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T1027.010 Command Obfuscation

Adversaries may obfuscate content during command execution to impede detection. Command-line obfuscation is a method of making strings and patterns within commands and scripts more difficult to signature and analyze. This type of obfuscation can be included within commands executed by delivered payloads (e.g., Phishing and Drive-by Compromise) or interactively via Command and Scripting Interpreter.65

For example, adversaries may abuse syntax that utilizes various symbols and escape characters (such as spacing, ^, +. $, and %) to make commands difficult to analyze while maintaining the same intended functionality.9 Many languages support built-in obfuscation in the form of base64 or URL encoding.8 Adversaries may also manually implement command obfuscation via string splitting (“Wor”+“d.Application”), order and casing of characters (rev <<<'dwssap/cte/ tac'), globing (mkdir -p '/tmp/:&$NiA'), as well as various tricks involving passing strings through tokens/environment variables/input streams.74

Adversaries may also use tricks such as directory traversals to obfuscate references to the binary being invoked by a command (C:\voi\pcw\..\..\Windows\tei\qs\k\..\..\..\system32\erool\..\wbem\wg\je\..\..\wmic.exe shadowcopy delete).1

Tools such as Invoke-Obfuscation and Invoke-DOSfucation have also been used to obfuscate commands.32

Item Value
ID T1027.010
Sub-techniques T1027.001, T1027.002, T1027.003, T1027.004, T1027.005, T1027.006, T1027.007, T1027.008, T1027.009, T1027.010, T1027.011
Tactics TA0005
Platforms Linux, Windows, macOS
Version 1.0
Created 14 March 2023
Last Modified 24 March 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0073 APT19 APT19 used Base64 to obfuscate executed commands.60
G0050 APT32 APT32 has used the Invoke-Obfuscation framework to obfuscate their PowerShell.632142
G0143 Aquatic Panda Aquatic Panda has encoded PowerShell commands in Base64.64
S0373 Astaroth Astaroth has obfuscated and randomized parts of the JScript code it is initiating.33
S0475 BackConfig BackConfig has used compressed and decimal encoded VBS scripts.25
C0018 C0018 During C0018, the threat actors used Base64 to encode their PowerShell scripts.8685
C0021 C0021 During C0021, the threat actors used encoded PowerShell commands.8990
S0462 CARROTBAT CARROTBAT has the ability to execute obfuscated commands on the infected host.14
G0114 Chimera Chimera has encoded PowerShell commands.48
G0080 Cobalt Group Cobalt Group obfuscated several scriptlets and code used on the victim’s machine, including through use of XOR and RC4.6261
S0126 ComRAT ComRAT has used encryption and base64 to obfuscate its orchestrator code in the Registry. ComRAT has also used encoded PowerShell scripts.3231
S0492 CookieMiner CookieMiner has used base64 encoding to obfuscate scripts on the system.39
S0673 DarkWatchman DarkWatchman has used Base64 to encode PowerShell commands.27
S0354 Denis Denis has encoded its PowerShell commands in Base64.42
G1003 Ember Bear Ember Bear has obfuscated malicious scripts to help avoid detection.69
S0367 Emotet Emotet has obfuscated macros within malicious documents to hide the URLs hosting the malware, CMD.exe arguments, and PowerShell scripts. 34373536
S0363 Empire Empire has the ability to obfuscate commands using Invoke-Obfuscation.13
G0037 FIN6 FIN6 has used encoded PowerShell commands.65
G0046 FIN7 FIN7 has used fragmented strings, environment variables, standard input (stdin), and native character-replacement functionalities to obfuscate commands.46768
G0061 FIN8 FIN8 has used environment variables and standard input (stdin) to obfuscate command-line arguments. FIN8 also obfuscates malicious macros delivered as payloads.47071
G0117 Fox Kitten Fox Kitten has base64 encoded scripts to avoid detection.66
C0001 Frankenstein During Frankenstein, the threat actors ran encoded commands from the command line.88
S0277 FruitFly FruitFly executes and stores obfuscated Perl scripts.20
G0047 Gamaredon Group Gamaredon Group has used obfuscated or encrypted scripts.8038
G0115 GOLD SOUTHFIELD GOLD SOUTHFIELD has executed base64 encoded PowerShell scripts on compromised hosts.59
G1001 HEXANE HEXANE has used Base64-encoded scripts.50
S1022 IceApple IceApple can use Base64 and “junk” JavaScript code to obfuscate information.46
S0669 KOCTOPUS KOCTOPUS has obfuscated scripts with the BatchEncryption tool.40
G0140 LazyScripter LazyScripter has leveraged the BatchEncryption tool to perform advanced batch script obfuscation and encoding techniques.40
G0077 Leafminer Leafminer obfuscated scripts that were used on victim machines.53
S0451 LoudMiner LoudMiner has obfuscated various scripts.47
S0409 Machete Machete has used pyobfuscate, zlib compression, and base64 encoding for obfuscation. Machete has also used some visual obfuscation techniques by naming variables as combinations of letters to hinder analysis.1615
G0059 Magic Hound Magic Hound has used base64-encoded commands.8182
G0069 MuddyWater MuddyWater has used Daniel Bohannon’s Invoke-Obfuscation framework and obfuscated PowerShell scripts.7521 The group has also used other obfuscation methods, including Base64 obfuscation of VBScripts and PowerShell commands.75197472737776
S0457 Netwalker Netwalker‘s PowerShell script has been obfuscated with multiple layers including base64 and hexadecimal encoding and XOR-encryption, as well as obfuscated PowerShell functions and variables.4544
C0012 Operation CuckooBees During Operation CuckooBees, the threat actors executed an encoded VBScript file.87
C0014 Operation Wocao During Operation Wocao, threat actors executed PowerShell commands which were encoded or compressed using Base64, zlib, and XOR.84
G0040 Patchwork Patchwork has obfuscated a script with Crypto Obfuscator.83
S0428 PoetRAT PoetRAT has pyminifier to obfuscate scripts.26
S0685 PowerPunch PowerPunch can use Base64-encoded scripts.38
S0194 PowerSploit PowerSploit contains a collection of ScriptModification modules that compress and encode scripts and payloads.1112
S0223 POWERSTATS POWERSTATS uses character replacement, PowerShell environment variables, and XOR encoding to obfuscate code. POWERSTATS‘s backdoor code is a multi-layer obfuscated, encoded, and compressed blob. 1917 POWERSTATS has used PowerShell code with custom string obfuscation 18
S0650 QakBot QakBot can use obfuscated and encoded scripts.2930
S0269 QUADAGENT QUADAGENT was likely obfuscated using Invoke-Obfuscation.2821
S0270 RogueRobin The PowerShell script with the RogueRobin payload was obfuscated using the COMPRESS technique in Invoke-Obfuscation.2221
G0034 Sandworm Team Sandworm Team has used ROT13 encoding, AES encryption and compression with the zlib library for their Python-based backdoor.54
S0450 SHARPSTATS SHARPSTATS has used base64 encoding and XOR to obfuscate PowerShell scripts.18
S0589 Sibot Sibot has obfuscated scripts used in execution.43
G0121 Sidewinder Sidewinder has used base64 encoding for scripts.5556
G0091 Silence Silence has used environment variable string substitution for obfuscation.51
S0390 SQLRat SQLRat has used a character insertion obfuscation technique, making the script appear to contain Chinese characters.41
G0092 TA505 TA505 has used base64 encoded PowerShell commands.7879
G0127 TA551 TA551 has used obfuscated variable names in a JavaScript configuration file.49
G0010 Turla Turla has used encryption (including salted 3DES via PowerSploit‘s Out-EncryptedScript.ps1), random variable names, and base64 encoding to obfuscate PowerShell commands and payloads.52
S0386 Ursnif Ursnif droppers execute base64 encoded PowerShell commands.24
G0102 Wizard Spider Wizard Spider used Base64 encoding to obfuscate an Empire service and PowerShell commands.5758
S0330 Zeus Panda Zeus Panda obfuscates the macro commands in its initial payload.23


ID Mitigation Description
M1049 Antivirus/Antimalware Consider utilizing the Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) on Windows 10+ to analyze commands after being processed/interpreted.
M1040 Behavior Prevention on Endpoint On Windows 10+, enable Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rules to block execution of potentially obfuscated scripts.10


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Metadata
DS0012 Script Script Execution


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