Malware, Network Security, Vulnerability Management

We’re not suggesting you should hack cyberattackers back. But if we were…

The command-and-control infrastructures that cybercriminals rely on to compromise their victims can be just as vulnerable to exploits as the machines they infected in the first place, making them susceptible to possible retribution attacks, resulting in remote execution or remote information disclosure.

So says Symantec senior threat researcher Waylon Grange, who recently developed exploits for the malware toolsets XtremeRAT, Korplug/Plug-X, and Gh0st RAT, which he detailed at Black Hat 2017 on Thursday. And while the legality of launching offensive counterattacks against malicious adversaries is very iffy, Grange nevertheless speculated as to what kinds of sneaky actions counterattackers might want to perform after successfully compromising a C&C operation with one of these exploits.

According to Grange, potential post-exploitation actions might include running the command-line network utility tool "netstat" to learn the IP addresses of other victims, searching the files that were downloaded from various victims, establishing persistence, and installing a keylogger. "I'm not really sure which of these are good ideas. Maybe they're all bad ideas," said Grange. "It's a discussion that probably still needs to be had because it's a relatively –  at least publicly – undocumented area."

"But whatever you do, I definitely suggest you lie low and watch," Grange added, stressing prudence. "Not try to cause damage, not try to get revenge, but observe."

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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