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T1505.003 Web Shell

Adversaries may backdoor web servers with web shells to establish persistent access to systems. A Web shell is a Web script that is placed on an openly accessible Web server to allow an adversary to use the Web server as a gateway into a network. A Web shell may provide a set of functions to execute or a command-line interface on the system that hosts the Web server.

In addition to a server-side script, a Web shell may have a client interface program that is used to talk to the Web server (ex: China Chopper Web shell client).1

Item Value
ID T1505.003
Sub-techniques T1505.001, T1505.002, T1505.003, T1505.004, T1505.005
Tactics TA0003
Platforms Linux, Windows, macOS
Permissions required SYSTEM, User
Version 1.2
Created 13 December 2019
Last Modified 26 July 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0007 APT28 APT28 has used a modified and obfuscated version of the reGeorg web shell to maintain persistence on a target’s Outlook Web Access (OWA) server.30
G0016 APT29 APT29 has installed web shells on exploited Microsoft Exchange servers.28
G0050 APT32 APT32 has used Web shells to maintain access to victim websites.13
G0082 APT38 APT38 has used web shells for persistence or to ensure redundant access.21
G0087 APT39 APT39 has installed ANTAK and ASPXSPY web shells.34
S0073 ASPXSpy ASPXSpy is a Web shell. The ASPXTool version used by Threat Group-3390 has been deployed to accessible servers running Internet Information Services (IIS).9
G0135 BackdoorDiplomacy BackdoorDiplomacy has used web shells to establish an initial foothold and for lateral movement within a victim’s system.36
S0020 China Chopper China Chopper‘s server component is a Web Shell payload.1
G0009 Deep Panda Deep Panda uses Web shells on publicly accessible Web servers to access victim networks.35
G0035 Dragonfly Dragonfly has commonly created Web shells on victims’ publicly accessible email and web servers, which they used to maintain access to a victim network and download additional malicious files.31
G0117 Fox Kitten Fox Kitten has installed web shells on compromised hosts to maintain access.3738
G0093 GALLIUM GALLIUM used Web shells to persist in victim environments and assist in execution and exfiltration.3233
G0125 HAFNIUM HAFNIUM has deployed multiple web shells on compromised servers including SIMPLESEESHARP, SPORTSBALL, China Chopper, and ASPXSpy.141516
G0094 Kimsuky Kimsuky has used modified versions of open source PHP web shells to maintain access, often adding “Dinosaur” references within the code.26
G0065 Leviathan Leviathan relies on web shells for an initial foothold as well as persistence into the victim’s systems.1819
G0049 OilRig OilRig has used web shells, often to maintain access to a victim network.241025
G0116 Operation Wocao Operation Wocao has used their own web shells, as well as those previously placed on target systems by other threat actors, for reconnaissance and lateral movement.12
S0072 OwaAuth OwaAuth is a Web shell that appears to be exclusively used by Threat Group-3390. It is installed as an ISAPI filter on Exchange servers and shares characteristics with the China Chopper Web shell.9
S0598 P.A.S. Webshell P.A.S. Webshell can gain remote access and execution on target web servers.11
G0034 Sandworm Team Sandworm Team has used webshells including P.A.S. Webshell to maintain access to victim networks.11
S0185 SEASHARPEE SEASHARPEE is a Web shell.10
S0578 SUPERNOVA SUPERNOVA is a Web shell.678
G0088 TEMP.Veles TEMP.Veles has planted Web shells on Outlook Exchange servers.29
G0027 Threat Group-3390 Threat Group-3390 has used a variety of Web shells.20
G0131 Tonto Team Tonto Team has used a first stage web shell after compromising a vulnerable Exchange server.27
G0081 Tropic Trooper Tropic Trooper has started a web service in the target host and wait for the adversary to connect, acting as a web shell.17
G0123 Volatile Cedar Volatile Cedar can inject web shell code into a server.2223


ID Mitigation Description
M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program Consider disabling functions from web technologies such as PHP’s eval() that may be abused for web shells.4
M1018 User Account Management Enforce the principle of least privilege by limiting privileges of user accounts so only authorized accounts can modify the web directory.5


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0015 Application Log Application Log Content
DS0022 File File Creation
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Content
DS0009 Process Process Creation


  1. Lee, T., Hanzlik, D., Ahl, I. (2013, August 7). Breaking Down the China Chopper Web Shell - Part I. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 

  2. NSA Cybersecurity Directorate. (n.d.). Mitigating Web Shells. Retrieved July 22, 2021. 

  3. US-CERT. (2015, November 13). Compromised Web Servers and Web Shells - Threat Awareness and Guidance. Retrieved June 8, 2016. 

  4. Kondratiev, A. (n.d.). Disabling dangerous PHP functions. Retrieved July 26, 2021. 

  5. NSA and ASD. (2020, April 3). Detect and Prevent Web Shell Malware. Retrieved July 23, 2021. 

  6. Tennis, M. (2020, December 17). SUPERNOVA: A Novel .NET Webshell. Retrieved February 22, 2021. 

  7. Riley, W. (2020, December 1). SUPERNOVA SolarWinds .NET Webshell Analysis. Retrieved February 18, 2021. 

  8. CISA. (2021, January 27). Malware Analysis Report (AR21-027A). Retrieved February 22, 2021. 

  9. Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit Threat Intelligence. (2015, August 5). Threat Group-3390 Targets Organizations for Cyberespionage. Retrieved August 18, 2018. 

  10. Davis, S. and Caban, D. (2017, December 19). APT34 - New Targeted Attack in the Middle East. Retrieved December 20, 2017. 


  12. Dantzig, M. v., Schamper, E. (2019, December 19). Operation Wocao: Shining a light on one of China’s hidden hacking groups. Retrieved October 8, 2020. 

  13. Lassalle, D., et al. (2017, November 6). OceanLotus Blossoms: Mass Digital Surveillance and Attacks Targeting ASEAN, Asian Nations, the Media, Human Rights Groups, and Civil Society. Retrieved November 6, 2017. 

  14. MSTIC. (2021, March 2). HAFNIUM targeting Exchange Servers with 0-day exploits. Retrieved March 3, 2021. 

  15. Gruzweig, J. et al. (2021, March 2). Operation Exchange Marauder: Active Exploitation of Multiple Zero-Day Microsoft Exchange Vulnerabilities. Retrieved March 3, 2021. 

  16. Bromiley, M. et al. (2021, March 4). Detection and Response to Exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Zero-Day Vulnerabilities. Retrieved March 9, 2021. 

  17. Chen, J.. (2020, May 12). Tropic Trooper’s Back: USBferry Attack Targets Air gapped Environments. Retrieved May 20, 2020. 

  18. Plan, F., et al. (2019, March 4). APT40: Examining a China-Nexus Espionage Actor. Retrieved March 18, 2019. 

  19. CISA. (2021, July 19). (AA21-200A) Joint Cybersecurity Advisory – Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures of Indicted APT40 Actors Associated with China’s MSS Hainan State Security Department.. Retrieved August 12, 2021. 

  20. Falcone, R. and Lancaster, T. (2019, May 28). Emissary Panda Attacks Middle East Government Sharepoint Servers. Retrieved July 9, 2019. 

  21. DHS/CISA. (2020, August 26). FASTCash 2.0: North Korea’s BeagleBoyz Robbing Banks. Retrieved September 29, 2021. 

  22. Threat Intelligence and Research. (2015, March 30). VOLATILE CEDAR. Retrieved February 8, 2021. 

  23. ClearSky Cyber Security. (2021, January). “Lebanese Cedar” APT Global Lebanese Espionage Campaign Leveraging Web Servers. Retrieved February 10, 2021. 

  24. Unit 42. (2017, December 15). Unit 42 Playbook Viewer. Retrieved December 20, 2017. 

  25. Crowdstrike. (2020, March 2). 2020 Global Threat Report. Retrieved December 11, 2020. 

  26. CISA, FBI, CNMF. (2020, October 27). Retrieved November 4, 2020. 

  27. Faou, M., Tartare, M., Dupuy, T. (2021, March 10). Exchange servers under siege from at least 10 APT groups. Retrieved May 21, 2021. 

  28. NCSC, CISA, FBI, NSA. (2021, May 7). Further TTPs associated with SVR cyber actors. Retrieved July 29, 2021. 

  29. Miller, S, et al. (2019, April 10). TRITON Actor TTP Profile, Custom Attack Tools, Detections, and ATT&CK Mapping. Retrieved April 16, 2019. 

  30. NSA, CISA, FBI, NCSC. (2021, July). Russian GRU Conducting Global Brute Force Campaign to Compromise Enterprise and Cloud Environments. Retrieved July 26, 2021. 

  31. US-CERT. (2018, March 16). Alert (TA18-074A): Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 

  32. Cybereason Nocturnus. (2019, June 25). Operation Soft Cell: A Worldwide Campaign Against Telecommunications Providers. Retrieved July 18, 2019. 

  33. MSTIC. (2019, December 12). GALLIUM: Targeting global telecom. Retrieved January 13, 2021. 

  34. Hawley et al. (2019, January 29). APT39: An Iranian Cyber Espionage Group Focused on Personal Information. Retrieved February 19, 2019. 

  35. RYANJ. (2014, February 20). Mo’ Shells Mo’ Problems – Deep Panda Web Shells. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 

  36. Adam Burgher. (2021, June 10). BackdoorDiplomacy: Upgrading from Quarian to Turian. Retrieved September 1, 2021 

  37. CISA. (2020, September 15). Iran-Based Threat Actor Exploits VPN Vulnerabilities. Retrieved December 21, 2020. 

  38. ClearSky. (2020, December 17). Pay2Key Ransomware – A New Campaign by Fox Kitten. Retrieved December 21, 2020. 

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