Programs may specify DLLs that are loaded at runtime. Programs that improperly or vaguely specify a required DLL may be open to a vulnerability in which an unintended DLL is loaded. Side-loading vulnerabilities specifically occur when Windows Side-by-Side (WinSxS) manifests  are not explicit enough about characteristics of the DLL to be loaded. Adversaries may take advantage of a legitimate program that is vulnerable to side-loading to load a malicious DLL. 
Adversaries likely use this technique as a means of masking actions they perform under a legitimate, trusted system or software process.
APT32 ran legitimately-signed executables from Symantec and McAfee which load a malicious DLL. The group also side-loads its backdoor by dropping a library and a legitimate, signed executable (AcroTranscoder).
During the T9000 installation process, it drops a copy of the legitimate Microsoft binary igfxtray.exe. The executable contains a side-loading weakness which is used to load a portion of the malware.
Use the program sxstrace.exe that is included with Windows along with manual inspection to check manifest files for side-loading vulnerabilities in software.
|Restrict File and Directory Permissions||
Install software in write-protected locations.
Update software regularly to include patches that fix DLL side-loading vulnerabilities.
Monitor processes for unusual activity (e.g., a process that does not use the network begins to do so). Track DLL metadata, such as a hash, and compare DLLs that are loaded at process execution time against previous executions to detect differences that do not correlate with patching or updates.
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