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S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike is a commercial, full-featured, remote access tool that bills itself as “adversary simulation software designed to execute targeted attacks and emulate the post-exploitation actions of advanced threat actors”. Cobalt Strike’s interactive post-exploit capabilities cover the full range of ATT&CK tactics, all executed within a single, integrated system.1

In addition to its own capabilities, Cobalt Strike leverages the capabilities of other well-known tools such as Metasploit and Mimikatz.1

Item Value
ID S0154
Associated Names
Version 1.8
Created 14 December 2017
Last Modified 25 February 2022
Navigation Layer View In ATT&CK® Navigator

Techniques Used

Domain ID Name Use
enterprise T1548 Abuse Elevation Control Mechanism -
enterprise T1548.002 Bypass User Account Control Cobalt Strike can use a number of known techniques to bypass Windows UAC.12
enterprise T1548.003 Sudo and Sudo Caching Cobalt Strike can use sudo to run a command.2
enterprise T1134 Access Token Manipulation -
enterprise T1134.001 Token Impersonation/Theft Cobalt Strike can steal access tokens from exiting processes.12
enterprise T1134.003 Make and Impersonate Token Cobalt Strike can make tokens from known credentials.1
enterprise T1134.004 Parent PID Spoofing Cobalt Strike can spawn processes with alternate PPIDs.42
enterprise T1087 Account Discovery -
enterprise T1087.002 Domain Account Cobalt Strike can determine if the user on an infected machine is in the admin or domain admin group.6
enterprise T1071 Application Layer Protocol Cobalt Strike can conduct peer-to-peer communication over Windows named pipes encapsulated in the SMB protocol. All protocols use their standard assigned ports.15
enterprise T1071.001 Web Protocols Cobalt Strike can use a custom command and control protocol that can be encapsulated in HTTP or HTTPS. All protocols use their standard assigned ports.15210
enterprise T1071.004 DNS Cobalt Strike can use a custom command and control protocol that can be encapsulated in DNS. All protocols use their standard assigned ports.152
enterprise T1197 BITS Jobs Cobalt Strike can download a hosted “beacon” payload using BITSAdmin.952
enterprise T1185 Browser Session Hijacking Cobalt Strike can perform browser pivoting and inject into a user’s browser to inherit cookies, authenticated HTTP sessions, and client SSL certificates.12
enterprise T1059 Command and Scripting Interpreter -
enterprise T1059.001 PowerShell Cobalt Strike can execute a payload on a remote host with PowerShell. This technique does not write any data to disk.16 Cobalt Strike can also use PowerSploit and other scripting frameworks to perform execution.3452
enterprise T1059.003 Windows Command Shell Cobalt Strike uses a command-line interface to interact with systems.352
enterprise T1059.005 Visual Basic Cobalt Strike can use VBA to perform execution.345
enterprise T1059.006 Python Cobalt Strike can use Python to perform execution.3452
enterprise T1059.007 JavaScript The Cobalt Strike System Profiler can use JavaScript to perform reconnaissance actions.5
enterprise T1543 Create or Modify System Process -
enterprise T1543.003 Windows Service Cobalt Strike can install a new service.3
enterprise T1132 Data Encoding -
enterprise T1132.001 Standard Encoding Cobalt Strike can use Base64, URL-safe Base64, or NetBIOS encoding in its C2 traffic.2
enterprise T1005 Data from Local System Cobalt Strike can collect data from a local system.32
enterprise T1001 Data Obfuscation -
enterprise T1001.003 Protocol Impersonation Cobalt Strike can mimic the HTTP protocol for C2 communication, while hiding the actual data in either an HTTP header, URI parameter, the transaction body, or appending it to the URI.2
enterprise T1030 Data Transfer Size Limits Cobalt Strike will break large data sets into smaller chunks for exfiltration.1
enterprise T1140 Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information Cobalt Strike can deobfuscate shellcode using a rolling XOR and decrypt metadata from Beacon sessions.52
enterprise T1573 Encrypted Channel -
enterprise T1573.001 Symmetric Cryptography Cobalt Strike has the ability to use AES-256 symmetric encryption in CBC mode with HMAC-SHA-256 to encrypt task commands and XOR to encrypt shell code and configuration data.5
enterprise T1573.002 Asymmetric Cryptography Cobalt Strike can use RSA asymmetric encryption with PKCS1 padding to encrypt data sent to the C2 server.5
enterprise T1203 Exploitation for Client Execution Cobalt Strike can exploit Oracle Java vulnerabilities for execution, including CVE-2011-3544, CVE-2013-2465, CVE-2012-4681, and CVE-2013-2460.52
enterprise T1068 Exploitation for Privilege Escalation Cobalt Strike can exploit vulnerabilities such as MS14-058.32
enterprise T1083 File and Directory Discovery Cobalt Strike can explore files on a compromised system.2
enterprise T1564 Hide Artifacts -
enterprise T1564.010 Process Argument Spoofing Cobalt Strike can use spoof arguments in spawned processes that execute beacon commands.2
enterprise T1562 Impair Defenses -
enterprise T1562.001 Disable or Modify Tools Cobalt Strike has the ability to use Smart Applet attacks to disable the Java SecurityManager sandbox.52
enterprise T1070 Indicator Removal on Host -
enterprise T1070.006 Timestomp Cobalt Strike can timestomp any files or payloads placed on a target machine to help them blend in.12
enterprise T1105 Ingress Tool Transfer Cobalt Strike can deliver additional payloads to victim machines.52
enterprise T1056 Input Capture -
enterprise T1056.001 Keylogging Cobalt Strike can track key presses with a keylogger module.172
enterprise T1112 Modify Registry Cobalt Strike can modify Registry values within HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\\Excel\Security\AccessVBOM\ to enable the execution of additional code.5
enterprise T1106 Native API Cobalt Strike‘s Beacon payload is capable of running shell commands without cmd.exe and PowerShell commands without powershell.exe152
enterprise T1046 Network Service Discovery Cobalt Strike can perform port scans from an infected host.152
enterprise T1135 Network Share Discovery Cobalt Strike can query shared drives on the local system.3
enterprise T1095 Non-Application Layer Protocol Cobalt Strike can be configured to use TCP, ICMP, and UDP for C2 communications.52
enterprise T1027 Obfuscated Files or Information Cobalt Strike can hash functions to obfuscate calls to the Windows API and use a public/private key pair to encrypt Beacon session metadata.52
enterprise T1027.005 Indicator Removal from Tools Cobalt Strike includes a capability to modify the Beacon payload to eliminate known signatures or unpacking methods.12
enterprise T1137 Office Application Startup -
enterprise T1137.001 Office Template Macros Cobalt Strike has the ability to use an Excel Workbook to execute additional code by enabling Office to trust macros and execute code without user permission.5
enterprise T1003 OS Credential Dumping -
enterprise T1003.001 LSASS Memory Cobalt Strike can spawn a job to inject into LSASS memory and dump password hashes.2
enterprise T1003.002 Security Account Manager Cobalt Strike can recover hashed passwords.1
enterprise T1069 Permission Groups Discovery -
enterprise T1069.001 Local Groups Cobalt Strike can use net localgroup to list local groups on a system.2
enterprise T1069.002 Domain Groups Cobalt Strike can identify targets by querying account groups on a domain contoller.2
enterprise T1057 Process Discovery Cobalt Strike‘s Beacon payload can collect information on process details.152
enterprise T1055 Process Injection Cobalt Strike can inject a variety of payloads into processes dynamically chosen by the adversary.12
enterprise T1055.001 Dynamic-link Library Injection Cobalt Strike has the ability to load DLLs via reflective injection.52
enterprise T1055.012 Process Hollowing Cobalt Strike can use process hollowing for execution.32
enterprise T1572 Protocol Tunneling Cobalt Strike uses a custom command and control protocol that is encapsulated in HTTP, HTTPS, or DNS. In addition, it conducts peer-to-peer communication over Windows named pipes encapsulated in the SMB protocol. All protocols use their standard assigned ports.12
enterprise T1090 Proxy -
enterprise T1090.001 Internal Proxy Cobalt Strike can be configured to have commands relayed over a peer-to-peer network of infected hosts. This can be used to limit the number of egress points, or provide access to a host without direct internet access.12
enterprise T1090.004 Domain Fronting Cobalt Strike has the ability to accept a value for HTTP Host Header to enable domain fronting.2
enterprise T1012 Query Registry Cobalt Strike can query HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\\Excel\Security\AccessVBOM\ to determine if the security setting for restricting default programmatic access is enabled.52
enterprise T1620 Reflective Code Loading Cobalt Strike‘s execute-assembly command can run a .NET executable within the memory of a sacrificial process by loading the CLR.2
enterprise T1021 Remote Services -
enterprise T1021.001 Remote Desktop Protocol Cobalt Strike can start a VNC-based remote desktop server and tunnel the connection through the already established C2 channel.1
enterprise T1021.002 SMB/Windows Admin Shares Cobalt Strike can use Window admin shares (C$ and ADMIN$) for lateral movement.3
enterprise T1021.003 Distributed Component Object Model Cobalt Strike can deliver Beacon payloads for lateral movement by leveraging remote COM execution.8
enterprise T1021.004 SSH Cobalt Strike can SSH to a remote service.32
enterprise T1021.006 Windows Remote Management Cobalt Strike can use WinRM to execute a payload on a remote host.12
enterprise T1018 Remote System Discovery Cobalt Strike uses the native Windows Network Enumeration APIs to interrogate and discover targets in a Windows Active Directory network.152
enterprise T1029 Scheduled Transfer Cobalt Strike can set its Beacon payload to reach out to the C2 server on an arbitrary and random interval.1
enterprise T1113 Screen Capture Cobalt Strike‘s Beacon payload is capable of capturing screenshots.172
enterprise T1518 Software Discovery The Cobalt Strike System Profiler can discover applications through the browser and identify the version of Java the target has.2
enterprise T1553 Subvert Trust Controls -
enterprise T1553.002 Code Signing Cobalt Strike can use self signed Java applets to execute signed applet attacks.52
enterprise T1218 System Binary Proxy Execution -
enterprise T1218.011 Rundll32 Cobalt Strike can use rundll32.exe to load DLL from the command line.2
enterprise T1016 System Network Configuration Discovery Cobalt Strike can determine the NetBios name and the IP addresses of targets machines including domain controllers.62
enterprise T1049 System Network Connections Discovery Cobalt Strike can produce a sessions report from compromised hosts.5
enterprise T1007 System Service Discovery Cobalt Strike can enumerate services on compromised hosts.2
enterprise T1569 System Services -
enterprise T1569.002 Service Execution Cobalt Strike can use PsExec to execute a payload on a remote host. It can also use Service Control Manager to start new services.132
enterprise T1550 Use Alternate Authentication Material -
enterprise T1550.002 Pass the Hash Cobalt Strike can perform pass the hash.3
enterprise T1078 Valid Accounts -
enterprise T1078.002 Domain Accounts Cobalt Strike can use known credentials to run commands and spawn processes as a domain user account.142
enterprise T1078.003 Local Accounts Cobalt Strike can use known credentials to run commands and spawn processes as a local user account.14
enterprise T1047 Windows Management Instrumentation Cobalt Strike can use WMI to deliver a payload to a remote host.12

Groups That Use This Software

ID Name References
G0096 APT41 1112
G0129 Mustang Panda 1314151617
G0080 Cobalt Group 18192021 22232425
G0067 APT37 26
G0037 FIN6 27
G0102 Wizard Spider 28293031323334
G0045 menuPass 10
G0016 APT29 353637383940414243
G0027 Threat Group-3390 44
G0073 APT19 45
G0114 Chimera 4647
G0079 DarkHydrus 4849
G0143 Aquatic Panda 50
G0052 CopyKittens 51
G0050 APT32 5253545556757
G0065 Leviathan 585960
G0119 Indrik Spider 61
G0046 FIN7 6263


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