Investigating PowerShell Attacks

Ryan Kazanciyan and Matt Hastings

Over the past two years, we’ve seen targeted attackers increasingly make use of PowerShell to conduct command-and-control in compromised Windows environments. If your organization is running Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2, you’ve got PowerShell 2.0 installed (and on Server 2012, remoting is enabled by default!). This has created a whole new playground of attack techniques for intruders that have already popped a few admin accounts (or an entire domain). Even if you’re not legitimately using PowerShell to administer your systems, you need to be aware of how attackers can enable and abuse its features.

This presentation will focus on common attack patterns performed through PowerShell – such as lateral movement, remote command execution, reconnaissance, file transfer, and establishing persistence – and the sources of evidence they leave behind. We’ll demonstrate how to collect and interpret these forensic artifacts, both on individual hosts and at scale across the enterprise. Throughout the presentation, we’ll include examples from real-world incidents and recommendations on how to limit exposure to these attacks.