PowerShell Security: Defending the Enterprise from the Latest Attacks

PowerShell is a boon to administrators, providing command consistency and the ability to quickly gather system data and set configuration settings. However, what can be used to help, can also be used for less altruistic activities. Attackers have quickly learned over the past few years that leveraging PowerShell provides simple bypass methods for most defenses and a platform for initial compromise, recon, exploitation, privilege escalation, data exfiltration, and persistence.

With the industry shift to an ""Assume Breach"" mentality, it's important to understand the impact on the defensive paradigm. Simply put, don't block PowerShell, embrace it. Blocking PowerShell.exe does not stop PowerShell execution and can provide a false sense of security. The key is monitoring PowerShell usage to enable detection of recon and attack activity. As attack tools like the recently released PowerShell Empire become more prevalent, it's more important than ever to understand the full capabilities of PowerShell as an attack platform as well as how to effectively detect and mitigate standard PowerShell attack methods.

The presentation walks the audience through the evolution of PowerShell as an attack platform and shows why a new approach to PowerShell attack defense is required. Some Active Directory recon & attack techniques are shown as well as potential mitigation. This journey ends showing why PowerShell version 5 should be the new baseline version of PowerShell due to new defensive capability.

This talk is recommended for anyone tasked with defending an organization from attack as well as system administrators/engineers.

Sean Metcalf

Sean Metcalf is founder and principal security consultant of Trimarc, an information security consulting firm focused on improving enterprise security. He is one of about 100 people in the world who holds the Microsoft Certified Master Directory Services (MCM) certification, is a Microsoft MVP, and has presented on Active Directory attack and defense at BSides, Shakacon, Black Hat, DEF CON, and DerbyCon security conferences. 

Sean has provided Active Directory and security expertise to government, corporate, and educational entities since Active Directory was released. He currently provides security consulting services to customers and regularly posts interesting Active Directory security information on his blog, ADSecurity.org. Follow him on Twitter @PyroTek3