Lateral Movement

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Lateral movement consists of techniques that enable an adversary to access and control remote systems on a network and could, but does not necessarily, include execution of tools on remote systems. The lateral movement techniques could allow an adversary to gather information from a system without needing additional tools, such as a remote access tool.

An adversary can use lateral movement for many purposes, including remote Execution of tools, pivoting to additional systems, access to specific information or files, access to additional credentials, or to cause an effect. The ability to remotely execute scripts or code can be a feature of adversary remote access tools, but adversaries may also reduce their tool footprint on the network by using legitimate credentials alongside inherent network and operating system functionality to remotely connect to systems.

Movement across a network from one system to another may be necessary to achieve an adversary’s goals. Thus lateral movement, and the techniques that lateral movement relies on, are often very important to an adversary’s set of capabilities and part of a broader set of information and access dependencies that the adversary takes advantage of within a network.

To understand intrinsic security dependencies, it is important to know the relationships between accounts and access privileges across all systems on a network. Lateral movement may not always be a requirement for an adversary. If an adversary can reach the goal with access to the initial system, then additional movement throughout a network may be unnecessary.

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