The United States and international cybersecurity authorities are issuing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to highlight a recently discovered cluster of activity of interest associated with a People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-sponsored cyber actor, also known as Volt Typhoon. Private sector partners have identified that this activity affects networks across U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, and the authoring agencies believe the actor could apply the same techniques against these and other sectors worldwide.
This advisory from the United States National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the Communications Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), the New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-NZ), and the United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK) (hereafter referred to as the “authoring agencies”) provides an overview of hunting guidance and associated best practices to detect this activity.
One of the actor’s primary tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) is living off the land, which uses built-in network administration tools to perform their objectives. This TTP allows the actor to evade detection by blending in with normal Windows system and network activities, avoid endpoint detection and response (EDR) products that would alert on the introduction of third-party applications to the host, and limit the amount of activity that is captured in default logging configurations. Some of the built-in tools this actor uses are: wmic, ntdsutil, netsh, and PowerShell. The advisory provides examples of the actor’s commands along with detection signatures to aid network defenders in hunting for this activity. Many of the behavioral indicators included can also be legitimate system administration commands that appear in benign activity. Care should be taken not to assume that findings are malicious without further investigation or other indications of compromise.
View the detailed report below.