Data Obfuscation: Steganography

Adversaries may use steganographic techniques to hide command and control traffic to make detection efforts more difficult. Steganographic techniques can be used to hide data in digital messages that are transferred between systems. This hidden information can be used for command and control of compromised systems. In some cases, the passing of files embedded using steganography, such as image or document files, can be used for command and control.

ID: T1001.002
Sub-technique of:  T1001
Tactic: Command And Control
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
Data Sources: Network protocol analysis, Packet capture, Process monitoring, Process use of network
Version: 1.0
Created: 15 March 2020
Last Modified: 15 March 2020

Procedure Examples

Name Description

Some malware that has been used by Axiom also uses steganography to hide communication in PNG image files.[7]


Daserf can use steganography to hide malicious code downloaded to the victim.[1]


When the Duqu command and control is operating over HTTP or HTTPS, Duqu uploads data to its controller by appending it to a blank JPG file.[3]


HAMMERTOSS is controlled via commands that are appended to image files.[2]


LightNeuron is controlled via commands that are embedded into PDFs and JPGs using steganographic methods.[6]


ZeroT has retrieved stage 2 payloads as Bitmap images that use Least Significant Bit (LSB) steganography.[4][5]


Mitigation Description
Network Intrusion Prevention

Network intrusion detection and prevention systems that use network signatures to identify traffic for specific adversary malware can be used to mitigate some obfuscation activity at the network level.


Analyze network data for uncommon data flows (e.g., a client sending significantly more data than it receives from a server). Processes utilizing the network that do not normally have network communication or have never been seen before are suspicious. Analyze packet contents to detect communications that do not follow the expected protocol behavior for the port that is being used.[8]