Adversaries may abuse the right-to-left override (RTLO or RLO) character (U+202E) to disguise a string and/or file name to make it appear benign. RTLO is a non-printing Unicode character that causes the text that follows it to be displayed in reverse. For example, a Windows screensaver executable named
March 25 \u202Excod.scr will display as
photo_high_re\u202Egnp.js will be displayed as
Adversaries may abuse the RTLO character as a means of tricking a user into executing what they think is a benign file type. A common use of this technique is with Spearphishing Attachment/Malicious File since it can trick both end users and defenders if they are not aware of how their tools display and render the RTLO character. Use of the RTLO character has been seen in many targeted intrusion attempts and criminal activity. RTLO can be used in the Windows Registry as well, where regedit.exe displays the reversed characters but the command line tool reg.exe does not by default.
This type of attack technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on the abuse of system features.
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Detection methods should include looking for common formats of RTLO characters within filenames such as
%E2%80%AE. Defenders should also check their analysis tools to ensure they do not interpret the RTLO character and instead print the true name of the file containing it.