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Automated Collection

Once established within a system or network, an adversary may use automated techniques for collecting internal data. Methods for performing this technique could include use of Scripting to search for and copy information fitting set criteria such as file type, location, or name at specific time intervals. This functionality could also be built into remote access tools.

This technique may incorporate use of other techniques such as File and Directory Discovery and Remote File Copy to identify and move files.

ID: T1119
Tactic: Collection
Platform: Linux, macOS, Windows
System Requirements: Permissions to access directories and files that store information of interest.
Permissions Required: User
Data Sources: File monitoring, Data loss prevention, Process command-line parameters
Version: 1.0

Procedure Examples

Name Description
APT1 APT1 used a batch script to perform a series of discovery techniques and saves it to a text file. [21]
APT28 APT28 used a publicly available tool to gather and compress multiple documents on the DCCC and DNC networks. [19]
BADNEWS BADNEWS monitors USB devices and copies files with certain extensions to a predefined directory. [10]
Bankshot Bankshot recursively generates a list of files within a directory and sends them back to the control server. [6]
Comnie Comnie executes a batch script to store discovery information in %TEMP%\info.dat and then uploads the temporarily file to the remote C2 server. [5]
FIN5 FIN5 scans processes on all victim systems in the environment and uses automated scripts to pull back the results. [22]
FIN6 FIN6 has used a script to iterate through a list of compromised PoS systems, copy data to a log file, and remove the original data files. [18]
Helminth A Helminth VBScript receives a batch script to execute a set of commands in a command prompt. [11]
InvisiMole Each time a new drive is inserted, InvisiMole generates a list of all files on the drive and stores it in an encrypted file. [2]
LightNeuron LightNeuron can be configured to automatically collect files under a specified directory. [16]
Micropsia Micropsia executes an RAR tool to recursively archive files based on a predefined list of file extensions (.xls, .xlsx, .csv, .odt, .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, .pdf, .mdb, .accdb, .accde, *.txt). [3]
OilRig OilRig has used automated collection. [17]
Patchwork Patchwork developed a file stealer to search C:\ and collect files with certain extensions. Patchwork also executed a script to enumerate all drives, store them as a list, and upload generated files to the C2 server. [10]
PoshC2 PoshC2 contains a module for recursively parsing through files and directories to gather valid credit card numbers. [1]
Proxysvc Proxysvc automatically collects data about the victim and sends it to the control server. [7]
Rover Rover automatically collects files from the local system and removable drives based on a predefined list of file extensions on a regular timeframe. [8]
RTM RTM monitors browsing activity and automatically captures screenshots if a victim browses to a URL matching one of a list of strings. [12]
T9000 T9000 searches removable storage devices for files with a pre-defined list of file extensions (e.g. * .doc, .ppt, .xls, .docx, .pptx, *.xlsx). Any matching files are encrypted and written to a local user directory. [13]
Threat Group-3390 Threat Group-3390 ran a command to compile an archive of file types of interest from the victim user's directories. [20]
USBStealer For all non-removable drives on a victim, USBStealer executes automated collection of certain files for later exfiltration. [9]
VERMIN VERMIN saves each collected file with the automatically generated format {0:dd-MM-yyyy}.txt . [4]
Zebrocy Zebrocy scans the system and automatically collects files with the following extensions: .doc, .docx, ,.xls, .xlsx, .pdf, .pptx, .rar, .zip, .jpg, .jpeg, .bmp, .tiff, .kum, .tlg, .sbx, .cr, .hse, .hsf, and .lhz. [14] [15]

Mitigations

Mitigation Description
Encrypt Sensitive Information Encryption and off-system storage of sensitive information may be one way to mitigate collection of files, but may not stop an adversary from acquiring the information if an intrusion persists over a long period of time and the adversary is able to discover and access the data through other means. Strong passwords should be used on certain encrypted documents that use them to prevent offline cracking through Brute Force techniques.
Remote Data Storage Encryption and off-system storage of sensitive information may be one way to mitigate collection of files, but may not stop an adversary from acquiring the information if an intrusion persists over a long period of time and the adversary is able to discover and access the data through other means.

Detection

Depending on the method used, actions could include common file system commands and parameters on the command-line interface within batch files or scripts. A sequence of actions like this may be unusual, depending on the system and network environment. Automated collection may occur along with other techniques such as Data Staged. As such, file access monitoring that shows an unusual process performing sequential file opens and potentially copy actions to another location on the file system for many files at once may indicate automated collection behavior. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather data. Data may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell.

References