Command and Scripting Interpreter: Visual Basic

Adversaries may abuse Visual Basic (VB) for execution. VB is a programming language created by Microsoft with interoperability with many Windows technologies such as Component Object Model and the Native API through the Windows API. Although tagged as legacy with no planned future evolutions, VB is integrated and supported in the .NET Framework and cross-platform .NET Core.[1][2]

Derivative languages based on VB have also been created, such as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and VBScript. VBA is an event-driven programming language built into Microsoft Office, as well as several third-party applications.[3][4] VBA enables documents to contain macros used to automate the execution of tasks and other functionality on the host. VBScript is a default scripting language on Windows hosts and can also be used in place of JavaScript on HTML Application (HTA) webpages served to Internet Explorer (though most modern browsers do not come with VBScript support).[5]

Adversaries may use VB payloads to execute malicious commands. Common malicious usage includes automating execution of behaviors with VBScript or embedding VBA content into Spearphishing Attachment payloads.

ID: T1059.005
Sub-technique of:  T1059
Tactic: Execution
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
Permissions Required: Administrator, SYSTEM, User
Data Sources: Command: Command Execution, Module: Module Load, Process: Process Creation, Script: Script Execution
Version: 1.1
Created: 09 March 2020
Last Modified: 13 August 2020

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0099 APT-C-36

APT-C-36 has embedded a VBScript within a malicious Word document which is executed upon the document opening.[6]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has used macros, COM scriptlets, and VBS scripts.[7][8]

G0064 APT33

APT33 has used VBScript to initiate the delivery of payloads.[9]

G0067 APT37

APT37 executes shellcode and a VBA script to decode Base64 strings.[10]

G0087 APT39

APT39 has utilized malicious VBS scripts in malware.[11]

S0373 Astaroth

Astaroth has used malicious VBS e-mail attachments for execution.[12]

S0475 BackConfig

BackConfig has used VBS to install its downloader component and malicious documents with VBA macro code.[13]

S0268 Bisonal

Bisonal's dropper creates VBS scripts on the victim’s machine.[14]

G0060 BRONZE BUTLER

BRONZE BUTLER has used VBS and VBE scripts for execution.[15][16]

G0080 Cobalt Group

Cobalt Group has sent Word OLE compound documents with malicious obfuscated VBA macros that will run upon user execution.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike can use VBA to perform execution.[23][24][25]

S0244 Comnie

Comnie executes VBS scripts.[26]

S0367 Emotet

Emotet has sent Microsoft Word documents with embedded macros that will invoke scripts to download additional payloads. [27][28][29][30][31]

S0343 Exaramel for Windows

Exaramel for Windows has a command to execute VBS scripts on the victim’s machine.[32]

G0085 FIN4

FIN4 has used VBA macros to display a dialog box and collect victim credentials.[33][34]

G0046 FIN7

FIN7 used VBS scripts to help perform tasks on the victim's machine.[35][36]

G0101 Frankenstein

Frankenstein has used Word documents that prompts the victim to enable macros and run a Visual Basic script.[37]

G0047 Gamaredon Group

Gamaredon Group has embedded malicious macros in document templates, which executed VBScript. Gamaredon Group has also delivered Microsoft Outlook VBA projects with embedded macros.[38][39]

S0477 Goopy

Goopy has the ability to use a Microsoft Outlook backdoor macro to communicate with its C2.[8]

G0078 Gorgon Group

Gorgon Group has used macros in Spearphishing Attachments as well as executed VBScripts on victim machines.[40]

S0531 Grandoreiro

Grandoreiro can use VBScript to execute malicious code.[12][41]

S0170 Helminth

One version of Helminth consists of VBScript scripts.[42]

G0126 Higaisa

Higaisa has used VBScript code on the victim's machine.[43]

G0072 Honeybee

Honeybee embeds a Visual Basic script within a malicious Word document as part of initial access; the script is executed when the Word document is opened.[44]

S0483 IcedID

IcedID has used obfuscated VBA string expressions.[45]

G0100 Inception

Inception has used VBScript to execute malicious commands and payloads.[46][47]

S0528 Javali

Javali has used embedded VBScript to download malicious payloads from C2.[12]

S0389 JCry

JCry has used VBS scripts. [48]

S0283 jRAT

jRAT has been distributed as HTA files with VBScript.[49]

S0387 KeyBoy

KeyBoy uses VBS scripts for installing files and performing execution.[50]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has used Visual Basic to download malicious payloads.[51][52][53]

S0250 Koadic

Koadic performs most of its operations using Windows Script Host (VBScript) and runs arbitrary shellcode .[54]

G0032 Lazarus Group

Lazarus Group has used VBScript to gather information about a victim machine. [55]

G0065 Leviathan

Leviathan has used VBScript.[56]

S0582 LookBack

LookBack has used VBA macros in Microsoft Word attachments to drop additional files to the host.[57]

G0095 Machete

Machete has embedded malicious macros within spearphishing attachments to download additional files.[58]

G0059 Magic Hound

Magic Hound malware has used VBS scripts for execution.[59]

S0530 Melcoz

Melcoz can use VBS scripts to execute malicious DLLs.[12]

S0455 Metamorfo

Metamorfo has used VBS code on victims’ systems.[60]

G0021 Molerats

Molerats used various implants, including those built with VBScript, on target machines.[61][62]

G0069 MuddyWater

MuddyWater has used VBScript files to execute its POWERSTATS payload, as well as macros.[63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70]

G0129 Mustang Panda

Mustang Panda has embedded VBScript components in LNK files to download additional files and automate collection.[71][72][73]

S0228 NanHaiShu

NanHaiShu executes additional VBScript code on the victim's machine.[74]

S0336 NanoCore

NanoCore uses VBS files.[75]

S0198 NETWIRE

NETWIRE has been executed through use of VBScripts.[76][77]

S0264 OopsIE

OopsIE creates and uses a VBScript as part of its persistent execution.[78][79]

G0116 Operation Wocao

Operation Wocao has used a VBScript to conduct reconnaissance on targeted systems.[80]

S0352 OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D

OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D uses Word macros for execution.[81]

G0040 Patchwork

Patchwork used Visual Basic Scripts (VBS) on victim machines.[82][83]

S0428 PoetRAT

PoetRAT has used Word documents with VBScripts to execute malicious activities.[84][85]

S0441 PowerShower

PowerShower has the ability to save and execute VBScript.[46]

S0223 POWERSTATS

POWERSTATS can use VBScript (VBE) code for execution.[67][86]

S0269 QUADAGENT

QUADAGENT uses VBScripts.[87]

S0458 Ramsay

Ramsay has included embedded Visual Basic scripts in malicious documents.[88][89]

G0075 Rancor

Rancor has used VBS scripts as well as embedded macros for execution.[90]

S0375 Remexi

Remexi uses AutoIt and VBS scripts throughout its execution process.[91]

S0496 REvil

REvil has used obfuscated VBA macros for execution.[92][93]

G0034 Sandworm Team

Sandworm Team has created VBScripts to run an SSH server.[94][95][96]

G0104 Sharpshooter

Sharpshooter's first-stage downloader was a VBA macro.[97]

S0589 Sibot

Sibot executes commands using VBScript.[98]

G0121 Sidewinder

Sidewinder has used VBScript to drop and execute malware loaders.[99]

G0091 Silence

Silence has used VBS scripts.[100]

S0226 Smoke Loader

Smoke Loader adds a Visual Basic script in the Startup folder to deploy the payload.[101]

S0380 StoneDrill

StoneDrill has several VBS scripts used throughout the malware's lifecycle.[102]

S0559 SUNBURST

SUNBURST used VBScripts to initiate the execution of payloads.[103]

G0062 TA459

TA459 has a VBScript for execution.[104]

G0092 TA505

TA505 has used VBS for code execution.[105][106][107][108]

G0010 Turla

Turla has used VBS scripts throughout its operations.[109]

S0263 TYPEFRAME

TYPEFRAME has used a malicious Word document for delivery with VBA macros for execution.[110]

S0386 Ursnif

Ursnif droppers have used VBA macros to download and execute the malware's full executable payload.[111]

S0442 VBShower

VBShower has the ability to execute VBScript files.[112]

G0112 Windshift

Windshift has used Visual Basic 6 (VB6) payloads.[113]

G0090 WIRTE

WIRTE has used VBS scripts throughout its operation.[114]

S0341 Xbash

Xbash can execute malicious VBScript payloads on the victim’s machine.[115]

Mitigations

ID Mitigation Description
M1049 Antivirus/Antimalware

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

M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program

Turn off or restrict access to unneeded VB components.

M1038 Execution Prevention

Use application control where appropriate.

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

Monitor for events associated with VB execution, such as Office applications spawning processes, usage of the Windows Script Host (typically cscript.exe or wscript.exe), file activity involving VB payloads or scripts, or loading of modules associated with VB languages (ex: vbscript.dll). VB execution is 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 execution and subsequent behavior. Actions may be related to network and system information Discovery, Collection, or other programable post-compromise behaviors and could be used as indicators of detection leading back to the source.

Understanding standard usage patterns is important to avoid a high number of false positives. If VB execution is restricted for normal users, then any attempts to enable related components running on a system would be considered suspicious. If VB execution is not commonly used on a system, but enabled, execution running out of cycle from patching or other administrator functions is suspicious. Payloads and scripts should be captured from the file system when possible to determine their actions and intent.

References

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