Inception is a cyber espionage group active since at least 2014. The group has targeted multiple industries and governmental entities primarily in Russia, but has also been active in the United States and throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.[1][2][3]

ID: G0100
Associated Groups: Inception Framework, Cloud Atlas
Contributors: Oleg Skulkin, Group-IB
Version: 1.2
Created: 08 May 2020
Last Modified: 11 April 2024

Associated Group Descriptions

Name Description
Inception Framework


Cloud Atlas


Techniques Used

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

Inception has used HTTP, HTTPS, and WebDav in network communications.[3][1]

Enterprise T1547 .001 Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder

Inception has maintained persistence by modifying Registry run key value HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\.[3]

Enterprise T1059 .001 Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell

Inception has used PowerShell to execute malicious commands and payloads.[1][3]

.005 Command and Scripting Interpreter: Visual Basic

Inception has used VBScript to execute malicious commands and payloads.[1][3]

Enterprise T1555 .003 Credentials from Password Stores: Credentials from Web Browsers

Inception used a browser plugin to steal passwords and sessions from Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Torch, and Yandex.[2]

Enterprise T1005 Data from Local System

Inception used a file hunting plugin to collect .txt, .pdf, .xls or .doc files from the infected host.[4]

Enterprise T1573 .001 Encrypted Channel: Symmetric Cryptography

Inception has encrypted network communications with AES.[3]

Enterprise T1203 Exploitation for Client Execution

Inception has exploited CVE-2012-0158, CVE-2014-1761, CVE-2017-11882 and CVE-2018-0802 for execution.[4][3][2][1]

Enterprise T1083 File and Directory Discovery

Inception used a file listing plugin to collect information about file and directories both on local and remote drives.[2]

Enterprise T1027 .013 Obfuscated Files or Information: Encrypted/Encoded File

Inception has encrypted malware payloads dropped on victim machines with AES and RC4 encryption.[3]

Enterprise T1588 .002 Obtain Capabilities: Tool

Inception has obtained and used open-source tools such as LaZagne.[4]

Enterprise T1069 .002 Permission Groups Discovery: Domain Groups

Inception has used specific malware modules to gather domain membership.[2]

Enterprise T1566 .001 Phishing: Spearphishing Attachment

Inception has used weaponized documents attached to spearphishing emails for reconnaissance and initial compromise.[3][2][1][4]

Enterprise T1057 Process Discovery

Inception has used a reconnaissance module to identify active processes and other associated loaded modules.[2]

Enterprise T1090 .003 Proxy: Multi-hop Proxy

Inception used chains of compromised routers to proxy C2 communications between them and cloud service providers.[2]

Enterprise T1518 Software Discovery

Inception has enumerated installed software on compromised systems.[2]

Enterprise T1218 .005 System Binary Proxy Execution: Mshta

Inception has used malicious HTA files to drop and execute malware.[4]

.010 System Binary Proxy Execution: Regsvr32

Inception has ensured persistence at system boot by setting the value regsvr32 %path%\ctfmonrn.dll /s.[3]

Enterprise T1082 System Information Discovery

Inception has used a reconnaissance module to gather information about the operating system and hardware on the infected host.[2]

Enterprise T1221 Template Injection

Inception has used decoy documents to load malicious remote payloads via HTTP.[1]

Enterprise T1204 .002 User Execution: Malicious File

Inception lured victims into clicking malicious files for machine reconnaissance and to execute malware.[3][4][2][1]

Enterprise T1102 Web Service

Inception has incorporated at least five different cloud service providers into their C2 infrastructure including CloudMe.[3][2]