Graphical User Interface

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Graphical User Interface
ID T823
Tactic Execution
Data Sources File monitoring, Process monitoring, Process command-line parameters, Binary file metadata
Asset Human-Machine Interface


Adversaries may attempt to gain access to a machine via a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to enhance execution capabilities. Access to a GUI allows a user to interact with a computer in a more visual manner than a CLI. A GUI allows users to move a cursor and click on interface objects, with a mouse and keyboard as the main input devices, as opposed to just using the keyboard.

If physical access is not an option, then access might be possible via protocols such as VNC on Linux-based and Unix-based operating systems, and RDP on Windows operating systems. An adversary can use this access to execute programs and applications on the target machine.

In the 2015 attack on the Ukrainian power grid, the adversary utilized the GUI of HMIs in the SCADA environment to open breakers.1


  • Restrict access to control room(s), portable devices, and removable media, which should be locked down and physically secured. Physical control room or control systems access often implies also gaining logical access.2
  • Unauthorized and suspicious media should be avoided and kept away from systems and the network.2
  • Authentication and strong passwords should be used to protect access to GUIs. Associated accounts and GUI sessions should be restricted to appropriate capabilities and actions.2
  • Prevent adversaries from gaining access to credentials through Credential Access that can be used to log into remote desktop sessions on systems.2
  • Identify unnecessary system utilities, third-party tools, or potentially malicious software that may be used to log into remote interactive sessions, and audit and/or block them by using whitelisting3 tools, like AppLocker45 and Software Restriction Policies6 where appropriate.7