Before compromising a victim, adversaries may compromise accounts with services that can be used during targeting. For operations incorporating social engineering, the utilization of an online persona may be important. Rather than creating and cultivating accounts (i.e. Establish Accounts), adversaries may compromise existing accounts. Utilizing an existing persona may engender a level of trust in a potential victim if they have a relationship, or knowledge of, the compromised persona.
A variety of methods exist for compromising accounts, such as gathering credentials via Phishing for Information, purchasing credentials from third-party sites, or by brute forcing credentials (ex: password reuse from breach credential dumps). Prior to compromising accounts, adversaries may conduct Reconnaissance to inform decisions about which accounts to compromise to further their operation.
Personas may exist on a single site or across multiple sites (ex: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, etc.). Compromised accounts may require additional development, this could include filling out or modifying profile information, further developing social networks, or incorporating photos.
This technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on behaviors performed outside of the scope of enterprise defenses and controls.
Consider monitoring social media activity related to your organization. Suspicious activity may include personas claiming to work for your organization or recently modified accounts making numerous connection requests to accounts affiliated with your organization.
Much of this activity will take place outside the visibility of the target organization, making detection of this behavior difficult. Detection efforts may be focused on related stages of the adversary lifecycle, such as during Initial Access (ex: Phishing).