At Microsoft, we continuously collaborate with customers and the InfoSec community to learn more about the latest adversary tradecraft so that we can improve our detection strategies across all our security services. Even though those detections are already built into our products, and protecting customers today, we believe it is important for security researchers to go beyond alerts and detectings to understand the underlying attack behaviors and technical implementation of adversary techniques. This also empowers others in the InfoSec community to better respond to investigations of related strikes. To help the broader security community with these efforts, we are liberate SimuLand.

What is SimuLand?

SimuLand is an open-source initiative by Microsoft to help security researchers around the world deploy lab environments that reproduction well-known techniques used in real attempt scenarios, actively test and substantiate the effectiveness of pertained Microsoft 365 Defender, Azure Defender, and Azure Sentinel detectings, and extend threat research applying telemetry and forensic artifacts generated after each simulation exercise.

These lab environments will provide use instances from a variety of data sources including telemetry from Microsoft 365 Defender security products, Azure Defender, and other integrated data source connection through Azure Sentinel data connectors.

The purpose behind SimuLand

As we build out the SimuLand framework and start populating laboratory environments, we will be working under the following basic principles 😛 TAGEND

Understand the underlying behavior and functionality of adversary tradecraft. Recognize mitigations and attacker routes by documenting preconditions for each attacker activity. Expedite the specific characteristics and deployment of threat research lab environments. Bide up to date with the most recent techniques and tools used by real menace performers. Identify, record, and share relevant data sources to simulate and see adversary acts. Substantiate and tune detection capabilities.

Process integration

Our goal is to have SimuLand integrated with threat research methodologies where dynamic analysis is applied to end-to-end simulation scenarios. The image below shows where SimuLand would fit.

Map of threat research methodologies.

Figure 1: Map of menace research methodologies.

The arrangement

The structure of the project is very simple and broken down in a modular style so that we can re-use and test a few combinations of attacker activities with different lab environment designings. In addition, step-by-step lab guides are provided to aggregate all the required documentation to not only execute the end-to-end simulation exercise but likewise prepare and deploy the lab environment. This initiative roots from various open-source programmes such as Azure Sentinel2Go and Blacksmith from the Open Threat Research( OTR) community.

How to prepare

Almost every environment lent through this initiative requires at least a Microsoft 365 E5 license( paid or trial) and an Azure tenant. Other deployment requirements are specified in the lab guides.

The deployment process

Depending on the lab guide being worked on, the design of the network environments might change a little. While some laboratories will replicate a hybrid cross-domain environment( on-premises to cloud ), others will focus only on resources in the cloud. Additionally, Azure Resource Manager( ARM) templates are provided to expedite the deployment process and record the infrastructure as code. The image below represents the first environment released today.

Figure 2: Network environment.

Simulate and see

Every simulation plan provided through this project is research-based and broken down into attacker acts mapped to the MITRE ATT& CK framework. The objective of the simulate and see ingredient is to likewise summarize the main steps used by a threat actor to accomplish a specific object and allow security researchers to get familiarized with the attacker behavior at a high level. For example, the image below proves some of the ways one could export the token signing certificate from a federation server.

Figure 3: Example of exporting token signing certificate from federation server.

Coordinate security alerts

Finally, from a defensive view, simulation measures will be mapped to detecting queries and alerts from Microsoft 365 Defender security products, Azure Defender, and Azure Sentinel. You can use similar opinions like the one below from the Microsoft 365 security portal to organize security alerts. We believe this will help guide some of the extended threat research to be derived from the simulation exercise.

Figure 4: Microsoft 365 Defender security portal.

You are also welcome to use the Azure Sentinel investigation experience to aggregate alerts from Microsoft 365 champion and Azure Sentinel to provide additional context.

Figure 5: Azure Sentinel investigation view.

Future run

Besides creating more scenarios, we are also going to be working on several features to improve the project. The listing below reveals some of the ideas we currently have 😛 TAGEND

A data modeling to record the simulation steps in a more organized and standardized way. A CI/ CD pipe with Azure DevOps to deploy and maintain infrastructure. Automation of onslaught actions in the cloud via Azure Role. Capabilities to export and share telemetry generated with the InfoSec community. Microsoft Defender evaluation labs consolidation.

Community contributions

We look forward to contributions and feedback from the community. If you would like to contribute to specific areas of the project, open an issue in our GitHub repository and share your ideas. Take a look at the “Future Work” section for some ideas.

New end-to-end simulation scenarios

If you would like to share a new end-to-end attacker path, let us know by opening an issue in our GitHub repository, and we would be happy to collaborate and furnish some resources to make it happen. We would then share the output with the community through this project after the appropriate validation and detecting development process. Remember that simulation scenarios are not only based on well-known attack tracks, but likewise the imagination of the researcher.

Additional detecting queries

If you constructed detection rules that can be added to our simulate and detect part, feel free to open an issue and we will help you to contribute to the official Microsoft 365 Defender and Azure Sentinel detecting storehouses. We use queries directly from those two resources in our documents.

Learn more

To learn more about this open-source initiative, visit the SimuLand GitHub repository.

To learn more about Microsoft Security answers, visit our website. Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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