|Tactic||Defense Evasion, Persistence, Privilege Escalation|
|Platform||Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Vista, Windows 8.1|
|Permissions Required||User, Administrator|
|Effective Permissions||User, Administrator|
|Data Sources||Authentication logs, Process monitoring|
|Defense Bypassed||Anti-virus, Firewall, Host intrusion prevention systems, Network intrusion detection system, Process whitelisting, System access controls|
Adversaries may steal the credentials of a specific user or service account using Credential Access techniques. Compromised credentials may be used to bypass access controls placed on various resources on hosts and within the network and may even be used for persistent access to remote systems. Compromised credentials may also grant an adversary increased privilege to specific systems or access to restricted areas of the network. Adversaries may choose not to use malware or tools in conjunction with the legitimate access those credentials provide to make it harder to detect their presence.
The overlap of credentials and permissions across a network of systems is of concern because the adversary may be able to pivot across accounts and systems to reach a high level of access (i.e., domain or enterprise administrator) to bypass access controls set within the enterprise.1
- Carbanak actors used legitimate credentials of banking employees to perform operations that sent them millions of dollars.2
- PittyTiger attempts to obtain legitimate credentials during operations.3
- APT18 actors leverage legitimate credentials to log into external remote services.4
- Threat Group-3390 actors obtain legitimate credentials using a variety of methods and use them to further lateral movement on victim networks.5
- Threat Group-1314 actors used compromised credentials for the victim's endpoint management platform, Altiris, to move laterally.6
- To move laterally on a victim network, FIN6 has used credentials stolen from various systems on which it gathered usernames and password hashes.7
- Suckfly used legitimate account credentials that they dumped to navigate the internal victim network as though they were the legitimate account owner.8
- Adversaries can instruct Duqu to spread laterally by copying itself to shares it has enumerated and for which it has obtained legitimate credentials (via keylogging or other means). The remote host is then infected by using the compromised credentials to schedule a task on remote machines that executes the malware.9
- Some SeaDuke samples have a module to extract email from Microsoft Exchange servers using compromised credentials.10
- If Shamoon cannot access shares using current privileges, it attempts access using hard coded, domain-specific credentials gathered earlier in the intrusion.11
Take measures to detect or prevent techniques such as Credential Dumping or installation of keyloggers to acquire credentials through Input Capture. Limit credential overlap across systems to prevent access if account credentials are obtained. Ensure that local administrator accounts have complex, unique passwords across all systems on the network. Do not put user or admin domain accounts in the local administrator groups across systems unless they are tightly controlled and use of accounts is segmented, as this is often equivalent to having a local administrator account with the same password on all systems. Audit domain and local accounts as well as their permission levels routinely to look for situations that could allow an adversary to gain wide access by obtaining credentials of a privileged account.112
Configure robust, consistent account activity audit policies across the enterprise.13 Look for suspicious account behavior across systems that share accounts, either user, admin, or service accounts. Examples: one account logged into multiple systems simultaneously; multiple accounts logged into the same machine simultaneously; accounts logged in at odd times or outside of business hours. Activity may be from interactive login sessions or process ownership from accounts being used to execute binaries on a remote system as a particular account. Correlate other security systems with login information (e.g., a user has an active login session but has not entered the building or does not have VPN access).
- Microsoft. (2016, April 15). Attractive Accounts for Credential Theft. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team. (2015, February). CARBANAK APT THE GREAT BANK ROBBERY. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
- Bizeul, D., Fontarensky, I., Mouchoux, R., Perigaud, F., Pernet, C. (2014, July 11). Eye of the Tiger. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- Adair, S. (2017, February 17). Detecting and Responding to Advanced Threats within Exchange Environments. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
- Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit Threat Intelligence. (2015, August 5). Threat Group-3390 Targets Organizations for Cyberespionage. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
- Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit Special Operations Team. (2015, May 28). Living off the Land. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- FireEye Threat Intelligence. (2016, April). Follow the Money: Dissecting the Operations of the Cyber Crime Group FIN6. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
- DiMaggio, J.. (2016, May 17). Indian organizations targeted in Suckfly attacks. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
- Symantec Security Response. (2011, November). W32.Duqu: The precursor to the next Stuxnet. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- Symantec Security Response. (2015, July 13). “Forkmeiamfamous”: Seaduke, latest weapon in the Duke armory. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
- FireEye. (2016, November 30). FireEye Responds to Wave of Destructive Cyber Attacks in Gulf Region. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
- Microsoft. (2016, April 16). Implementing Least-Privilege Administrative Models. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- Microsoft. (2016, April 15). Audit Policy Recommendations. Retrieved June 3, 2016.