Potential Windows Error Manager Masquerading

Identifies suspicious instances of the Windows Error Reporting process (WerFault.exe or Wermgr.exe) with matching command-line and process executable values performing outgoing network connections. This may be indicative of a masquerading attempt to evade suspicious child process behavior detections.

Elastic rule (View on GitHub)

  1[metadata]
  2creation_date = "2020/08/24"
  3integration = ["endpoint", "windows"]
  4maturity = "production"
  5min_stack_comments = "New fields added: required_fields, related_integrations, setup"
  6min_stack_version = "8.3.0"
  7updated_date = "2024/03/08"
  8
  9[transform]
 10[[transform.osquery]]
 11label = "Osquery - Retrieve DNS Cache"
 12query = "SELECT * FROM dns_cache"
 13
 14[[transform.osquery]]
 15label = "Osquery - Retrieve All Services"
 16query = "SELECT description, display_name, name, path, pid, service_type, start_type, status, user_account FROM services"
 17
 18[[transform.osquery]]
 19label = "Osquery - Retrieve Services Running on User Accounts"
 20query = """
 21SELECT description, display_name, name, path, pid, service_type, start_type, status, user_account FROM services WHERE
 22NOT (user_account LIKE '%LocalSystem' OR user_account LIKE '%LocalService' OR user_account LIKE '%NetworkService' OR
 23user_account == null)
 24"""
 25
 26[[transform.osquery]]
 27label = "Osquery - Retrieve Service Unsigned Executables with Virustotal Link"
 28query = """
 29SELECT concat('https://www.virustotal.com/gui/file/', sha1) AS VtLink, name, description, start_type, status, pid,
 30services.path FROM services JOIN authenticode ON services.path = authenticode.path OR services.module_path =
 31authenticode.path JOIN hash ON services.path = hash.path WHERE authenticode.result != 'trusted'
 32"""
 33
 34
 35[rule]
 36author = ["Elastic"]
 37description = """
 38Identifies suspicious instances of the Windows Error Reporting process (WerFault.exe or Wermgr.exe) with matching
 39command-line and process executable values performing outgoing network connections. This may be indicative of a
 40masquerading attempt to evade suspicious child process behavior detections.
 41"""
 42false_positives = ["Legit Application Crash with rare Werfault commandline value"]
 43from = "now-9m"
 44index = ["winlogbeat-*", "logs-endpoint.events.*", "logs-windows.sysmon_operational-*"]
 45language = "eql"
 46license = "Elastic License v2"
 47name = "Potential Windows Error Manager Masquerading"
 48note = """## Triage and analysis
 49
 50### Investigating Potential Windows Error Manager Masquerading
 51
 52By examining the specific traits of Windows binaries -- such as process trees, command lines, network connections, registry modifications, and so on -- it's possible to establish a baseline of normal activity. Deviations from this baseline can indicate malicious activity, such as masquerading and deserve further investigation.
 53
 54This rule identifies a potential malicious process masquerading as `wermgr.exe` or `WerFault.exe`, by looking for a process creation with no arguments followed by a network connection.
 55
 56> **Note**:
 57> This investigation guide uses the [Osquery Markdown Plugin](https://www.elastic.co/guide/en/security/master/invest-guide-run-osquery.html) introduced in Elastic Stack version 8.5.0. Older Elastic Stack versions will display unrendered Markdown in this guide.
 58
 59#### Possible investigation steps
 60
 61- Investigate the process execution chain (parent process tree) for unknown processes. Examine their executable files for prevalence, whether they are located in expected locations, and if they are signed with valid digital signatures.
 62- Investigate other alerts associated with the user/host during the past 48 hours.
 63- Investigate any abnormal behavior by the subject process such as network connections, registry or file modifications, and any spawned child processes.
 64- Examine the host for derived artifacts that indicate suspicious activities:
 65  - Analyze the process executable using a private sandboxed analysis system.
 66  - Observe and collect information about the following activities in both the sandbox and the alert subject host:
 67    - Attempts to contact external domains and addresses.
 68      - Use the Elastic Defend network events to determine domains and addresses contacted by the subject process by filtering by the process' `process.entity_id`.
 69      - Examine the DNS cache for suspicious or anomalous entries.
 70        - $osquery_0
 71    - Use the Elastic Defend registry events to examine registry keys accessed, modified, or created by the related processes in the process tree.
 72    - Examine the host services for suspicious or anomalous entries.
 73      - $osquery_1
 74      - $osquery_2
 75      - $osquery_3
 76  - Retrieve the files' SHA-256 hash values using the PowerShell `Get-FileHash` cmdlet and search for the existence and reputation of the hashes in resources like VirusTotal, Hybrid-Analysis, CISCO Talos, Any.run, etc.
 77- Investigate potentially compromised accounts. Analysts can do this by searching for login events (for example, 4624) to the target host after the registry modification.
 78
 79
 80### False positive analysis
 81
 82- This activity is unlikely to happen legitimately. Benign true positives (B-TPs) can be added as exceptions if necessary.
 83
 84### Response and remediation
 85
 86- Initiate the incident response process based on the outcome of the triage.
 87- Isolate the involved host to prevent further post-compromise behavior.
 88- If the triage identified malware, search the environment for additional compromised hosts.
 89  - Implement temporary network rules, procedures, and segmentation to contain the malware.
 90  - Stop suspicious processes.
 91  - Immediately block the identified indicators of compromise (IoCs).
 92  - Inspect the affected systems for additional malware backdoors like reverse shells, reverse proxies, or droppers that attackers could use to reinfect the system.
 93- Remove and block malicious artifacts identified during triage.
 94- Run a full antimalware scan. This may reveal additional artifacts left in the system, persistence mechanisms, and malware components.
 95- Determine the initial vector abused by the attacker and take action to prevent reinfection through the same vector.
 96- Using the incident response data, update logging and audit policies to improve the mean time to detect (MTTD) and the mean time to respond (MTTR).
 97"""
 98references = [
 99    "https://twitter.com/SBousseaden/status/1235533224337641473",
100    "https://www.hexacorn.com/blog/2019/09/20/werfault-command-line-switches-v0-1/",
101    "https://app.any.run/tasks/26051d84-b68e-4afb-8a9a-76921a271b81/",
102]
103risk_score = 47
104rule_id = "6ea41894-66c3-4df7-ad6b-2c5074eb3df8"
105severity = "medium"
106tags = ["Domain: Endpoint", "OS: Windows", "Use Case: Threat Detection", "Tactic: Defense Evasion", "Resources: Investigation Guide", "Data Source: Elastic Defend", "Data Source: Sysmon"]
107type = "eql"
108
109query = '''
110sequence by host.id, process.entity_id with maxspan = 5s
111  [process where host.os.type == "windows" and event.type:"start" and process.name : ("wermgr.exe", "WerFault.exe") and process.args_count == 1]
112  [network where host.os.type == "windows" and process.name : ("wermgr.exe", "WerFault.exe") and network.protocol != "dns" and
113    network.direction : ("outgoing", "egress") and destination.ip !="::1" and destination.ip !="127.0.0.1"
114  ]
115'''
116
117
118[[rule.threat]]
119framework = "MITRE ATT&CK"
120[[rule.threat.technique]]
121id = "T1036"
122name = "Masquerading"
123reference = "https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/T1036/"
124
125[[rule.threat.technique.subtechnique]]
126id = "T1036.005"
127name = "Match Legitimate Name or Location"
128reference = "https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/T1036/005/"
129
130
131[rule.threat.tactic]
132id = "TA0005"
133name = "Defense Evasion"
134reference = "https://attack.mitre.org/tactics/TA0005/"

Triage and analysis

Investigating Potential Windows Error Manager Masquerading

By examining the specific traits of Windows binaries -- such as process trees, command lines, network connections, registry modifications, and so on -- it's possible to establish a baseline of normal activity. Deviations from this baseline can indicate malicious activity, such as masquerading and deserve further investigation.

This rule identifies a potential malicious process masquerading as wermgr.exe or WerFault.exe, by looking for a process creation with no arguments followed by a network connection.

Note: This investigation guide uses the Osquery Markdown Plugin introduced in Elastic Stack version 8.5.0. Older Elastic Stack versions will display unrendered Markdown in this guide.

Possible investigation steps

  • Investigate the process execution chain (parent process tree) for unknown processes. Examine their executable files for prevalence, whether they are located in expected locations, and if they are signed with valid digital signatures.
  • Investigate other alerts associated with the user/host during the past 48 hours.
  • Investigate any abnormal behavior by the subject process such as network connections, registry or file modifications, and any spawned child processes.
  • Examine the host for derived artifacts that indicate suspicious activities:
    • Analyze the process executable using a private sandboxed analysis system.
    • Observe and collect information about the following activities in both the sandbox and the alert subject host:
      • Attempts to contact external domains and addresses.
        • Use the Elastic Defend network events to determine domains and addresses contacted by the subject process by filtering by the process' process.entity_id.
        • Examine the DNS cache for suspicious or anomalous entries.
          • $osquery_0
      • Use the Elastic Defend registry events to examine registry keys accessed, modified, or created by the related processes in the process tree.
      • Examine the host services for suspicious or anomalous entries.
        • $osquery_1
        • $osquery_2
        • $osquery_3
    • Retrieve the files' SHA-256 hash values using the PowerShell Get-FileHash cmdlet and search for the existence and reputation of the hashes in resources like VirusTotal, Hybrid-Analysis, CISCO Talos, Any.run, etc.
  • Investigate potentially compromised accounts. Analysts can do this by searching for login events (for example, 4624) to the target host after the registry modification.

False positive analysis

  • This activity is unlikely to happen legitimately. Benign true positives (B-TPs) can be added as exceptions if necessary.

Response and remediation

  • Initiate the incident response process based on the outcome of the triage.
  • Isolate the involved host to prevent further post-compromise behavior.
  • If the triage identified malware, search the environment for additional compromised hosts.
    • Implement temporary network rules, procedures, and segmentation to contain the malware.
    • Stop suspicious processes.
    • Immediately block the identified indicators of compromise (IoCs).
    • Inspect the affected systems for additional malware backdoors like reverse shells, reverse proxies, or droppers that attackers could use to reinfect the system.
  • Remove and block malicious artifacts identified during triage.
  • Run a full antimalware scan. This may reveal additional artifacts left in the system, persistence mechanisms, and malware components.
  • Determine the initial vector abused by the attacker and take action to prevent reinfection through the same vector.
  • Using the incident response data, update logging and audit policies to improve the mean time to detect (MTTD) and the mean time to respond (MTTR).

References

Related rules

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