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T1190 Exploit Public-Facing Application

Adversaries may attempt to exploit a weakness in an Internet-facing host or system to initially access a network. The weakness in the system can be a software bug, a temporary glitch, or a misconfiguration.

Exploited applications are often websites/web servers, but can also include databases (like SQL), standard services (like SMB or SSH), network device administration and management protocols (like SNMP and Smart Install), and any other system with Internet accessible open sockets.52976 Depending on the flaw being exploited this may also involve Exploitation for Defense Evasion.

If an application is hosted on cloud-based infrastructure and/or is containerized, then exploiting it may lead to compromise of the underlying instance or container. This can allow an adversary a path to access the cloud or container APIs, exploit container host access via Escape to Host, or take advantage of weak identity and access management policies.

Adversaries may also exploit edge network infrastructure and related appliances, specifically targeting devices that do not support robust host-based defenses.43

For websites and databases, the OWASP top 10 and CWE top 25 highlight the most common web-based vulnerabilities.81

Item Value
ID T1190
Tactics TA0001
Platforms Containers, IaaS, Linux, Network, Windows, macOS
Version 2.4
Created 18 April 2018
Last Modified 14 April 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0007 APT28 APT28 has used a variety of public exploits, including CVE 2020-0688 and CVE 2020-17144, to gain execution on vulnerable Microsoft Exchange; they have also conducted SQL injection attacks against external websites.4748
G0016 APT29 APT29 has exploited CVE-2019-19781 for Citrix, CVE-2019-11510 for Pulse Secure VPNs, CVE-2018-13379 for FortiGate VPNs, and CVE-2019-9670 in Zimbra software to gain access.3736
G0087 APT39 APT39 has used SQL injection for initial compromise.54
G0096 APT41 APT41 exploited CVE-2020-10189 against Zoho ManageEngine Desktop Central, and CVE-2019-19781 to compromise Citrix Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) and gateway devices.38
G0001 Axiom Axiom has been observed using SQL injection to gain access to systems.2625
G0135 BackdoorDiplomacy BackdoorDiplomacy has exploited CVE-2020-5902, an F5 BIP-IP vulnerability, to drop a Linux backdoor. BackdoorDiplomacy has also exploited mis-configured Plesk servers.28
G0098 BlackTech BlackTech has exploited a buffer overflow vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0, CVE-2017-7269, in order to establish a new HTTP or command and control (C2) server.29
G0108 Blue Mockingbird Blue Mockingbird has gained initial access by exploiting CVE-2019-18935, a vulnerability within Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX.35
C0017 C0017
During C0017, APT41 exploited CVE-2021-44207 in the USAHerds application and CVE-2021-44228 in Log4j, as well as other .NET deserialization, SQL injection, and directory traversal vulnerabilities to gain initial access.60
C0018 C0018 During C0018, the threat actors exploited VMWare Horizon Unified Access Gateways that were vulnerable to several Log4Shell vulnerabilities, including CVE-2021-44228, CVE-2021-45046, CVE-2021-45105, and CVE-2021-44832.56
G0035 Dragonfly Dragonfly has conducted SQL injection attacks, exploited vulnerabilities CVE-2019-19781 and CVE-2020-0688 for Citrix and MS Exchange, and CVE-2018-13379 for Fortinet VPNs.27
G1006 Earth Lusca Earth Lusca has compromised victims by directly exploiting vulnerabilities of public-facing servers, including those associated with Microsoft Exchange and Oracle GlassFish.16
G0117 Fox Kitten Fox Kitten has exploited known vulnerabilities in Fortinet, PulseSecure, and Palo Alto VPN appliances.3031323334
G0093 GALLIUM GALLIUM exploited a publicly-facing servers including Wildfly/JBoss servers to gain access to the network.5051
G0115 GOLD SOUTHFIELD GOLD SOUTHFIELD has exploited Oracle WebLogic vulnerabilities for initial compromise.53
G0125 HAFNIUM HAFNIUM has exploited CVE-2021-26855, CVE-2021-26857, CVE-2021-26858, and CVE-2021-27065 to compromise on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange Server, enabling access to email accounts and installation of additional malware.42403941
S0224 Havij Havij is used to automate SQL injection.10
G0004 Ke3chang Ke3chang has compromised networks by exploiting Internet-facing applications, including vulnerable Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint servers.15
G0094 Kimsuky Kimsuky has exploited various vulnerabilities for initial access, including Microsoft Exchange vulnerability CVE-2020-0688.52
G0059 Magic Hound Magic Hound has exploited the Log4j utility (CVE-2021-44228), on-premises MS Exchange servers via “ProxyShell” (CVE-2021-34473, CVE-2021-34523, CVE-2021-31207), and Fortios SSL VPNs (CVE-2018-13379).1720181921
G0045 menuPass menuPass has leveraged vulnerabilities in Pulse Secure VPNs to hijack sessions.23
G1009 Moses Staff Moses Staff has exploited known vulnerabilities in public-facing infrastructure such as Microsoft Exchange Servers.24
G0069 MuddyWater MuddyWater has exploited the Microsoft Exchange memory corruption vulnerability (CVE-2020-0688).49
C0002 Night Dragon During Night Dragon, threat actors used SQL injection exploits against extranet web servers to gain access.57
C0012 Operation CuckooBees During Operation CuckooBees, the threat actors exploited multiple vulnerabilities in externally facing servers.58
C0014 Operation Wocao During Operation Wocao, threat actors gained initial access by exploiting vulnerabilities in JBoss webservers.59
G0106 Rocke Rocke exploited Apache Struts, Oracle WebLogic (CVE-2017-10271), and Adobe ColdFusion (CVE-2017-3066) vulnerabilities to deliver malware.4344
S0623 Siloscape Siloscape is executed after the attacker gains initial access to a Windows container using a known vulnerability.12
C0024 SolarWinds Compromise During the SolarWinds Compromise, APT29 exploited CVE-2020-0688 against the Microsoft Exchange Control Panel to regain access to a network.5537
S0516 SoreFang SoreFang can gain access by exploiting a Sangfor SSL VPN vulnerability that allows for the placement and delivery of malicious update binaries.14
S0225 sqlmap sqlmap can be used to automate exploitation of SQL injection vulnerabilities.11
G0027 Threat Group-3390 Threat Group-3390 has exploited the Microsoft SharePoint vulnerability CVE-2019-0604 and CVE-2021-26855, CVE-2021-26857, CVE-2021-26858, and CVE-2021-27065 in Exchange Server.22
G0123 Volatile Cedar Volatile Cedar has targeted publicly facing web servers, with both automatic and manual vulnerability discovery.45 46
S0412 ZxShell ZxShell has been dropped through exploitation of CVE-2011-2462, CVE-2013-3163, and CVE-2014-0322.13


ID Mitigation Description
M1048 Application Isolation and Sandboxing Application isolation will limit what other processes and system features the exploited target can access.
M1050 Exploit Protection Web Application Firewalls may be used to limit exposure of applications to prevent exploit traffic from reaching the application.
M1030 Network Segmentation Segment externally facing servers and services from the rest of the network with a DMZ or on separate hosting infrastructure.
M1026 Privileged Account Management Use least privilege for service accounts will limit what permissions the exploited process gets on the rest of the system.
M1051 Update Software Update software regularly by employing patch management for externally exposed applications.
M1016 Vulnerability Scanning Regularly scan externally facing systems for vulnerabilities and establish procedures to rapidly patch systems when critical vulnerabilities are discovered through scanning and through public disclosure.8


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0015 Application Log Application Log Content
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Content


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