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Socks5Systemz: How Darktrace’s Anomaly Detection Unraveled a Stealthy Botnet

Mar 2024
Mar 2024
This blog analyzes the Socks5Systemz botnet observed targeting multiple customers across the Darktrace customer base in 2023. Darktrace’s anomaly-based approach to threat detection enabled it to identify malicious activity associated with the botnet before any threat intelligence had been published.

What are botnets?

Although not a recent addition to the threat landscape, botnets persist as a significant concern for organizations, with many threat actors utilizing them for political, strategic, or financial gain. Botnets pose a particularly persistent threat to security teams; even if one compromised device is detected, attackers will likely have infected multiple devices and can continue to operate. Moreover, threat actors are able to easily replace the malware communication channels between infected devices and their command-and-control (C2) servers, making it incredibly difficult to remove the infection.

Botnet example: Socks5Systemz

One example of a botnet recently investigated by the Darktrace Threat Research team is Socks5Systemz. Socks5Systemz is a proxy-for-rent botnet, whereby actors can rent blocks of infected devices to perform proxying services.  Between August and November 2023, Darktrace detected indicators of Socks5Systemz botnet compromise within a cross-industry section of the customer base. Although open-source intelligence (OSINT) research of the botnet only appeared in November 2023, the anomaly-based approach of Darktrace DETECT™ allowed it to identify multiple stages of the network-based activity on affected customer systems well before traditional rules and signatures would have been implemented.

Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst™ complemented DETECT’s successful identification of Socks5Systemz activity on customer networks, playing a pivotal role in piecing together the seemingly separate events that comprised the wider compromise. This allowed Darktrace to build a clearer picture of the attack, empowering its customers with full visibility over emerging incidents.

In the customer environments highlighted in this blog, Darktrace RESPOND™ was not configured to operate autonomously. As a result, Socks5Systemz attacks were able to advance through their kill chains until customer security teams acted upon Darktrace’s detections and began their remediation procedures.

What is Socks5Systemz?

The Socks5Systemz botnet is a proxy service where individuals can use infected devices as proxy servers.

These devices act as ‘middlemen’, forwarding connections from malicious actors on to their intended destination. As this additional connectivity conceals the true origin of the connections, threat actors often use botnets to increase their anonymity. Although unauthorized proxy servers on a corporate network may not appear at first glance to be a priority for organizations and their security teams, complicity in proxy botnets could result in reputational damage and significant financial losses.

Since it was first observed in the wild in 2016, the Socks5Systemz botnet has grown steadily, seemingly unnoticed by cyber security professionals, and has infected a reported 10,000 devices worldwide [1]. Cyber security researchers noted a high concentration of compromised devices in India, with lower concentrations of devices infected in the United States, Latin America, Australia and multiple European and African countries [2]. Renting sections of the Socks5Systemz botnet costs between 1 USD and 4,000 USD, with options to increase the threading and time-range of the rentals [2]. Due to the lack of affected devices in Russia, some threat researchers have concluded that the botnet’s operators are likely Russian [2].

Darktrace’s Coverage of Socks5Systemz

The Darktrace Threat Research team conducted investigations into campaign-like activity across the customer base between August and November 2023, where multiple indicators of compromise (IoCs) relating to the Socks5Systemz proxy botnet were observed. Darktrace identified several stages of the attack chain described in static malware analysis by external researchers. Darktrace was also able to uncover additional IoCs and stages of the Socks5Systemz attack chain that had not featured in external threat research.

Delivery and Execution

Prior research on Socks5Systemz notes how the malware is typically delivered via user input, with delivery methods including phishing emails, exploit kits, malicious ads, and trojanized executables downloaded from peer-to-peer (P2P) networks [1].

Threat actors have also used separate malware loaders such as PrivateLoader and Amadey deliver the Socks5Systemz payload. These loaders will drop executable files that are responsible for setting up persistence and injecting the proxy bot into the infected device’s memory [2]. Although evidence of initial payload delivery did not appear during its investigations, Darktrace did discover IoCs relating to PrivateLoader and Amadey on multiple customer networks. Such activity included HTTP POST requests using PHP to rare external IPs and HTTP connections with a referrer header field, indicative of a redirected connection.

However, additional adjacent activity that may suggest initial user execution and was observed during Darktrace’s investigations. For example, an infected device on one deployment made a HTTP GET request to a rare external domain with a “.fun” top-level domain (TLD) for a PDF file. The URI also appears to have contained a client ID. While this download and HTTP request likely corresponded to the gathering and transmission of further telemetry data and infection verification [2], the downloaded PDF file may have represented a malicious payload.

Advanced Search log details highlighting a device infected by Socks5Systemz downloading a suspicious PDF file.
Figure 1: Advanced Search log details highlighting a device infected by Socks5Systemz downloading a suspicious PDF file.

Establishing C2 Communication  

Once the proxy bot has been injected into the device’s memory, the malware attempts to contact servers owned by the botnet’s operators. Across several customer environments, Darktrace identified infected devices attempting to establish connections with such C2 servers. First, affected devices would make repeated HTTP GET requests over port 80 to rare external domains; these endpoints typically had “.ua” and “.ru” TLDs. The majority of these connection attempts were not preceded by a DNS host lookup, suggesting that the domains were already loaded in the device’s cache memory or hardcoded into the code of running processes.

Figure 2: Breach log data connections identifying repeated unusual HTTP connections over port 80 for domains without prior DNS host lookup.

While most initial HTTP GET requests across investigated incidents did not feature DNS host lookups, Darktrace did identify affected devices on a small number of customer environments performing a series of DNS host lookups for seemingly algorithmically generated domains (DGA). These domains feature the same TLDs as those seen in connections without prior DNS host lookups.  

Figure 3: Cyber AI Analyst data indicating a subset of DGAs queried via DNS by infected devices.

These DNS requests follow the activity reported by researchers, where infected devices query a hardcoded DNS server controlled by the threat actor for an DGA domain [2]. However, as the bulk of Darktrace’s investigations presented HTTP requests without a prior DNS host lookup, this activity indicates a significant deviation from the behavior reported by OSINT sources. This could indicate that multiple variations of the Socks5Systemz botnet were circulating at the time of investigation.

Most hostnames observed during this time of investigation follow a specific regular expression format: /[a-z]{7}\.(ua|net|info|com|ru)/ or /[a-z0-9]{15}\.(ua)/. Darktrace also noticed the HTTP GET requests for DGA domains followed a consistent URI pattern: /single.php?c=<STRING>. The requests were also commonly made using the “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 9.0; en-US)” user agent over port 80.

This URI pattern observed during Darktrace’s investigations appears to reflect infected devices contacting Socks5Systemz C2 servers to register the system and details of the host, and signal it is ready to receive further instructions [2]. These URIs are encrypted with a RC4 stream cipher and contain information relating to the device’s operating system and architecture, as well as details of the infection.

The HTTP GET requests during this time, which involved devices made to a variety a variety of similar DGA domains, appeared alongside IP addresses that were later identified as Socks5Systemz C2 servers.

Figure 4: Cyber AI Analyst investigation details highlighting HTTP GET activity whereby RC4 encrypted data is sent to proxy C2 domains.

However, not all affected devices observed by Darktrace used DGA domains to transmit RC4 encoded data. Some investigated systems were observed making similar HTTP GET requests over port 80, albeit to the external domain: “bddns[.]cc”, using the aforementioned Mozilla user agent. During these requests, Darktrace identified a consistent URI pattern, similar to that seen in the DGA domain GET requests: /sign/<RC4 cipher text>.  

Darktrace DETECT recognized the rarity of the domains and IPs that were connected to by affected devices, as well as the usage of the new Mozilla user agent.  The HTTP connections, and the corresponding Darktrace DETECT model breaches, parallel the analysis made by external researchers: if the initial DGA DNS requests do not return a valid C2 server, infected devices connect to, and request the IP address of a server from, the above-mentioned domain [2].

Connection to Proxy

After sending host and infection details via HTTP and receiving commands from the C2 server, affected devices were frequently observed initiating activity to join the Sock5Systemz botnet. Infected hosts would first make HTTP GET requests to an IP identified as Socks5Systemz’s proxy checker application, usually sending the URI “proxy-activity.txt” to the domain over the HTTP protocol. This likely represents an additional validation check to confirm that the infected device is ready to join the botnet.

Figure 5: Cyber AI Analyst investigation detailing HTTP GET requests over port 80 to the Socks5Systemz Proxy Checker Application.

Following the final validation checks, devices would then attempt TCP connections to a range of IPs, which have been associated with BackConnect proxy servers, over port 1074. At this point, the device is able to receive commands from actors who login to and operate the corresponding BackConnect server. This BackConnect server will transmit traffic from the user renting the segment of the botnet [2].

Darktrace observed a range of activity associated with this stage of the attack, including the use of new or unusual user agents, connections to suspicious IPs, and other anomalous external connectivity which represented a deviation from affected devices’ expected behavior.

Additional Activities Following Proxy Addition

The Darktrace Threat Research team found evidence of the possible deployment of additional malware strains during their investigation into devices affected by Socks5Systemz. IoCs associated with both the Amadey and PrivateLoader loader malware strains, both of which are known to distribute Socks5Systemz, were also observed on affected devices. Additionally, Darktrace observed multiple infected systems performing cryptocurrency mining operations around the time of the Sock5Systemz compromise, utilizing the MinerGate protocol to conduct login and job functions, as well as making DNS requests for mining pools.

While such behavior would fall outside of the expected activity for Socks5Systemz and cannot be definitively attributed to it, Darktrace did observe devices affected by the botnet performing additional malicious downloads and operations during its investigations.


Ultimately, Darktrace’s anomaly-based approach to threat detection enabled it to effectively identify and alert for malicious Socks5Systemz botnet activity long before external researchers had documented its IoCs and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).  

In fact, Darktrace not only identified multiple distinct attack phases later outlined in external research but also uncovered deviations from these expected patterns of behavior. By proactively detecting emerging threats through anomaly detection rather than relying on existing threat intelligence, Darktrace is well positioned to detect evolving threats like Socks5Systemz, regardless of what their future iterations might look like.

Faced with the threat of persistent botnets, it is crucial for organizations to detect malicious activity in its early stages before additional devices are compromised, making it increasingly difficult to remediate. Darktrace’s suite of products enables the swift and effective detection of such threats. Moreover, when enabled in autonomous response mode, Darktrace RESPOND is uniquely positioned to take immediate, targeted actions to contain these attacks from the onset.

Credit to Adam Potter, Cyber Security Analyst, Anna Gilbertson, Cyber Security Analyst


DETECT Model Breaches

  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple Failed Connections to Rare Endpoint
  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple Connections to New External TCP Port
  • Compromise / Beaconing Activity To External Rare
  • Compromise / DGA Beacon
  • Compromise / Beacon to Young Endpoint
  • Compromise / Slow Beaconing Activity To External Rare
  • Compromise / HTTP Beaconing to Rare Destination
  • Compromise / Quick and Regular Windows HTTP Beaconing
  • Compromise / Agent Beacon (Medium Period)
  • Compromise / Agent Beacon (Long Period)
  • Device / New User Agent
  • Device / New User Agent and New IP

Cyber AI Analyst Incidents

  • Possible HTTP Command and Control
  • Possible HTTP Command and Control to Multiple Endpoints
  • Unusual Repeated Connections
  • Unusual Repeated Connections to Multiple Endpoints
  • Multiple DNS Requests for Algorithmically Generated Domains

Indicators of Compromise

IoC - Type - Description

185.141.63[.]172 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz C2 Endpoint

193.242.211[.]141 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz C2 Endpoint

109.230.199[.]181 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz C2 Endpoint

109.236.88[.]134 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz C2 Endpoint

217.23.5[.]14 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Proxy Checker App

88.80.148[.]8 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

88.80.148[.]219 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

185.141.63[.]4 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

185.141.63[.]2 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

195.154.188[.]211 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

91.92.111[.]132 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

91.121.30[.]185 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

94.23.58[.]173 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

37.187.148[.]204 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

188.165.192[.]18 - IP Address - Socks5Systemz Backconnect Endpoint

/single.php?c=<RC4 data hex encoded> - URI - Socks5Systemz HTTP GET Request

/sign/<RC4 data hex encoded> - URI - Socks5Systemz HTTP GET Request

/proxy-activity.txt - URI - Socks5Systemz HTTP GET Request

datasheet[.]fun - Hostname - Socks5Systemz C2 Endpoint

bddns[.]cc - Hostname - Socks5Systemz C2 Endpoint

send-monitoring[.]bit - Hostname - Socks5Systemz C2 Endpoint


Command and Control

T1071 - Application Layer Protocol

T1071.001 – Web protocols

T1568 – Dynamic Resolution

T1568.002 – Domain Generation Algorithms

T1132 – Data Encoding

T1132 – Non-Standard Encoding

T1090 – Proxy

T1090.002 – External Proxy


T1041 – Exfiltration over C2 channel


T1496 – Resource Hijacking




Darktrace Cyber-Analysten sind erstklassige Experten für Threat Intelligence, Threat Hunting und Incident Response. Sie bieten Tausenden von Darktrace Kunden auf der ganzen Welt rund um die Uhr SOC-Support. Einblicke in das SOC-Team wird ausschließlich von diesen Experten verfasst und bietet Analysen von Cyber-Vorfällen und Bedrohungstrends, die auf praktischen Erfahrungen in diesem Bereich basieren.
Adam Potter
Cyber Analyst
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Looking Beyond Secure Email Gateways with the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/Email

Apr 2024

Organizations Should Demand More from their Email Security

In response to a more intricate threat landscape, organizations should view email security as a critical component of their defense-in-depth strategy, rather than defending the inbox alone with a traditional Secure Email Gateway (SEG). Organizations need more than a traditional gateway – that doubles, instead of replaces, the capabilities provided by native security vendor – and require an equally granular degree of analysis across all messaging, including inbound, outbound, and lateral mail, plus Teams messages.  

Darktrace/Email is the industry’s most advanced cloud email security, powered by Self-Learning AI. It combines AI techniques to exceed the accuracy and efficiency of leading security solutions, and is the only security built to elevate, not duplicate, native email security.  

With its largest update ever, Darktrace/Email introduces the following innovations, finally allowing security teams to look beyond secure email gateways with autonomous AI:

  • AI-augmented data loss prevention to stop the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats
  • an easy way to deploy DMARC quickly with AI
  • major enhancements to streamline SOC workflows and increase the detection of sophisticated phishing links
  • expansion of Darktrace’s leading AI prevention to lateral mail, account compromise and Microsoft Teams

What’s New with Darktrace/Email  

Data Loss Prevention  

Block the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats with advanced data loss prevention that builds on tags in native email to stop unknown, accidental, and malicious data loss

Darktrace understands normal at individual user, group and organization level with a proven AI that detects abnormal user behavior and dynamic content changes. Using this understanding, Darktrace/Email actions outbound emails to stop unknown, accidental and malicious data loss.  

Traditional DLP solutions only take into account classified data, which relies on the manual input of labelling each data piece, or creating rules to catch pattern matches that try to stop data of certain types leaving the organization. But in today’s world of constantly changing data, regular expression and fingerprinting detection are no longer enough.

  • Human error – Because it understands normal for every user, Darktrace/Email can recognize cases of misdirected emails. Even if the data is correctly labelled or insensitive, Darktrace recognizes when the context in which it is being sent could be a case of data loss and warns the user.  
  • Unclassified data – Whereas traditional DLP solutions can only take action on classified data, Darktrace analyzes the range of data that is either pending labels or can’t be labeled with typical capabilities due to its understanding of the content and context of every email.  
  • Insider threat – If a malicious actor has compromised an account, data exfiltration may still be attempted on encrypted, intellectual property, or other forms of unlabelled data to avoid detection. Darktrace analyses user behaviour to catch cases of unusual data exfiltration from individual accounts.

And classification efforts already in place aren’t wasted – Darktrace/Email extends Microsoft Purview policies and sensitivity labels to avoid duplicate workflows for the security team, combining the best of both approaches to ensure organizations maintain control and visibility over their data.

End User and Security Workflows

Achieve more than 60% improvement in the quality of end-user phishing reports and detection of sophisticated malicious weblinks1

Darktrace/Email improves end-user reporting from the ground up to save security team resource. Employees will always be on the front line of email security – while other solutions assume that end-user reporting is automatically of poor quality, Darktrace prioritizes improving users’ security awareness to increase the quality of end-user reporting from day one.  

Users are empowered to assess and report suspicious activity with contextual banners and Cyber AI Analyst generated narratives for potentially suspicious emails, resulting in 60% fewer benign emails reported.  

Out of the higher-quality emails that end up being reported, the next step is to reduce the amount of emails that reach the SOC. Darktrace/Email’s Mailbox Security Assistant automates their triage with secondary analysis combining additional behavioral signals – using x20 more metrics than previously – with advanced link analysis to detect 70% more sophisticated malicious phishing links.2 This directly alleviates the burden of manual triage for security analysts.

For the emails that are received by the SOC, Darktrace/Email uses automation to reduce time spent investigating per incident. With live inbox view, security teams gain access to a centralized platform that combines intuitive search capabilities, Cyber AI Analyst reports, and mobile application access. Analysts can take remediation actions from within Darktrace/Email, eliminating console hopping and accelerating incident response.

Darktrace takes a user-focused and business-centric approach to email security, in contrast to the attack-centric rules and signatures approach of secure email gateways

Microsoft Teams

Detect threats within your Teams environment such as account compromise, phishing, malware and data loss

Around 83% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Office products and services, particularly Teams and SharePoint.3

Darktrace now leverages the same behavioral AI techniques for Microsoft customers across 365 and Teams, allowing organizations to detect threats and signals of account compromise within their Teams environment including social engineering, malware and data loss.  

The primary use case for Microsoft Teams protection is as a potential entry vector. While messaging has traditionally been internal only, as organizations open up it is becoming an entry vector which needs to be treated with the same level of caution as email. That’s why we’re bringing our proven AI approach to Microsoft Teams, that understands the user behind the message.  

Anomalous messaging behavior is also a highly relevant indicator of whether a user has been compromised. Unlike other solutions that analyze Microsoft Teams content which focus on payloads, Darktrace goes beyond basic link and sandbox analysis and looks at actual user behavior from both a content and context perspective. This linguistic understanding isn’t bound by the requirement to match a signature to a malicious payload, rather it looks at the context in which the message has been delivered. From this analysis, Darktrace can spot the early symptoms of account compromise such as early-stage social engineering before a payload is delivered.

Lateral Mail Analysis

Detect and respond to internal mailflow with multi-layered AI to prevent account takeover, lateral phishing and data leaks

The industry’s most robust account takeover protection now prevents lateral mail account compromise. Darktrace has always looked at internal mail to inform inbound and outbound decisions, but will now elevate suspicious lateral mail behaviour using the same AI techniques for inbound, outbound and Teams analysis.

Darktrace integrates signals from across the entire mailflow and communication patterns to determine symptoms of account compromise, now including lateral mailflow

Unlike other solutions which only analyze payloads, Darktrace analyzes a whole range of signals to catch lateral movement before a payload is delivered. Contributing yet another layer to the AI behavioral profile for each user, security teams can now use signals from lateral mail to spot the early symptoms of account takeover and take autonomous actions to prevent further compromise.


Gain in-depth visibility and control of 3rd parties using your domain with an industry-first AI-assisted DMARC

Darktrace has created the easiest path to brand protection and compliance with the new Darktrace/DMARC. This new capability continuously stops spoofing and phishing from the enterprise domain, while automatically enhancing email security and reducing the attack surface.

Darktrace/DMARC helps to upskill businesses by providing step by step guidance and automated record suggestions provide a clear, efficient road to enforcement. It allows organizations to quickly achieve compliance with requirements from Google, Yahoo, and others, to ensure that their emails are reaching mailboxes.  

Meanwhile, Darktrace/DMARC helps to reduce the overall attack surface by providing visibility over shadow-IT and third-party vendors sending on behalf of an organization’s brand, while informing recipients when emails from their domains are sent from un-authenticated DMARC source.

Darktrace/DMARC integrates with the wider Darktrace product platform, sharing insights to help further secure your business across Email Attack Path and Attack Surface management.


To learn more about the new innovations to Darktrace/Email download the solution brief here.

All of the new updates to Darktrace/Email sit within the new Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform, creating a feedback loop between email security and the rest of the digital estate for better protection. Click to read more about the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform or to hear about the latest innovations to Darktrace/OT, the most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for critical infrastructures.  

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.


[1] Internal Darktrace Research

[2] Internal Darktrace Research

[3] Essential Microsoft Office Statistics in 2024

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Carlos Gray
Product Manager


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Managing Risk Beyond CVE Scores With the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/OT

Apr 2024

Identifying Cyber Risk in Industrial Organizations

Compromised OT devices in ICS and SCADA environments pose significant physical risks, even endangering lives. However, identifying CVEs in the multitude of complex OT devices is labor-intensive and time-consuming, draining valuable resources.

Even after identifying a vulnerability, implementing a patch presents its own challenges limited maintenance windows and the need for uninterrupted operations strain IT and OT teams often leading organizations to prioritize availability over security leading vulnerabilities remaining unresolved for over 5 years on average. (1)

Darktrace’s New Innovation

Darktrace is an industry leader in cybersecurity with 10+ years of experience securing OT environments where we take a fundamentally different approach using Self-Learning AI to enhance threat detection and response.

Continuing to combat the expanding threat landscape, Darktrace is excited to announce new capabilities that enable a contextualized and proactive approach to managing cyber risk at industrial organizations.

Today we launch an innovation to our OT Cybersecurity solution, Darktrace/OT, that will add a layer of proactivity, enabling a comprehensive approach to risk management. This industry leading innovation for Darktrace/OT moves beyond CVE scores to redefine vulnerability management for critical infrastructure, tackling the full breadth of risks not limited by traditional controls.  

Darktrace/OT is the only OT security solution with comprehensive Risk Management which includes:

  • Contextualized risk analysis unique to your organization
  • The most realistic evaluation and prioritization of OT risk
  • Effectively mitigate risk across your OT infrastructure, with and without patching.
  • The only OT security solution that evaluates your defenses against Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Groups.

The most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for Critical Infrastructures

Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI technology is a cutting-edge innovation that implements real time prevention, detection, response, and recovery for operational technologies and enables a fundamental shift from the traditional approach to cyber defense by learning a ‘pattern of life’ for every network, device, and user.  

Rather than relying on knowledge of past attacks, AI technology learns what is ‘normal’ for its environment, discovering previously unknown threats by detecting subtle shifts in behavior. Through identifying these unexpected anomalies, security teams can investigate novel attacks, discover blind spots, have live time visibility across all their physical and digital assets, and reduce time to detect, respond to, and triage security events.  

  • Achieve greater visibility of OT and IT devices across all levels of the Purdue Model.
  • The industry's only OT security to scale threat detection and response, with a 92% time saving from triage to recovery.  
  • The only OT focused security solution to provide bespoke Risk Management.

To learn more about how Darktrace/OT approaches unique use cases for industrial organizations visit the Darktrace/OT Webpage or join us LIVE at a city near you.

Read more below to discover how new innovations to Darktrace/OT are bringing a new, contextualized approach to Risk Management for Industrial organizations.

For more information on the entire Darktrace/OT Solution read our solution brief here.

Darktrace/OT and New Risk Management

Risk Identification

Leveraging the visibility of Darktrace/OT which identifies individual systems throughout the Purdue Model and the relationship between them, Darktrace/OT identifies high-risk CVEs and presents potential attack routes that go beyond techniques requiring a known exploit, such as misuse of legitimate services. Each attack path will have a mathematical evaluation of difficulty and impact from initial access to the high value objectives.  

Together this gives comprehensive coverage over your real and potential risks from both an attacker and known vulnerability perspectives. OT attack paths as seen here even leverage insights between the industrial and corporate communications to reveal ways threat actors may take advantage of IT-OT convergence. This revelation of imperceptible risks fills gaps in traditional risk analysis like remote access and insider threats.

Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 2: A specific Attack Path identified by Darktrace/OT

Risk Prioritization

Darktrace/OT prioritizes remediations and mitigations based on difficulty and damage to your unique organization, using the established Attack Paths.

We ascertain the priorities that apply to your organization beyond pure theoretical damage answering questions like:

  • How difficult is a particular vulnerability to exploit considering the steps an attacker would require to reach it?
  • And, how significant would the impact be if it was exploited within this particular network?

This expanded approach to risk prioritization has a much more comprehensive evaluation of your organization's unique risk than has ever been possible before. Traditional approaches of ranking only known vulnerabilities with isolated scores using CVSS and exploitability metrics, often leaves gaps in IT-OT risks and is blind to legitimate service exploitation.

Figure 3: Darktrace/OT leverages its contextual understand of the organization’s network to prioritize remediation that will have the positive impact on the risk score

Darktrace provides mitigation strategies associated with each identified risk and the relevant impact it has on your overall risk posture, across all MITRE ATT&CK techniques.

What sets Darktrace apart is our ability to contextualize these mitigations within the broader business. When patching vulnerabilities directly isn’t possible, Darktrace identifies alternative actions that harden attack paths leading to critical assets. Hardening the surrounding attack path increases the difficulty and therefore reduces the likelihood and impact of a breach.

That means unpatched vulnerabilities and vulnerable devices aren’t left unprotected. This also has an added bonus, those hardening techniques work for all devices in that network segment, so apply one change, secure many.

Figure 4: Darktrace prioritizes mitigation reducing accessibility of vulnerability and the overall risk score when patches aren’t available

Communicate Board Level Risk with APT Threat Mapping

Darktrace/OT bridges theory and practice as the only security solution that maps MITRE techniques, frequently used by APT Groups, onto AI-assessed critical Attack Paths. This unique solution provides unparalleled insights including sector and location intelligence, possible operating platforms, common techniques, exploited CVEs, and the number of potential devices affected in your environment, supporting holistic risk assessment and proactive defense measures.

Ultimately, this becomes a power dashboard to communicate board level risk, using both metric based evidence and industry standard threat mapping.


Darktrace/OT is part of the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform a native, holistic, AI-driven platform built on over ten years of AI research. It helps security teams shift to more a productive mode, finding the known and the unknown attacks and transforming the SOC with the various Darktrace products to drive efficiency gains. It does this across the whole incident lifecycle to lower risk, reduce time spent on active incidents, and drive return on investment.

Discover more about Darktrace's ever-strengthening platform with the upcoming changes coming to our Darktrace/Email product and other launch day blogs.

Join Darktrace LIVE half-day event to understand the reality versus the hype surrounding AI and how to achieve cyber resilience.

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.  



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About the author
Mitchell Bezzina
VP, Product and Solutions Marketing
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