Obtain Capabilities: Tool
Before compromising a victim, adversaries may buy, steal, or download software tools that can be used during targeting. Tools can be open or closed source, free or commercial. A tool can be used for malicious purposes by an adversary, but (unlike malware) were not intended to be used for those purposes (ex: PsExec). Tool acquisition can involve the procurement of commercial software licenses, including for red teaming tools such as Cobalt Strike. Commercial software may be obtained through purchase, stealing licenses (or licensed copies of the software), or cracking trial versions.
Adversaries may obtain tools to support their operations, including to support execution of post-compromise behaviors. In addition to freely downloading or purchasing software, adversaries may steal software and/or software licenses from third-party entities (including other adversaries).
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 post-compromise phases of the adversary lifecycle.