Exploitation for Privilege Escalation

Adversaries may exploit software vulnerabilities in order to elevate privileges. Exploitation of a software vulnerability occurs when an adversary takes advantage of a programming error in an application, service, within the operating system software, or kernel itself to execute adversary-controlled code. Security constructions, such as permission levels, will often hinder access to information and use of certain techniques. Adversaries will likely need to perform privilege escalation to include use of software exploitation to circumvent those restrictions.

When initially gaining access to a device, an adversary may be operating within a lower privileged process which will prevent them from accessing certain resources on the system. Vulnerabilities may exist, usually in operating system components and applications running at higher permissions, that can be exploited to gain higher levels of access on the system. This could enable someone to move from unprivileged or user- level permission to root permissions depending on the component that is vulnerable.

ID: T1404
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic Type: Post-Adversary Device Access
Platforms: Android, iOS
Version: 2.1
Created: 25 October 2017
Last Modified: 08 September 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S1061 AbstractEmu

AbstractEmu can use rooting exploits to silently give itself permissions or install additional malware.[1]

S0440 Agent Smith

Agent Smith exploits known OS vulnerabilities, including Janus, to replace legitimate applications with malicious versions.[2]

S0293 BrainTest

Some original variants of BrainTest had the capability to automatically root some devices, but that behavior was not observed in later samples.[3]

S0550 DoubleAgent

DoubleAgent has used exploit tools to gain root, such as TowelRoot.[4]

S0420 Dvmap

Dvmap attempts to gain root access by using local exploits.[5]

S0405 Exodus

Exodus Two attempts to elevate privileges by using a modified version of the DirtyCow exploit.[6]

S0182 FinFisher

FinFisher comes packaged with ExynosAbuse, an Android exploit that can gain root privileges.[7]

S0290 Gooligan

Gooligan executes Android root exploits.[8]

S0322 HummingBad

HummingBad can exploit unfixed vulnerabilities in older Android versions to root victim phones.[9]


INSOMNIA exploits a WebKit vulnerability to achieve root access on the device.[10]

S0316 Pegasus for Android

Pegasus for Android attempts to exploit well-known Android OS vulnerabilities to escalate privileges.[11]

S0289 Pegasus for iOS

Pegasus for iOS exploits iOS vulnerabilities to escalate privileges.[12]

S1126 Phenakite

Phenakite has included exploits for jailbreaking infected devices.[13]

S0294 ShiftyBug

ShiftyBug is packed with at least eight publicly available exploits that can perform rooting.[14]

S0327 Skygofree

Skygofree has the capability to exploit several known vulnerabilities and escalate privileges.[15]

S0324 SpyDealer

SpyDealer uses the commercial rooting app Baidu Easy Root to gain root privilege and maintain persistence on the victim.[16]

S0494 Zen

Zen can obtain root access via a rooting trojan in its infection chain.[17]


ID Mitigation Description
M1002 Attestation

Device attestation can often detect jailbroken or rooted devices.

M1010 Deploy Compromised Device Detection Method

Mobile security products can potentially detect jailbroken or rooted devices.

M1001 Security Updates

Security updates often contain patches for vulnerabilities.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0041 Application Vetting API Calls

Application vetting services could potentially determine if an application contains code designed to exploit vulnerabilities.

DS0013 Sensor Health Host Status

Mobile security products can potentially utilize device APIs to determine if a device has been rooted or jailbroken.