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T1027 Obfuscated Files or Information

Adversaries may attempt to make an executable or file difficult to discover or analyze by encrypting, encoding, or otherwise obfuscating its contents on the system or in transit. This is common behavior that can be used across different platforms and the network to evade defenses.

Payloads may be compressed, archived, or encrypted in order to avoid detection. These payloads may be used during Initial Access or later to mitigate detection. Sometimes a user’s action may be required to open and Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information for User Execution. The user may also be required to input a password to open a password protected compressed/encrypted file that was provided by the adversary. 1 Adversaries may also use compressed or archived scripts, such as JavaScript.

Portions of files can also be encoded to hide the plain-text strings that would otherwise help defenders with discovery. 6 Payloads may also be split into separate, seemingly benign files that only reveal malicious functionality when reassembled. 7

Adversaries may also abuse Command Obfuscation to obscure commands executed from payloads or directly via Command and Scripting Interpreter. Environment variables, aliases, characters, and other platform/language specific semantics can be used to evade signature based detections and application control mechanisms. 3 48

Item Value
ID T1027
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 1.4
Created 31 May 2017
Last Modified 30 March 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
C0025 2016 Ukraine Electric Power Attack During the 2016 Ukraine Electric Power Attack, Sandworm Team used heavily obfuscated code with Industroyer in its Windows Notepad backdoor.110
S1028 Action RAT Action RAT‘s commands, strings, and domains can be Base64 encoded within the payload.251
S0045 ADVSTORESHELL Most of the strings in ADVSTORESHELL are encrypted with an XOR-based algorithm; some strings are also encrypted with 3DES and reversed. API function names are also reversed, presumably to avoid detection in memory.214215
S0331 Agent Tesla Agent Tesla has had its code obfuscated in an apparent attempt to make analysis difficult.257 Agent Tesla has used the Rijndael symmetric encryption algorithm to encrypt strings.258
S1025 Amadey Amadey has obfuscated strings such as antivirus vendor names, domains, files, and others.138
S0504 Anchor Anchor has obfuscated code with stack strings and string encryption.50
S0584 AppleJeus AppleJeus has XOR-encrypted collected system information prior to sending to a C2. AppleJeus has also used the open source ADVObfuscation library for its components.97
S0622 AppleSeed AppleSeed has the ability to Base64 encode its payload and custom encrypt API calls.279
G0099 APT-C-36 APT-C-36 has used ConfuserEx to obfuscate its variant of Imminent Monitor, compressed payload and RAT packages, and password protected encrypted email attachments to avoid detection.20
G0026 APT18 APT18 obfuscates strings in the payload.340
G0073 APT19 APT19 used Base64 to obfuscate payloads.338
G0007 APT28 APT28 encrypted a .dll payload using RTL and a custom encryption algorithm. APT28 has also obfuscated payloads with base64, XOR, and RC4.215312313261314
G0022 APT3 APT3 obfuscates files or information to help evade defensive measures.343
G0050 APT32 APT32 has performed code obfuscation, including encoding payloads using Base64 and using a framework called “Dont-Kill-My-Cat (DKMC). APT32 also encrypts the library used for network exfiltration with AES-256 in CBC mode in their macOS backdoor.333332337334118335336
G0064 APT33 APT33 has used base64 to encode payloads.342
G0067 APT37 APT37 obfuscates strings and payloads.327328111
G0087 APT39 APT39 has used malware to drop encrypted CAB files.290
G0096 APT41 APT41 used VMProtected binaries in multiple intrusions.363
S0456 Aria-body Aria-body has used an encrypted configuration file for its loader.145
S0373 Astaroth Astaroth has used an XOR-based algorithm to encrypt payloads twice with different keys.51
S0438 Attor Strings in Attor‘s components are encrypted with a XOR cipher, using a hardcoded key and the configuration data, log files and plugins are encrypted using a hybrid encryption scheme of Blowfish-OFB combined with RSA.78
S0347 AuditCred AuditCred encrypts the configuration.113
S0640 Avaddon Avaddon has used encrypted strings.187
S0473 Avenger Avenger has the ability to XOR encrypt files to be sent to C2.242
S1053 AvosLocker AvosLocker has used XOR-encoded strings.209
G0135 BackdoorDiplomacy BackdoorDiplomacy has obfuscated tools and malware it uses with VMProtect.84
S0534 Bazar Bazar has used XOR, RSA2, and RC4 encrypted files.636465
S0574 BendyBear BendyBear has encrypted payloads using RC4 and XOR.188
S0268 Bisonal Bisonal‘s DLL file and non-malicious decoy file are encrypted with RC4 and some function name strings are obfuscated.243244
S0570 BitPaymer BitPaymer has used RC4-encrypted strings and string hashes to avoid identifiable strings within the binary.159
G1002 BITTER BITTER has used a RAR SFX dropper to deliver malware.323
G0063 BlackOasis BlackOasis‘s first stage shellcode contains a NOP sled with alternative instructions that was likely designed to bypass antivirus tools.357
S0520 BLINDINGCAN BLINDINGCAN has obfuscated code using Base64 encoding.24
G0108 Blue Mockingbird Blue Mockingbird has obfuscated the wallet address in the payload binary.317
S0657 BLUELIGHT BLUELIGHT has a XOR-encoded payload.56
S0635 BoomBox BoomBox can encrypt data using AES prior to exfiltration.108
S0415 BOOSTWRITE BOOSTWRITE has encoded its payloads using a ChaCha stream cipher with a 256-bit key and 64-bit Initialization vector (IV) to evade detection.211
S0651 BoxCaon BoxCaon used the “StackStrings” obfuscation technique to hide malicious functionalities.149
S1063 Brute Ratel C4 Brute Ratel C4 has used encrypted payload files and maintains an encrypted configuration structure in memory.2322
S1039 Bumblebee Bumblebee has been delivered as password-protected zipped ISO files and used control-flow-flattening to obfuscate the flow of functions.152151153
S0482 Bundlore Bundlore has obfuscated data with base64, AES, RC4, and bz2.144
C0015 C0015 During C0015, the threat actors used Base64-encoded strings.370
C0017 C0017 During C0017, APT41 broke malicious binaries, including DEADEYE and KEYPLUG, into multiple sections on disk to evade detection.183
S0030 Carbanak Carbanak encrypts strings to make analysis more difficult.53
S0484 Carberp Carberp has used XOR-based encryption to mask C2 server locations within the trojan.226
S0335 Carbon Carbon encrypts configuration files and tasks for the malware to complete using CAST-128 algorithm.202203
S0348 Cardinal RAT Cardinal RAT encodes many of its artifacts and is encrypted (AES-128) when downloaded.136
S0465 CARROTBALL CARROTBALL has used a custom base64 alphabet to decode files.19
S0462 CARROTBAT CARROTBAT has the ability to download a base64 encoded payload.58
S1041 Chinoxy Chinoxy has encrypted its configuration file.11
S0667 Chrommme Chrommme can encrypt sections of its code to evade detection.122
S0660 Clambling The Clambling executable has been obfuscated when dropped on a compromised host.89
S0154 Cobalt Strike Cobalt Strike can hash functions to obfuscate calls to the Windows API and use a public/private key pair to encrypt Beacon session metadata.197198
S0369 CoinTicker CoinTicker initially downloads a hidden encoded file.117
S0244 Comnie Comnie uses RC4 and Base64 to obfuscate strings.229
S0126 ComRAT ComRAT has encrypted its virtual file system using AES-256 in XTS mode.277276
S0608 Conficker Conficker has obfuscated its code to prevent its removal from host machines.245
S0575 Conti Conti can use compiler-based obfuscation for its code, encrypt DLLs, and hide Windows API calls.808165
S0137 CORESHELL CORESHELL obfuscates strings using a custom stream cipher.69
S0046 CozyCar The payload of CozyCar is encrypted with simple XOR with a rotating key. The CozyCar configuration file has been encrypted with RC4 keys.96
S0625 Cuba Cuba has used multiple layers of obfuscation to avoid analysis, including its Base64 encoded payload.27
S0497 Dacls Dacls can encrypt its configuration file with AES CBC.161
S1014 DanBot DanBot can Base64 encode its payload.119
G0070 Dark Caracal Dark Caracal has obfuscated strings in Bandook by base64 encoding, and then encrypting them.330
G0012 Darkhotel Darkhotel has obfuscated code using RC4, XOR, and RSA.344345
S1066 DarkTortilla DarkTortilla has been obfuscated with the DeepSea .NET and ConfuserEx code obfuscators.107
S0673 DarkWatchman DarkWatchman has been delivered as compressed RAR payloads in ZIP files to victims.150
S0187 Daserf Daserf uses encrypted Windows APIs and also encrypts data using the alternative base64+RC4 or the Caesar cipher.29
S1033 DCSrv DCSrv‘s configuration is encrypted.99
S1052 DEADEYE DEADEYE has encrypted its payload.183
S0354 Denis Denis obfuscates its code and encrypts the API names.118
S0659 Diavol Diavol has Base64 encoded the RSA public key used for encrypting files.160
S0213 DOGCALL DOGCALL is encrypted using single-byte XOR.26
S0695 Donut Donut can generate encrypted, compressed/encoded, or otherwise obfuscated code modules.21
S0694 DRATzarus DRATzarus can be partly encrypted with XOR.91
S0384 Dridex Dridex‘s strings are obfuscated using RC4.124
S0502 Drovorub Drovorub has used XOR encrypted payloads in WebSocket client to server messages.42
S0062 DustySky The DustySky dropper uses a function to obfuscate the name of functions and other parts of the malware.162
G1006 Earth Lusca Earth Lusca used Base64 to encode strings.234
S0377 Ebury Ebury has obfuscated its strings with a simple XOR encryption with a static key.221
S0593 ECCENTRICBANDWAGON ECCENTRICBANDWAGON has encrypted strings with RC4.139
S0624 Ecipekac Ecipekac can use XOR, AES, and DES to encrypt loader shellcode.105
S0605 EKANS EKANS uses encoded strings in its process kill list.146
G0066 Elderwood Elderwood has encrypted documents and malicious executables.131
S0081 Elise Elise encrypts several of its files, including configuration files.287
G1003 Ember Bear Ember Bear has obfuscated malware to help avoid detection.135
S0082 Emissary Variants of Emissary encrypt payloads using various XOR ciphers, as well as a custom algorithm that uses the “srand” and “rand” functions.189190
S0634 EnvyScout EnvyScout can Base64 encode payloads.108
S0091 Epic Epic heavily obfuscates its code to make analysis more difficult.206
S0401 Exaramel for Linux Exaramel for Linux uses RC4 for encrypting the configuration.128129
S0512 FatDuke FatDuke can use base64 encoding, string stacking, and opaque predicates for obfuscation.67
S0267 FELIXROOT FELIXROOT encrypts strings in the backdoor using a custom XOR algorithm.262212
S0355 Final1stspy Final1stspy obfuscates strings with base64 encoding.26
S0182 FinFisher FinFisher is heavily obfuscated in many ways, including through the use of spaghetti code in its functions in an effort to confuse disassembly programs. It also uses a custom XOR algorithm to obfuscate code.253254
S0618 FIVEHANDS The FIVEHANDS payload is encrypted with AES-128.101102103
S0696 Flagpro Flagpro has been delivered within ZIP or RAR password-protected archived files.100
S0383 FlawedGrace FlawedGrace encrypts its C2 configuration files with AES in CBC mode.44
S0661 FoggyWeb FoggyWeb has been XOR-encoded.250
G0117 Fox Kitten Fox Kitten has base64 encoded payloads to avoid detection.324
S1044 FunnyDream FunnyDream can Base64 encode its C2 address stored in a template binary with the xyz0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw_- or
xyz0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw_= character sets.11
S0410 Fysbis Fysbis has been encrypted using XOR and RC4.280
G0093 GALLIUM GALLIUM used a modified version of HTRAN in which they obfuscated strings such as debug messages in an apparent attempt to evade detection.361
G0084 Gallmaker Gallmaker obfuscated shellcode used during execution.341
G0047 Gamaredon Group Gamaredon Group has delivered self-extracting 7z archive files within malicious document attachments.353
S0168 Gazer Gazer logs its actions into files that are encrypted with 3DES. It also uses RSA to encrypt resources.176
S0666 Gelsemium Gelsemium has the ability to compress its components.122
S0493 GoldenSpy GoldenSpy‘s uninstaller has base64-encoded its variables. 25
S0588 GoldMax GoldMax has written AES-encrypted and Base64-encoded configuration files to disk.133134
S0477 Goopy Goopy‘s decrypter have been inflated with junk code in between legitimate API functions, and also included infinite loops to avoid analysis.118
S0531 Grandoreiro The Grandoreiro payload has been delivered encrypted with a custom XOR-based algorithm and also as a base64-encoded ZIP file.51156156
S0237 GravityRAT GravityRAT supports file encryption (AES with the key “lolomycin2017”).93
S0690 Green Lambert Green Lambert has encrypted strings.266267
S0342 GreyEnergy GreyEnergy encrypts its configuration files with AES-256 and also encrypts its strings.212
S0632 GrimAgent GrimAgent has used Rotate on Right (RoR) and Rotate on Left (RoL) functionality to encrypt strings.157
G0043 Group5 Group5 disguised its malicious binaries with several layers of obfuscation, including encrypting the files.294
S0132 H1N1 H1N1 uses multiple techniques to obfuscate strings, including XOR.239
S0499 Hancitor Hancitor has used Base64 to encode malicious links. Hancitor has also delivered compressed payloads in ZIP files to victims.240241
S0391 HAWKBALL HAWKBALL has encrypted the payload with an XOR-based algorithm.82
S0170 Helminth The Helminth config file is encrypted with RC4.205
S0697 HermeticWiper HermeticWiper can compress 32-bit and 64-bit driver files with the Lempel-Ziv algorithm.222223224
S0698 HermeticWizard HermeticWizard has the ability to encrypt PE files with a reverse XOR loop.71
S1027 Heyoka Backdoor Heyoka Backdoor can encrypt its payload.194
S0087 Hi-Zor Hi-Zor uses various XOR techniques to obfuscate its components.238
S0394 HiddenWasp HiddenWasp encrypts its configuration and payload.95
G0126 Higaisa Higaisa used Base64 encoded compressed payloads.315316
S0601 Hildegard Hildegard has encrypted an ELF file.163
S0232 HOMEFRY Some strings in HOMEFRY are obfuscated with XOR x56.116
S0431 HotCroissant HotCroissant has encrypted strings with single-byte XOR and base64 encoded RC4.141
S0070 HTTPBrowser HTTPBrowser‘s code may be obfuscated through structured exception handling and return-oriented programming.92
S0203 Hydraq Hydraq uses basic obfuscation in the form of spaghetti code.131132
S0398 HyperBro HyperBro can be delivered encrypted to a compromised host.89
S0483 IcedID IcedID has utilzed encrypted binaries and base64 encoded strings.62
S0434 Imminent Monitor Imminent Monitor has encrypted the spearphish attachments to avoid detection from email gateways; the debugger also encrypts information before sending to the C2.20
G0100 Inception Inception has encrypted malware payloads dropped on victim machines with AES and RC4 encryption.329
S0604 Industroyer Industroyer uses heavily obfuscated code in its Windows Notepad backdoor.110
S0259 InnaputRAT InnaputRAT uses an 8-byte XOR key to obfuscate API names and other strings contained in the payload.60
S0260 InvisiMole InvisiMole avoids analysis by encrypting all strings, internal files, configuration data and by using a custom executable format.231232
S0581 IronNetInjector IronNetInjector can obfuscate variable names, encrypt strings, as well as base64 encode and Rijndael encrypt payloads.14
S0189 ISMInjector ISMInjector is obfuscated with the off-the-shelf SmartAssembly .NET obfuscator created by
S0044 JHUHUGIT Many strings in JHUHUGIT are obfuscated with a XOR algorithm.259260261
S0201 JPIN A JPIN uses a encrypted and compressed payload that is disguised as a bitmap within the resource section of the installer.90
S0283 jRAT jRAT’s Java payload is encrypted with AES.38 Additionally, backdoor files are encrypted using DES as a stream cipher. Later variants of jRAT also incorporated AV evasion methods such as Java bytecode obfuscation via the commercial Allatori obfuscation tool.39
S0265 Kazuar Kazuar is obfuscated using the open source ConfuserEx protector. Kazuar also obfuscates the name of created files/folders/mutexes and encrypts debug messages written to log files using the Rijndael cipher.41
G0004 Ke3chang Ke3chang has used Base64-encoded shellcode strings.325
S0585 Kerrdown Kerrdown can encrypt, encode, and compress multiple layers of shellcode.70
S0487 Kessel Kessel‘s configuration is hardcoded and RC4 encrypted within the binary.68
S1020 Kevin Kevin has Base64-encoded its configuration file.236
S0387 KeyBoy In one version of KeyBoy, string obfuscation routines were used to hide many of the critical values referenced in the malware.158
S1051 KEYPLUG KEYPLUG can use a hardcoded one-byte XOR encoded configuration file.183
S0526 KGH_SPY KGH_SPY has used encrypted strings in its installer.52
S0607 KillDisk KillDisk uses VMProtect to make reverse engineering the malware more difficult.155
G0094 Kimsuky Kimsuky has obfuscated binary strings including the use of XOR encryption and Base64 encoding.360359 Kimsuky has also modified the first byte of DLL implants targeting victims to prevent recognition of the executable file format.358
S0641 Kobalos Kobalos encrypts all strings using RC4 and bundles all functionality into a single function call.37
S0356 KONNI KONNI is heavily obfuscated and includes encrypted configuration files.170
S0236 Kwampirs Kwampirs downloads additional files that are base64-encoded and encrypted with another cipher.57
G0032 Lazarus Group Lazarus Group has used multiple types of encryption and encoding for their payloads, including AES, Caracachs, RC4, XOR, Base64, and other tricks such as creating aliases in code for Native API function names.297295296300161299298
G0065 Leviathan Leviathan has obfuscated code using base64 and gzip compression.179
S0395 LightNeuron LightNeuron encrypts its configuration files with AES-256.167
S0447 Lokibot Lokibot has obfuscated strings with base64 encoding.216
S0451 LoudMiner LoudMiner has encrypted DMG files.272
S1060 Mafalda Mafalda has been obfuscated and contains encrypted functions.40
G0059 Magic Hound Magic Hound malware has used base64-encoded files and has also encrypted embedded strings with AES.303304
S0167 Matryoshka Matryoshka obfuscates API function names using a substitute cipher combined with Base64 encoding.106
S0449 Maze Maze has decrypted strings and other important information during the encryption process. Maze also calls certain functions dynamically to hinder analysis.271
S0500 MCMD MCMD can Base64 encode output strings prior to sending to C2.16
G0045 menuPass menuPass has encoded strings in its malware with base64 as well as with a simple, single-byte XOR obfuscation using key 0x40.320321322
G1013 Metador Metador has encrypted their payloads.40
S1059 metaMain metaMain‘s module file has been encrypted via XOR.55
S0455 Metamorfo Metamorfo has encrypted payloads and strings.8687
S0339 Micropsia Micropsia obfuscates the configuration with a custom Base64 and XOR.255256
S1015 Milan Milan can encode files containing information about the targeted system.143236
S0051 MiniDuke MiniDuke can use control flow flattening to obscure code.67
G0103 Mofang Mofang has compressed the ShimRat executable within malicious email attachments. Mofang has also encrypted payloads before they are downloaded to victims.15
G0021 Molerats Molerats has delivered compressed executables within ZIP files to victims.331
S0284 More_eggs More_eggs‘s payload has been encrypted with a key that has the hostname and processor family information appended to the end.172
G1009 Moses Staff Moses Staff has used obfuscated web shells in their operations.99
S0256 Mosquito Mosquito’s installer is obfuscated with a custom crypter to obfuscate the installer.177
G0129 Mustang Panda Mustang Panda has delivered initial payloads hidden using archives and encoding measures.306307308309310207
S0228 NanHaiShu NanHaiShu encodes files in Base64.195
S0336 NanoCore NanoCore’s plugins were obfuscated with Eazfuscater.NET 3.3.210
S0198 NETWIRE NETWIRE has used a custom obfuscation algorithm to hide strings including Registry keys, APIs, and DLL names.180
C0002 Night Dragon During Night Dragon, threat actors used a DLL that included an XOR-encoded section.366
S0385 njRAT njRAT has included a base64 encoded executable.165
S0353 NOKKI NOKKI uses Base64 encoding for strings.28
G0049 OilRig OilRig has encrypted and encoded data in its malware, including by using base64.351349352350348
S0138 OLDBAIT OLDBAIT obfuscates internal strings and unpacks them at startup.69
S0264 OopsIE OopsIE uses the Confuser protector to obfuscate an embedded .Net Framework assembly used for C2. OopsIE also encodes collected data in hexadecimal format before writing to files on disk and obfuscates strings.219220
C0022 Operation Dream Job During Operation Dream Job, Lazarus Group encrypted malware such as DRATzarus with XOR and DLL files with base64.91368369268
C0016 Operation Dust Storm During Operation Dust Storm, the threat actors encoded some payloads with a single-byte XOR, both skipping the key itself and zeroing in an attempt to avoid exposing the key; other payloads were Base64-encoded.367
C0006 Operation Honeybee During Operation Honeybee, the threat actors used Base64 to encode files with a custom key.365
C0005 Operation Spalax For Operation Spalax, the threat actors used XOR-encrypted payloads.364
S0229 Orz Some Orz strings are base64 encoded, such as the embedded DLL known as MockDll.179
S0352 OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D encrypts its strings in RSA256 and encodes them in a custom base64 scheme and XOR.217
S0594 Out1 Out1 has the ability to encode data.18
S0598 P.A.S. Webshell P.A.S. Webshell can use encryption and base64 encoding to hide strings and to enforce access control once deployed.129
S0664 Pandora Pandora has the ability to compress stings with QuickLZ.83
S1050 PcShare PcShare has been encrypted with XOR using different 32-long Base16 strings and compressed with LZW algorithm.11
S0587 Penquin Penquin has encrypted strings in the binary for obfuscation.148
S0517 Pillowmint Pillowmint has been compressed and stored within a registry key. Pillowmint has also obfuscated the AES key used for encryption.288
S0501 PipeMon PipeMon modules are stored encrypted on disk.196
S0124 Pisloader Pisloader obfuscates files by splitting strings into smaller sub-strings and including “garbage” strings that are never used. The malware also uses return-oriented programming (ROP) technique and single-byte XOR to obfuscate data.218
S0013 PlugX PlugX can use API hashing and modify the names of strings to evade detection.89207
S0428 PoetRAT PoetRAT has used a custom encryption scheme for communication between scripts.248
S0012 PoisonIvy PoisonIvy hides any strings related to its own indicators of compromise.154
S0518 PolyglotDuke PolyglotDuke can custom encrypt strings.67
S0453 Pony Pony attachments have been delivered via compressed archive files. Pony also obfuscates the memory flow by adding junk instructions when executing to make analysis more difficult.173
S0150 POSHSPY POSHSPY appends a file signature header (randomly selected from six file types) to encrypted data prior to upload or download.208
S0393 PowerStallion PowerStallion uses a XOR cipher to encrypt command output written to its OneDrive C2 server.88
S0113 Prikormka Some resources in Prikormka are encrypted with a simple XOR operation or encoded with Base64.230
S0613 PS1 PS1 is distributed as a set of encrypted files and scripts.94
S0196 PUNCHBUGGY PUNCHBUGGY has hashed most its code’s functions and encrypted payloads with base64 and XOR.147
S0197 PUNCHTRACK PUNCHTRACK is loaded and executed by a highly obfuscated launcher.289
G0024 Putter Panda Droppers used by Putter Panda use RC4 or a 16-byte XOR key consisting of the bytes 0xA0 – 0xAF to obfuscate payloads.319
S1032 PyDCrypt PyDCrypt has been compiled and encrypted with PyInstaller, specifically using the –key flag during the build phase.99
S0650 QakBot QakBot has hidden code within Excel spreadsheets by turning the font color to white and splitting it across multiple cells.264
S0565 Raindrop Raindrop encrypted its payload using a simple XOR algorithm with a single-byte key.13077
S0629 RainyDay RainyDay has downloaded as a XOR-encrypted payload.168
S0458 Ramsay Ramsay has base64-encoded its portable executable and hidden itself under a JPG header. Ramsay can also embed information within document footers.237
S0662 RCSession RCSession can compress and obfuscate its strings to evade detection on a compromised host.89
S0172 Reaver Reaver encrypts some of its files with XOR.75
S0153 RedLeaves A RedLeaves configuration file is encrypted with a simple XOR key, 0x53.43
S0511 RegDuke RegDuke can use control-flow flattening or the commercially available .NET Reactor for obfuscation.67
S0332 Remcos Remcos uses RC4 and base64 to obfuscate data, including Registry entries and file paths.17
S0375 Remexi Remexi obfuscates its configuration data with XOR.171
S0125 Remsec Some data in Remsec is encrypted using RC5 in CBC mode, AES-CBC with a hardcoded key, RC4, or Salsa20. Some data is also base64-encoded.174175
S0496 REvil REvil has used encrypted strings and configuration files.30313233343536
S0433 Rifdoor Rifdoor has encrypted strings with a single byte XOR algorithm.141
S0448 Rising Sun Configuration data used by Rising Sun has been encrypted using an RC4 stream algorithm.263
G0106 Rocke Rocke has modified UPX headers after packing files to break unpackers.339
S0240 ROKRAT ROKRAT can encrypt data prior to exfiltration by using an RSA public key.111112
S0148 RTM RTM strings, network data, configuration, and modules are encrypted with a modified RC4 algorithm. RTM has also been delivered to targets as various archive files including ZIP, 7-ZIP, and RAR.274275
S0446 Ryuk Ryuk can use anti-disassembly and code transformation obfuscation techniques.65
S1018 Saint Bot Saint Bot has been obfuscated to help avoid detection.135
S0074 Sakula Sakula uses single-byte XOR obfuscation to obfuscate many of its files.123
S0370 SamSam SamSam has been seen using AES or DES to encrypt payloads and payload components.281282
G0034 Sandworm Team Sandworm Team has used Base64 encoding within malware variants.311
S0461 SDBbot SDBbot has the ability to XOR the strings for its installer component with a hardcoded 128 byte key.61
S0345 Seasalt Seasalt obfuscates configuration data.166
S0596 ShadowPad ShadowPad has encrypted its payload, a virtual file system, and various files.235234
S0140 Shamoon Shamoon contains base64-encoded strings.249
S1019 Shark Shark can use encrypted and encoded files for C2 configuration.143142
S0444 ShimRat ShimRat has been delivered as a package that includes compressed DLL and shellcode payloads within a .dat file.15
S0445 ShimRatReporter ShimRatReporter encrypted gathered information with a combination of shifting and XOR using a static key.15
S0063 SHOTPUT SHOTPUT is obscured using XOR encoding and appended to a valid GIF file.4849
G0121 Sidewinder Sidewinder has used base64 encoding and ECDH-P256 encryption for payloads.355356354
S0623 Siloscape Siloscape itself is obfuscated and uses obfuscated API calls.201
S0468 Skidmap Skidmap has encrypted it’s main payload using 3DES.169
S0633 Sliver Sliver can encrypt strings at compile time.1213
S1035 Small Sieve Small Sieve has the ability to use a custom hex byte swapping encoding scheme combined with an obfuscated Base64 function to protect program strings and Telegram credentials.164
S0226 Smoke Loader Smoke Loader uses a simple one-byte XOR method to obfuscate values in the malware.269270
S0627 SodaMaster SodaMaster can use “stackstrings” for obfuscation.105
S0615 SombRAT SombRAT can encrypt strings with XOR-based routines and use a custom AES storage format for plugins, configuration, C2 domains, and harvested data.94101102
S0516 SoreFang SoreFang has the ability to encode and RC6 encrypt data sent to C2.79
S0374 SpeakUp SpeakUp encodes its second-stage payload with Base64. 121
S1030 Squirrelwaffle Squirrelwaffle has been obfuscated with a XOR-based algorithm.7374
S1037 STARWHALE STARWHALE has been obfuscated with hex-encoded strings.233
S0380 StoneDrill StoneDrill has obfuscated its module with an alphabet-based table or XOR encryption.278
S0142 StreamEx StreamEx obfuscates some commands by using statically programmed fragments of strings when starting a DLL. It also uses a one-byte xor against 0x91 to encode configuration data.98
S0491 StrongPity StrongPity has used encrypted strings in its dropper component.185186
S0603 Stuxnet Stuxnet uses encrypted configuration blocks and writes encrypted files to disk.45
S0559 SUNBURST SUNBURST strings were compressed and encoded in Base64.46 SUNBURST also obfuscated collected system information using a FNV-1a + XOR algorithm.47
S0562 SUNSPOT SUNSPOT encrypted log entries it collected with the stream cipher RC4 using a hard-coded key. It also uses AES128-CBC encrypted blobs for SUNBURST source code and data extracted from the SolarWinds Orion <MsBuild.exe process.137
S0578 SUPERNOVA SUPERNOVA contained Base64-encoded strings.225
S1064 SVCReady SVCReady can encrypt victim data with an RC4 cipher.204
S0242 SynAck SynAck payloads are obfuscated prior to compilation to inhibit analysis and/or reverse engineering.284285
S0663 SysUpdate SysUpdate can encrypt and encode its configuration file.83
G0092 TA505 TA505 has password-protected malicious Word documents.326
S0011 Taidoor Taidoor can use encrypted string blocks for obfuscation.182
S0467 TajMahal TajMahal has used an encrypted Virtual File System to store plugins.120
G0139 TeamTNT TeamTNT has encrypted its binaries via AES and encoded files using Base64.346347
S0560 TEARDROP TEARDROP created and read from a file with a fake JPG header, and its payload was encrypted with a simple rotating XOR cipher.477677
G0027 Threat Group-3390 A Threat Group-3390 tool can encrypt payloads using XOR. Threat Group-3390 malware is also obfuscated using Metasploit’s shikata_ga_nai encoder as well as compressed with LZNT1 compression.291292293
S0665 ThreatNeedle ThreatNeedle has been compressed and obfuscated using RC4, AES, or XOR.109
S0131 TINYTYPHON TINYTYPHON has used XOR with 0x90 to obfuscate its configuration file.265
S0678 Torisma Torisma has been Base64 encoded and AES encrypted.268
G0134 Transparent Tribe Transparent Tribe has dropped encoded executables on compromised hosts.318
S0266 TrickBot TrickBot uses non-descriptive names to hide functionality and uses an AES CBC (256 bits) encryption algorithm for its loader and configuration files.66
S0094 Trojan.Karagany Trojan.Karagany can base64 encode and AES-128-CBC encrypt data prior to transmission.283
G0081 Tropic Trooper Tropic Trooper has encrypted configuration files.301302
S0647 Turian Turian can use VMProtect for obfuscation.84
S0263 TYPEFRAME APIs and strings in some TYPEFRAME variants are RC4 encrypted. Another variant is encoded with XOR.140
S0333 UBoatRAT UBoatRAT encrypts instructions in the payload using a simple XOR cipher.72
S0386 Ursnif Ursnif has used an XOR-based algorithm to encrypt Tor clients dropped to disk.200 Ursnif droppers have also been delivered as password-protected zip files that execute base64 encoded PowerShell commands.199
S0136 USBStealer Most strings in USBStealer are encrypted using 3DES and XOR and reversed.273
S0476 Valak Valak has the ability to base64 encode and XOR encrypt strings.193191192
S0257 VERMIN VERMIN is obfuscated using the obfuscation tool called ConfuserEx.286
S0180 Volgmer A Volgmer variant is encoded using a simple XOR cipher.59
S0612 WastedLocker The WastedLocker payload includes encrypted strings stored within the .bss section of the binary file.181
S0579 Waterbear Waterbear has used RC4 encrypted shellcode and encrypted functions.228
S0689 WhisperGate WhisperGate can Base64 encode strings, store downloaded files in reverse byte order, and use the Eazfuscator tool to obfuscate its third stage.125127126
G0107 Whitefly Whitefly has encrypted the payload used for C2.362
G0112 Windshift Windshift has used string encoding with floating point calculations.305
S0466 WindTail WindTail can be delivered as a compressed, encrypted, and encoded payload.104
S0430 Winnti for Linux Winnti for Linux can encode its configuration file with single-byte XOR encoding.213
S0141 Winnti for Windows Winnti for Windows has the ability to encrypt and compress its payload.178
S1065 Woody RAT Woody RAT has used Base64 encoded strings and scripts.184
S0117 XTunnel A version of XTunnel introduced in July 2015 obfuscated the binary using opaque predicates and other techniques in a likely attempt to obfuscate it and bypass security products.252
S0388 YAHOYAH YAHOYAH encrypts its configuration file using a simple algorithm.227
S0230 ZeroT ZeroT has encrypted its payload with RC4.54
S0330 Zeus Panda Zeus Panda encrypts strings with XOR. Zeus Panda also encrypts all configuration and settings in AES and RC4.114115
S0672 Zox Zox has been encoded with Base64.246
S1013 ZxxZ ZxxZ has been encoded to avoid detection from static analysis tools.247


ID Mitigation Description
M1049 Antivirus/Antimalware Anti-virus can be used to automatically detect and quarantine suspicious files. Consider utilizing the Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) on Windows 10+ to analyze commands after being processed/interpreted. 10
M1047 Audit Consider periodic review of common fileless storage locations (such as the Registry or WMI repository) to potentially identify abnormal and malicious data.
M1040 Behavior Prevention on Endpoint On Windows 10+, enable Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rules to prevent execution of potentially obfuscated payloads. 9


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Creation
DS0011 Module Module Load
DS0009 Process OS API Execution
DS0012 Script Script Execution
DS0024 Windows Registry Windows Registry Key Creation
DS0005 WMI WMI Creation


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