Posts Tagged ‘incident response’

Adventures in Powershell for IR

July 18, 2013 1 comment

So, I wanted to access locked registry hives. Simple enough using F-Response, but it devolves into various solutions that are not well supported after that. I came across one solution that was of particular interest from a response side but also from an attack side:

Using PowerShell to Copy NTDS.dit / Registry Hives, Bypass SACL’s / DACL’s / File Locks

In short, it opens a read handle to the C volume, parses the NTFS structures, and reads the files directly thus bypassing all access controls and locks. You do need to be local admin to run it.

This is great for getting locked registry hives, or for remotely copying NTDS.dit without deploying hacker tools on the remote system. Bear in mind that the remote system needs to be running the WS-Management service. This is not running by default on our Windows 7 desktops, but the author mentioned that it is running by default on Windows Server 2012.

There are a number of niggling issues with getting PowerShell scripts to run. This article covers almost all of them nicely: Execution Policy

However, it didn’t cover one issue – what happens when you try to do:

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

and get a registry access error?

This post explains how to edit the registry directly.

Once you’ve worked your way through those issues, you can grab local and remote files to your heart’s content.


It isn’t APT, it is SASPDT – Sometimes Advanced, Sometimes Persistent, Definitely a Threat.

November 19, 2012 1 comment

I’m human (thankfully) and I get irked by simple things at times. Today it due to conversations such as this one:

Them: “That malware wasn’t very advanced, it is just a version of <insert commodity malware here>”
Me: “Interesting. What’d they do with it?”
Them: “Moved laterally to our domain controller, dumped all the hashes, and shipping them out via FTP.”
Me: <silent>

OK, so it isn’t APT, it is SASPDT – Sometimes Advanced, Sometimes Persistent, Definitely a Threat.

“Advanced” isn’t required if they (insert your favorite description of the threat actor) can get into your environment using commodity malware, move laterally and collect sensitive data due to poor security controls, and exfiltrate the data via FTP because you don’t have any DLP in place. Similarly, “Persistent” isn’t required if they can phish their way in at will.

As long as the less sophisticated attacks will work, there is no need for malicious actors to deploy more advanced tools. Why was Stuxnet used on Iran and why aren’t you seeing Stuxnet in your environment? Because the attackers needed something sophisticated to get into the Iranian nuclear program environment but don’t need the same level of sophistication to get into your environment.

I normally don’t get too hung up on the term “APT”. For me, it is a convenient shorthand for “groups of often well funded malicious threat actors who may or may not be state sponsored but who are definitely capable of breaking into most environments and taking sensitive data.” Dismissing an attack because it wasn’t advanced, or because it didn’t come from China, seems unwise to me. If they pose a significant risk to your business, then they’re DT – definitely a threat.