Adversaries may use an existing, legitimate external Web service as a means for sending commands to a compromised system without receiving return output over the Web service channel. Compromised systems may leverage popular websites and social media to host command and control (C2) instructions. Those infected systems may opt to send the output from those commands back over a different C2 channel, including to another distinct Web service. Alternatively, compromised systems may return no output at all in cases where adversaries want to send instructions to systems and do not want a response.
Popular websites and social media acting as a mechanism for C2 may give a significant amount of cover due to the likelihood that hosts within a network are already communicating with them prior to a compromise. Using common services, such as those offered by Google or Twitter, makes it easier for adversaries to hide in expected noise. Web service providers commonly use SSL/TLS encryption, giving adversaries an added level of protection.
The "tDiscoverer" variant of HAMMERTOSS establishes a C2 channel by downloading resources from Web services like Twitter and GitHub. HAMMERTOSS binaries contain an algorithm that generates a different Twitter handle for the malware to check for instructions every day.
|M1031||Network Intrusion Prevention||
Network intrusion detection and prevention systems that use network signatures to identify traffic for specific adversary malware can be used to mitigate activity at the network level.
|M1021||Restrict Web-Based Content||
Web proxies can be used to enforce external network communication policy that prevents use of unauthorized external services.
|ID||Data Source||Data Component||Detects|
|DS0029||Network Traffic||Network Connection Creation||
Monitor for newly constructed network connections that are sent or received by untrusted hosts.
|Network Traffic Content||
Monitor and analyze traffic patterns and packet inspection associated to protocol(s) that do not follow the expected protocol standards and traffic flows (e.g extraneous packets that do not belong to established flows, gratuitous or anomalous traffic patterns, anomalous syntax, or structure). Consider correlation with process monitoring and command line to detect anomalous processes execution and command line arguments associated to traffic patterns (e.g. monitor anomalies in use of files that do not normally initiate connections for respective protocol(s)).
|Network Traffic Flow||
Monitor network data for uncommon data flows. Processes utilizing the network that do not normally have network communication or have never been seen before are suspicious.