Command and Scripting Interpreter

Adversaries may abuse command and script interpreters to execute commands, scripts, or binaries. These interfaces and languages provide ways of interacting with computer systems and are a common feature across many different platforms. Most systems come with some built-in command-line interface and scripting capabilities, for example, macOS and Linux distributions include some flavor of Unix Shell while Windows installations include the Windows Command Shell and PowerShell.

There are also cross-platform interpreters such as Python, as well as those commonly associated with client applications such as JavaScript and Visual Basic.

Adversaries may abuse these technologies in various ways as a means of executing arbitrary commands. Commands and scripts can be embedded in Initial Access payloads delivered to victims as lure documents or as secondary payloads downloaded from an existing C2. Adversaries may also execute commands through interactive terminals/shells.

ID: T1059
Tactic: Execution
Platforms: Linux, Network, Windows, macOS
Permissions Required: User
Data Sources: Command: Command Execution, Module: Module Load, Process: Process Creation, Script: Script Execution
Version: 2.1
Created: 31 May 2017
Last Modified: 27 April 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0073 APT19

APT19 downloaded and launched code within a SCT file.[1]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has used COM scriptlets to download Cobalt Strike beacons.[2]

G0087 APT39

APT39 has utilized AutoIt and custom scripts to perform internal reconnaissance. [3][4]

S0486 Bonadan

Bonadan can create bind and reverse shells on the infected system.[5]

S0023 CHOPSTICK

CHOPSTICK is capable of performing remote command execution.[6][7]

S0334 DarkComet

DarkComet can execute various types of scripts on the victim’s machine.[8]

G0074 Dragonfly 2.0

Dragonfly 2.0 used command line for execution.[9]

S0363 Empire

Empire uses a command-line interface to interact with systems.[10]

G0053 FIN5

FIN5 scans processes on all victim systems in the environment and uses automated scripts to pull back the results.[11]

G0037 FIN6

FIN6 has used scripting to iterate through a list of compromised PoS systems, copy data to a log file, and remove the original data files.[12][13]

G0046 FIN7

FIN7 used SQL scripts to help perform tasks on the victim's machine.[14][15][14]

G0117 Fox Kitten

Fox Kitten has used a Perl reverse shell to communicate with C2.[16]

S0460 Get2

Get2 has the ability to run executables with command-line arguments.[17]

S0032 gh0st RAT

gh0st RAT is able to open a remote shell to execute commands.[18][19]

S0434 Imminent Monitor

Imminent Monitor has a CommandPromptPacket and ScriptPacket module(s) for creating a remote shell and executing scripts.[20]

G0004 Ke3chang

Malware used by Ke3chang can run commands on the command-line interface.[21][22]

S0487 Kessel

Kessel can create a reverse shell between the infected host and a specified system.[5]

S0167 Matryoshka

Matryoshka is capable of providing Meterpreter shell access.[23]

S0530 Melcoz

Melcoz has been distributed through an AutoIt loader script.[24]

G0049 OilRig

OilRig has used various types of scripting for execution.[25][26][27][28][29]

S0598 P.A.S. Webshell

P.A.S. Webshell has the ability to create reverse shells with Perl scripts.[30]

S0428 PoetRAT

PoetRAT has executed a Lua script through a Lua interpreter for Windows.[31]

S0374 SpeakUp

SpeakUp uses Perl scripts.[32]

G0038 Stealth Falcon

Stealth Falcon malware uses WMI to script data collection and command execution on the victim.[33]

G0107 Whitefly

Whitefly has used a simple remote shell tool that will call back to the C2 server and wait for commands.[34]

G0124 Windigo

Windigo has used a Perl script for information gathering.[5]

S0219 WINERACK

WINERACK can create a reverse shell that utilizes statically-linked Wine cmd.exe code to emulate Windows command prompt commands.[35]

S0330 Zeus Panda

Zeus Panda can launch remote scripts on the victim’s machine.[36]

Mitigations

ID Mitigation Description
M1049 Antivirus/Antimalware

Anti-virus can be used to automatically quarantine suspicious files.

M1045 Code Signing

Where possible, only permit execution of signed scripts.

M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program

Disable or remove any unnecessary or unused shells or interpreters.

M1038 Execution Prevention

Use application control where appropriate.

M1026 Privileged Account Management

When PowerShell is necessary, restrict PowerShell execution policy to administrators. Be aware that there are methods of bypassing the PowerShell execution policy, depending on environment configuration.[37]

M1021 Restrict Web-Based Content

Script blocking extensions can help prevent the execution of scripts and HTA files that may commonly be used during the exploitation process. For malicious code served up through ads, adblockers can help prevent that code from executing in the first place.

Detection

Command-line and scripting activities can be captured through proper logging of process execution with command-line arguments. This information can be useful in gaining additional insight to adversaries' actions through how they use native processes or custom tools. Also monitor for loading of modules associated with specific languages.

If scripting is restricted for normal users, then any attempt to enable scripts running on a system would be considered suspicious. If scripts are not commonly used on a system, but enabled, scripts running out of cycle from patching or other administrator functions are suspicious. Scripts should be captured from the file system when possible to determine their actions and intent.

Scripts are likely to perform actions with various effects on a system that may generate events, depending on the types of monitoring used. Monitor processes and command-line arguments for script execution and subsequent behavior. Actions may be related to network and system information discovery, collection, or other scriptable post-compromise behaviors and could be used as indicators of detection leading back to the source script.

References

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  3. Hawley et al. (2019, January 29). APT39: An Iranian Cyber Espionage Group Focused on Personal Information. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  4. FBI. (2020, September 17). Indicators of Compromise Associated with Rana Intelligence Computing, also known as Advanced Persistent Threat 39, Chafer, Cadelspy, Remexi, and ITG07. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
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  12. FireEye Threat Intelligence. (2016, April). Follow the Money: Dissecting the Operations of the Cyber Crime Group FIN6. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
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  14. Carr, N., et al. (2018, August 01). On the Hunt for FIN7: Pursuing an Enigmatic and Evasive Global Criminal Operation. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
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  1. QiAnXin Threat Intelligence Center. (2019, February 18). APT-C-36: Continuous Attacks Targeting Colombian Government Institutions and Corporations. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  2. Villeneuve, N., Bennett, J. T., Moran, N., Haq, T., Scott, M., & Geers, K. (2014). OPERATION “KE3CHANG”: Targeted Attacks Against Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  3. Smallridge, R. (2018, March 10). APT15 is alive and strong: An analysis of RoyalCli and RoyalDNS. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  4. ClearSky Cyber Security and Trend Micro. (2017, July). Operation Wilted Tulip: Exposing a cyber espionage apparatus. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  5. GReAT. (2020, July 14). The Tetrade: Brazilian banking malware goes global. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  6. Sardiwal, M, et al. (2017, December 7). New Targeted Attack in the Middle East by APT34, a Suspected Iranian Threat Group, Using CVE-2017-11882 Exploit. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  7. Falcone, R. and Lee, B. (2017, July 27). OilRig Uses ISMDoor Variant; Possibly Linked to Greenbug Threat Group. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  8. Lee, B., Falcone, R. (2018, February 23). OopsIE! OilRig Uses ThreeDollars to Deliver New Trojan. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  9. Lee, B., Falcone, R. (2018, July 25). OilRig Targets Technology Service Provider and Government Agency with QUADAGENT. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  10. Falcone, R., Wilhoit, K.. (2018, November 16). Analyzing OilRig’s Ops Tempo from Testing to Weaponization to Delivery. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  11. ANSSI. (2021, January 27). SANDWORM INTRUSION SET CAMPAIGN TARGETING CENTREON SYSTEMS. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  12. Mercer, W. Rascagneres, P. Ventura, V. (2020, October 6). PoetRAT: Malware targeting public and private sector in Azerbaijan evolves . Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  13. Check Point Research. (2019, February 4). SpeakUp: A New Undetected Backdoor Linux Trojan. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  14. Marczak, B. and Scott-Railton, J.. (2016, May 29). Keep Calm and (Don’t) Enable Macros: A New Threat Actor Targets UAE Dissidents. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  15. Symantec. (2019, March 6). Whitefly: Espionage Group has Singapore in Its Sights. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  16. FireEye. (2018, February 20). APT37 (Reaper): The Overlooked North Korean Actor. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  17. Ebach, L. (2017, June 22). Analysis Results of Zeus.Variant.Panda. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  18. Sutherland, S. (2014, September 9). 15 Ways to Bypass the PowerShell Execution Policy. Retrieved July 23, 2015.