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T1001.002 Steganography

Adversaries may use steganographic techniques to hide command and control traffic to make detection efforts more difficult. Steganographic techniques can be used to hide data in digital messages that are transferred between systems. This hidden information can be used for command and control of compromised systems. In some cases, the passing of files embedded using steganography, such as image or document files, can be used for command and control.

Item Value
ID T1001.002
Sub-techniques T1001.001, T1001.002, T1001.003
Tactics TA0011
Platforms Linux, Windows, macOS
Version 1.0
Created 15 March 2020
Last Modified 15 March 2020

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0001 Axiom Axiom has used steganography to hide its C2 communications.3
S0187 Daserf Daserf can use steganography to hide malicious code downloaded to the victim.6
S0038 Duqu When the Duqu command and control is operating over HTTP or HTTPS, Duqu uploads data to its controller by appending it to a blank JPG file.13
S0037 HAMMERTOSS HAMMERTOSS is controlled via commands that are appended to image files.5
S0395 LightNeuron LightNeuron is controlled via commands that are embedded into PDFs and JPGs using steganographic methods.4
C0023 Operation Ghost During Operation Ghost, APT29 used steganography to hide the communications between the implants and their C&C servers.14
S0495 RDAT RDAT can process steganographic images attached to email messages to send and receive C2 commands. RDAT can also embed additional messages within BMP images to communicate with the RDAT operator.7
S0633 Sliver Sliver can encode binary data into a .PNG file for C2 communication.2
S0559 SUNBURST SUNBURST C2 data attempted to appear as benign XML related to .NET assemblies or as a faux JSON blob.101112
S0230 ZeroT ZeroT has retrieved stage 2 payloads as Bitmap images that use Least Significant Bit (LSB) steganography.89
S0672 Zox Zox has used the .PNG file format for C2 communications.3


ID Mitigation Description
M1031 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 some obfuscation activity at the network level.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Content


  1. Gardiner, J., Cova, M., Nagaraja, S. (2014, February). Command & Control Understanding, Denying and Detecting. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 

  2. BishopFox. (n.d.). Sliver HTTP(S) C2. Retrieved September 16, 2021. 

  3. Novetta. (n.d.). Operation SMN: Axiom Threat Actor Group Report. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 

  4. Faou, M. (2019, May). Turla LightNeuron: One email away from remote code execution. Retrieved June 24, 2019. 

  5. FireEye Labs. (2015, July). HAMMERTOSS: Stealthy Tactics Define a Russian Cyber Threat Group. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 

  6. Chen, J. and Hsieh, M. (2017, November 7). REDBALDKNIGHT/BRONZE BUTLER’s Daserf Backdoor Now Using Steganography. Retrieved December 27, 2017. 

  7. Falcone, R. (2020, July 22). OilRig Targets Middle Eastern Telecommunications Organization and Adds Novel C2 Channel with Steganography to Its Inventory. Retrieved July 28, 2020. 

  8. Axel F. (2017, April 27). APT Targets Financial Analysts with CVE-2017-0199. Retrieved February 15, 2018. 

  9. Huss, D., et al. (2017, February 2). Oops, they did it again: APT Targets Russia and Belarus with ZeroT and PlugX. Retrieved April 5, 2018. 

  10. FireEye. (2020, December 13). Highly Evasive Attacker Leverages SolarWinds Supply Chain to Compromise Multiple Global Victims With SUNBURST Backdoor. Retrieved January 4, 2021. 

  11. Stephen Eckels, Jay Smith, William Ballenthin. (2020, December 24). SUNBURST Additional Technical Details. Retrieved January 6, 2021. 

  12. Symantec Threat Hunter Team. (2021, January 22). SolarWinds: How Sunburst Sends Data Back to the Attackers. Retrieved January 22, 2021. 

  13. Symantec Security Response. (2011, November). W32.Duqu: The precursor to the next Stuxnet. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 

  14. Faou, M., Tartare, M., Dupuy, T. (2019, October). OPERATION GHOST. Retrieved September 23, 2020.