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T1497.003 Time Based Evasion

Adversaries may employ various time-based methods to detect and avoid virtualization and analysis environments. This may include enumerating time-based properties, such as uptime or the system clock, as well as the use of timers or other triggers to avoid a virtual machine environment (VME) or sandbox, specifically those that are automated or only operate for a limited amount of time.

Adversaries may employ various time-based evasions, such as delaying malware functionality upon initial execution using programmatic sleep commands or native system scheduling functionality (ex: Scheduled Task/Job). Delays may also be based on waiting for specific victim conditions to be met (ex: system time, events, etc.) or employ scheduled Multi-Stage Channels to avoid analysis and scrutiny.1

Benign commands or other operations may also be used to delay malware execution. Loops or otherwise needless repetitions of commands, such as Pings, may be used to delay malware execution and potentially exceed time thresholds of automated analysis environments.23 Another variation, commonly referred to as API hammering, involves making various calls to Native API functions in order to delay execution (while also potentially overloading analysis environments with junk data).45

Adversaries may also use time as a metric to detect sandboxes and analysis environments, particularly those that attempt to manipulate time mechanisms to simulate longer elapses of time. For example, an adversary may be able to identify a sandbox accelerating time by sampling and calculating the expected value for an environment’s timestamp before and after execution of a sleep function.6

Item Value
ID T1497.003
Sub-techniques T1497.001, T1497.002, T1497.003
Tactics TA0005, TA0007
Platforms Linux, Windows, macOS
Version 1.2
Created 06 March 2020
Last Modified 15 October 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0584 AppleJeus AppleJeus has waited a specified time before downloading a second stage payload.19
S0642 BADFLICK BADFLICK has delayed communication to the actor-controlled IP address by 5 minutes.34
S0534 Bazar Bazar can use a timer to delay execution of core functionality.12
S0574 BendyBear BendyBear can check for analysis environments and signs of debugging using the Windows API kernel32!GetTickCountKernel32 call.17
S0268 Bisonal Bisonal has checked if the malware is running in a virtual environment with the anti-debug function GetTickCount() to compare the timing.2425
S0667 Chrommme Chrommme can set itself to sleep before requesting a new command from C2.9
S0660 Clambling Clambling can wait 30 minutes before initiating contact with C2.22
S0611 Clop Clop has used the sleep command to avoid sandbox detection.18
S0115 Crimson Crimson can determine when it has been installed on a host for at least 15 days before downloading the final payload.14
S0694 DRATzarus DRATzarus can use the GetTickCount and GetSystemTimeAsFileTime API calls to measure function timing.15 DRATzarus can also remotely shut down into sleep mode under specific conditions to evade
S0554 Egregor Egregor can perform a long sleep (greater than or equal to 3 minutes) to evade detection.29
S0396 EvilBunny EvilBunny has used time measurements from 3 different APIs before and after performing sleep operations to check and abort if the malware is running in a sandbox.13
S0512 FatDuke FatDuke can turn itself on or off at random intervals.10
S0493 GoldenSpy GoldenSpy‘s installer has delayed installation of GoldenSpy for two hours after it reaches a victim system.8
S0588 GoldMax GoldMax has set an execution trigger date and time, stored as an ASCII Unix/Epoch time value.35
S0632 GrimAgent GrimAgent can sleep for 195 - 205 seconds after payload execution and before deleting its task.31
S0561 GuLoader GuLoader has the ability to perform anti-debugging based on time checks, API calls, and CPUID.30
S0697 HermeticWiper HermeticWiper has the ability to receive a command parameter to sleep prior to carrying out destructive actions on a targeted host.26
S0513 LiteDuke LiteDuke can wait 30 seconds before executing additional code if security software is detected.10
S0447 Lokibot Lokibot has performed a time-based anti-debug check before downloading its third stage.38
S0439 Okrum Okrum‘s loader can detect presence of an emulator by using two calls to GetTickCount API, and checking whether the time has been accelerated.33
S0626 P8RAT P8RAT has the ability to “sleep” for a specified time to evade detection.21
S0453 Pony Pony has delayed execution using a built-in function to avoid detection and analysis.11
S0650 QakBot The QakBot dropper can delay dropping the payload to evade detection.3637
S0565 Raindrop After initial installation, Raindrop runs a computation to delay execution.16
S0627 SodaMaster SodaMaster has the ability to put itself to “sleep” for a specified time.21
S0559 SUNBURST SUNBURST remained dormant after initial access for a period of up to two weeks.23
S0595 ThiefQuest ThiefQuest invokes time call to check the system’s time, executes a sleep command, invokes a second time call, and then compares the time difference between the two time calls and the amount of time the system slept to identify the sandbox.20
S0671 Tomiris Tomiris has the ability to sleep for at least nine minutes to evade sandbox-based analysis systems.7
S0266 TrickBot TrickBot has used printf and file I/O loops to delay process execution as part of API hammering.5
S0386 Ursnif Ursnif has used a 30 minute delay after execution to evade sandbox monitoring tools.32
S0689 WhisperGate WhisperGate can pause for 20 seconds to bypass antivirus solutions.28
S0658 XCSSET Using the machine’s local time, XCSSET waits 43200 seconds (12 hours) from the initial creation timestamp of a specific file, .report. After the elapsed time, XCSSET executes additional modules.27


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0009 Process OS API Execution


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