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T0869 Standard Application Layer Protocol

Adversaries may establish command and control capabilities over commonly used application layer protocols such as HTTP(S), OPC, RDP, telnet, DNP3, and modbus. These protocols may be used to disguise adversary actions as benign network traffic. Standard protocols may be seen on their associated port or in some cases over a non-standard port. Adversaries may use these protocols to reach out of the network for command and control, or in some cases to other infected devices within the network.

Item Value
ID T0869
Tactics TA0101
Platforms Control Server, Data Historian, Engineering Workstation, Human-Machine Interface
Version 1.0
Created 21 May 2020
Last Modified 09 March 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0089 BlackEnergy BlackEnergy uses HTTP POST request to contact external command and control servers. 6
S1045 INCONTROLLER INCONTROLLER can remotely send commands to a malicious agent uploaded on Omron PLCs over HTTP or HTTPS.5
G0049 OilRig OilRig communicated with its command and control using HTTP requests. 7
S0496 REvil REvil sends HTTPS POST messages with randomly generated URLs to communicate with a remote server. 2 1
S0603 Stuxnet Stuxnet uses a thread to monitor a data block DB890 of sequence A or B. This thread is constantly running and probing this block (every 5 minutes). On an infected PLC, if block DB890 is found and contains a special magic value (used by Stuxnet to identify his own block DB890), this blocks data can be read and written. This thread is likely used to optimize the way sequences A and B work, and modify their behavior when the Step7 editor is opened. 3
S1009 Triton Triton can communicate with the implant utilizing the TriStation ‘get main processor diagnostic data’ command and looks for a specifically crafted packet body from which it extracts a command value and its arguments. 4


ID Mitigation Description
M0807 Network Allowlists Network allowlists can be implemented through either host-based files or system host files to specify what external connections (e.g., IP address, MAC address, port, protocol) can be made from a device. Allowlist techniques that operate at the application layer (e.g., DNP3, Modbus, HTTP) are addressed in the Filter Network Traffic mitigation.
M0931 Network Intrusion Prevention Network intrusion detection and prevention systems that use network signatures to identify traffic for specific adversary malware can be used to mitigate activity at the network level.
M0930 Network Segmentation Ensure proper network segmentation between higher level corporate resources and the control process environment.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Content