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Darktrace’s Detection of a Hive Ransomware-as-Service

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23
May 2023
23
May 2023
This blog investigates a new strain of ransomware, Hive, a ransomware-as-a-service. Darktrace was able to provide full visibility over the attacks.

Update: On January 26, 2023, the Hive ransomware group was dismantled and servers associated with the sale of the ransomware were taken offline following an investigation by the FBI, German law enforcement and the National Crime Agency (NCA). The activity detailed in this blog took place in 2022, whilst the group was still active.

RaaS in Cyber Security

The threat of ransomware continues to be a constant concern for security teams across the cyber threat landscape. With the growing popularity of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), it is becoming more and more accessible for even inexperienced would-be attackers. As a result of this low barrier to entry, the volume of ransomware attacks is expected to increase significantly.

What’s more, RaaS is a highly tailorable market in which buyers can choose from varied kits and features to use in their ransomware deployments meaning attacks will rarely behave the same. To effectively detect and safeguard against these differentiations, it is crucial to implement security measures that put the emphasis on detecting anomalies and focusing on deviations in expected behavior, rather than relying on depreciated indicators of compromise (IoC) lists or playbooks that focus on attack chains unable to keep pace with the increasing speed of ransomware evolution.

In early 2022, Darktrace DETECT/Network™ identified several instances of Hive ransomware on the networks of multiple customers. Using its anomaly-based detection, Darktrace was able to successfully detect the attacks and multiple stages of the kill chain, including command and control (C2) activity, lateral movement, data exfiltration, and ultimately data encryption and the writing of ransom notes.

Hive Ransomware 

Hive ransomware is a relatively new strain that was first observed in the wild in June 2021. It is known to target a variety of industries including healthcare, energy providers, and retailers, and has reportedly attacked over 1,500 organizations, collecting more than USD 100m in ransom payments [1].

Hive is distributed via a RaaS model where its developers update and maintain the code, in return for a percentage of the eventual ransom payment, while users (or affiliates) are given the tools to carry out attacks using a highly sophisticated and complex malware they would otherwise be unable to use. Hive uses typical tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) associated with ransomware, though they do vary depending on the Hive affiliate carrying out the attack.

In most cases a double extortion attack is carried out, whereby data is first exfiltrated and then encrypted before a ransom demand is made. This gives attackers extra leverage as victims are at risk of having their sensitive data leaked to the public on websites such as the ‘HiveLeaks’ TOR website.

Attack Timeline

Owing to the highly customizable nature of RaaS, the tactics and methods employed by Hive actors are expected to differ on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless in the majority of Hive ransomware incidents identified on Darktrace customer environments, Darktrace DETECT observed the following general attack stages and features. This is possibly indicative of the attacks originating from the same threat actor(s) or from a widely sold batch with a particular configuration to a variety of actors.

Figure 1: A typical timeline of a Hive attack observed by Darktrace.

Initial Access 

Although Hive actors are known to gain initial access to networks through multiple different vectors, the two primary methods reported by security researchers are the exploitation of Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities, or the distribution of phishing emails with malicious attachments [2][3].

In the early stages of one Hive ransomware attack observed on the network of a Darktrace customer, for example, Darktrace detected a device connecting to the rare external location 23.81.246[.]84, with a PowerShell user agent via HTTP. During this connection, the device attempted to download an executable file named “file.exe”. It is possible that the file was initially accessed and delivered via a phishing email; however, as Darktrace/Email was not enabled at the time of the attack, this was outside of Darktrace’s purview. Fortunately, the connection failed the proxy authentication was thus blocked as seen in the packet capture (PCAP) in Figure 2. 

Shortly after this attempted download, the same device started to receive a high volume of incoming SSL connections from a rare external endpoint, namely 146.70.87[.]132. Darktrace logged that this endpoint was using an SSL certificate signed by Go Daddy CA, an easily obtainable and accessible SSL certificate, and that the increase in incoming SSL connections from this endpoint was unusual behavior for this device. 

It is likely that this highly anomalous activity detected by Darktrace indicates when the ransomware attack began, likely initial payload download.  

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Powershell to Rare External
  • Anomalous Server Activity / New Internet Facing System
Figure 2: PCAP of the HTTP connection to the rare endpoint 23.81.246[.]84 showing the failed proxy authentication.

C2 Beaconing 

Following the successful initial access, Hive actors begin to establish their C2 infrastructure on infected networks through numerous connections to C2 servers, and the download of additional stagers. 

On customer networks infected by Hive ransomware, Darktrace identified devices initiating a high volume of connections to multiple rare endpoints. This very likely represented C2 beaconing to the attacker’s infrastructure. In one particular example, further open-source intelligence (OSINT) investigation revealed that these endpoints were associated with Cobalt Strike.

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple Connections to New External TCP
  • Anomalous Server Activity / Anomalous External Activity from Critical Network Device
  • Compromise / High Volume of Connections with Beacon Score
  • Compromise / Sustained SSL or HTTP Increase
  • Compromise / Suspicious HTTP Beacons to Dotted Quad 
  • Compromise / SSL or HTTP Beacon
  • Device / Lateral Movement and C2 Activity

Internal Reconnaissance, Lateral Movement and Privilege Escalation

After C2 infrastructure has been established, Hive actors typically begin to uninstall antivirus products in an attempt to remain undetected on the network [3]. They also perform internal reconnaissance to look for vulnerabilities and open channels and attempt to move laterally throughout the network.

Amid the C2 connections, Darktrace was able to detect network scanning activity associated with the attack when a device on one customer network was observed initiating an unusually high volume of connections to other internal devices. A critical network device was also seen writing an executable file “mimikatz.exe” via SMB which appears to be the Mimikatz attack tool commonly used for credential harvesting. 

There were also several detections of lateral movement attempts via RDP and DCE-RPC where the attackers successfully authenticated using an “Administrator” credential. In one instance, a device was also observed performing ITaskScheduler activity. This service is used to remotely control tasks running on machines and is commonly observed as part of malicious lateral movement activity. Darktrace DETECT understood that the above activity represented a deviation from the devices’ normal pattern of behavior and the following models were breached:

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Anomalous DRSGetNCChanges Operation
  • Anomalous Connection / New or Uncommon Service Control
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual Admin RDP Session
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual SMB Version 1 Connectivity
  • Compliance / SMB Drive Write
  • Device / Anomalous ITaskScheduler Activity
  • Device / Attack and Recon Tools
  • Device / Attack and Recon Tools In SMB
  • Device / EXE Files Distributed to Multiple Devices
  • Device / Suspicious Network Scan Activity
  • Device / Increase in New RPC Services
  • User / New Admin Credentials on Server

Exfiltration de données

At this stage of the attack, Hive actors have been known to carry out data exfiltration activity on infected networks using a variety of different methods. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reported that “Hive actors exfiltrate data likely using a combination of Rclone and the cloud storage service Mega[.]nz” [4]. Darktrace DETECT identified an example of this when a device on one customer network was observed making HTTP connections to endpoints related to Mega, including “w.apa.mega.co[.]nz”, with the user agent “rclone/v1.57.0” with at least 3 GiB of data being transferred externally (Figure 3). The same device was also observed transferring at least 3.6 GiB of data via SSL to the rare external IP, 158.51.85[.]157.

Figure 3: A summary of a device’s external connections to multiple endpoints and the respective amounts of data exfiltrated to Mega storage endpoints.

In another case, a device was observed uploading over 16 GiB of data to a rare external endpoint 93.115.27[.]71 over SSH. The endpoint in question was seen in earlier beaconing activity suggesting that this was likely an exfiltration event. 

However, Hive ransomware, like any other RaaS kit, can differ greatly in its techniques and features, and it is important to note that data exfiltration may not always be present in a Hive ransomware attack. In one incident detected by Darktrace, there were no signs of any data leaving the customer environment, indicating data exfiltration was not part of the Hive actor’s objectives.

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Data Sent to Rare Domain
  • Anomalous Connection / Lots of New Connections
  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple HTTP POSTs to Rare Hostname
  • Anomalous Connection / Suspicious Self-Signed SSL
  • Anomalous Connection / Uncommon 1 GiB Outbound
  • Device / New User Agent and New IP
  • Unusual Activity / Unusual External Data to New Endpoints
  • Unusual Activity / Unusual External Data Transfer
  • Unusual Activity / Enhanced Unusual External Data Transfer

Ransomware Deployment

In the final stage of a typical Hive ransomware attack, the ransomware payload is deployed and begins to encrypt files on infected devices. On one customer network, Darktrace detected several devices connecting to domain controllers (DC) to read a file named “xxx.exe”. Several sources have linked this file name with the Hive ransomware payload [5].

In another example, Darktrace DETECT observed multiple devices downloading the executable files “nua64.exe” and “nua64.dll” from a rare external location, 194.156.90[.]25. OSINT investigation revealed that the files are associated with Hive ransomware.

Figure 4: Security vendor analysis of the malicious file hash [6] associated with Hive ransomware. 

Shortly after the download of this executable, multiple devices were observed performing an unusual amount of file encryption, appending randomly generated strings of characters to file extensions. 

Although it has been reported that earlier versions of Hive ransomware encrypted files with a “.hive” extension [7], Darktrace observed across multiple customers that encrypted files had extensions that were partially-randomized, but consistently 20 characters long, matching the regular expression “[a-zA-Z0-9\-\_]{8}[\-\_]{1}[A-Za-z0-9\-\_]{11}”.

Figure 5: Device Event Log showing SMB reads and writes of encrypted files with a randomly generated extension of 20 characters. 

Following the successful encryption of files, Hive proceeds to drop a ransom note, named “HOW_TO_DECRYPT.txt”, into each affected directory. Typically, the ransom note will contain a link to Hive’s “sales department” and, in the event that exfiltration took place, a link to the “HiveLeaks” site, where attackers threaten to publish exfiltrated data if their demands are not met (Figure 6).  In cases of Hive ransomware detected by Darktrace, multiple devices were observed attempting to contact “HiveLeaks” TOR domains, suggesting that endpoint users had followed links provided to them in ransom notes.

Figure 6: Sample of a Hive ransom note [4].

Examples of file extensions:

  • 36C-AT9-_wm82GvBoCPC
  • 36C-AT9--y6Z1G-RFHDT
  • 36C-AT9-_x2x7FctFJ_q
  • 36C-AT9-_zK16HRC3QiL
  • 8KAIgoDP-wkQ5gnYGhrd
  • kPemi_iF_11GRoa9vb29
  • kPemi_iF_0RERIS1m7x8
  • kPemi_iF_7u7e5zp6enp
  • kPemi_iF_y4u7pB3d3f3
  • U-9Xb0-k__T0U9NJPz-_
  • U-9Xb0-k_6SkA8Njo5pa
  • zm4RoSR1_5HMd_r4a5a9 

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / SMB Enumeration
  • Anomalous Connection / Sustained MIME Type Conversion
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual Admin SMB Session
  • Anomalous File / Internal / Additional Extension Appended to SMB File
  • Compliance / SMB Drive Write
  • Compromise / Ransomware / Suspicious SMB Activity
  • Compromise / Ransomware / Ransom or Offensive Words Written to SMB
  • Compromise / Ransomware / Possible Ransom Note Write
  • Compromise / High Priority Tor2Web
  • Compromise / Tor2Web
  • Device / EXE Files Distributed to Multiple Devices

Conclusion

As Hive ransomware attacks are carried out by different affiliates using varying deployment kits, the tactics employed tend to vary and new IoCs are regularly identified. Furthermore, in 2022 a new variant of Hive was written using the Rust programming language. This represented a major upgrade to Hive, improving its defense evasion techniques and making it even harder to detect [8]. 

Hive is just one of many RaaS offerings currently on the market, and this market is only expected to grow in usage and diversity of presentations.  As ransomware becomes more accessible and easier to deploy it is essential for organizations to adopt efficient security measures to identify ransomware at the earliest possible stage. 

Darktrace DETECT’s Self-Learning AI understands customer networks and learns the expected patterns of behavior across an organization’s digital estate. Using its anomaly-based detection Darktrace is able to identify emerging threats through the detection of unusual or unexpected behavior, without relying on rules and signatures, or known IoCs. 

Credit to: Emily Megan Lim, Cyber Analyst, Hyeongyung Yeom, Senior Cyber Analyst & Analyst Team Lead.

Appendices

MITRE AT&CK Mapping

Reconnaissance

T1595.001 – Scanning IP Blocks

T1595.002 – Vulnerability Scanning

Resource Development

T1583.006 – Web Services

Initial Access

T1078 – Valid Accounts

T1190 – Exploit Public-Facing Application

T1200 – Hardware Additions

Execution

T1053.005 – Scheduled Task

T1059.001 – PowerShell

Persistence/Privilege Escalation

T1053.005 – Scheduled Task

T1078 – Valid Accounts

Defense Evasion

T1078 – Valid Accounts

T1207 – Rogue Domain Controller

T1550.002 – Pass the Hash

Discovery

T1018 – Remote System Discovery

T1046 – Network Service Discovery

T1083 – File and Directory Discovery

T1135 – Network Share Discovery

Lateral Movement

T1021.001 – Remote Desktop Protocol

T1021.002 – SMB/Windows Admin Shares

T1021.003 – Distributed Component Object Model

T1080 – Taint Shared Content

T1210 – Exploitation of Remote Services

T1550.002 – Pass the Hash

T1570 – Lateral Tool Transfer

Collection

T1185 – Man in the Browser

Command and Control

T1001 – Data Obfuscation

T1071 – Application Layer Protocol

T1071.001 – Web Protocols

T1090.003 – Multi-hop proxy

T1095 – Non-Application Layer Protocol

T1102.003 – One-Way Communication

T1571 – Non-Standard Port

Exfiltration

T1041 – Exfiltration Over C2 Channel

T1567.002 – Exfiltration to Cloud Storage

Impact

T1486 – Data Encrypted for Impact

T1489 – Service Stop

List of IoCs 

23.81.246[.]84 - IP Address - Likely Malicious File Download Endpoint

146.70.87[.]132 - IP Address - Possible Ransomware Endpoint

5.199.162[.]220 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

23.227.178[.]65 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

46.166.161[.]68 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

46.166.161[.]93 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

93.115.25[.]139 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

185.150.1117[.]189 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

192.53.123[.]202 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

209.133.223[.]164 - IP Address - Likely C2 Endpoint

cltrixworkspace1[.]com - Domain - C2 Endpoint

vpnupdaters[.]com - Domain - C2 Endpoint

93.115.27[.]71 - IP Address - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

158.51.85[.]157 - IP Address - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

w.api.mega.co[.]nz - Domain - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

*.userstorage.mega.co[.]nz - Domain - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

741cc67d2e75b6048e96db9d9e2e78bb9a327e87 - SHA1 Hash - Hive Ransomware File

2f9da37641b204ef2645661df9f075005e2295a5 - SHA1 Hash - Likely Hive Ransomware File

hiveleakdbtnp76ulyhi52eag6c6tyc3xw7ez7iqy6wc34gd2nekazyd[.]onion - TOR Domain - Likely Hive Endpoint

References

[1] https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-department-justice-disrupts-hive-ransomware-variant

[2] https://www.varonis.com/blog/hive-ransomware-analysis

[3] https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/news/ransomware-spotlight/ransomware-spotlight-hive 

[4]https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa22-321a

[5] https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/research/22/c/nokoyawa-ransomware-possibly-related-to-hive-.html

[6] https://www.virustotal.com/gui/file/60f6a63e366e6729e97949622abd9de6d7988bba66f85a4ac8a52f99d3cb4764/detection

[7] https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/what-is-hive-ransomware/

[8] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/blog/2022/07/05/hive-ransomware-gets-upgrades-in-rust/ 

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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Emily Megan Lim
Cyber 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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