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T1102.001 Dead Drop Resolver

Adversaries may use an existing, legitimate external Web service to host information that points to additional command and control (C2) infrastructure. Adversaries may post content, known as a dead drop resolver, on Web services with embedded (and often obfuscated/encoded) domains or IP addresses. Once infected, victims will reach out to and be redirected by these resolvers.

Popular websites and social media acting as a mechanism for C2 may give a significant amount of cover due to the likelihood that hosts within a network are already communicating with them prior to a compromise. Using common services, such as those offered by Google or Twitter, makes it easier for adversaries to hide in expected noise. Web service providers commonly use SSL/TLS encryption, giving adversaries an added level of protection.

Use of a dead drop resolver may also protect back-end C2 infrastructure from discovery through malware binary analysis while also enabling operational resiliency (since this infrastructure may be dynamically changed).

Item Value
ID T1102.001
Sub-techniques T1102.001, T1102.002, T1102.003
Tactics TA0011
Platforms Linux, Windows, macOS
Permissions required User
Version 1.0
Created 14 March 2020
Last Modified 26 March 2020

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0096 APT41 APT41 used legitimate websites for C2 through dead drop resolvers (DDR), including GitHub, Pastebin, and Microsoft TechNet.22
S0373 Astaroth Astaroth can store C2 information on cloud hosting services such as AWS and CloudFlare and websites like YouTube and Facebook.2
S0128 BADNEWS BADNEWS collects C2 information via a dead drop resolver.8910
S0069 BLACKCOFFEE BLACKCOFFEE uses Microsoft’s TechNet Web portal to obtain a dead drop resolver containing an encoded tag with the IP address of a command and control server.34
G0060 BRONZE BUTLER BRONZE BUTLER‘s MSGET downloader uses a dead drop resolver to access malicious payloads.21
C0017 C0017 During C0017, APT41 used dead drop resolvers on two separate tech community forums for their KEYPLUG Windows-version backdoor; notably APT41 updated the community forum posts frequently with new dead drop resolvers during the campaign.12
S0674 CharmPower CharmPower can retrieve C2 domain information from actor-controlled S3 buckets.14
S0531 Grandoreiro Grandoreiro can obtain C2 information from Google Docs.2
S0528 Javali Javali can read C2 information from Google Documents and YouTube.2
S1051 KEYPLUG The KEYPLUG Windows variant has retrieved C2 addresses from encoded data in posts on tech community forums.12
S0455 Metamorfo Metamorfo has used YouTube to store and hide C&C server domains.18
S0051 MiniDuke Some MiniDuke components use Twitter to initially obtain the address of a C2 server or as a backup if no hard-coded C2 server responds.161715
G0040 Patchwork Patchwork hides base64-encoded and encrypted C2 server locations in comments on legitimate websites.19
S0013 PlugX PlugX uses Pastebin to store C2 addresses.11
S0518 PolyglotDuke PolyglotDuke can use Twitter, Reddit, Imgur and other websites to get a C2 URL.15
G0106 Rocke Rocke has used Pastebin to check the version of beaconing malware and redirect to another Pastebin hosting updated malware.20
S0148 RTM RTM has used an RSS feed on Livejournal to update a list of encrypted C2 server names. RTM has also hidden Pony C2 server IP addresses within transactions on the Bitcoin and Namecoin blockchain.567
G0048 RTM RTM has used an RSS feed on Livejournal to update a list of encrypted C2 server names.5
S0341 Xbash Xbash can obtain a webpage hosted on Pastebin to update its C2 domain list.13


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 activity at the network level.
M1021 Restrict Web-Based Content Web proxies can be used to enforce external network communication policy that prevents use of unauthorized external services.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Content


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