Direct Outbound SMB Connection

Identifies unexpected processes making network connections over port 445. Windows File Sharing is typically implemented over Server Message Block (SMB), which communicates between hosts using port 445. When legitimate, these network connections are established by the kernel. Processes making 445/tcp connections may be port scanners, exploits, or suspicious user-level processes moving laterally.

Elastic rule (View on GitHub)

  1[metadata]
  2creation_date = "2020/02/18"
  3integration = ["endpoint"]
  4maturity = "production"
  5min_stack_comments = "New fields added: required_fields, related_integrations, setup"
  6min_stack_version = "8.3.0"
  7updated_date = "2024/04/08"
  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 unexpected processes making network connections over port 445. Windows File Sharing is typically implemented
 39over Server Message Block (SMB), which communicates between hosts using port 445. When legitimate, these network
 40connections are established by the kernel. Processes making 445/tcp connections may be port scanners, exploits, or
 41suspicious user-level processes moving laterally.
 42"""
 43from = "now-9m"
 44index = ["logs-endpoint.events.process-*", "logs-endpoint.events.network-*"]
 45language = "eql"
 46license = "Elastic License v2"
 47name = "Direct Outbound SMB Connection"
 48note = """## Triage and analysis
 49
 50### Investigating Direct Outbound SMB Connection
 51
 52This rule looks for unexpected processes making network connections over port 445. Windows file sharing is typically implemented over Server Message Block (SMB), which communicates between hosts using port 445. When legitimate, these network connections are established by the kernel (PID 4). Occurrences of non-system processes using this port can indicate port scanners, exploits, and tools used to move laterally on the environment.
 53
 54> **Note**:
 55> 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.
 56
 57#### Possible investigation steps
 58
 59- 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.
 60- Investigate other alerts associated with the user/host during the past 48 hours.
 61- Contact the account owner and confirm whether they are aware of this activity.
 62- Investigate any abnormal behavior by the subject process such as network connections, registry or file modifications, and any spawned child processes.
 63- Examine the host for derived artifacts that indicate suspicious activities:
 64  - Analyze the process executable using a private sandboxed analysis system.
 65  - Observe and collect information about the following activities in both the sandbox and the alert subject host:
 66    - Attempts to contact external domains and addresses.
 67      - Use the Elastic Defend network events to determine domains and addresses contacted by the subject process by filtering by the process' `process.entity_id`.
 68      - Examine the DNS cache for suspicious or anomalous entries.
 69        - $osquery_0
 70    - Use the Elastic Defend registry events to examine registry keys accessed, modified, or created by the related processes in the process tree.
 71    - Examine the host services for suspicious or anomalous entries.
 72      - $osquery_1
 73      - $osquery_2
 74      - $osquery_3
 75  - 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.
 76- Investigate potentially compromised accounts. Analysts can do this by searching for login events (for example, 4624) to the target host after the registry modification.
 77
 78
 79### False positive analysis
 80
 81- If this rule is noisy in your environment due to expected activity, consider adding exceptions — preferably with a combination of user and command line conditions.
 82
 83### Response and remediation
 84
 85- Initiate the incident response process based on the outcome of the triage.
 86- Isolate the involved host to prevent further post-compromise behavior.
 87- If the triage identified malware, search the environment for additional compromised hosts.
 88  - Implement temporary network rules, procedures, and segmentation to contain the malware.
 89  - Stop suspicious processes.
 90  - Immediately block the identified indicators of compromise (IoCs).
 91  - Inspect the affected systems for additional malware backdoors like reverse shells, reverse proxies, or droppers that attackers could use to reinfect the system.
 92- Remove and block malicious artifacts identified during triage.
 93- Run a full antimalware scan. This may reveal additional artifacts left in the system, persistence mechanisms, and malware components.
 94- Determine the initial vector abused by the attacker and take action to prevent reinfection through the same vector.
 95- 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).
 96"""
 97risk_score = 47
 98rule_id = "c82c7d8f-fb9e-4874-a4bd-fd9e3f9becf1"
 99severity = "medium"
100tags = ["Domain: Endpoint", "OS: Windows", "Use Case: Threat Detection", "Tactic: Lateral Movement", "Resources: Investigation Guide", "Data Source: Elastic Defend"]
101type = "eql"
102
103query = '''
104sequence by process.entity_id with maxspan=2m
105  [process where host.os.type == "windows" and event.type == "start" and process.pid != 4 and 
106   not user.id : ("S-1-5-19", "S-1-5-20") and 
107   not (process.code_signature.trusted == true and not process.code_signature.subject_name : "Microsoft *") and 
108   not (process.name : "powershell.exe" and process.args : "?:\\ProgramData\\Microsoft\\Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection\\Downloads\\PSScript_*.ps1")]
109  [network where host.os.type == "windows" and destination.port == 445 and process.pid != 4 and
110     not cidrmatch(destination.ip, "127.0.0.1", "::1")]
111until [process where host.os.type == "windows" and event.type == "end"]
112'''
113
114
115[[rule.threat]]
116framework = "MITRE ATT&CK"
117[[rule.threat.technique]]
118id = "T1021"
119name = "Remote Services"
120reference = "https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/T1021/"
121[[rule.threat.technique.subtechnique]]
122id = "T1021.002"
123name = "SMB/Windows Admin Shares"
124reference = "https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/T1021/002/"
125
126
127
128[rule.threat.tactic]
129id = "TA0008"
130name = "Lateral Movement"
131reference = "https://attack.mitre.org/tactics/TA0008/"

Triage and analysis

Investigating Direct Outbound SMB Connection

This rule looks for unexpected processes making network connections over port 445. Windows file sharing is typically implemented over Server Message Block (SMB), which communicates between hosts using port 445. When legitimate, these network connections are established by the kernel (PID 4). Occurrences of non-system processes using this port can indicate port scanners, exploits, and tools used to move laterally on the environment.

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.
  • Contact the account owner and confirm whether they are aware of this activity.
  • 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

  • If this rule is noisy in your environment due to expected activity, consider adding exceptions — preferably with a combination of user and command line conditions.

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).

Related rules

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