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T1587.003 Digital Certificates

Adversaries may create self-signed SSL/TLS certificates that can be used during targeting. SSL/TLS certificates are designed to instill trust. They include information about the key, information about its owner’s identity, and the digital signature of an entity that has verified the certificate’s contents are correct. If the signature is valid, and the person examining the certificate trusts the signer, then they know they can use that key to communicate with its owner. In the case of self-signing, digital certificates will lack the element of trust associated with the signature of a third-party certificate authority (CA).

Adversaries may create self-signed SSL/TLS certificates that can be used to further their operations, such as encrypting C2 traffic (ex: Asymmetric Cryptography with Web Protocols) or even enabling Adversary-in-the-Middle if added to the root of trust (i.e. Install Root Certificate).

After creating a digital certificate, an adversary may then install that certificate (see Install Digital Certificate) on infrastructure under their control.

Item Value
ID T1587.003
Sub-techniques T1587.001, T1587.002, T1587.003, T1587.004
Tactics TA0042
Platforms PRE
Version 1.2
Created 01 October 2020
Last Modified 16 October 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0016 APT29 APT29 has created self-signed digital certificates to enable mutual TLS authentication for malware.34
C0011 C0011 For C0011, Transparent Tribe established SSL certificates on the typo-squatted domains the group registered.5
G0056 PROMETHIUM PROMETHIUM has created self-signed digital certificates for use in HTTPS C2 traffic.2


ID Mitigation Description
M1056 Pre-compromise This technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on behaviors performed outside of the scope of enterprise defenses and controls.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0035 Internet Scan Response Content