A New Advanced Scenario for Testing Defenses Against Lateral Movement A New Advanced Scenario for Testing Defenses Against Lateral Movement-mask

A New Advanced Scenario for Testing Defenses Against Lateral Movement

In this blog series, we examine security validation techniques for the preemptive protection of networks, applications, and data. The scenario templates for various threats are based on the most popular ones used among our customers. 

In the previous series’ posts, we delved into the dark corners of credential dumping executions leading to initial foothold abuse, data exfiltration executions culminating in data theft, and command and control tactics potentially leading to overtaking a system. 

The fourth advanced scenario template in this series is dedicated to a critical and often overlooked aspect of cyber attacks: Lateral Movement. 

Lateral Movement’s aim is to enable attackers to traverse a network, exploiting system vulnerabilities and compromised credentials to gain access to valuable data or assets. Essentially, successful lateral movement allows attackers to advance their objectives in a network, ranging from data theft to establishing persistence for future attacks. 

Most Popular Lateral Movement Techniques 

Here are some of the most frequently used lateral movement executions: 

  • Invoke-TheHash: WmiExec Pass the Hash Attack – Authentication Test: 

This technique involves using stolen hashed credentials to authenticate and execute commands on a remote system using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). 

Recommended Prevention: Monitoring for unusual WMI requests and restricting access to WMI where possible. 

  • Kerberoast with Rubeus: 

Rubeus, a C# toolset, is often used for Kerberoasting, a technique that exploits the Kerberos protocol’s service ticket encryption to retrieve plaintext credentials. 

Recommended Prevention: Regularly reviewing and updating service account passwords and monitoring for unusual Kerberos requests. 

  • Invoke-TheHash: WmiExec Pass the Hash Attack – Bruteforce (Credential Pairs): 

This technique involves automated attempts of different credential pairs (username and password combinations) to gain unauthorized access to systems via WMI. 

Recommended Prevention: Implementing account lockout policies and two-factor authentication. 

  • Psexec: Remote Credential Dump using Mimikatz: 

Mimikatz, a tool often used for credential dumping, can be used in combination with Psexec to execute commands on remote systems and gather the credentials for lateral movement. 

Recommended Prevention: Implementing Least Privilege Principle and monitoring for unusual network connections. 

  • SharpRDP: 

SharpRDP is a tool that allows attackers to execute commands on remote systems via a headless (non-GUI) Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) session. 

Recommended Prevention: Disabling RDP where not needed and enforcing strong RDP credentials. 

  • Mimikatz Pass the Hash: 

Another technique involves using Mimikatz to extract credential hashes from memory and reusing them to authenticate to remote systems. 

Recommended Prevention: Enforcing strong password policies and limiting local admin rights. 

  • Execute Remote Process using Outlook Remote COM Object: 

This technique involves exploiting Outlook’s Component Object Model (COM) objects to execute a process on a remote system. 

Recommended Prevention: Restricting and monitoring the use of COM objects. 

  • Lateral Movement using DCOM ServiceStart: 

Attackers can use Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) to execute arbitrary functions, such as ServiceStart, on remote systems, aiding in lateral movement. 

Recommended Prevention: Limiting DCOM permissions and monitoring for unusual DCOM activity. 

  • Using Psexec with Multiple Targets: 

PsExec is a tool that allows attackers to execute processes on other systems, and can be used to execute commands or scripts across multiple targets simultaneously. 

Recommended Prevention: Implementing strict access controls and monitoring for unusual PsExec usage. 

  • RDP to Server: 

RDP is a protocol that allows users to connect to remote systems. Attackers often use RDP to move laterally through a network, especially when RDP is enabled on a server. 

Recommended Prevention: Limiting RDP access and monitoring for unusual RDP activity. 

Preventing Lateral Movement Attacks 

The best defense against lateral movement attacks involves a multi-pronged approach, leveraging both proactive security measures and robust detection capabilities.  

Most recommended prevention techniques against lateral movement include strict access controls, robust password policies, limiting local admin rights, and monitoring for suspicious activity. Intrusion detection system (IDS), intrusion prevention system (IPS), and application control and execution prevention tools can also be used to block unauthorized apps or code from executing. 

However, these tools need to be correctly configured to match the environment in which they’re active. Manually configuring these systems can be resource-intensive and potentially error-prone, often leading to postponements due to lack of resources. 

Preemptively running the Cymulate Lateral Movement advanced scenario template with the ten executions listed above, either chained or atomically, is an easy-to-implement and effective proactive measure. Additionally, simulating these techniques can be used to test lateral movement-specific incident response plans and identify areas for improvement. 

Stay tuned for our next post in this series, where we’ll delve into another critical aspect of network security. 

Check the advanced scenario preview in our community. 

Start A Free Trial

Related Resources


Demo of Lateral Movement Vector

Watch this Lateral Movement demo to learn how adversaries can propagate within your network and what critical assets they can reach.

WATCH NOW arrow icon


Cymulate BreachCast: Resilience To Lateral Movement

This podcast shares how to prevent an initial breach via Cymulate Breach and Attack Simulation platform.

LISTEN NOW arrow icon
Cymulate illustration


How to Make Your Network Resistant to Lateral Movement

Learn about the techniques threat actors use to move laterally within a network and how to make the network resistant to these techniques.

WATCH NOW arrow icon