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T1140 Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information

Adversaries may use Obfuscated Files or Information to hide artifacts of an intrusion from analysis. They may require separate mechanisms to decode or deobfuscate that information depending on how they intend to use it. Methods for doing that include built-in functionality of malware or by using utilities present on the system.

One such example is the use of certutil to decode a remote access tool portable executable file that has been hidden inside a certificate file.2 Another example is using the Windows copy /b command to reassemble binary fragments into a malicious payload.3

Sometimes a user’s action may be required to open it for deobfuscation or decryption as part of 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

Item Value
ID T1140
Tactics TA0005
Platforms Linux, Windows, macOS
Version 1.2
Created 14 December 2017
Last Modified 21 April 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0469 ABK ABK has the ability to decrypt AES encrypted payloads.118
S1028 Action RAT Action RAT can use Base64 to decode actor-controlled C2 server communications.45
S0331 Agent Tesla Agent Tesla has the ability to decrypt strings encrypted with the Rijndael symmetric encryption algorithm.36
S1025 Amadey Amadey has decoded antivirus name strings.132
S0584 AppleJeus AppleJeus has decoded files received from a C2.54
S0622 AppleSeed AppleSeed can decode its payload prior to execution.141
G0073 APT19 An APT19 HTTP malware variant decrypts strings using single-byte XOR keys.249
G0007 APT28 An APT28 macro uses the command certutil -decode to decode contents of a .txt file storing the base64 encoded payload.253254
G0087 APT39 APT39 has used malware to decrypt encrypted CAB files.226
S0456 Aria-body Aria-body has the ability to decrypt the loader configuration and payload DLL.167
S0373 Astaroth Astaroth uses a fromCharCode() deobfuscation method to avoid explicitly writing execution commands and to hide its code. 7677
S0347 AuditCred AuditCred uses XOR and RC4 to perform decryption on the code functions.46
S0640 Avaddon Avaddon has decrypted encrypted strings.97
S0473 Avenger Avenger has the ability to decrypt files downloaded from C2.118
S1053 AvosLocker AvosLocker has deobfuscated XOR-encoded strings.81
S0344 Azorult Azorult uses an XOR key to decrypt content and uses Base64 to decode the C2 address.125126
S0638 Babuk Babuk has the ability to unpack itself into memory using XOR.165166
S0414 BabyShark BabyShark has the ability to decode downloaded files prior to execution.107
S0475 BackConfig BackConfig has used a custom routine to decrypt strings.222
S0642 BADFLICK BADFLICK can decode shellcode using a custom rotating XOR cipher.189
S0234 Bandook Bandook has decoded its PowerShell script.82
S0239 Bankshot Bankshot decodes embedded XOR strings.94
S0534 Bazar Bazar can decrypt downloaded payloads. Bazar also resolves strings and other artifacts at runtime.8485
S0470 BBK BBK has the ability to decrypt AES encrypted payloads.118
S0127 BBSRAT BBSRAT uses Expand to decompress a CAB file into executable content.170
S0574 BendyBear BendyBear has decrypted function blocks using a XOR key during runtime to evade detection.123
S0268 Bisonal Bisonal has decoded strings in the malware using XOR and RC4.5051
S0520 BLINDINGCAN BLINDINGCAN has used AES and XOR to decrypt its DLLs.35
S0635 BoomBox BoomBox can decrypt AES-encrypted files downloaded from C2.30
S0415 BOOSTWRITE BOOSTWRITE has used a a 32-byte long multi-XOR key to decode data inside its payload.169
G0060 BRONZE BUTLER BRONZE BUTLER downloads encoded payloads and decodes them on the victim.250
S1063 Brute Ratel C4 Brute Ratel C4 has the ability to deobfuscate its payload prior to execution.7
S1039 Bumblebee Bumblebee can deobfuscate C2 server responses and unpack its code on targeted hosts.5859
S0482 Bundlore Bundlore has used openssl to decrypt AES encrypted payload data. Bundlore has also used base64 and RC4 with a hardcoded key to deobfuscate data.60
C0017 C0017 During C0017, APT41 used the DUSTPAN loader to decrypt embedded payloads.55
C0021 C0021 During C0021, the threat actors deobfuscated encoded PowerShell commands including use of the specific string 'FromBase'+0x40+'String', in place of FromBase64String which is normally used to decode base64.267268
S0335 Carbon Carbon decrypts task and configuration files for execution.1415
S0348 Cardinal RAT Cardinal RAT decodes many of its artifacts and is decrypted (AES-128) after being downloaded.147
S0160 certutil certutil has been used to decode binaries hidden inside certificate files as Base64 information.2
S0631 Chaes Chaes has decrypted an AES encrypted binary file to trigger the download of other files.131
S0674 CharmPower CharmPower can decrypt downloaded modules prior to execution.96
S1041 Chinoxy The Chinoxy dropping function can initiate decryption of its config file.8
S0667 Chrommme Chrommme can decrypt its encrypted internal code.148
S0660 Clambling Clambling can deobfuscate its payload prior to execution.8990
S0611 Clop Clop has used a simple XOR operation to decrypt strings.179
S0154 Cobalt Strike Cobalt Strike can deobfuscate shellcode using a rolling XOR and decrypt metadata from Beacon sessions.6768
S0369 CoinTicker CoinTicker decodes the initially-downloaded hidden encoded file using OpenSSL.20
S0126 ComRAT ComRAT has used unique per machine passwords to decrypt the orchestrator payload and a hardcoded XOR key to decrypt its communications module. ComRAT has also used a unique password to decrypt the file used for its hidden file system.116117
S0575 Conti Conti has decrypted its payload using a hardcoded AES-256 key.216217
S0492 CookieMiner CookieMiner has used Google Chrome’s decryption and extraction operations.171
S0614 CostaBricks CostaBricks has the ability to use bytecode to decrypt embedded payloads.16
S0115 Crimson Crimson can decode its encoded PE file prior to execution.138
S0687 Cyclops Blink Cyclops Blink can decrypt and parse instructions sent from C2.49
S1014 DanBot DanBot can use a VBA macro to decode its payload prior to installation and execution.163
G0012 Darkhotel Darkhotel has decrypted strings and imports using RC4 during execution.240241
S1066 DarkTortilla DarkTortilla can decrypt its payload and associated configuration elements using the Rijndael cipher.173
S0673 DarkWatchman DarkWatchman has the ability to self-extract as a RAR archive.79
S0255 DDKONG DDKONG decodes an embedded configuration using XOR.78
S1052 DEADEYE DEADEYE has the ability to combine multiple sections of a binary which were broken up to evade detection into a single .dll prior to execution.55
S0354 Denis Denis will decrypt important strings used for C&C communication.88
S0547 DropBook DropBook can unarchive data downloaded from the C2 to obtain the payload and persistence modules.86
S0502 Drovorub Drovorub has de-obsfuscated XOR encrypted payloads in WebSocket messages.91
S0567 Dtrack Dtrack has used a decryption routine that is part of an executable physical patch.184
S0024 Dyre Dyre decrypts resources needed for targeting the victim.181182
G1006 Earth Lusca Earth Lusca has used certutil to decode a string into a cabinet file.234
S0377 Ebury Ebury has verified C2 domain ownership by decrypting the TXT record using an embedded RSA public key.156
S0624 Ecipekac Ecipekac has the ability to decrypt fileless loader modules.43
S0554 Egregor Egregor has been decrypted before execution.207208
S0634 EnvyScout EnvyScout can deobfuscate and write malicious ISO files to disk.30
S0401 Exaramel for Linux Exaramel for Linux can decrypt its configuration file.142
S0361 Expand Expand can be used to decompress a local or remote CAB file into an executable.6
S0512 FatDuke FatDuke can decrypt AES encrypted C2 communications.56
S0355 Final1stspy Final1stspy uses Python code to deobfuscate base64-encoded strings.19
S0182 FinFisher FinFisher extracts and decrypts stage 3 malware, which is stored in encrypted resources.139140
S0618 FIVEHANDS FIVEHANDS has the ability to decrypt its payload prior to execution.91011
S0661 FoggyWeb FoggyWeb can be decrypted in memory using a Lightweight Encryption Algorithm (LEA)-128 key and decoded using a XOR key.223
C0001 Frankenstein During Frankenstein, the threat actors deobfuscated Base64-encoded commands following the execution of a malicious script, which revealed a small script designed to obtain an additional payload.264
S0628 FYAnti FYAnti has the ability to decrypt an embedded .NET module.43
G0047 Gamaredon Group Gamaredon Group tools decrypted additional payloads from the C2. Gamaredon Group has also decoded base64-encoded source code of a downloader.243244
S0666 Gelsemium Gelsemium can decompress and decrypt DLLs and shellcode.148
S0032 gh0st RAT gh0st RAT has decrypted and loaded the gh0st RAT DLL into memory, once the initial dropper executable is launched.48
S0588 GoldMax GoldMax has decoded and decrypted the configuration file when executed.1372
S0477 Goopy Goopy has used a polymorphic decryptor to decrypt itself at runtime.88
G0078 Gorgon Group Gorgon Group malware can decode contents from a payload that was Base64 encoded and write the contents to a file.235
S0531 Grandoreiro Grandoreiro can decrypt its encrypted internal strings.178
S0690 Green Lambert Green Lambert can use multiple custom routines to decrypt strings prior to execution.6162
S0632 GrimAgent GrimAgent can use a decryption algorithm for strings based on Rotate on Right (RoR) and Rotate on Left (RoL) functionality.66
S0499 Hancitor Hancitor has decoded Base64 encoded URLs to insert a recipient’s name into the filename of the Word document. Hancitor has also extracted executables from ZIP files.7374
S0697 HermeticWiper HermeticWiper can decompress and copy driver files using LZCopy.204
S1027 Heyoka Backdoor Heyoka Backdoor can decrypt its payload prior to execution.114
S0394 HiddenWasp HiddenWasp uses a cipher to implement a decoding function.188
G0126 Higaisa Higaisa used certutil to decode Base64 binaries at runtime and a 16-byte XOR key to decrypt data.232233
S0601 Hildegard Hildegard has decrypted ELF files with AES.12
S0398 HyperBro HyperBro can unpack and decrypt its payload prior to execution.8992
S1022 IceApple IceApple can use a Base64-encoded AES key to decrypt tasking.42
S0434 Imminent Monitor Imminent Monitor has decoded malware components that are then dropped to the system.4
S0604 Industroyer Industroyer decrypts code to connect to a remote C2 server.143
S0260 InvisiMole InvisiMole can decrypt, unpack and load a DLL from its resources, or from blobs encrypted with Data Protection API, two-key triple DES, and variations of the XOR cipher.150151
S0581 IronNetInjector IronNetInjector has the ability to decrypt embedded .NET and PE payloads.5
S0189 ISMInjector ISMInjector uses the certutil command to decode a payload file.162
G0004 Ke3chang Ke3chang has deobfuscated Base64-encoded shellcode strings prior to loading them.230
S0585 Kerrdown Kerrdown can decode, decrypt, and decompress multiple layers of shellcode.64
S0487 Kessel Kessel has decrypted the binary’s configuration once the main function was launched.75
S1051 KEYPLUG KEYPLUG can decode its configuration file to determine C2 protocols.55
S0526 KGH_SPY KGH_SPY can decrypt encrypted strings and write them to a newly created folder.57
G0094 Kimsuky Kimsuky has decoded malicious VBScripts using Base64.261
S0641 Kobalos Kobalos decrypts strings right after the initial communication, but before the authentication process.161
S0669 KOCTOPUS KOCTOPUS has deobfuscated itself before executing its commands.87
S0356 KONNI KONNI has used certutil to download and decode base64 encoded strings and has also devoted a custom section to performing all the components of the deobfuscation process.202203
S0236 Kwampirs Kwampirs decrypts and extracts a copy of its main DLL payload when executing.103
G0032 Lazarus Group Lazarus Group has used shellcode within macros to decrypt and manually map DLLs and shellcode into memory at runtime.256255
G0065 Leviathan Leviathan has used a DLL known as SeDll to decrypt and execute other JavaScript backdoors.236
S0395 LightNeuron LightNeuron has used AES and XOR to decrypt configuration files and commands.63
S0513 LiteDuke LiteDuke has the ability to decrypt and decode multiple layers of obfuscation.56
S0681 Lizar Lizar can decrypt its configuration data.21
S0447 Lokibot Lokibot has decoded and decrypted its stages multiple times using hard-coded keys to deliver the final payload, and has decoded its server response hex string using XOR.136
S0582 LookBack LookBack has a function that decrypts malicious data.149
S0532 Lucifer Lucifer can decrypt its C2 address upon execution.160
S0409 Machete Machete’s downloaded data is decrypted using AES.174
S1016 MacMa MacMa decrypts a downloaded file using AES-128-EBC with a custom delta.121
S1060 Mafalda Mafalda can decrypt files and data.44
S0576 MegaCortex MegaCortex has used a Base64 key to decode its components.168
G0045 menuPass menuPass has used certutil in a macro to decode base64-encoded content contained in a dropper document attached to an email. The group has also used certutil -decode to decode files on the victim’s machine when dropping UPPERCUT.245246
S0443 MESSAGETAP After checking for the existence of two files, keyword_parm.txt and parm.txt, MESSAGETAP XOR decodes and read the contents of the files. 93
S1059 metaMain metaMain can decrypt and load other modules.44
S0455 Metamorfo Upon execution, Metamorfo has unzipped itself after being downloaded to the system and has performed string decryption.313233
S0280 MirageFox MirageFox has a function for decrypting data containing C2 configuration information.176
G0021 Molerats Molerats decompresses ZIP files once on the victim machine.242
S1026 Mongall Mongall has the ability to decrypt its payload prior to execution.114
S0284 More_eggs More_eggs will decode malware components that are then dropped to the system.122
S1047 Mori Mori can resolve networking APIs from strings that are ADD-encrypted.41
G0069 MuddyWater MuddyWater decoded base64-encoded PowerShell commands using a VBS file.238239224237
S0637 NativeZone NativeZone can decrypt and decode embedded Cobalt Strike beacon stage shellcode.30
S0457 Netwalker Netwalker‘s PowerShell script can decode and decrypt multiple layers of obfuscation, leading to the Netwalker DLL being loaded into memory.52
S0353 NOKKI NOKKI uses a unique, custom de-obfuscation technique.213
G0049 OilRig A OilRig macro has run a PowerShell command to decode file contents. OilRig has also used certutil to decode base64-encoded files on victims.25816239259
S0439 Okrum Okrum‘s loader can decrypt the backdoor code, embedded within the loader or within a legitimate PNG file. A custom XOR cipher or RC4 is used for decryption.37
S0052 OnionDuke OnionDuke can use a custom decryption algorithm to decrypt strings.56
S0264 OopsIE OopsIE concatenates then decompresses multiple resources to load an embedded .Net Framework assembly.39
C0016 Operation Dust Storm During Operation Dust Storm, attackers used VBS code to decode payloads.265
C0006 Operation Honeybee During Operation Honeybee, malicious files were decoded prior to execution.266
C0005 Operation Spalax For Operation Spalax, the threat actors used a variety of packers and droppers to decrypt malicious payloads.263
S0402 OSX/Shlayer OSX/Shlayer can base64-decode and AES-decrypt downloaded payloads.128 Versions of OSX/Shlayer pass encrypted and password-protected code to openssl and then write the payload to the /tmp folder.129130
S0598 P.A.S. Webshell P.A.S. Webshell can use a decryption mechanism to process a user supplied password and allow execution.142
S1050 PcShare PcShare has decrypted its strings by applying a XOR operation and a decompression using a custom implemented LZM algorithm.8
S0517 Pillowmint Pillowmint has been decompressed by included shellcode prior to being launched.172
S1031 PingPull PingPull can decrypt received data from its C2 server by using AES.71
S0501 PipeMon PipeMon can decrypt password-protected executables.220
S0013 PlugX PlugX decompresses and decrypts itself using the Microsoft API call RtlDecompressBuffer.13489135
S0428 PoetRAT PoetRAT has used LZMA and base64 libraries to decode obfuscated scripts.102
S0518 PolyglotDuke PolyglotDuke can use a custom algorithm to decrypt strings used by the malware.56
S1012 PowerLess PowerLess can use base64 and AES ECB decryption prior to execution of downloaded modules.145
S0223 POWERSTATS POWERSTATS can deobfuscate the main backdoor code.224
S1046 PowGoop PowGoop can decrypt PowerShell scripts for execution.41225
S0279 Proton Proton uses an encrypted file to store commands and configuration values.127
S0613 PS1 PS1 can use an XOR key to decrypt a PowerShell loader and payload binary.16
S0147 Pteranodon Pteranodon can decrypt encrypted data strings prior to using them.146
S0196 PUNCHBUGGY PUNCHBUGGY has used PowerShell to decode base64-encoded assembly.115
S1032 PyDCrypt PyDCrypt has decrypted and dropped the DCSrv payload to disk.34
S0650 QakBot QakBot can deobfuscate and re-assemble code strings for execution.194195196
S0269 QUADAGENT QUADAGENT uses AES and a preshared key to decrypt the custom Base64 routine used to encode strings and scripts.38
S0565 Raindrop Raindrop decrypted its Cobalt Strike payload using an AES-256 encryption algorithm in CBC mode with a unique key per sample.210155
S0629 RainyDay RainyDay can decrypt its payload via a XOR key.219
S0458 Ramsay Ramsay can extract its agent from the body of a malicious document.211
S0495 RDAT RDAT can deobfuscate the base64-encoded and AES-encrypted files downloaded from the C2 server.205
S0511 RegDuke RegDuke can decrypt strings with a key either stored in the Registry or hardcoded in the code.56
S0375 Remexi Remexi decrypts the configuration data using XOR with 25-character keys.180
S0496 REvil REvil can decode encrypted strings to enable execution of commands and payloads.232425262728
S0258 RGDoor RGDoor decodes Base64 strings and decrypts strings using a custom XOR algorithm.29
S0448 Rising Sun Rising Sun has decrypted itself using a single-byte XOR scheme. Additionally, Rising Sun can decrypt its configuration data at runtime.110
G0106 Rocke Rocke has extracted tar.gz files after downloading them from a C2 server.257
S0270 RogueRobin RogueRobin decodes an embedded executable using base64 and decompresses it.193
S0240 ROKRAT ROKRAT can decrypt strings using the victim’s hostname as the key.157158
S1018 Saint Bot Saint Bot can deobfuscate strings and files for execution.101
G0034 Sandworm Team Sandworm Team‘s VBS backdoor can decode Base64-encoded data and save it to the %TEMP% folder. The group also decrypted received information using the Triple DES algorithm and decompresses it using GZip.227228
S0461 SDBbot SDBbot has the ability to decrypt and decompress its payload to enable code execution.108109
S0596 ShadowPad ShadowPad has decrypted a binary blob to start execution.65
S0140 Shamoon Shamoon decrypts ciphertext using an XOR cipher and a base64-encoded string.221
S1019 Shark Shark can extract and decrypt downloaded .zip files.106
S0546 SharpStage SharpStage has decompressed data received from the C2 server.192
S0444 ShimRat ShimRat has decompressed its core DLL using shellcode once an impersonated antivirus component was running on a system.83
S0589 Sibot Sibot can decrypt data received from a C2 and save to a file.13
S0610 SideTwist SideTwist can decode and decrypt messages received from C2.197
S0623 Siloscape Siloscape has decrypted the password of the C2 server with a simple byte by byte XOR. Siloscape also writes both an archive of Tor and the unzip binary to disk from data embedded within the payload using Visual Studio’s Resource Manager.206
S0468 Skidmap Skidmap has the ability to download, unpack, and decrypt tar.gz files .111
S0226 Smoke Loader Smoke Loader deobfuscates its code.124
C0024 SolarWinds Compromise During the SolarWinds Compromise, APT29 used 7-Zip to decode their Raindrop malware.210
S0615 SombRAT SombRAT can run upload to decrypt and upload files from storage.1610
S0516 SoreFang SoreFang can decode and decrypt exfiltrated data sent to C2.40
S0543 Spark Spark has used a custom XOR algorithm to decrypt the payload.17
S0390 SQLRat SQLRat has scripts that are responsible for deobfuscating additional scripts.164
S1030 Squirrelwaffle Squirrelwaffle has decrypted files and payloads using a XOR-based algorithm.112113
S0188 Starloader Starloader decrypts and executes shellcode from a file called Stars.jps.214
S0603 Stuxnet Stuxnet decrypts resources that are loaded into memory and executed.152
S0562 SUNSPOT SUNSPOT decrypts SUNBURST, which was stored in AES128-CBC encrypted blobs.69
S0663 SysUpdate SysUpdate can deobfuscate packed binaries in memory.92
G0092 TA505 TA505 has decrypted packed DLLs with an XOR key.262
S0011 Taidoor Taidoor can use a stream cipher to decrypt stings used by the malware.22
G0139 TeamTNT TeamTNT has used a script that decodes a Base64-encoded version of WeaveWorks Scope.231
S0560 TEARDROP TEARDROP was decoded using a custom rolling XOR algorithm to execute a customized Cobalt Strike payload.153154155
G0027 Threat Group-3390 During execution, Threat Group-3390 malware deobfuscates and decompresses code that was encoded with Metasploit’s shikata_ga_nai encoder as well as compressed with LZNT1 compression.251
S0665 ThreatNeedle ThreatNeedle can decrypt its payload using RC4, AES, or one-byte XORing.144
S0678 Torisma Torisma has used XOR and Base64 to decode C2 data.218
S0266 TrickBot TrickBot decodes the configuration data and modules.199200201
G0081 Tropic Trooper Tropic Trooper used shellcode with an XOR algorithm to decrypt a payload. Tropic Trooper also decrypted image files which contained a payload.247248
S0436 TSCookie TSCookie has the ability to decrypt, load, and execute a DLL and its resources.53
S0647 Turian Turian has the ability to use a XOR decryption key to extract C2 server domains and IP addresses.159
G0010 Turla Turla has used a custom decryption routine, which pulls key and salt values from other artifacts such as a WMI filter or PowerShell Profile, to decode encrypted PowerShell payloads.252
S0263 TYPEFRAME One TYPEFRAME variant decrypts an archive using an RC4 key, then decompresses and installs the decrypted malicious DLL module. Another variant decodes the embedded file by XORing it with the value “0x35”.198
S0386 Ursnif Ursnif has used crypto key information stored in the Registry to decrypt Tor clients dropped to disk.80
S0476 Valak Valak has the ability to decode and decrypt downloaded files.104105
S0636 VaporRage VaporRage can deobfuscate XOR-encoded shellcode prior to execution.30
S0257 VERMIN VERMIN decrypts code, strings, and commands to use once it’s on the victim’s machine.187
S0180 Volgmer Volgmer deobfuscates its strings and APIs once its executed.137
S0670 WarzoneRAT WarzoneRAT can use XOR 0x45 to decrypt obfuscated code.209
S0612 WastedLocker WastedLocker‘s custom cryptor, CryptOne, used an XOR based algorithm to decrypt the payload.70
S0579 Waterbear Waterbear has the ability to decrypt its RC4 encrypted payload for execution.120
S0515 WellMail WellMail can decompress scripts received from C2.215
S0514 WellMess WellMess can decode and decrypt data received from C2.9899100
S0689 WhisperGate WhisperGate can deobfuscate downloaded files stored in reverse byte order and decrypt embedded resources using multiple XOR operations.185186
S0466 WindTail WindTail has the ability to decrypt strings using hard-coded AES keys.212
S0430 Winnti for Linux Winnti for Linux has decoded XOR encoded strings holding its configuration upon execution.47
S0141 Winnti for Windows The Winnti for Windows dropper can decrypt and decompresses a data blob.119
G0090 WIRTE WIRTE has used Base64 to decode malicious VBS script.229
S1065 Woody RAT Woody RAT can deobfuscate Base64-encoded strings and scripts.175
S0653 xCaon xCaon has decoded strings from the C2 server before executing commands.95
S0388 YAHOYAH YAHOYAH decrypts downloaded files before execution.177
S0251 Zebrocy Zebrocy decodes its secondary payload and writes it to the victim’s machine. Zebrocy also uses AES and XOR to decrypt strings and payloads.190191
S0230 ZeroT ZeroT shellcode decrypts and decompresses its RC4-encrypted payload.133
S0330 Zeus Panda Zeus Panda decrypts strings in the code during the execution process.183
G0128 ZIRCONIUM ZIRCONIUM has used the AES256 algorithm with a SHA1 derived key to decrypt exploit code.260
S1013 ZxxZ ZxxZ has used a XOR key to decrypt strings.18


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0022 File File Modification
DS0009 Process Process Creation
DS0012 Script Script Execution


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