Tropic Trooper

Tropic Trooper is an unaffiliated threat group that has led targeted campaigns against targets in Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Tropic Trooper focuses on targeting government, healthcare, transportation, and high-tech industries and has been active since 2011.[1][2][3]

ID: G0081
Associated Groups: Pirate Panda, KeyBoy
Contributors: Edward Millington; Bart Parys
Version: 1.3
Created: 29 January 2019
Last Modified: 29 May 2020

Associated Group Descriptions

Name Description
Pirate Panda




Techniques Used

Domain ID Name Use
Enterprise T1071 .001 Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols

Tropic Trooper has used HTTP in communication with the C2.[5][3]

.004 Application Layer Protocol: DNS

Tropic Trooper's backdoor has communicated to the C2 over the DNS protocol.[3]

Enterprise T1119 Automated Collection

Tropic Trooper has collected information automatically using the adversary's USBferry attack.[3]

Enterprise T1020 Automated Exfiltration

Tropic Trooper has used a copy function to automatically exfiltrate sensitive data from air-gapped systems using USB storage.[3]

Enterprise T1547 .004 Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Winlogon Helper DLL

Tropic Trooper has created the Registry key HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Shell and sets the value to establish persistence.[2][3]

.001 Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder

Tropic Trooper has created shortcuts in the Startup folder to establish persistence.[5][3]

Enterprise T1059 .003 Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell

Tropic Trooper has used Windows command scripts.[3]

Enterprise T1543 .003 Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service

Tropic Trooper has installed a service pointing to a malicious DLL dropped to disk.[6]

Enterprise T1132 .001 Data Encoding: Standard Encoding

Tropic Trooper has used base64 encoding to hide command strings delivered from the C2.[3]

Enterprise T1140 Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information

Tropic Trooper used shellcode with an XOR algorithm to decrypt a payload. Tropic Trooper also decrypted image files which contained a payload.[2][3]

Enterprise T1573 Encrypted Channel

Tropic Trooper has encrypted traffic with the C2 to prevent network detection.[3]

.002 Asymmetric Cryptography

Tropic Trooper has used SSL to connect to C2 servers.[1][3]

Enterprise T1052 .001 Exfiltration Over Physical Medium: Exfiltration over USB

Tropic Trooper has exfiltrated data using USB storage devices.[3]

Enterprise T1203 Exploitation for Client Execution

Tropic Trooper has executed commands through Microsoft security vulnerabilities, including CVE-2017-11882, CVE-2018-0802, and CVE-2012-0158.[1][2]

Enterprise T1083 File and Directory Discovery

Tropic Trooper has monitored files' modified time.[3]

Enterprise T1564 .001 Hide Artifacts: Hidden Files and Directories

Tropic Trooper has created a hidden directory under C:\ProgramData\Apple\Updates\ and C:\Users\Public\Documents\Flash\.[1][3]

Enterprise T1574 .002 Hijack Execution Flow: DLL Side-Loading

Tropic Trooper has been known to side-load DLLs using a valid version of a Windows Address Book and Windows Defender executable with one of their tools.[7][5]

Enterprise T1070 .004 Indicator Removal on Host: File Deletion

Tropic Trooper has deleted dropper files on an infected system using command scripts.[3]

Enterprise T1105 Ingress Tool Transfer

Tropic Trooper has used a delivered trojan to download additional files.[3]

Enterprise T1036 .005 Masquerading: Match Legitimate Name or Location

Tropic Trooper has hidden payloads in Flash directories and fake installer files.[3]

Enterprise T1106 Native API

Tropic Trooper has used multiple Windows APIs including HttpInitialize, HttpCreateHttpHandle, and HttpAddUrl.[3]

Enterprise T1046 Network Service Scanning

Tropic Trooper used pr and an openly available tool to scan for open ports on target systems.[8][3]

Enterprise T1135 Network Share Discovery

Tropic Trooper used netview to scan target systems for shared resources.[8]

Enterprise T1027 Obfuscated Files or Information

Tropic Trooper has encrypted configuration files.[1][3]

.003 Steganography

Tropic Trooper has used JPG files with encrypted payloads to mask their backdoor routines and evade detection.[3]

Enterprise T1566 .001 Phishing: Spearphishing Attachment

Tropic Trooper sent spearphishing emails that contained malicious Microsoft Office and fake installer file attachments.[2][8][9][5][3]

Enterprise T1057 Process Discovery

Tropic Trooper is capable of enumerating the running processes on the system using pslist.[2][3]

Enterprise T1055 .001 Process Injection: Dynamic-link Library Injection

Tropic Trooper has injected a DLL backdoor into dllhost.exe and svchost.exe.[1][3]

Enterprise T1091 Replication Through Removable Media

Tropic Trooper has attempted to transfer USBferry from an infected USB device by copying an Autorun function to the target machine.[3]

Enterprise T1505 .003 Server Software Component: Web Shell

Tropic Trooper has started a web service in the target host and wait for the adversary to connect, acting as a web shell.[3]

Enterprise T1518 Software Discovery

Tropic Trooper's backdoor could list the infected system's installed software.[3]

.001 Security Software Discovery

Tropic Trooper can search for anti-virus software running on the system.[2]

Enterprise T1082 System Information Discovery

Tropic Trooper has detected a target system’s OS version and system volume information.[8][3]

Enterprise T1016 System Network Configuration Discovery

Tropic Trooper has used scripts to collect the host's network topology.[3]

Enterprise T1049 System Network Connections Discovery

Tropic Trooper has tested if the localhost network is available and other connection capability on an infected system using command scripts.[3]

Enterprise T1033 System Owner/User Discovery

Tropic Trooper used letmein to scan for saved usernames on the target system.[8]

Enterprise T1221 Template Injection

Tropic Trooper delivered malicious documents with the XLSX extension, typically used by OpenXML documents, but the file itself was actually an OLE (XLS) document.[2]

Enterprise T1204 .002 User Execution: Malicious File

Tropic Trooper has lured victims into executing malware via malicious e-mail attachments.[5]

Enterprise T1078 .003 Valid Accounts: Local Accounts

Tropic Trooper has used known administrator account credentials to execute the backdoor directly.[3]


ID Name References Techniques
S0190 BITSAdmin [1] BITS Jobs, Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol: Exfiltration Over Unencrypted/Obfuscated Non-C2 Protocol, Ingress Tool Transfer, Lateral Tool Transfer
S0387 KeyBoy [2][9] Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Winlogon Helper DLL, Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell, Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell, Command and Scripting Interpreter: Visual Basic, Command and Scripting Interpreter: Python, Commonly Used Port, Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service, Credentials from Password Stores: Credentials from Web Browsers, Data Obfuscation: Protocol Impersonation, File and Directory Discovery, Hide Artifacts: Hidden Window, Indicator Removal on Host: Timestomp, Ingress Tool Transfer, Input Capture: Keylogging, Inter-Process Communication: Dynamic Data Exchange, Obfuscated Files or Information, Screen Capture, System Information Discovery, System Network Configuration Discovery
S0012 PoisonIvy [2] Application Window Discovery, Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder, Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell, Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service, Data from Local System, Data Staged: Local Data Staging, Encrypted Channel: Symmetric Cryptography, Ingress Tool Transfer, Input Capture: Keylogging, Modify Registry, Obfuscated Files or Information, Process Injection: Dynamic-link Library Injection, Rootkit
S0452 USBferry [3] Account Discovery: Local Account, Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell, Data from Local System, File and Directory Discovery, Peripheral Device Discovery, Process Discovery, Remote System Discovery, Replication Through Removable Media, Signed Binary Proxy Execution: Rundll32, System Network Configuration Discovery, System Network Connections Discovery
S0388 YAHOYAH [8] Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols, Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information, Ingress Tool Transfer, Obfuscated Files or Information, Software Discovery: Security Software Discovery, System Information Discovery