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T1222.002 Linux and Mac File and Directory Permissions Modification

Adversaries may modify file or directory permissions/attributes to evade access control lists (ACLs) and access protected files.12 File and directory permissions are commonly managed by ACLs configured by the file or directory owner, or users with the appropriate permissions. File and directory ACL implementations vary by platform, but generally explicitly designate which users or groups can perform which actions (read, write, execute, etc.).

Most Linux and Linux-based platforms provide a standard set of permission groups (user, group, and other) and a standard set of permissions (read, write, and execute) that are applied to each group. While nuances of each platform’s permissions implementation may vary, most of the platforms provide two primary commands used to manipulate file and directory ACLs: chown (short for change owner), and chmod (short for change mode).

Adversarial may use these commands to make themselves the owner of files and directories or change the mode if current permissions allow it. They could subsequently lock others out of the file. Specific file and directory modifications may be a required step for many techniques, such as establishing Persistence via Unix Shell Configuration Modification or tainting/hijacking other instrumental binary/configuration files via Hijack Execution Flow.3

Item Value
ID T1222.002
Sub-techniques T1222.001, T1222.002
Tactics TA0005
Platforms Linux, macOS
Permissions required User, root
Version 1.1
Created 04 February 2020
Last Modified 13 September 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0050 APT32 APT32‘s macOS backdoor changes the permission of the file it wants to execute to 755.14
S1070 Black Basta The Black Basta binary can use chmod to gain full permissions to targeted files.10
S0482 Bundlore Bundlore changes the permissions of a payload using the command chmod -R 755.3
S0281 Dok Dok gives all users execute permissions for the application using the command chmod +x /Users/Shared/
S0599 Kinsing Kinsing has used chmod to modify permissions on key files for use.9
S0402 OSX/Shlayer OSX/Shlayer can use the chmod utility to set a file as executable, such as chmod 777 or chmod +x.367
S0352 OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D has changed permissions of a second-stage payload to an executable via chmod.5
S0598 P.A.S. Webshell P.A.S. Webshell has the ability to modify file permissions.11
S0587 Penquin Penquin can add the executable flag to a downloaded file.4
G0106 Rocke Rocke has changed file permissions of files so they could not be modified.15
G0139 TeamTNT TeamTNT has modified the permissions on binaries with chattr.1312
S0658 XCSSET XCSSET uses the chmod +x command to grant executable permissions to the malicious file.3


ID Mitigation Description
M1026 Privileged Account Management Ensure critical system files as well as those known to be abused by adversaries have restrictive permissions and are owned by an appropriately privileged account, especially if access is not required by users nor will inhibit system functionality.
M1022 Restrict File and Directory Permissions Applying more restrictive permissions to files and directories could prevent adversaries from modifying the access control lists.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Metadata
DS0009 Process Process Creation


  1. Hybrid Analysis. (2018, June 12). c9b65b764985dfd7a11d3faf599c56b8.exe. Retrieved August 19, 2018. 

  2. Hybrid Analysis. (2018, May 30). 2a8efbfadd798f6111340f7c1c956bee.dll. Retrieved August 19, 2018. 

  3. Phil Stokes. (2021, February 16). 20 Common Tools & Techniques Used by macOS Threat Actors & Malware. Retrieved August 23, 2021. 

  4. Leonardo. (2020, May 29). MALWARE TECHNICAL INSIGHT TURLA “Penquin_x64”. Retrieved March 11, 2021. 

  5. Phil Stokes. (2020, December 2). APT32 Multi-stage macOS Trojan Innovates on Crimeware Scripting Technique. Retrieved September 13, 2021. 

  6. Carbon Black Threat Analysis Unit. (2019, February 12). New macOS Malware Variant of Shlayer (OSX) Discovered. Retrieved August 8, 2019. 

  7. Jaron Bradley. (2021, April 26). Shlayer malware abusing Gatekeeper bypass on macOS. Retrieved September 22, 2021. 

  8. Ofer Caspi. (2017, May 4). OSX Malware is Catching Up, and it wants to Read Your HTTPS Traffic. Retrieved October 5, 2021. 

  9. Singer, G. (2020, April 3). Threat Alert: Kinsing Malware Attacks Targeting Container Environments. Retrieved April 1, 2021. 

  10. Sharma, S. and Hegde, N. (2022, June 7). Black basta Ransomware Goes Cross-Platform, Now Targets ESXi Systems. Retrieved March 8, 2023. 


  12. Darin Smith. (2022, April 21). TeamTNT targeting AWS, Alibaba. Retrieved August 4, 2022. 

  13. Fiser, D. Oliveira, A. (n.d.). Tracking the Activities of TeamTNT A Closer Look at a Cloud-Focused Malicious Actor Group. Retrieved September 22, 2021. 

  14. Dumont, R.. (2019, April 9). OceanLotus: macOS malware update. Retrieved April 15, 2019. 

  15. Anomali Labs. (2019, March 15). Rocke Evolves Its Arsenal With a New Malware Family Written in Golang. Retrieved April 24, 2019.