Intrusion Detection System Evasion Techniques Playbook

December 17, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • To understand and identify common and advanced intrusion detection system (IDS) evasion techniques
  • Train the cybersecurity team on proactive defense measures and fine-tuning of IDS
  • Enhance incident response capabilities by simulating realistic attack scenarios
  • Develop proficiency in recognizing tactics adversaries use to circumvent detection
  • Strengthen the organization’s overall security posture

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced


  • GlobalTech Solutions Inc., a multinational software development company with over 10,000 employees and offices in 30 countries, has faced a surge in cyber-attacks targeting its intellectual property. With high-profile clients relying on their services, any breach could lead to substantial financial losses and damage to their reputation.
  • To address these threats, GlobalTech’s executive board has prioritized a review of their network security measures, focusing on their Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS). Jane Doe, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), has noted suspicious traffic patterns that bypassed conventional IDS signatures and prompted a need for exercises that mimic sophisticated attackers.
  • Jane collaborates with her security operations center (SOC) leader John Smith to design and implement a Cyber Range exercise, aiming to challenge and enhance the skills of their security analysts.
  • The exercise will simulate a targeted attack on an isolated replica of their production environment, featuring multiple servers, networking devices, and workstations similar to their operational IT landscape. This controlled setup ensures a safe platform to analyze attack behaviors and IDS responses without risking actual assets.


  • Intrusion Detection and Evasion Techniques

Exercise Attack Steps:

  • Reconnaissance:
    • Use network scanning tools to discover active machines, services, and their versions.
    • Conduct OS fingerprinting to tailor the subsequent exploitation phase.
  • IDS Evasion Planning:
    • Study the baseline network traffic to identify normal patterns and thresholds.
    • Devise an evasion strategy that fragments packets or uses encryption to obfuscate the malicious payloads.
  • Initial Compromise:
    • Utilize known vulnerabilities on an outdated software version present in the environment, attempting to avoid triggering IDS alerts.
    • Execute low and slow attacks to stay under the noise level of the IDS.
  • Establishing Persistence:
    • Install a rootkit designed to hide process and network activity.
    • Set up backdoor access using non-standard ports and protocols.
  • Privilege Escalation:
    • Exploit system misconfigurations or zero-day vulnerabilities, careful to perform actions mimicking legitimate user behavior.
  • Lateral Movement:
    • Implement pass-the-hash techniques to move across the network with stolen credentials.
    • Use secure tunnels or mimic legitimate traffic flows to communicate with compromised systems.
  • Data Exfiltration:
    • Compress and encrypt sensitive files before exfiltration.
    • Simulate a data smuggle using DNS tunneling to bypass traditional network monitoring tools.
  • Covering Tracks:
    • Overwrite logs and use time-stomping tactics to modify file timestamps.
    • Perform anti-forensic activities to complicate the after-action analysis.
GlobalTech’s security team will observe the entire operation, taking notes on the effectiveness of current IDS configurations and determining necessary adjustments. Post-exercise, a review session will be conducted to refine the IDS policies, enhance analytic capabilities, and script improved automated responses. This proactive measure will not only improve the skill set of the SOC personnel but also reduce the likelihood of an actual breach through advanced evasion techniques.