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Third-party Software

Third-party applications and software deployment systems may be in use in the network environment for administration purposes (e.g., SCCM, VNC, HBSS, Altiris, etc.). If an adversary gains access to these systems, then they may be able to execute code.

Adversaries may gain access to and use third-party application deployment systems installed within an enterprise network. Access to a network-wide or enterprise-wide software deployment system enables an adversary to have remote code execution on all systems that are connected to such a system. The access may be used to laterally move to systems, gather information, or cause a specific effect, such as wiping the hard drives on all endpoints.

The permissions required for this action vary by system configuration; local credentials may be sufficient with direct access to the deployment server, or specific domain credentials may be required. However, the system may require an administrative account to log in or to perform software deployment.

ID: T1072
Tactic: Execution, Lateral Movement
Platform: Linux, macOS, Windows
Permissions Required: User, Administrator, SYSTEM
Data Sources: File monitoring, Third-party application logs, Windows Registry, Process monitoring, Process use of network, Binary file metadata
Supports Remote:  Yes
Version: 1.0

Procedure Examples

Name Description
Threat Group-1314 Threat Group-1314 actors used a victim's endpoint management platform, Altiris, for lateral movement. [2]
Wiper It is believed that a patch management system for an anti-virus product commonly installed among targeted companies was used to distribute the Wiper malware. [1]

Mitigations

Mitigation Description
Active Directory Configuration Ensure proper system and access isolation for critical network systems through use of group policy.
Multi-factor Authentication Ensure proper system and access isolation for critical network systems through use of multi-factor authentication.
Network Segmentation Ensure proper system isolation for critical network systems through use of firewalls.
Password Policies Verify that account credentials that may be used to access deployment systems are unique and not used throughout the enterprise network.
Privileged Account Management Grant access to application deployment systems only to a limited number of authorized administrators.
Remote Data Storage If the application deployment system can be configured to deploy only signed binaries, then ensure that the trusted signing certificates are not co-located with the application deployment system and are instead located on a system that cannot be accessed remotely or to which remote access is tightly controlled.
Update Software Patch deployment systems regularly to prevent potential remote access through Exploitation for Privilege Escalation.
User Account Management Ensure that any accounts used by third-party providers to access these systems are traceable to the third-party and are not used throughout the network or used by other third-party providers in the same environment. Ensure there are regular reviews of accounts provisioned to these systems to verify continued business need, and ensure there is governance to trace de-provisioning of access that is no longer required. Ensure proper system and access isolation for critical network systems through use of account privilege separation.
User Training Have a strict approval policy for use of deployment systems.

Detection

Detection methods will vary depending on the type of third-party software or system and how it is typically used.

The same investigation process can be applied here as with other potentially malicious activities where the distribution vector is initially unknown but the resulting activity follows a discernible pattern. Analyze the process execution trees, historical activities from the third-party application (such as what types of files are usually pushed), and the resulting activities or events from the file/binary/script pushed to systems.

Often these third-party applications will have logs of their own that can be collected and correlated with other data from the environment. Audit software deployment logs and look for suspicious or unauthorized activity. A system not typically used to push software to clients that suddenly is used for such a task outside of a known admin function may be suspicious.

Perform application deployment at regular times so that irregular deployment activity stands out. Monitor process activity that does not correlate to known good software. Monitor account login activity on the deployment system.

References