Adversaries may gather credentials that can be used during targeting. Account credentials gathered by adversaries may be those directly associated with the target victim organization or attempt to take advantage of the tendency for users to use the same passwords across personal and business accounts.
Adversaries may gather credentials from potential victims in various ways, such as direct elicitation via Phishing for Information. Adversaries may also compromise sites then add malicious content designed to collect website authentication cookies from visitors. Credential information may also be exposed to adversaries via leaks to online or other accessible data sets (ex: Search Engines, breach dumps, code repositories, etc.). Adversaries may also purchase credentials from dark web or other black-markets. Finally, where multi-factor authentication (MFA) based on out-of-band communications is in use, adversaries may compromise a service provider to gain access to MFA codes and one-time passwords (OTP).
Gathering this information may reveal opportunities for other forms of reconnaissance (ex: Search Open Websites/Domains or Phishing for Information), establishing operational resources (ex: Compromise Accounts), and/or initial access (ex: External Remote Services or Valid Accounts).
Chimera has collected credentials for the target organization from previous breaches for use in brute force attacks.
LAPSUS$ has gathered user identities and credentials to gain initial access to a victim's organization; the group has also called an organization's help desk to reset a target's credentials.
Leviathan has collected compromised credentials to use for targeting efforts.
Magic Hound gathered credentials from two victims that they then attempted to validate across 75 different websites. Magic Hound has also collected credentials from over 900 Fortinet VPN servers in the US, Europe, and Israel.
For the SolarWinds Compromise, APT29 conducted credential theft operations to obtain credentials to be used for access to victim environments.
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. Efforts should focus on minimizing the amount and sensitivity of data available to external parties.
Much of this activity may have a very high occurrence and associated false positive rate, as well as potentially taking place outside the visibility of the target organization, making detection difficult for defenders.
Detection efforts may be focused on related stages of the adversary lifecycle, such as during Initial Access.