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Email Collection

Adversaries may target user email to collect sensitive information from a target.

Files containing email data can be acquired from a user's system, such as Outlook storage or cache files .pst and .ost.

Adversaries may leverage a user's credentials and interact directly with the Exchange server to acquire information from within a network.

Some adversaries may acquire user credentials and access externally facing webmail applications, such as Outlook Web Access.

ID: T1114
Tactic: Collection
Platform: Windows
Data Sources: Authentication logs, File monitoring, Process monitoring, Process use of network
Version: 1.0

Procedure Examples

Name Description
APT1 APT1 uses two utilities, GETMAIL and MAPIGET, to steal email. GETMAIL extracts emails from archived Outlook .pst files, and MAPIGET steals email still on Exchange servers that has not yet been archived. [18]
APT28 APT28 has collected emails from victim Microsoft Exchange servers. [13]
Backdoor.Oldrea Backdoor.Oldrea collects address book information from Outlook. [7]
Carbanak Carbanak searches recursively for Outlook personal storage tables (PST) files within user directories and sends them back to the C2 server. [5]
CosmicDuke CosmicDuke searches for Microsoft Outlook data files with extensions .pst and .ost for collection and exfiltration. [4]
Crimson Crimson contains a command to collect and exfiltrate emails from Outlook. [10]
Dragonfly 2.0 Dragonfly 2.0 accessed email accounts using Outlook Web Access. [14]
Emotet Emotet has been observed leveraging a module that scrapes email data from Outlook. [11]
Empire Empire has the ability to collect emails on a target system. [3]
FIN4 FIN4 has accessed and hijacked email communications using stolen credentials. [19] [20]
Ke3chang Ke3chang used a .NET tool to dump data from Microsoft Exchange mailboxes. [16]
Leafminer Leafminer used a tool called MailSniper to search through the Exchange server mailboxes for keywords. [17]
LightNeuron LightNeuron collects emails matching rules specified in its configuration. [12]
Magic Hound Magic Hound has collected .PST archives. [15]
Pupy Pupy can interact with a victim’s Outlook session and look through folders and emails. [1]
Ruler Ruler can be used to enumerate Exchange users and dump the GAL. [2]
SeaDuke Some SeaDuke samples have a module to extract email from Microsoft Exchange servers using compromised credentials. [8]
Smoke Loader Smoke Loader searches through Outlook files and directories (e.g., inbox, sent, templates, drafts, archives, etc.). [9]
TrickBot TrickBot collects email addresses from Outlook. [6]


Mitigation Description
Encrypt Sensitive Information Use of encryption provides an added layer of security to sensitive information sent over email. Encryption using public key cryptography requires the adversary to obtain the private certificate along with an encryption key to decrypt messages.
Multi-factor Authentication Use of multi-factor authentication for public-facing webmail servers is a recommended best practice to minimize the usefulness of usernames and passwords to adversaries.


There are likely a variety of ways an adversary could collect email from a target, each with a different mechanism for detection.

File access of local system email files for Exfiltration, unusual processes connecting to an email server within a network, or unusual access patterns or authentication attempts on a public-facing webmail server may all be indicators of malicious activity.

Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather local email files. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell.