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Cutting Through the Noise: An Analysis of Post-Exploitation Activity on PaperCut Servers

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29
Aug 2023
29
Aug 2023
In mid-April 2023, Darktrace observed two related clusters of attack chains across its customer base. Further investigation revealed these clusters of activity to be related to exploitation of a critical vulnerability in the print management system, PaperCut. This blog details the observed attack chains, and Darktrace’s coverage of the steps involved in them.

Introduction

Malicious cyber actors are known to exploit vulnerabilities in Internet-facing systems and services to gain entry to organizations’ digital environments. Keeping track of the vulnerabilities which malicious actors are exploiting is seemingly futile, with malicious actors continually finding new avenues of exploitation.  

In mid-April 2023, Darktrace, along with the wider security community, observed malicious cyber actors gaining entry to networks through exploitation of a critical vulnerability in the print management system, PaperCut. Darktrace observed two types of attack chain within its customer base, one involving the deployment of payloads to facilitate crypto-mining, and the other involving the deployment of a payload to facilitate Tor-based command-and-control (C2) communication.

Walking Through the Front Door

One of the most widely abused Initial Access methods attackers use to gain entry to an organization’s digital environment is the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Internet-facing systems and services [1]. The public disclosure of a critical vulnerability in a widely used, Internet-facing service, along with a proof of concept (POC) exploit for such vulnerability, provides malicious cyber actors with a key to the front door of countless organizations. Once malicious actors are in possession of such a key, security teams are in a race against time to patch all their vulnerable systems and services. But until organizations accomplish this, the doors are left open.

This year, the security community has seen malicious actors gaining entry to networks through the exploitation of vulnerabilities in a range of services. These services include familiar suspects, such as Microsoft Exchange and ManageEngine, along with less familiar suspects, such as PaperCut. PaperCut is a system for managing and tracking printing, copying, and scanning activity within organizations. In 2021, PaperCut was used in more than 50,000 sites across over 100 countries [2], making PaperCut a widely used print management system.

In January 2023, Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) notified PaperCut of a critical RCE vulnerability, namely CVE-2023–27350, in certain versions of PaperCut NG (PaperCut’s ‘print only’ variant) and PaperCut MF (PaperCut’s ‘extended feature’ variant) [3,4]. In March 2023, PaperCut released versions of PaperCut NG and PaperCut MF containing a fix for CVE-2023–27350 [4]. Despite this, security teams observed a surge in cases of malicious actors exploiting CVE-2023–27350 to compromise PaperCut servers in April 2023 [4-10]. This trend was mirrored in Darktrace’s customer base, where a surge in compromises of PaperCut servers was observed in April 2023.

Observed Attack Chains

In mid-April 2023, Darktrace identified two related clusters of attack chains. The attack chains within the first of these clusters involved Internet-facing PaperCut servers downloading payloads with crypto-mining capabilities from the external location, 50.19.48[.]59. While the attack chains within the second of the clusters involved Internet-facing PaperCut servers downloading payloads with Tor-based C2 capabilities from 192.184.35[.]216. The attack chains within the first cluster, which were observed on April 22, 2023, will be referred to as ‘50.19.48[.]59 chains’ and the attack chains in the second cluster, observed on April 24, 2023, will be called ‘192.184.35[.]216 chains’.

Both attack chains started with highly unusual external endpoints contacting the '/SetupCompleted' endpoint of an Internet-facing PaperCut server. These requests to the ‘/SetupCompleted’ endpoint likely represented attempts to exploit CVE-2023–27350 [10].  50.19.48[.]59 chains started with exploit connections from the external endpoint, 85.106.112[.]60, whereas 192.184.35[.]216 chains started with exploit connections from Tor nodes, such as 185.34.33[.]2.

Figure 1: Darktrace’s Advanced Search data showing likely CVE-2023-27350 exploitation activity from the suspicious, external endpoint, 85.106.112[.]60.

After the exploitation step, the two attack chains took different paths. In the 50.19.48[.]59 chains, the exploitation step was followed by the affected PaperCut server making HTTP GET requests over port 82 to the rare external endpoint, 50.19.48[.]59. In the 192.184.35[.]216 chains, the exploitation step was followed by the affected PaperCut server making an HTTP GET request over port 443 to 192.184.35[.]216.

The HTTP GET requests to 50.19.48[.]59 had Target URIs such as ‘/me1.bat’, ‘/me2.bat’, ‘/dom.zip’, ‘/mazar.bat’, and ‘/mazar.zip’, whilst the HTTP GET requests to 192.184.35[.]216 had the Target URI ‘/4591187629.exe’. The User-Agent header of the GET requests to 192.184.35[.]216 indicated that that the malicious file transfers were initiated through Microsoft’s pre-installed Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).

Figure 2: Darktrace’s Advanced Search data showing a PaperCut server downloading Batch and ZIP files from 50.19.48[.]59 straight after receiving likely exploit connections from 85.106.112[.]60.
Figure 3: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing a PaperCut server downloading an executable file from 192.184.35[.]216 immediately after receiving a likely exploit connection from the Tor node, 185.34.33[.]2.

Downloads from 50.19.48[.]59 were followed by cURL GET requests to 138.68.61[.]82 and then connections to external endpoints associated with the cryptocurrency miner, Mimu (as seen in Fig 4). Downloads from 192.184.35[.]216 were followed by Python-urllib GET requests to api.ipify[.]org and long connections to Tor nodes (as seen in Fig 5).  

These facts suggest that the actor behind the 50.19.48[.]59 chains were seeking to drop cryptocurrency miners on PaperCut servers, with the intention of abusing the customer’s network to carry out resource intensive and costly cryptocurrency mining activity. Meanwhile, the actors behind the 192.184.35[.]216 chains were likely attempting to establish a Tor-based C2 channel with PaperCut servers to allow actors to further communicate with compromised devices.

Figure 4: Darktrace's Event Log data showing a PaperCut contacting 50.19.48[.]59 to download payloads, and then making a cURL request to 138.68.61[.]82 before contacting a Mimu crypto-mining endpoint.
Figure 5: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing a PaperCut server contacting 192.184.35[.]216 to download a payload, and then making connections to api.ipify[.]org and several Tor nodes.

The activities ensuing from both attack chains were varied, making it difficult to ascertain whether the activities were steps of separate attack chains, or steps of the existing 50.19.48[.]59 and 192.184.35[.]216 chains. A wide variety of activities ensued from observed 50.19.48[.]59 and 192.184.35[.]216 chains, including the abuse of pre-installed tools, such as cURL, CertUtil, and PowerShell to transfer further payloads to PaperCut servers, Cobalt Strike C2 communication, Ngrok usage, Mimikatz usage, AnyDesk usage, and in one case, detonation of the LockBit ransomware strain.

Figure 6: Diagram representing the steps of observed 50.19.48[.]59 chains.
Figure 7: Diagram representing the steps of observed 192.184.35[.]215 chains.

As the PaperCut servers that were targeted by malicious actors are Internet-facing, they regularly receive connections from unusual external endpoints. The exploit connections in the 50.19.48[.]59 and 192.184.35[.]216 chains, which originated from unusual external endpoints, were therefore not detected by Darktrace DETECT™, which relies on anomaly-based methods to detect network-based steps of an intrusion.

On the other hand, the post-exploitation steps of the 50.19.48[.]59 and 192.184.35[.]216 chains yielded ample anomaly-based detections, given that they consisted of PaperCut servers displaying highly unusual behaviors. As such Darktrace DETECT was able to successfully identify multiple chains of suspicious activity, including unusual file downloads from external endpoints and beaconing activity to rare external locations.

The file downloads from 50.19.48[.]59 observed in the 50.19.48[.]59 chains caused the following Darktrace DETECT models to breach:

- Anomalous Connection / Application Protocol on Uncommon Port

- Anomalous File / Internet Facing System File Download

- Anomalous File / Script from Rare External Location

- Anomalous File / Zip or Gzip from Rare External Location

- Device / Internet Facing Device with High Priority Alert

Figure 8: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing a PaperCut server breaching several models immediately after contacting 50.19.48[.]59.

The file downloads from 192.184.35[.]216 observed in the 192.184.35[.]216 chains caused the following Darktrace DETECT models to breach:

- Anomalous File / EXE from Rare External Location

- Anomalous File / Numeric File Download

- Device / Internet Facing Device with High Priority Alert

Figure 9: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing a PaperCut server breaching several models immediately after contacting 192.184.35[.]216.

Subsequent C2, beaconing, and crypto-mining connections in the 50.19.48[.]59 chains caused the following Darktrace DETECT models to breach:

- Anomalous Connection / New User Agent to IP Without Hostname

- Anomalous Server Activity / New User Agent from Internet Facing System

- Anomalous Server Activity / Rare External from Server

- Compromise / Crypto Currency Mining Activity

- Compromise / High Priority Crypto Currency Mining

- Compromise / High Volume of Connections with Beacon Score

- Compromise / Large Number of Suspicious Failed Connections

- Compromise / SSL Beaconing to Rare Destination

- Device / Initial Breach Chain Compromise

- Device / Large Number of Model Breaches

Figure 10: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing a PaperCut server breaching models as a result of its connections to a Mimu crypto-mining endpoint.

Subsequent C2, beaconing, and Tor connections in the 192.184.35[.]216 chains caused the following Darktrace DETECT models to breach:

- Anomalous Connection / Application Protocol on Uncommon Port

- Compromise / Anomalous File then Tor

- Compromise / Beaconing Activity To External Rare

- Compromise / Possible Tor Usage

- Compromise / Slow Beaconing Activity To External Rare

- Compromise / Uncommon Tor Usage

- Device / Initial Breach Chain Compromise

Figure 11: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing a PaperCut server breaching several models as a result of its connections to Tor nodes.

Darktrace RESPOND

Darktrace RESPOND™ was not active in any of the networks affected by 192.184.35[.]216 activity, however, RESPOND was active in some of the networks affected by 50.19.48[.]59 activity.  In those environments where RESPOND was enabled in autonomous mode, observed malicious activities resulted in intervention from RESPOND, including autonomous actions like blocking connections to specific external endpoints, blocking all outgoing traffic, and restricting affected devices to a pre-established pattern of behavior.

Figure 12: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing Darktrace RESPOND automatically performing inhibitive actions on a device in response to the device’s connection to 50.19.48[.]59.
Figure 13: Darktrace’s Event Log data showing Darktrace RESPOND automatically performing inhibitive actions on a device in response to the device’s connections to a Mimu crypto-mining endpoint.

Darktrace Cyber AI Analyst

Cyber AI Analyst autonomously investigated model breaches caused by events within these 50.19.48[.]59 and 192.184.35[.]216 chains. Cyber AI Analyst created user-friendly and detailed descriptions of these events, and then linked together these descriptions into threads representing the attack chains. Darktrace DETECT thus uncovered the individual steps of the attack chains, while Cyber AI Analyst was able to piece together the individual steps and uncover the attack chains themselves.  

Figure 14: An AI Analyst Incident entry showing the first event in a 50.19.48[.]59 chain uncovered by Cyber AI Analyst.
Figure 15: An AI Analyst Incident entry showing the second event in a 50.19.48[.]59 chain uncovered by Cyber AI Analyst.
Figure 16: An AI Analyst Incident entry showing the third event in a 50.19.48[.]59 chain uncovered by Cyber AI Analyst.
Figure 17: An AI Analyst Incident entry showing the first event in a 192.184.35[.]216 chain uncovered by Cyber AI Analyst.
Figure 18: An AI Analyst Incident entry showing the second event in a 192.184.35[.]216 chain uncovered by Cyber AI Analyst.

Conclusion

The existence of critical vulnerabilities in third-party software leaves organizations at constant risk of malicious actors breaching the perimeters of their networks. This risk can be mitigated through attack surface management and regular patching. However, this does not eliminate cyber risk entirely, meaning that organizations must be prepared for the eventuality of malicious actors getting inside their digital estate.

In April 2023, Darktrace observed malicious actors breaching the perimeters of several customer networks through exploitation of a critical vulnerability in PaperCut. Darktrace DETECT observed actors exploiting PaperCut servers to conduct a wide variety of post-exploitation activities, including downloading malicious payloads associated with cryptocurrency mining or payloads with Tor-based C2 capabilities. Darktrace DETECT created numerous model breaches based on this activity which alerted then customer’s security teams early in their development, providing them with ample time to take mitigative steps.

The successful detection of this payload delivery activity, along with the crypto-mining, beaconing, and Tor C2 activities which followed, elicited Darktrace RESPOND to take autonomous inhibitive action against the ongoing activity in those environments where it was operating in autonomous response mode.

If left to unfold, these intrusions developed in a variety of ways, in some cases leading to Cobalt Strike and ransomware activity. The detection of these intrusions in their early stages thus played a vital role in preventing malicious cyber actors from causing significant disruption.

Credit to: Sam Lister, Senior SOC Analyst, Zoe Tilsiter, Senior Cyber Analyst.

Appendices

MITRE ATT&CK Mapping

Initial Access techniques:

- Exploit Public-Facing Application (T1190)

Execution techniques:

- Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell (T1059.001)

Discovery techniques:

- System Network Configuration Discovery (T1016)

Command and Control techniques

- Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols (T1071.001)

- Encrypted Channel: Asymmetric Cryptography (T1573.002)

- Ingress Tool Transfer (T1105)

- Non-Standard Port (T1571)

- Protocol Tunneling (T1572)

- Proxy: Multi-hop Proxy (T1090.003)

- Remote Access Software (T1219)

Defense Evasion techniques:

- BITS Jobs (T1197)

Impact techniques:

- Data Encrypted for Impact (T1486)

List of Indicators of Compromise (IoCs)

IoCs from 50.19.48[.]59 attack chains:

- 85.106.112[.]60

- http://50.19.48[.]59:82/me1.bat

- http://50.19.48[.]59:82/me2.bat

- http://50.19.48[.]59:82/dom.zip

- 138.68.61[.]82

- update.mimu-me[.]cyou • 102.130.112[.]157

- 34.195.77[.]216

- http://50.19.48[.]59:82/mazar.bat

- http://50.19.48[.]59:82/mazar.zip

- http://50.19.48[.]59:82/prx.bat

- http://50.19.48[.]59:82/lol.exe  

- http://77.91.85[.]117/122.exe

- windows.n1tro[.]cyou • 176.28.51[.]151

- 77.91.85[.]117

- 91.149.237[.]76

- kernel-mlclosoft[.]site • 104.21.29[.]206

- tunnel.us.ngrok[.]com • 3.134.73[.]173

- 212.113.116[.]105

- c34a54599a1fbaf1786aa6d633545a60 (JA3 client fingerprint of crypto-mining client)

IoCs from 192.184.35[.]216 attack chains:

- 185.56.83[.]83

- 185.34.33[.]2

- http://192.184.35[.]216:443/4591187629.exe

- api.ipify[.]org • 104.237.62[.]211

- www.67m4ipctvrus4cv4qp[.]com • 192.99.43[.]171

- www.ynbznxjq2sckwq3i[.]com • 51.89.106[.]29

- www.kuo2izmlm2silhc[.]com • 51.89.106[.]29

- 148.251.136[.]16

- 51.158.231[.]208

- 51.75.153[.]22

- 82.66.61[.]19

- backmainstream-ltd[.]com • 77.91.72[.]149

- 159.65.42[.]223

- 185.254.37[.]236

- http://137.184.56[.]77:443/for.ps1

- http://137.184.56[.]77:443/c.bat

- 45.88.66[.]59

- http://5.8.18[.]237/download/Load64.exe

- http://5.8.18[.]237/download/sdb64.dll

- 140e0f0cad708278ade0984528fe8493 (JA3 client fingerprint of Tor-based client)

References

[1] https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa22-137a

[2] https://www.papercut.com/kb/Main/PaperCutMFSolutionBrief/

[3] https://www.zerodayinitiative.com/advisories/ZDI-23-233/

[4] https://www.papercut.com/kb/Main/PO-1216-and-PO-1219

[5] https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/research/23/d/update-now-papercut-vulnerability-cve-2023-27350-under-active-ex.html

[6] https://www.huntress.com/blog/critical-vulnerabilities-in-papercut-print-management-software

[7] https://news.sophos.com/en-us/2023/04/27/increased-exploitation-of-papercut-drawing-blood-around-the-internet/

[8] https://twitter.com/MsftSecIntel/status/1651346653901725696

[9] https://twitter.com/MsftSecIntel/status/1654610012457648129

[10] https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa23-131a

DANS LE SOC
Darktrace sont des experts de classe mondiale en matière de renseignement sur les menaces, de chasse aux menaces et de réponse aux incidents. Ils fournissent une assistance SOC 24 heures sur 24 et 7 jours sur 7 à des milliers de clients Darktrace dans le monde entier. Inside the SOC est exclusivement rédigé par ces experts et fournit une analyse des cyberincidents et des tendances en matière de menaces, basée sur une expérience réelle sur le terrain.
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Sam Lister
SOC Analyst
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A l'intérieur du SOC

Sliver C2: How Darktrace Provided a Sliver of Hope in the Face of an Emerging C2 Framework

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17
Apr 2024

Offensive Security Tools

As organizations globally seek to for ways to bolster their digital defenses and safeguard their networks against ever-changing cyber threats, security teams are increasingly adopting offensive security tools to simulate cyber-attacks and assess the security posture of their networks. These legitimate tools, however, can sometimes be exploited by real threat actors and used as genuine actor vectors.

What is Sliver C2?

Sliver C2 is a legitimate open-source command-and-control (C2) framework that was released in 2020 by the security organization Bishop Fox. Silver C2 was originally intended for security teams and penetration testers to perform security tests on their digital environments [1] [2] [5]. In recent years, however, the Sliver C2 framework has become a popular alternative to Cobalt Strike and Metasploit for many attackers and Advanced Persistence Threat (APT) groups who adopt this C2 framework for unsolicited and ill-intentioned activities.

The use of Sliver C2 has been observed in conjunction with various strains of Rust-based malware, such as KrustyLoader, to provide backdoors enabling lines of communication between attackers and their malicious C2 severs [6]. It is unsurprising, then, that it has also been leveraged to exploit zero-day vulnerabilities, including critical vulnerabilities in the Ivanti Connect Secure and Policy Secure services.

In early 2024, Darktrace observed the malicious use of Sliver C2 during an investigation into post-exploitation activity on customer networks affected by the Ivanti vulnerabilities. Fortunately for affected customers, Darktrace DETECT™ was able to recognize the suspicious network-based connectivity that emerged alongside Sliver C2 usage and promptly brought it to the attention of customer security teams for remediation.

How does Silver C2 work?

Given its open-source nature, the Sliver C2 framework is extremely easy to access and download and is designed to support multiple operating systems (OS), including MacOS, Windows, and Linux [4].

Sliver C2 generates implants (aptly referred to as ‘slivers’) that operate on a client-server architecture [1]. An implant contains malicious code used to remotely control a targeted device [5]. Once a ‘sliver’ is deployed on a compromised device, a line of communication is established between the target device and the central C2 server. These connections can then be managed over Mutual TLS (mTLS), WireGuard, HTTP(S), or DNS [1] [4]. Sliver C2 has a wide-range of features, which include dynamic code generation, compile-time obfuscation, multiplayer-mode, staged and stageless payloads, procedurally generated C2 over HTTP(S) and DNS canary blue team detection [4].

Why Do Attackers Use Sliver C2?

Amidst the multitude of reasons why malicious actors opt for Sliver C2 over its counterparts, one stands out: its relative obscurity. This lack of widespread recognition means that security teams may overlook the threat, failing to actively search for it within their networks [3] [5].

Although the presence of Sliver C2 activity could be representative of authorized and expected penetration testing behavior, it could also be indicative of a threat actor attempting to communicate with its malicious infrastructure, so it is crucial for organizations and their security teams to identify such activity at the earliest possible stage.

Darktrace’s Coverage of Sliver C2 Activity

Darktrace’s anomaly-based approach to threat detection means that it does not explicitly attempt to attribute or distinguish between specific C2 infrastructures. Despite this, Darktrace was able to connect Sliver C2 usage to phases of an ongoing attack chain related to the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities in Ivanti Connect Secure VPN appliances in January 2024.

Around the time that the zero-day Ivanti vulnerabilities were disclosed, Darktrace detected an internal server on one customer network deviating from its expected pattern of activity. The device was observed making regular connections to endpoints associated with Pulse Secure Cloud Licensing, indicating it was an Ivanti server. It was observed connecting to a string of anomalous hostnames, including ‘cmjk3d071amc01fu9e10ae5rt9jaatj6b.oast[.]live’ and ‘cmjft14b13vpn5vf9i90xdu6akt5k3pnx.oast[.]pro’, via HTTP using the user agent ‘curl/7.19.7 (i686-redhat-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.63.0 OpenSSL/1.0.2n zlib/1.2.7’.

Darktrace further identified that the URI requested during these connections was ‘/’ and the top-level domains (TLDs) of the endpoints in question were known Out-of-band Application Security Testing (OAST) server provider domains, namely ‘oast[.]live’ and ‘oast[.]pro’. OAST is a testing method that is used to verify the security posture of an application by testing it for vulnerabilities from outside of the network [7]. This activity triggered the DETECT model ‘Compromise / Possible Tunnelling to Bin Services’, which breaches when a device is observed sending DNS requests for, or connecting to, ‘request bin’ services. Malicious actors often abuse such services to tunnel data via DNS or HTTP requests. In this specific incident, only two connections were observed, and the total volume of data transferred was relatively low (2,302 bytes transferred externally). It is likely that the connections to OAST servers represented malicious actors testing whether target devices were vulnerable to the Ivanti exploits.

The device proceeded to make several SSL connections to the IP address 103.13.28[.]40, using the destination port 53, which is typically reserved for DNS requests. Darktrace recognized that this activity was unusual as the offending device had never previously been observed using port 53 for SSL connections.

Model Breach Event Log displaying the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breaching in response to the unusual use of port 53.
Figure 1: Model Breach Event Log displaying the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breaching in response to the unusual use of port 53.

Figure 2: Model Breach Event Log displaying details pertaining to the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breach, including the 100% rarity of the port usage.
Figure 2: Model Breach Event Log displaying details pertaining to the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breach, including the 100% rarity of the port usage.

Further investigation into the suspicious IP address revealed that it had been flagged as malicious by multiple open-source intelligence (OSINT) vendors [8]. In addition, OSINT sources also identified that the JARM fingerprint of the service running on this IP and port (00000000000000000043d43d00043de2a97eabb398317329f027c66e4c1b01) was linked to the Sliver C2 framework and the mTLS protocol it is known to use [4] [5].

An Additional Example of Darktrace’s Detection of Sliver C2

However, it was not just during the January 2024 exploitation of Ivanti services that Darktrace observed cases of Sliver C2 usages across its customer base.  In March 2023, for example, Darktrace detected devices on multiple customer accounts making beaconing connections to malicious endpoints linked to Sliver C2 infrastructure, including 18.234.7[.]23 [10] [11] [12] [13].

Darktrace identified that the observed connections to this endpoint contained the unusual URI ‘/NIS-[REDACTED]’ which contained 125 characters, including numbers, lower and upper case letters, and special characters like “_”, “/”, and “-“, as well as various other URIs which suggested attempted data exfiltration:

‘/upload/api.html?c=[REDACTED] &fp=[REDACTED]’

  • ‘/samples.html?mx=[REDACTED] &s=[REDACTED]’
  • ‘/actions/samples.html?l=[REDACTED] &tc=[REDACTED]’
  • ‘/api.html?gf=[REDACTED] &x=[REDACTED]’
  • ‘/samples.html?c=[REDACTED] &zo=[REDACTED]’

This anomalous external connectivity was carried out through multiple destination ports, including the key ports 443 and 8888.

Darktrace additionally observed devices on affected customer networks performing TLS beaconing to the IP address 44.202.135[.]229 with the JA3 hash 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e. According to OSINT sources, this JA3 hash is associated with the Golang TLS cipher suites in which the Sliver framework is developed [14].

Conclusion

Despite its relative novelty in the threat landscape and its lesser-known status compared to other C2 frameworks, Darktrace has demonstrated its ability effectively detect malicious use of Sliver C2 across numerous customer environments. This included instances where attackers exploited vulnerabilities in the Ivanti Connect Secure and Policy Secure services.

While human security teams may lack awareness of this framework, and traditional rules and signatured-based security tools might not be fully equipped and updated to detect Sliver C2 activity, Darktrace’s Self Learning AI understands its customer networks, users, and devices. As such, Darktrace is adept at identifying subtle deviations in device behavior that could indicate network compromise, including connections to new or unusual external locations, regardless of whether attackers use established or novel C2 frameworks, providing organizations with a sliver of hope in an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Credit to Natalia Sánchez Rocafort, Cyber Security Analyst, Paul Jennings, Principal Analyst Consultant

Appendices

DETECT Model Coverage

  • Compromise / Repeating Connections Over 4 Days
  • Anomalous Connection / Application Protocol on Uncommon Port
  • Anomalous Server Activity / Server Activity on New Non-Standard Port
  • Compromis / Activité soutenue de balisage TCP vers un endpoint rare.
  • Compromise / Quick and Regular Windows HTTP Beaconing
  • Compromise / High Volume of Connections with Beacon Score
  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple Failed Connections to Rare Endpoint
  • Compromise / Slow Beaconing Activity To External Rare
  • Compromise / HTTP Beaconing to Rare Destination
  • Compromise / Sustained SSL or HTTP Increase
  • Compromise / Large Number of Suspicious Failed Connections
  • Compromise / SSL or HTTP Beacon
  • Compromise / Possible Malware HTTP Comms
  • Compromise / Possible Tunnelling to Bin Services
  • Anomalous Connection / Low and Slow Exfiltration to IP
  • Device / New User Agent
  • Anomalous Connection / New User Agent to IP Without Hostname
  • Anomalous File / EXE from Rare External Location
  • Anomalous File / Numeric File Download
  • Anomalous Connection / Powershell to Rare External
  • Anomalous Server Activity / New Internet Facing System

List of Indicators of Compromise (IoCs)

18.234.7[.]23 - Destination IP - Likely C2 Server

103.13.28[.]40 - Destination IP - Likely C2 Server

44.202.135[.]229 - Destination IP - Likely C2 Server

References

[1] https://bishopfox.com/tools/sliver

[2] https://vk9-sec.com/how-to-set-up-use-c2-sliver/

[3] https://www.scmagazine.com/brief/sliver-c2-framework-gaining-traction-among-threat-actors

[4] https://github[.]com/BishopFox/sliver

[5] https://www.cybereason.com/blog/sliver-c2-leveraged-by-many-threat-actors

[6] https://securityaffairs.com/158393/malware/ivanti-connect-secure-vpn-deliver-krustyloader.html

[7] https://www.xenonstack.com/insights/out-of-band-application-security-testing

[8] https://www.virustotal.com/gui/ip-address/103.13.28.40/detection

[9] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/browse.php?search=ioc%3A107.174.78.227

[10] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/1074576/

[11] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/1093887/

[12] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/846889/

[13] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/1093889/

[14] https://github.com/projectdiscovery/nuclei/issues/3330

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About the author
Natalia Sánchez Rocafort
Cyber Security Analyst

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Email

Looking Beyond Secure Email Gateways with the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/Email

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09
Apr 2024

Organizations Should Demand More from their Email Security

In response to a more intricate threat landscape, organizations should view email security as a critical component of their defense-in-depth strategy, rather than defending the inbox alone with a traditional Secure Email Gateway (SEG). Organizations need more than a traditional gateway – that doubles, instead of replaces, the capabilities provided by native security vendor – and require an equally granular degree of analysis across all messaging, including inbound, outbound, and lateral mail, plus Teams messages.  

Darktrace/Email is the industry’s most advanced cloud email security, powered by Self-Learning AI. It combines AI techniques to exceed the accuracy and efficiency of leading security solutions, and is the only security built to elevate, not duplicate, native email security.  

With its largest update ever, Darktrace/Email introduces the following innovations, finally allowing security teams to look beyond secure email gateways with autonomous AI:

  • AI-augmented data loss prevention to stop the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats
  • an easy way to deploy DMARC quickly with AI
  • major enhancements to streamline SOC workflows and increase the detection of sophisticated phishing links
  • expansion of Darktrace’s leading AI prevention to lateral mail, account compromise and Microsoft Teams

What’s New with Darktrace/Email  

Data Loss Prevention  

Block the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats with advanced data loss prevention that builds on tags in native email to stop unknown, accidental, and malicious data loss

Darktrace understands normal at individual user, group and organization level with a proven AI that detects abnormal user behavior and dynamic content changes. Using this understanding, Darktrace/Email actions outbound emails to stop unknown, accidental and malicious data loss.  

Traditional DLP solutions only take into account classified data, which relies on the manual input of labelling each data piece, or creating rules to catch pattern matches that try to stop data of certain types leaving the organization. But in today’s world of constantly changing data, regular expression and fingerprinting detection are no longer enough.

  • Human error – Because it understands normal for every user, Darktrace/Email can recognize cases of misdirected emails. Even if the data is correctly labelled or insensitive, Darktrace recognizes when the context in which it is being sent could be a case of data loss and warns the user.  
  • Unclassified data – Whereas traditional DLP solutions can only take action on classified data, Darktrace analyzes the range of data that is either pending labels or can’t be labeled with typical capabilities due to its understanding of the content and context of every email.  
  • Insider threat – If a malicious actor has compromised an account, data exfiltration may still be attempted on encrypted, intellectual property, or other forms of unlabelled data to avoid detection. Darktrace analyses user behaviour to catch cases of unusual data exfiltration from individual accounts.

And classification efforts already in place aren’t wasted – Darktrace/Email extends Microsoft Purview policies and sensitivity labels to avoid duplicate workflows for the security team, combining the best of both approaches to ensure organizations maintain control and visibility over their data.

End User and Security Workflows

Achieve more than 60% improvement in the quality of end-user phishing reports and detection of sophisticated malicious weblinks1

Darktrace/Email improves end-user reporting from the ground up to save security team resource. Employees will always be on the front line of email security – while other solutions assume that end-user reporting is automatically of poor quality, Darktrace prioritizes improving users’ security awareness to increase the quality of end-user reporting from day one.  

Users are empowered to assess and report suspicious activity with contextual banners and Cyber AI Analyst generated narratives for potentially suspicious emails, resulting in 60% fewer benign emails reported.  

Out of the higher-quality emails that end up being reported, the next step is to reduce the amount of emails that reach the SOC. Darktrace/Email’s Mailbox Security Assistant automates their triage with secondary analysis combining additional behavioral signals – using x20 more metrics than previously – with advanced link analysis to detect 70% more sophisticated malicious phishing links.2 This directly alleviates the burden of manual triage for security analysts.

For the emails that are received by the SOC, Darktrace/Email uses automation to reduce time spent investigating per incident. With live inbox view, security teams gain access to a centralized platform that combines intuitive search capabilities, Cyber AI Analyst reports, and mobile application access. Analysts can take remediation actions from within Darktrace/Email, eliminating console hopping and accelerating incident response.

Darktrace takes a user-focused and business-centric approach to email security, in contrast to the attack-centric rules and signatures approach of secure email gateways

Microsoft Teams

Detect threats within your Teams environment such as account compromise, phishing, malware and data loss

Around 83% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Office products and services, particularly Teams and SharePoint.3

Darktrace now leverages the same behavioral AI techniques for Microsoft customers across 365 and Teams, allowing organizations to detect threats and signals of account compromise within their Teams environment including social engineering, malware and data loss.  

The primary use case for Microsoft Teams protection is as a potential entry vector. While messaging has traditionally been internal only, as organizations open up it is becoming an entry vector which needs to be treated with the same level of caution as email. That’s why we’re bringing our proven AI approach to Microsoft Teams, that understands the user behind the message.  

Anomalous messaging behavior is also a highly relevant indicator of whether a user has been compromised. Unlike other solutions that analyze Microsoft Teams content which focus on payloads, Darktrace goes beyond basic link and sandbox analysis and looks at actual user behavior from both a content and context perspective. This linguistic understanding isn’t bound by the requirement to match a signature to a malicious payload, rather it looks at the context in which the message has been delivered. From this analysis, Darktrace can spot the early symptoms of account compromise such as early-stage social engineering before a payload is delivered.

Lateral Mail Analysis

Detect and respond to internal mailflow with multi-layered AI to prevent account takeover, lateral phishing and data leaks

The industry’s most robust account takeover protection now prevents lateral mail account compromise. Darktrace has always looked at internal mail to inform inbound and outbound decisions, but will now elevate suspicious lateral mail behaviour using the same AI techniques for inbound, outbound and Teams analysis.

Darktrace integrates signals from across the entire mailflow and communication patterns to determine symptoms of account compromise, now including lateral mailflow

Unlike other solutions which only analyze payloads, Darktrace analyzes a whole range of signals to catch lateral movement before a payload is delivered. Contributing yet another layer to the AI behavioral profile for each user, security teams can now use signals from lateral mail to spot the early symptoms of account takeover and take autonomous actions to prevent further compromise.

DMARC

Gain in-depth visibility and control of 3rd parties using your domain with an industry-first AI-assisted DMARC

Darktrace has created the easiest path to brand protection and compliance with the new Darktrace/DMARC. This new capability continuously stops spoofing and phishing from the enterprise domain, while automatically enhancing email security and reducing the attack surface.

Darktrace/DMARC helps to upskill businesses by providing step by step guidance and automated record suggestions provide a clear, efficient road to enforcement. It allows organizations to quickly achieve compliance with requirements from Google, Yahoo, and others, to ensure that their emails are reaching mailboxes.  

Meanwhile, Darktrace/DMARC helps to reduce the overall attack surface by providing visibility over shadow-IT and third-party vendors sending on behalf of an organization’s brand, while informing recipients when emails from their domains are sent from un-authenticated DMARC source.

Darktrace/DMARC integrates with the wider Darktrace product platform, sharing insights to help further secure your business across Email Attack Path and Attack Surface management.

Conclusion

To learn more about the new innovations to Darktrace/Email download the solution brief here.

All of the new updates to Darktrace/Email sit within the new Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform, creating a feedback loop between email security and the rest of the digital estate for better protection. Click to read more about the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform or to hear about the latest innovations to Darktrace/OT, the most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for critical infrastructures.  

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.

References

[1] Internal Darktrace Research

[2] Internal Darktrace Research

[3] Essential Microsoft Office Statistics in 2024

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About the author
Carlos Gray
Product Manager
Our ai. Your data.

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