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Description

CertUtil.exe may be used to encode and decode a file, including PE and script code. Encoding will convert a file to base64 with -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE----- and -----END CERTIFICATE----- tags. Malicious usage will include decoding a encoded file that was downloaded. Once decoded, it will be loaded by a parallel process. Note that there are two additional command switches that may be used - encodehex and decodehex. Similarly, the file will be encoded in HEX and later decoded for further execution. During triage, identify the source of the file being decoded. Review its contents or execution behavior for further analysis.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint- Datasource: Splunk Add-on for Sysmon
  • Last Updated: 2021-03-23
  • Author: Michael Haag, Splunk
  • ID: bfe94226-8c10-11eb-a4b3-acde48001122

Annotations

ATT&CK
ID Technique Tactic
T1140 Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information Defense Evasion
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
NIST
CIS20
CVE
1
2
3
4
5
6
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where `process_certutil` Processes.process=*decode* by Processes.dest Processes.user Processes.parent_process Processes.process_name Processes.process Processes.process_id Processes.parent_process_id 
| `drop_dm_object_name(Processes)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `certutil_with_decode_argument_filter`

Macros

The SPL above uses the following Macros:

Note that certutil_with_decode_argument_filter is a empty macro by default. It allows the user to filter out any results (false positives) without editing the SPL.

Required field

  • _time
  • Processes.dest
  • Processes.user
  • Processes.parent_process_name
  • Processes.parent_process
  • Processes.original_file_name
  • Processes.process_name
  • Processes.process
  • Processes.process_id
  • Processes.parent_process_path
  • Processes.process_path
  • Processes.parent_process_id

How To Implement

To successfully implement this search you need to be ingesting information on process that include the name of the process responsible for the changes from your endpoints into the Endpoint datamodel in the Processes node. In addition, confirm the latest CIM App 4.20 or higher is installed and the latest TA for the endpoint product.

Known False Positives

Typically seen used to encode files, but it is possible to see legitimate use of decode. Filter based on parent-child relationship, file paths, endpoint or user.

Associated Analytic story

RBA

Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
40.0 50 80 An instance of $parent_process_name$ spawning $process_name$ was identified on endpoint $dest$ by user $user$ attempting to decode a file.

Reference

Test Dataset

Replay any dataset to Splunk Enterprise by using our replay.py tool or the UI. Alternatively you can replay a dataset into a Splunk Attack Range

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