Obfuscated Powershell Invocations

Defense Evasion

This topic is huge, but in this lab, I wanted to see if I could do a simple hunt for encoded powershell command invocations.

Defining the Hunt

I want to find processes with base64 encoded commandlines that may indicate obfuscated powershell invocations.

Data source: sysmon logs that provide insight into process creation events, that contains commandlines the process was started.


I had a sample of 27000 events that had a commandline logged, which I exported to a .csv file:

Since malicious encoded commands are usually lengthy, contiguous sequence of printable ASCII characters (including characters such as =,/,+), I decided to loop through the commandlines and only pull those that matched a simple regex ([A-Za-z0-9]){64,}

Full powershell one liner below:

Import-Csv .\cmdline.csv | Where-Object {$_."event_data.CommandLine" -match '([A-Za-z0-9]){64,}' }  | ForEach-Object { Write-Output $_.'event_data.CommandLine'; Write-host }

Below are the results - note how out of 27000+ events, only a handful were returned, among which was one base64 encoded powershell commandline:

Since I am looking for malicious powershell invocations, I could adjust the query as follows to remove processes that do not contain powershell.exe mentioned in them:

Import-Csv .\cmdline.csv | Where-Object {$."event_data.CommandLine" -match '([A-Za-z0- 9]){64,}' -and $."eventdata.CommandLine" -match 'powershell.exe' } | ForEach-Object { Write-Output $.'event_data.Comm andLine'; Write-host }

Bingo - only one result returned:

This type of hunting is interesting, so I will be coming back to explore this area further.


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