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Subvert Trust Controls: Gatekeeper Bypass

Description from ATT&CK

Adversaries may modify file attributes that signify programs are from untrusted sources to subvert Gatekeeper controls in macOS. When documents, applications, or programs are downloaded an extended attribute (xattr) called can be set on the file by the application performing the download. This attribute, also known as a quarantine flag, is read by Apple's Gatekeeper defense program when the file is run and provides a prompt to the user to allow or deny execution. Gatekeeper also monitors an application's usage of dynamic libraries (dylibs) loaded outside the application folder on any quarantined binary, often using the dlopen function. If the quarantine flag is set in macOS 10.15+, Gatekeeper also checks for a notarization ticket and sends a cryptographic hash to Apple's servers to check for validity for all unsigned executables.(Citation: TheEclecticLightCompany apple notarization )(Citation: Bypassing Gatekeeper)

The quarantine flag is an opt-in system and not imposed by macOS. If an application opts-in, a file downloaded from the Internet will be given a quarantine flag before being saved to disk. Any application or user with write permissions to the file can change or strip the quarantine flag. With elevated permission (sudo), this attribute can be removed from any file. The presence of the quarantine flag can be checked with the xattr command xattr -l /path/to/examplefile. Similarly, this attribute can be recursively removed from all files in a folder using xattr, sudo xattr -d /path/to/folder.(Citation: 20 macOS Common Tools and Techniques)(Citation: TheEclecticLightCompany Quarantine and the flag)(Citation: theevilbit gatekeeper bypass 2021)

Apps and files loaded onto the system from a USB flash drive, optical disk, external hard drive, from a drive shared over the local network, or using the curl command do not set this flag. Additionally, it is possible to avoid setting this flag using Drive-by Compromise, which may bypass Gatekeeper. (Citation: Methods of Mac Malware Persistence)(Citation: Clearing quarantine attribute)(Citation: OceanLotus for OS X)

Atomic Tests

Atomic Test #1 - Gatekeeper Bypass

Gatekeeper Bypass via command line

Supported Platforms: macos

auto_generated_guid: fb3d46c6-9480-4803-8d7d-ce676e1f1a9b


Name Description Type Default Value
app_path Path to app to be used Path

Attack Commands: Run with sh! Elevation Required (e.g. root or admin)

sudo xattr -d #{app_path}