SEC504: Hacker Tools, Techniques, and Incident Handling

GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
  • In Person (6 days)
  • Online
38 CPEs
SEC504 (in Japanese) will prepare you to turn the tables on computer attackers. This course addresses the latest cutting-edge insidious attack vectors, the "oldie-but-goodie" attacks that are still so prevalent, and everything in between. You will learn the most modern, step-by-step processes for incident response; how attackers undermine systems so you can prepare, detect, and respond to them; and how to discover holes in your system before the bad guys do. Instead of merely teaching you a few hack attack tricks, this course will give you hands-on experience, equip you with a comprehensive incident handling plan, and help you understand the legal issues associated with responding to computer attacks, including employee monitoring, working with law enforcement, and handling evidence.
Course Authors:

What You Will Learn

The Internet is full of powerful hacking tools and bad guys using them extensively. If your organization has an Internet connection or one or two disgruntled employees (and whose doesn't!), your computer systems will get attacked. From the hundreds to thousands of daily probes against your Internet infrastructure to the malicious insider slowly creeping through your most vital information assets, attackers are targeting your systems with increasing viciousness and stealth. As defenders, it is essential we understand these hacking tools and techniques.

This course will enable you to turn the tables on computer attackers by helping you understand their tactics and strategies, providing you with hands-on experience in finding vulnerabilities and discovering intrusions, and equipping you with a comprehensive incident handling plan. It addresses the latest cutting-edge insidious attack vectors, the "oldie-but-goodie" attacks that are still prevalent, and everything in between. Instead of merely teaching a few hack attack tricks, this course provides a time-tested, step-by-step process to respond to computer incidents and a detailed description of how attackers undermine systems so you can prevent, detect, and respond to them. Finally, students will participate in a hands-on workshop that focuses on scanning, exploiting, and defending systems. Applying these skills in your own organization will enable you to discover the flaws in your system before the bad guys do!

The course is particularly well-suited to individuals who lead or are a part of an incident handling team. General security practitioners, system administrators, and security architects will benefit by understanding how to design, build, and operate their systems to thwart attacks.

You will learn

  • How to best prepare for an eventual breach
  • The step-by-step approach used by many computer attackers
  • Proactive and reactive defenses for each stage of a computer attack
  • How to identify active attacks and compromises
  • The latest computer attack vectors and how you can stop them
  • How to properly contain attacks
  • How to ensure that attackers do not return
  • How to recover from computer attacks and restore systems for business
  • How to understand and use hacking tools and techniques
  • Strategies and tools to detect each type of attack
  • Application-level vulnerabilities, attacks, and defenses
  • How to develop an incident handling process and prepare a team for battle
  • Legal issues in incident handling

If you are unfamiliar with Linux, please view this short Intro to Linux video to help get you started.

Syllabus (38 CPEs)

  • Overview

    Responding to an incident of any size is a complex task. Effective response requires careful consideration and input from several stakeholders, including business and information security concerns. With new vulnerabilities being discovered on a daily basis, there is always the potential for an intrusion. In addition to online intrusions, physical incidents such as fires, floods, and crime all require a solid incident handling approach to getting systems and services back online as quickly and securely as possible.

    The course starts by examining the key components of both incident response and digital investigations. Informed by several incidents, we consider the goals and outcomes that are important to both business operations and security. The dynamic approach put forth can be applied to the specific needs of an individual business and incident. We then shift to more practical matters, examining issues surrounding live systems and identifying abnormal activity. Continuing the practical focus, we look at investigative techniques for examining evidence from the network and memory. We also cover techniques to determine if an unknown program is malicious, and if so, what footprints are left behind.

    Exercises
    • Live Windows examination
    • Network investigation
    • Memory investigation
    • Malware investigation
    Topics

    Incident Response

    • Common incident response mistakes
    • Incident goals and milestones
    • Post-incident activities

    Digital Investigations

    • Asking and answering the right questions
    • Pivoting during an investigation
    • Taking notes and writing reports
    • Artifact and event-based timelines

    Live Examination

    • How to start, even with minimal information
    • Examining a live environment
    • Identifying abnormal activity

    Digital Evidence

    • Understanding what digital evidence is and how to collect it
    • The role and elements of a chain of custody
    • How to collect digital evidence

    Network Investigations

    • Analyzing packet captures using tcpdump
    • Web proxy logs

    Memory Investigations

    • How to investigate memory images using the Volatility framework

    Malware Investigations

    • Basic approaches for investigating malware
    • Best practices for working with malware
    • Monitoring the environment using snapshot and continuous recording tools
  • Overview

    Your networks reveal an enormous amount of information to potential attackers. In addition to looking for information leakage and open-source intelligence attackers conduct detailed scans of systems, scouring for openings to get through your defenses. To break into your network, they scope out targets of opportunity, such as weak DMZ systems and turnkey platforms, or vulnerable Wi-Fi and proprietary wireless systems. Attackers will also leverage detailed scanning and interrogation of complex Windows Active Directory domains, identifying and manipulating configuration policies to their significant advantage.

    This course section covers the details associated with the beginning phases of many cyber attacks. We will introduce important frameworks for understanding the tools, techniques, and practices of modern attackers through the MITRE ATT&CK Framework, using it as a starting point to investigate the pre-attack steps attackers employ. We will leverage local and cloud-based tools to conduct effective reconnaissance of a target organization, identifying the information disclosure that will reveal weaknesses for initial compromise. We'll then take a deep dive into scanning techniques, both from a network perspective and with a focus on the complexities of modern Windows Active Directory forests to map out an attack plan that will grant an attacker privileged access. We will also spotlight defensive techniques using free and open-source tools that provide you with a competitive advantage to detect attacks on your organization.

    Exercises
    • Using Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) for attack reconnaissance
    • Wi-Fi network scanning for rogue, malicious, and misconfigured access points
    • Server enumeration and analysis with Nmap
    • Vulnerability scanning and scan result prioritization techniques
    • Windows networking scanning and data harvesting techniques
    • Defense Spotlight: DeepBlueCLI
  • Overview

    Any attacker will tell you the same thing: Password compromise is better than exploit compromise. Not only is system access through a valid username and password more reliable than exploits, using authenticated credentials will also blend into normal system use, creating fewer logs and system anomalies that could lead to detection. Because these attacks are so prevalent, we dig into password-based attacks in significant detail, equipping you with the tools to test your systems with the same skill and technique as the sophisticated adversaries you must defend against.

    This course day starts with straightforward password guessing attacks, quickly investigating the techniques attackers employ to make this an effective process that bypasses defense systems such as account lockout. We will investigate the critical topics of creating effective password guessing lists from other network compromises, and how attackers leverage user password reuse against your organization. We'll dig into the algorithms behind password hashing, using several tools to recover plaintext passwords while optimizing the cracking process to complete in days, not years. We will also get a jump-start on understanding essential network attack topics through the use of easy backdoors, forward and reverse shells, and discrete data transfer within the organization, all through an unassuming system binary. We will also investigate defensive measures that you can immediately apply when you get back to work, including the use of the Domain Password Audit Tool (DPAT) and Elastic Stack (formerly ELK) tools for monitoring authentication logs in your organization.

    Exercises
    • Online password guessing attacks with Hydra
    • Defense Spotlight: Password guessing attack analysis with Elastic Stack
    • Effective password cracking using Hashcat and John the Ripper
    • Defense Spotlight: Domain Password Exposure Analysis with DPAT
    • Data exfiltration, scanning, and pivoting with Netcat
    Topics

    Password Attacks

    • How attackers bypass account lockout policies
    • Choosing a target protocol for password guessing attacks
    • Techniques for choosing password lists
    • How attackers reuse compromise password lists against your organization
    • Techniques for password cracking
    • Recommendations for password cracking in your organization

    Defense Spotlight: Log Analysis with Elastic Stack (formerly ELK)

    • Establishing a lightweight log analysis system with Elasticsearch, Logstack, Beats, and Kibana
    • Understanding Linux and UNIX authentication logging data
    • Configuring Filebeat for simple log ingestion
    • Using Kibana to identify password attack events
    • Customizing Kibana visualization for effective threat hunting

    Understanding Password Hashes

    • Hashing algorithms, processes, and problems
    • Understanding Windows hashing function through Windows Server 2019
    • Password hash function strength and quality metrics
    • Extracting Windows domain password hashes using built-in tools
    • Getting password hashes from Windows 10 systems
    • Decoding UNIX and Linux password hashes
    • Mitigating GPU-based cracking: PBKDF2, bcrypt, and scrypt

    Password Cracking Attacks

    • John the Ripper: single, wordlist, incremental, and external cracking modes
    • Cracking hashes with Hashcat: straight and combinator attacks
    • Effective hash computation using mask attacks
    • Breaking user password selection weaknesses with Hashcat rules
    • Three simple strategies for defeating password cracking

    Defense Spotlight: Domain Password Auditing

    • Enumerating Windows domain settings with simple PowerShell one-line scripts
    • Characterizing systemic behavior in user password selection
    • Identifying bad password offenders in your organization
    • Mitigating password sharing in Windows domains

    Netcat: The Attacker's Best Friend

    • Transferring files, creating backdoors, and shoveling shells
    • Netcat relays to obscure the source of an attack
    • Replay attacks with Netcat
  • Overview

    Public-facing and drive-by attacks represent significant risk areas for organizations, and they are a popular attack vector for adversaries targeting your organization. Public-facing targets such as web applications, VPN servers, email systems, and other supporting protocols are quickly identified by an adversary and assessed for vulnerabilities. In drive-by attacks, adversaries compromise and leverage the trust inherent to third-party websites to trick users into taking actions that render their systems vulnerable.

    This course section examines the hacker tools for compromising your exposed systems through exploit frameworks such as Metasploit. We also dig into the concepts and techniques behind drive-by and watering-hole attacks, and how attackers create the exploits and system-compromise tools through malicious installers, browser JavaScript, and malicious Microsoft Office documents. We'll examine the attacks specific to web applications in an organization, both from the perspective of the unauthenticated and the authenticated user, with practical exploit steps for the most popular web application vulnerabilities. In addition to examining the hacker tools, we'll also investigate several freely available and practical defense steps, including the use of the Windows SRUM database for historical system activity reporting, and the use of Elastic Stack (formerly ELK) tools for assessing web server logging data to identify signs of attack.

    Exercises
    • Metasploit Attack and Analysis
    • Software Update Browser Exploitation
    • System Resource Utilization Database Analysis
    • Command Injection Attack
    • Cross Site Scripting Attack
    • SQL Injection Attack
    • SQL Injection Log Analysis
    Topics

    Using Metasploit for System Compromise

    • Using the Metasploit framework for specific attack goals
    • Matching exploits with reconnaissance data
    • Deploying Metasploit Meterpreter Command & Control
    • Identifying Metasploit exploit artifacts on the system and network

    Drive-By and Watering Hole Attacks

    • Examining the browser attack surface
    • Identifying browser vulnerabilities with JavaScript
    • Code-executing Microsoft Office attacks
    • Backdooring legitimate code with attacker payloads

    Defense Spotlight: System Resource Usage Monitor (SRUM)

    • Assessing attacker activity with Windows 10 app history
    • Extracting useful data from the protected SRUM database
    • Converting raw SRUM data to useful post-exploit analysis

    Web Application Attacks

    • Account harvesting for user enumeration
    • Command injection attacks for web server remote command injection
    • SQL Injection: Manipulating back-end databases
    • Session Cloning: Grabbing other users' web sessions
    • Cross-Site Scripting: Manipulating victim browser sessions

    Defense Spotlight: Effective Web Server Log Analysis

    • Using Elastic Stack (ELK) tools for post-attack log analysis
    • Configuring Filebeat for web server log consumption
    • Using the Kibana Query Language (KQL) to identify custom web attacks
    • Hunting for common SQL Injection attack signatures
    • Decoding obfuscated attack signatures with CyberChef
  • Overview

    Rarely is it an attacker's goal to simply compromise a system. More often, the attacker's compromise is the initial step, followed by post-exploitation attacks to gain additional network access, or to retrieve sensitive data within the organization. Along the way, attackers will also have to deal with defense controls designed to thwart their efforts, including endpoint protection, server lock-down, and restricted privilege environments.

    This course section examines the attacker steps after the initial compromise is over. We will dig into the techniques attackers use to implant malware after bypassing endpoint detection and response platforms, how they pivot through the network using third-party and built-in tools, and how they leverage the initial foothold on your network for internal network scanning and asset discovery. We will look at how the compromise of a single host grants attackers privileged network insider access to open up a whole new field of attacks, and how they will use that access wisely, covering their tracks on hosts and on the network to evade detection systems. We will look at how attackers, with their initial access established, then access, collect, and exfiltrate data from compromised networks. We will finish the lecture component of the course with a look at where to go from here in your studies, examining resources and best practices to turn your new skills into permanent, long-term recall.

    Exercises
    • Advanced network pivoting with Metasploit
    • Insider network attack event analysis
    • Hijacking Windows: Responder attacks
    • Post-exploitation command history analysis
    • Hiding (and finding) valuable data on Windows servers
    • Selectively editing Windows event logs
    • Network threat hunting with RITA
    Topics

    Endpoint Security Bypass

    • Evading EDR analysis with executable manipulation: ghostwriting
    • Manipulating Windows Defender for attack signature disclosure
    • Using LOLBAS to evade application whitelisting
    • Adapting Metasploit payloads on protected platforms

    Pivoting and Lateral Movement

    • Pivoting from initial compromise to internal networks
    • Effective port forwarding with Meterpreter payloads
    • Leveraging compromised hosts for internal network scanning, exploitation
    • Windows netsh and attacker internal network access

    Privileged Insider Network Attacks

    • Leveraging initial access for network attacks
    • Deploying packet sniffers, MITM attack tools
    • Native packet capture on compromised Windows hosts
    • Abusing weak protocols: DNS, HTTP
    • Network service impersonation attacks with Flamingo
    • Abusing Windows name resolution for password disclosure

    Covering Tracks

    • Maintaining access by manipulating compromised hosts
    • Editing log files on Linux and Windows systems
    • Hiding data in Windows ADS
    • Network persistence through hidden Command & Control

    Defense Spotlight: Real Intelligence Threat Analytics (RITA)

    • Characterizing advanced Command & Control activity over the network
    • Capturing and processing network data with Zeek
    • Network threat hunting: beacons, long connections, strobes, and DNS analysis

    Post-Exploitation Data Collection

    • Harvesting passwords from compromised Linux hosts
    • Password dumping with Mimikatz and EDR bypass
    • Defeating Windows and macOS password managers
    • Windows keystroke logging attacks
    • Data exfiltration over blended network protocols

    Where To Go From Here

    • Techniques for solving the problem of needing time for study
    • Understanding the Forgetting Curve dilemma
    • Techniques for developing long-term retention from what you have learned
    • Building study strategies for certification, applying your knowledge
  • Overview

    Over the years, the security industry has become smarter and more effective in stopping attackers. Unfortunately, attackers themselves are also getting smarter and more sophisticated. One of the most effective ways to stop an adversary is to actually test the environment with the same tools and tactics that the attacker will use against you. Our Capture-the-Flag event is a full day of hands-on activity that involves you working as a consultant for a fictitious company that has recently been compromised. You will apply all of the skills you've learned in class, using the same techniques attackers use to compromise modern, sophisticated network environments. Working together as teams, small groups will scan, exploit, and complete post-exploitation tasks against a cyber range of target systems including Windows, Linux, Internet of Things, and cloud targets. This hands-on challenge is designed to help players practice their skills and reinforce concepts learned throughout the course while challenging each individual player in an environment that replicates modern networks. Powered by the NetWars engine, the event guides players to successfully compromise target systems, bypass endpoint protection platforms, pivot to internal network high-value hosts, and exfiltrate data that are of greatest value to the target organization. The winners will win the coveted SEC504 challenge coin.

    Topics

    Hands-on Analysis

    • Exploiting user password misuse
    • Completing scanning, reconnaissance analysis
    • Using OSINT resources to collect information about a target network
    • Matching reconnaissance data with public exploits
    • Privilege escalation on Linux and Windows systems
    • Exploiting common Windows Domain vulnerabilities
    • Pillaging data on compromised systems
    • Pivoting from initial compromise to internal network access
    • Identifying attacker artifacts following a network compromise

GIAC Certified Incident Handler

The GIAC Incident Handler (GCIH) certification validates a practitioner's ability to detect, respond, and resolve computer security incidents using a wide range of essential security skills. GCIH certification holders have the knowledge needed to manage security incidents by understanding common attack techniques, vectors and tools, as well as defend against and respond to such attacks when they occur.

  • Incident Handling and Computer Crime Investigation
  • Computer and Network Hacker Exploits
  • Hacker Tools (Nmap, Metasploit and Netcat)
More Certification Details

Laptop Requirements

Important! Bring your own system configured according to these instructions.

A properly configured system is required to fully participate in this course. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will not be able to fully participate in hands-on exercises in your course. Therefore, please arrive with a system meeting all of the specified requirements.

Back up your system before class. Better yet, use a system without any sensitive/critical data. SANS is not responsible for your system or data.

MANDATORY SEC504 SYSTEM HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS
  • CPU: 64-bit Intel i5/i7 (8th generation or newer), or AMD equivalent. A x64 bit, 2.0+ GHz or newer processor is mandatory for this class.
  • CRITICAL: Apple Silicon devices cannot perform the necessary virtualization and therefore cannot in any way be used for this course.
  • BIOS settings must be set to enable virtualization technology, such as "Intel-VTx" or "AMD-V" extensions. Be absolutely certain you can access your BIOS if it is password protected, in case changes are necessary.
  • 16GB of RAM or more is required.
  • 100GB of free storage space or more is required.
  • At least one available USB 3.0 Type-A port. A Type-C to Type-A adapter may be necessary for newer laptops. Some endpoint protection software prevents the use of USB devices, so test your system with a USB drive before class.
  • Wireless networking (802.11 standard) is required. There is no wired Internet access in the classroom.
MANDATORY SEC504 HOST CONFIGURATION AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
  • Your host operating system must be the latest version of Windows 10, Windows 11, or macOS 10.15.x or newer.
  • Fully update your host operating system prior to the class to ensure you have the right drivers and patches installed.
  • Linux hosts are not supported in the classroom due to their numerous variations. If you choose to use Linux as your host, you are solely responsible for configuring it to work with the course materials and/or VMs.
  • Local Administrator Access is required. (Yes, this is absolutely required. Don't let your IT team tell you otherwise.) If your company will not permit this access for the duration of the course, then you should make arrangements to bring a different laptop.
  • You should ensure that antivirus or endpoint protection software is disabled, fully removed, or that you have the administrative privileges to do so. Many of our courses require full administrative access to the operating system and these products can prevent you from accomplishing the labs.
  • Any filtering of egress traffic may prevent accomplishing the labs in your course. Firewalls should be disabled or you must have the administrative privileges to disable it.
  • Download and install VMware Workstation Pro 16.2.X+ or VMware Player 16.2.X+ (for Windows 10 hosts), VMware Workstation Pro 17.0.0+ or VMware Player 17.0.0+ (for Windows 11 hosts), or VMWare Fusion Pro 12.2+ or VMware Fusion Player 11.5+ (for macOS hosts) prior to class beginning. If you do not own a licensed copy of VMware Workstation Pro or VMware Fusion Pro, you can download a free 30-day trial copy from VMware. VMware will send you a time-limited serial number if you register for the trial at their website. Also note that VMware Workstation Player offers fewer features than VMware Workstation Pro. For those with Windows host systems, Workstation Pro is recommended for a more seamless student experience.
  • On Windows hosts, VMware products might not coexist with the Hyper-V hypervisor. For the best experience, ensure VMware can boot a virtual machine. This may require disabling Hyper-V. Instructions for disabling Hyper-V, Device Guard, and Credential Guard are contained in the setup documentation that accompanies your course materials.
  • Download and install 7-Zip (for Windows Hosts) or Keka (for macOS hosts). These tools are also included in your downloaded course materials.

Your course media is delivered via download. The media files for class can be large. Many are in the 40-50GB range, with some over 100GB. You need to allow plenty of time for the download to complete. Internet connections and speed vary greatly and are dependent on many different factors. Therefore, it is not possible to give an estimate of the length of time it will take to download your materials. Please start your course media downloads as soon as you get the link. You will need your course media immediately on the first day of class. Do not wait until the night before class to start downloading these files.

Your course materials include a "Setup Instructions" document that details important steps you must take before you travel to a live class event or start an online class. It may take 30 minutes or more to complete these instructions.

If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact support.

Author Statement

"When I was 18 I got caught hacking the school card catalog server. Instead of getting expelled, I became a school employee, spending the next 10 years working on improving security while getting better at using hacker tools, writing exploits, developing new techniques, and figuring out how to better respond to the onslaught of attacks. During that time, I came to understand the benefits of truly understanding attacker techniques to evaluate and improve on the defensive capabilities I managed.

In SEC504 we dig into the hacker tools, techniques, and exploits used by modern attackers from the perspective of an incident response analyst. We'll cover everything from reconnaissance to exploitation, and from scanning to data pillaging. The course lectures, hands-on lab exercises, and an immersive capstone event will arm you with the tools and techniques you need to make smart decisions about network security. Once you learn how hackers operate, you'll be better prepared to identify attacks and protect your network from sophisticated adversaries."

-Joshua Wright

"Our instructor Josh was incredible! Engaging, enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable (especially vim, WOW). His enthusiasm is contagious and really motivating to the material. Keep up the great work Josh!" - Jen F., US Federal Agency

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