NETRESEC Network Security Blog - Tag : Windows Sandbox

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Emotet C2 and Spam Traffic Video

This video covers a life cycle of an Emotet infection, including initial infection, command-and-control traffic, and spambot activity sending emails with malicious spreadsheet attachments to infect new victims.

The video was recorded in a Windows Sandbox in order to avoid accidentally infecting my Windows PC with malware.

Initial Infection

Palo Alto's Unit 42 sent out a tweet with screenshots and IOCs from an Emotet infection in early March. A follow-up tweet by Brad Duncan linked to a PCAP file containing network traffic from the infection on

Screenshot of original infection email from Unit 42

Image: Screenshot of original infection email from Unit 42

  • Attachment MD5: 825e8ea8a9936eb9459344b941df741a

Emotet Download

The PCAP from shows that the Excel spreadsheet attachment caused the download of a DLL file classified as Emotet.

CapLoader download of Emotet DLL from

Image: CapLoader transcript of Emotet download

  • DNS:
  • MD5: 99f59e6f3fa993ba594a3d7077cc884d

Emotet Command-and-Control

Just seconds after the Emotet DLL download completes the victim machine starts communicating with an IP address classified as a botnet command-and-control server.

Emotet C2 sessions with JA3 51c64c77e60f3980eea90869b68c58a8 in CapLoader

Image: Emotet C2 sessions in CapLoader

  • C2 IP:
  • C2 IP:
  • C2 IP:
  • JA3: 51c64c77e60f3980eea90869b68c58a8
  • JA3S: ec74a5c51106f0419184d0dd08fb05bc
  • JA3S: fd4bc6cea4877646ccd62f0792ec0b62

Emotet Spambot

The victim PC eventually started sending out spam emails. The spam bot used TLS encryption when possible, either through SMTPS (implicit TLS) or with help of STARTTLS (explicit TLS).

Emotet spambot JA3 hash 37cdab6ff1bd1c195bacb776c5213bf2 in NetworkMiner Professional

Image: Emotet spambot JA3 hash in NetworkMiner Professional

  • SMTPS JA3: 37cdab6ff1bd1c195bacb776c5213bf2
  • STARTTLS JA3: 37cdab6ff1bd1c195bacb776c5213bf2

Transmitted Spam

Below is a spam email sent from the victim PC without TLS encryption. The attached zip file contains a malicious Excel spreadsheet, which is designed to infect new victims with Emotet.

Emotet spam email from PCAP

Image: Spam email extracted from Emotet PCAP with NetworkMiner

  • .zip Attachment MD5: 5df1c719f5458035f6be2a071ea831db
  • .xlsm Attachment MD5: 79cb3df6c0b7ed6431db76f990c68b5b

Network Forensics Training

If you want to learn additional techniques for analyzing network traffic, then take a look at our upcoming network forensic trainings.

Posted by Erik Hjelmvik on Monday, 09 May 2022 06:50:00 (UTC/GMT)

Tags: #Emotet#C2#video#pcap#JA3#JA3S#SMTP#SMTPS#Windows Sandbox

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PolarProxy in Windows Sandbox

In this video I demonstrate how PolarProxy can be run in a Windows Sandbox to intercept and decrypt outgoing TLS communication. This setup can be used to inspect otherwise encrypted traffic from malware or suspicious Windows applications, which communicate over HTTPS or some other TLS encrypted protocol.

The Windows Sandbox WSB file used in the demo can be downloaded from here:

Note: Windows Pro or Enterprise is required to run WSB files

Parsing Decrypted TLS Traffic with NetworkMiner

This sandbox also includes NetworkMiner, primarily because it can be used to read a real-time PCAP-over-IP stream with decrypted traffic from PolarProxy. As shown in the video, this feature can be used in order to extract files, images or parameters from the decrypted TLS traffic in near real-time.

Images extracted from decrypted HTTP/2 traffic shown in NetworkMiner

For more info about how to run NetworkMiner in Windows Sandbox, please see our blog post Running NetworkMiner in Windows Sandbox.

Configuring a Proxy Server in Windows Sandbox

Windows’ built-in proxy settings are unfortunately not available in Windows Sandbox, which is why I installed a third-party proxy client that redirects all outgoing network traffic to PolarProxy’s SOCKS server. I used Proxifier in the video, which has the additional benefit of being able to redirect all traffic to the proxy, even from applications that aren’t proxy aware. This feature is crucial when attempting to intercept and decrypt TLS traffic from malware that doesn’t respect the proxy settings configured in the operating system.

Command Log

Start PolarProxy with a PCAP-over-IP listener on TCP 57012, SOCKS server on TCP 1080, HTTP proxy on 8080 and a transparent TLS proxy on port 443:

PolarProxy --pcapoverip 57012 -x ..\proxyroot.cer --socks 1080 --httpconnect 8080 --allownontls -p 443,80

Test PolarProxy’s SOCKS server by sending an unencrypted HTTP request through the proxy:

curl --socks4 localhost

Test PolarProxy’s SOCKS server by sending an HTTPS request through the proxy:

curl --insecure --socks4 localhost

Test PolarProxy’s HTTP CONNECT proxy server by sending an HTTPS request through the proxy:

curl --insecure --proxy localhost:8080

Start Menu Search

As shown in the video, text typed into Windows’ start menu gets sent to Microsoft. For more information about this behavior, and how it can be disabled, check out our Start Menu Search video and blog post.

Posted by Erik Hjelmvik on Monday, 31 January 2022 09:50:00 (UTC/GMT)

Tags: #PolarProxy#NetworkMiner#SOCKS#proxy#Windows Sandbox#Sandbox#PCAP-over-IP#pcapoverip#Windows#TLS#HTTPS

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Detecting Cobalt Strike and Hancitor traffic in PCAP

This video shows how Cobalt Strike and Hancitor C2 traffic can be detected using CapLoader.

I bet you’re going:

😱 OMG he’s analyzing Windows malware on a Windows PC!!!

Relax, I know what I’m doing. I have also taken the precaution of analyzing the PCAP file in a Windows Sandbox, which just takes a couple of seconds to deploy and run.

The capture file I’m looking at is called “2021-05-13-Hancitor-traffic-with-Ficker-Stealer-and-Cobalt-Strike.pcap” and can be downloaded from here:

CapLoader’s Services tab shows us that the connections to TCP 80 and 443 on are very periodic, with a detected period of exactly 1 minute. CapLoader successfully identifies the protocols for these two services as Cobalt Strike over HTTP and Cobalt Strike over SSL, respectively. The third service in this list is also very periodic, that’s the Hancitor trojan beaconing to its C2 server every two minutes.

Services tab in CapLoader

CapLoader uses machine learning to identify the application layer protocol based on the behavior of the traffic, not the port number. This means that there can be false positives, i.e. the protocol classification that CapLoader gives a flow or service might be wrong. It is more common, however, for CapLoader to yield false negatives, which means that it can't identify the protocol. The detection of Cobalt Strike inside of HTTP and SSL traffic was recently introduced in the latest 1.9 release of CapLoader. I expected this feature to detect Cobalt Strike traffic in HTTP, but I was delighted to see that CapLoader often detects even TLS encrypted Cobalt Strike beaconing with really good precision!

As shown in the video, the Cobalt Strike beacon config can easily be extracted from the network traffic using NetworkMiner and Didier Stevens’ 1768 K python script.

The output from Didier’s tool looks something like this:

0x0001 payload type 0 windows-beacon_http-reverse_http
0x0002 port 80
0x0003 sleeptime 60000
0x0004 maxgetsize 1048576
0x0005 jitter 0
0x0007 publickey 30819f30[...]
0x0008 server,get-uri ',/ca'

As you can see, it uses HTTP for transport with a “sleeptime” of 1 minute (60000 ms) and 0% jitter. This means that a new connection will be made to the Cobalt Strike C2 server every minute. The fact that there was no jitter is what gives this service such a high value in CapLoader’s “Periodicity” column.

Network Forensics Training

Are you interested in learning more about how to analyze network traffic from Cobalt Strike and other backdoors, malware and hacker tools? Then take a look at the live online network forensics classes I will be teaching in September and October!

Posted by Erik Hjelmvik on Monday, 31 May 2021 08:30:00 (UTC/GMT)

Tags: #Netresec#Cobalt Strike#CobaltStrike#periodicity#Protocol Sandbox#PCAP#NSM#video#videotutorial

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Running NetworkMiner in Windows Sandbox

NetworkMiner can be run in a highly efficient Windows Sandbox in order to analyze malicious PCAP files in Windows without accidentally infecting your Windows PC. This blog post shows how to set up a Windows Sandbox that always boots up a fresh install of Windows 10 with the latest version of NetworkMiner installed.

I generally recommend analyzing Windows malware in Linux, or some other non-Windows environment, in order to avoid accidentally infecting yourself (NetworkMiner runs fine in Linux btw). Nevertheless, I still often find myself loading capture files containing malicious network traffic into CapLoader and NetworkMiner under Windows. I have previously demonstrated that this can be a quick and crude way to perform an anti virus scan of files contained in a pcap file.

Windows Sandbox

If you want to analyze malicious traffic in Windows with minimal risk of infecting yourself then you should definitely check out Microsoft’s Windows Sandbox (available in Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions). The Windows Sandbox is using Windows containers, so it’s very efficient compared to spinning up a full Windows VM. It also provides features like kernel isolation, so that the sandbox container doesn’t use the same kernel as the host, and ensures that a new Windows environment is created every time the sandbox is run. Windows Sandbox also doesn't run any anti-virus, so it won't interfere with the extraction of malicious contents from within the analyzed capture files.

Follow these steps to install Windows Sandbox:

  1. Run OptionalFeatures.exe (the “Turn Windows features on or off” window)
  2. Enable the “Windows Sandbox” feature (check the box)
  3. Reboot

Then create a sandbox config, which downloads and installs the latest version of NetworkMiner every time the sandbox is started, by creating a file called “NetworkMinerSandbox.wsb” with the following contents:

      <!-- Replace path below with your PCAP dir -->
    <Command>cmd.exe /C "curl -L | tar -C C:\Users\WDAGUtilityAccount\Desktop\ -xf -"</Command>

Note: Replace “C:\Users\Erik\pcap” with whatever location your capture files are at

After starting NetworkMinerSandbox.wsb you’ll have a fresh Windows machine up and running within a couple of seconds. The latest version of NetworkMiner and your PCAP dir are both accessible from the sandbox’s desktop.

Windows Sandbox

Image: NetworkMiner 2.6 installed in a clean Windows Sandbox environment

Moving files in or out of the sandbox is just a matter of copy and paste (Ctrl+C / Ctrl+V).

VirtualBox and Windows Sandbox

VirtualBox error message Cannot enable nested VT-x/AMD-V without nested-paging and unrestricted guest execution

Are you using VirtualBox to run virtual machines on your Windows host and getting an error message saying “Cannot enable nested VT-x/AMD-V without nested-paging and unrestricted guest execution” after enabling Windows Sandbox?

Even though Windows Sandbox doesn’t need Hyper-V it still requires a hypervisor, which unfortunately conflicts with VirtualBox. You can disable the hypervisor by running the following command as administrator:

bcdedit.exe /set hypervisorlaunchtype off

...and then rebooting the computer before starting a VirtualBox VM with “nested VT-x” enabled. Turning off the hypervisor will unfortunately prevent Windows Sandbox from running, giving an error message saying “No hypervisor was found. Please enable hypervisor support.”

Windows Sandbox error message No hypervisor was found. Please enable hypervisor support.

To re-enable the hypervisor, in order to run Windows Sandbox again, you’ll need to run

bcdedit.exe /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto

and reboot the host.

Update May 26, 2021

We have now uploaded a simple Windows Sandbox config to our website here:

This script runs on any Windows Pro machine that has the Sandbox feature active.

Posted by Erik Hjelmvik on Tuesday, 11 May 2021 13:39:00 (UTC/GMT)

Tags: #Netresec#NetworkMiner#PCAP#Windows#Sandbox#Windows Sandbox#Malware

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