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Hardware Additions

Computer accessories, computers, or networking hardware may be introduced into a system as a vector to gain execution. While public references of usage by APT groups are scarce, many penetration testers leverage hardware additions for initial access. Commercial and open source products are leveraged with capabilities such as passive network tapping [1], man-in-the middle encryption breaking [2], keystroke injection [3], kernel memory reading via DMA [4], adding new wireless access to an existing network [5], and others.

ID: T1200
Tactic: Initial Access
Platform: Windows, Linux, macOS
Data Sources: Asset management, Data loss prevention
Version: 1.0


Mitigation Description
Limit Access to Resource Over Network Establish network access control policies, such as using device certificates and the 802.1x standard. Restrict use of DHCP to registered devices to prevent unregistered devices from communicating with trusted systems. [6]
Limit Hardware Installation Block unknown devices and accessories by endpoint security configuration and monitoring agent.


Asset management systems may help with the detection of computer systems or network devices that should not exist on a network.

Endpoint sensors may be able to detect the addition of hardware via USB, Thunderbolt, and other external device communication ports.