Before compromising a victim, adversaries may buy and/or steal capabilities that can be used during targeting. Rather than developing their own capabilities in-house, adversaries may purchase, freely download, or steal them. Activities may include the acquisition of malware, software (including licenses), exploits, certificates, and information relating to vulnerabilities. Adversaries may obtain capabilities to support their operations throughout numerous phases of the adversary lifecycle.
In addition to downloading free malware, software, and exploits from the internet, adversaries may purchase these capabilities from third-party entities. Third-party entities can include technology companies that specialize in malware and exploits, criminal marketplaces, or from individuals.
In addition to purchasing capabilities, adversaries may steal capabilities from third-party entities (including other adversaries). This can include stealing software licenses, malware, SSL/TLS and code-signing certificates, or raiding closed databases of vulnerabilities or exploits.
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.
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 Defense Evasion or Command and Control.
- Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger. (2013, July 12). Nations Buying as Hackers Sell Flaws in Computer Code. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
- Bill Marczak and John Scott-Railton. (2016, August 24). The Million Dollar Dissident: NSO Group’s iPhone Zero-Days used against a UAE Human Rights Defender. Retrieved December 12, 2016.