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CAPEC-206: Signing Malicious Code

Attack Pattern ID: 206
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The adversary extracts credentials used for code signing from a production environment and then uses these credentials to sign malicious content with the developer's key. Many developers use signing keys to sign code or hashes of code. When users or applications verify the signatures are accurate they are led to believe that the code came from the owner of the signing key and that the code has not been modified since the signature was applied. If the adversary has extracted the signing credentials then they can use those credentials to sign their own code bundles. Users or tools that verify the signatures attached to the code will likely assume the code came from the legitimate developer and install or run the code, effectively allowing the adversary to execute arbitrary code on the victim's computer. This differs from CAPEC-673, because the adversary is performing the code signing.
+ Typical Severity

Very High

+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
ChildOfStandard Attack PatternStandard Attack Pattern - A standard level attack pattern in CAPEC is focused on a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. It is often seen as a singular piece of a fully executed attack. A standard attack pattern is meant to provide sufficient details to understand the specific technique and how it attempts to accomplish a desired goal. A standard level attack pattern is a specific type of a more abstract meta level attack pattern.444Development Alteration
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
  1. The adversary first attempts to obtain a digital certificate in order to sign their malware or tools. This certificate could be stolen, created by the adversary, or aquired normally through a certificate authority.
  2. Based on the type of certificate obtained, the adversary will create a goal for their attack. This is either a broad or targeted attack. If an adversary was able to steal a certificate from a targeted organization, they could target this organization by pretending to have legitimate code signed by them. In other cases, the adversary would simply sign their malware and pose as legitimate software such that any user might trust it. This is the more broad approach
  1. The adversary creates their malware and signs it with the obtained digital certificate. The adversary then checks if the code that they signed is valid either through downloading from the targeted source or testing locally.
  1. Once the malware has been signed, it is then deployed to the desired location. They wait for a trusting user to run their malware, thinking that it is legitimate software. This malware could do a variety of things based on the motivation of the adversary.
+ Prerequisites
The targeted developer must use a signing key to sign code bundles. (Note that not doing this is not a defense - it only means that the adversary does not need to steal the signing key before forging code bundles in the developer's name.)
+ Resources Required
None: No specialized resources are required to execute this type of attack.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Relevant to the ATT&CK taxonomy mapping
Entry IDEntry Name
1553.002Subvert Trust Controls:Code Signing
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-23CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2017-08-04CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Resources_Required
2018-07-31CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Description Summary, Related_Weaknesses
2019-04-04CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Taxonomy_Mappings
2020-07-30CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns, Taxonomy_Mappings
2020-12-17CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Execution_Flow
2021-06-24CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Description, Prerequisites, Related_Attack_Patterns
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2018-07-31Lifting signing key and signing malicious code from a production environment
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: December 17, 2020