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TDR Sandbox Analysis by APT Blocker

TDR leverages the APT Blocker service to analyze new suspicious files identified by a Host Sensor. The WatchGuard APT Blocker service uses full-system emulation analysis to identify the characteristics and behavior of APT malware in files that enter your network. TDR Host Sensors can upload a suspicious file for analysis even if the host is not connected to a network protected by a Firebox. The Sandbox Analysis result is an APT Threat Level assigned to a file. The TDR ThreatSync analytics engine uses the APT Threat Level to determine whether to increase the Threat Score assigned to an indicator.

Diagram of indicator Threat Scores eligible for Sandbox Analysis and the range for rescoring

The sandbox is located at a cloud-based data center. The sandbox for your TDR account is in the same region where your TDR account data is stored. For example, if your TDR account region is Europe, the sandbox is also in Europe.

Enable APT Blocker

The APT Blocker feature allows Host Sensors to upload files for analysis. You can choose whether to enable or disable this feature. To configure this feature, it must be enabled in your TDR account.

To enable APT Blocker:

  1. Select Settings > General.
  2. Next to the APT Blocker feature, select the Feature On check box.
  3. Click Save.

For more information, see TDR General Settings.

Sandbox File Action

In TDR, the Sandbox File action allows Host Sensors to upload suspicious files for analysis. You can configure an APT Blocker policy to allow this action, or you can select it as a manual action after a Host Sensor requests the Sandbox File action for a file.

If you install Host Sensors behind a Firebox that has an HTTPS proxy policy with content inspection and certification validation enabled, it might be necessary to configure an HTTPS packet filter policy to allow Host Sensors to upload files for analysis. For more information, see Configure a Firewall Policy for TDR Traffic.

A Host Sensor uploads a file to TDR for analysis under these conditions:

  • Process or registry heuristics indicate to the Host Sensor that a file is suspicious
  • The file size is less than 10MB
  • The MD5 value of the file does not match a previously analyzed file
  • The file is not signed by a trusted vendor
  • An active TDR APT Blocker policy or manual TDR action specifies the Sandbox File action

The Sandbox File action can take up to 20 minutes. While the Sandbox File action is in progress, these events occur:

  • The Host Sensor uploads the file to the TDR cloud
  • TDR sends the file to a secure regional sandbox for analysis
  • The Host Sensor tracks any copies or changes in location of the file in case remediation is necessary
  • APT Blocker executes the file and analyzes the file for threats
  • APT Blocker sends the APT Threat Level result to TDR
  • TDR updates the Threat Score associated with the indicator

TDR adjusts the Threat Scores for indicators only if a Host Sensor requests Sandbox Analysis. TDR does not adjust the Threat Score of indicators if a Host Sensor did not request Sandbox Analysis, even if another Host Sensor requested Sandbox Analysis on the same file.

The Host Sensor does not request the Sandbox File action for Host Ransomware Prevention (HRP) events. If HRP is enabled in Prevent mode, when the Host Sensor detects ransomware, it automatically takes action to quarantine the file and end the process. For more information, see About TDR Host Ransomware Prevention.

APT Blocker Threat Levels and Indicator Threat Scores

When the suspicious file is first detected, TDR assigns an indicator score based on the heuristics, and requests the Sandbox File action. APT Blocker categorizes APT activity based on the severity of the threat. APT Blocker Threat Levels in TDR are the same as the APT Threat Levels for APT Blocker on a Firebox.

The High, Medium, and Low Threat Levels indicate the severity of malware. This rating is determined based on a score assigned to the file when the file is analyzed by APT Blocker. For the High, Medium, and Low Threat Levels, TDR increases the indicator Threat Score.

The Clean Threat Level indicates the file was determined to be free of malware. For the Clean Threat Level, TDR does not change the indicator Threat Score.

APT Blocker Threat Level TDR Threat Score
High 9 (Critical)
Medium 8 (Severe)
Low 7 (High)
Clean No change

You can configure a combination of APT Blocker policies and Remediation policies to enable TDR Host Sensors to automatically analyze and respond to emerging threats. For information about recommended policies, see Recommended TDR Policies.

See APT Blocker Sandbox Analysis Status

To see the status of an APT Blocker Sandbox File action for indicators:

  1. Select Threatsync > Indicators.
  2. Click to clear the filters.
  3. In the Action Requested column heading, select the Sandbox File action. Click Apply.
    The Indicators list is filtered to show only indicators where the Host Sensor requested the Sandbox File action.

Screen shot of the Indicators page, filtered for Sandbox File actions

  1. The Outcome column shows the status of the Sandbox File action for each Host Sensor.
  2. To see additional information for an indicator, in the Indicator column, click Additional Information.

The Sandbox Analysis status appears in the APT Blocker section of the additional details for an indicator.

  • If the file size is greater than 10 MB, the APT Blocker status is Ineligible. This status appears if the file is too large to upload to APT Blocker for analysis.

Screen shot of Threat Details for a file that is too large to upload to APT Blocker for analysis

  • If the file is located in the Recycle Bin, the APT Blocker status is Ineligible. Executable files in the Recycle Bin are quarantined automatically by HRP when they are executed and are not uploaded to APT Blocker for analysis.

Screen shot of Threat Details for a file that is in the Recycle Bin.

  • If Sandbox Analysis is not complete, the APT Blocker status is Unknown. This status appears if the Sandbox File action is in progress or if there is no policy to allow the action.

Screen shot of Threat Details for an indicator that is suspicious and eligible for sandbox analysis

  • After Sandbox Analysis is complete, the APT Blocker status indicates the Threat Level. If appropriate, the indicator score is also adjusted based on file analysis.

Screen shot of Threat Details for an indicator rescored after sandbox analysis

For more information about how to manage indicators in TDR, see Manage TDR Indicators.

See Also

Configure TDR Policies

About APT Blocker

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