs

Kwampirs establishes persistence by adding a new service with the display name "WMI Performance Adapter Extension" in an attempt to masquerade as a legitimate WMI service.[28]

G0032 Lazarus Group

A Lazarus Group custom backdoor implant included a custom PE loader named "Security Package" that was added into the lsass.exe process via registry key.[29]

S0409 Machete

Machete renamed task names to masquerade as legitimate Google Chrome, Java, Dropbox, Adobe Reader and Python tasks.[30]

S0449 Maze

Maze operators have created scheduled tasks masquerading as "Windows Update Security", "Windows Update Security Patches", and "Google Chrome Security Update" designed to launch the ransomware.[31]

S0118 Nidiran

Nidiran can create a new service named msamger (Microsoft Security Accounts Manager), which mimics the legitimate Microsoft database by the same name.[32][33]

S0439 Okrum

Okrum can establish persistence by adding a new service NtmsSvc with the display name Removable Storage to masquerade as a legitimate Removable Storage Manager.[34]

S0352 OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D

OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D has disguised its app bundle by adding special characters to the filename and using the icon for legitimate Word documents.[35]

S0013 PlugX

In one instance, menuPass added PlugX as a service with a display name of "Corel Writing Tools Utility."[36]

S0223 POWERSTATS

POWERSTATS has created a scheduled task named "MicrosoftEdge" to establish persistence.[37]

G0056 PROMETHIUM

PROMETHIUM has named services to appear legitimate.[38][39]

S0169 RawPOS

New services created by RawPOS are made to appear like legitimate Windows services, with names such as "Windows Management Help Service", "Microsoft Support", and "Windows Advanced Task Manager".[40][41][42]

S0495 RDAT

RDAT has used Windows Video Service as a name for malicious services.[43]

S0148 RTM

RTM has named the scheduled task it creates "Windows Update".[44]

S0345 Seasalt

Seasalt has masqueraded as a service called "SaSaut" with a display name of "System Authorization Service" in an apparent attempt to masquerade as a legitimate service.[45]

S0140 Shamoon

Shamoon creates a new service named "ntssrv" that attempts to appear legitimate; the service's display name is "Microsoft Network Realtime Inspection Service" and its description is "Helps guard against time change attempts targeting known and newly discovered vulnerabilities in network time protocols." Newer versions create the "MaintenaceSrv" service, which misspells the word "maintenance."[3][46]

S0444 ShimRat

ShimRat can impersonate Windows services and antivirus products to avoid detection on compromised systems.[47]

S0533 SLOTHFULMEDIA

SLOTHFULMEDIA has named a service it establishes on victim machines as "TaskFrame" to hide its malicious purpose.[48]

S0491 StrongPity

StrongPity has named services to appear legitimate.[38][39]

S0178 Truvasys

To establish persistence, Truvasys adds a Registry Run key with a value "TaskMgr" in an attempt to masquerade as the legitimate Windows Task Manager.[49]

S0180 Volgmer

Some Volgmer variants add new services with display names generated by a list of hard-coded strings such as Application, Background, Security, and Windows, presumably as a way to masquerade as a legitimate service.[50][51]

G0102 Wizard Spider

Wizard Spider has used scheduled tasks to install TrickBot, using task names to appear legitimate such as WinDotNet, GoogleTask, or Sysnetsf.[52] It has also used common document file names for other malware binaries.[53]

G0128 ZIRCONIUM

ZIRCONIUM has created a run key named Dropbox Update Setup to mask a persistence mechanism for a malicious binary.[54]

Mitigations

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

Detection

Look for changes to tasks and services that do not correlate with known software, patch cycles, etc. Suspicious program execution through scheduled tasks or services may show up as outlier processes that have not been seen before when compared against historical data. Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to create tasks or services. 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 network connections made for Command and Control, learning details about the environment through Discovery, and Lateral Movement.

References

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