An adversary may rely upon specific actions by a user in order to gain execution. This may be direct code execution, such as when a user opens a malicious executable delivered via Spearphishing Attachment with the icon and apparent extension of a document file. It also may lead to other execution techniques, such as when a user clicks on a link delivered via Spearphishing Link that leads to exploitation of a browser or application vulnerability via Exploitation for Client Execution. While User Execution frequently occurs shortly after Initial Access it may occur at other phases of an intrusion, such as when an adversary places a file in a shared directory or on a user's desktop hoping that a user will click on it.
PLATINUM has attempted to get users to open malicious files by sending spearphishing emails with attachments to victims.
Use user training as a way to bring awareness to common phishing and spearphishing techniques and how to raise suspicion for potentially malicious events. Application whitelisting may be able to prevent the running of executables masquerading as other files.
If a link is being visited by a user, block unknown or unused files in transit by default that should not be downloaded or by policy from suspicious sites as a best practice to prevent some vectors, such as .scr, .exe, .pif, .cpl, etc. Some download scanning devices can open and analyze compressed and encrypted formats, such as zip and rar that may be used to conceal malicious files in Obfuscated Files or Information.
If a link is being visited by a user, network intrusion prevention systems and systems designed to scan and remove malicious downloads can be used to block activity. Solutions can be signature and behavior based, but adversaries may construct files in a way to avoid these systems.
Monitor the execution of and command-line arguments for applications that may be used by an adversary to gain Initial Access that require user interaction. This includes compression applications, such as those for zip files, that can be used to Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information in payloads.
Anti-virus can potentially detect malicious documents and files that are downloaded and execuited on the user's computer. Endpoint sensing or network sensing can potentially detect malicious events once the file is opened (such as a Microsoft Word document or PDF reaching out to the internet or spawning Powershell.exe) for techniques such as Exploitation for Client Execution and Scripting.
- Ahl, I. (2017, June 06). Privileges and Credentials: Phished at the Request of Counsel. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
- Lee, B, et al. (2018, February 28). Sofacy Attacks Multiple Government Entities. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- F-Secure Labs. (2015, September 17). The Dukes: 7 years of Russian cyberespionage. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- Foltýn, T. (2018, March 13). OceanLotus ships new backdoor using old tricks. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
- Dahan, A. (2017, May 24). OPERATION COBALT KITTY: A LARGE-SCALE APT IN ASIA CARRIED OUT BY THE OCEANLOTUS GROUP. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- Dumont, R. (2019, March 20). Fake or Fake: Keeping up with OceanLotus decoys. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- O'Leary, J., et al. (2017, September 20). Insights into Iranian Cyber Espionage: APT33 Targets Aerospace and Energy Sectors and has Ties to Destructive Malware. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Security Response attack Investigation Team. (2019, March 27). Elfin: Relentless Espionage Group Targets Multiple Organizations in Saudi Arabia and U.S.. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
- FireEye. (2018, February 20). APT37 (Reaper): The Overlooked North Korean Actor. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Hawley et al. (2019, January 29). APT39: An Iranian Cyber Espionage Group Focused on Personal Information. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
- DiMaggio, J. (2016, April 28). Tick cyberespionage group zeros in on Japan. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- Grunzweig, J.. (2017, April 20). Cardinal RAT Active for Over Two Years. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
- Svajcer, V. (2018, July 31). Multiple Cobalt Personality Disorder. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
- Unit 42. (2018, October 25). New Techniques to Uncover and Attribute Financial actors Commodity Builders and Infrastructure Revealed. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
- Blaich, A., et al. (2018, January 18). Dark Caracal: Cyber-espionage at a Global Scale. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
- Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis Team. (2015, August 10). Darkhotel's attacks in 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- Falcone, R., et al. (2018, July 27). New Threat Actor Group DarkHydrus Targets Middle East Government. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- Unit 42. (2017, December 15). Unit 42 Playbook Viewer. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- US-CERT. (2018, March 16). Alert (TA18-074A): Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- US-CERT. (2017, October 20). Alert (TA17-293A): Advanced Persistent Threat Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- O'Gorman, G., and McDonald, G.. (2012, September 6). The Elderwood Project. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Clayton, M.. (2012, September 14). Stealing US business secrets: Experts ID two huge cyber 'gangs' in China. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Salvio, J.. (2014, June 27). New Banking Malware Uses Network Sniffing for Data Theft. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Vengerik, B. et al.. (2014, December 5). Hacking the Street? FIN4 Likely Playing the Market. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
- Vengerik, B. & Dennesen, K.. (2014, December 5). Hacking the Street? FIN4 Likely Playing the Market. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
- Carr, N., et al. (2017, April 24). FIN7 Evolution and the Phishing LNK. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
- Bohannon, D. & Carr N. (2017, June 30). Obfuscation in the Wild: Targeted Attackers Lead the Way in Evasion Techniques. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
- Kizhakkinan, D. et al.. (2016, May 11). Threat Actor Leverages Windows Zero-day Exploit in Payment Card Data Attacks. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
- Elovitz, S. & Ahl, I. (2016, August 18). Know Your Enemy: New Financially-Motivated & Spear-Phishing Group. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- Symantec Security Response. (2018, October 10). Gallmaker: New Attack Group Eschews Malware to Live off the Land. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Falcone, R., et al. (2018, August 02). The Gorgon Group: Slithering Between Nation State and Cybercrime. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
- Sherstobitoff, R. (2018, March 08). Hidden Cobra Targets Turkish Financial Sector With New Bankshot Implant. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
- Axel F, Pierre T. (2017, October 16). Leviathan: Espionage actor spearphishes maritime and defense targets. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Counter Threat Unit Research Team. (2017, July 27). The Curious Case of Mia Ash: Fake Persona Lures Middle Eastern Targets. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- PwC and BAE Systems. (2017, April). Operation Cloud Hopper: Technical Annex. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
- FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence. (2017, April 6). APT10 (MenuPass Group): New Tools, Global Campaign Latest Manifestation of Longstanding Threat. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Accenture Security. (2018, April 23). Hogfish Redleaves Campaign. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- United States District Court Southern District of New York (USDC SDNY) . (2018, December 17). United States of America v. Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Lancaster, T.. (2017, November 14). Muddying the Water: Targeted Attacks in the Middle East. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Singh, S. et al.. (2018, March 13). Iranian Threat Group Updates Tactics, Techniques and Procedures in Spear Phishing Campaign. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
- Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis Team. (2018, October 10). MuddyWater expands operations. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- McAfee® Foundstone® Professional Services and McAfee Labs™. (2011, February 10). Global Energy Cyberattacks: “Night Dragon”. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- Lee, B., Falcone, R. (2018, February 23). OopsIE! OilRig Uses ThreeDollars to Deliver New Trojan. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- Lee, B., Falcone, R. (2018, July 25). OilRig Targets Technology Service Provider and Government Agency with QUADAGENT. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Meyers, A. (2018, November 27). Meet CrowdStrike’s Adversary of the Month for November: HELIX KITTEN. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Lunghi, D., et al. (2017, December). Untangling the Patchwork Cyberespionage Group. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- Meltzer, M, et al. (2018, June 07). Patchwork APT Group Targets US Think Tanks. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
- Ash, B., et al. (2018, June 26). RANCOR: Targeted Attacks in South East Asia Using PLAINTEE and DDKONG Malware Families. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
- Axel F. (2017, April 27). APT Targets Financial Analysts with CVE-2017-0199. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Llimos, N., Pascual, C.. (2019, February 12). Trickbot Adds Remote Application Credential-Grabbing Capabilities to Its Repertoire. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
- ESET, et al. (2018, January). Diplomats in Eastern Europe bitten by a Turla mosquito. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
- US-CERT. (2018, June 14). MAR-10135536-12 – North Korean Trojan: TYPEFRAME. Retrieved July 13, 2018.