Obfuscated Files or Information

Adversaries may attempt to make an executable or file difficult to discover or analyze by encrypting, encoding, or otherwise obfuscating its contents on the system or in transit. This is common behavior that can be used across different platforms and the network to evade defenses.

Payloads may be compressed, archived, or encrypted in order to avoid detection. These payloads may be used during Initial Access or later to mitigate detection. Sometimes a user's action may be required to open and Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information for User Execution. The user may also be required to input a password to open a password protected compressed/encrypted file that was provided by the adversary. [1] Adversaries may also use compressed or archived scripts, such as JavaScript.

Portions of files can also be encoded to hide the plain-text strings that would otherwise help defenders with discovery. [2] Payloads may also be split into separate, seemingly benign files that only reveal malicious functionality when reassembled. [3]

Adversaries may also abuse Command Obfuscation to obscure commands executed from payloads or directly via Command and Scripting Interpreter. Environment variables, aliases, characters, and other platform/language specific semantics can be used to evade signature based detections and application control mechanisms. [4] [5][6]

ID: T1027
Tactic: Defense Evasion
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
Defense Bypassed: Application Control, Host Forensic Analysis, Host Intrusion Prevention Systems, Log Analysis, Signature-based Detection
Contributors: Christiaan Beek, @ChristiaanBeek; Red Canary
Version: 1.5
Created: 31 May 2017
Last Modified: 28 August 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
C0025 2016 Ukraine Electric Power Attack

During the 2016 Ukraine Electric Power Attack, Sandworm Team used heavily obfuscated code with Industroyer in its Windows Notepad backdoor.[7]

S1028 Action RAT

Action RAT's commands, strings, and domains can be Base64 encoded within the payload.[8]


Most of the strings in ADVSTORESHELL are encrypted with an XOR-based algorithm; some strings are also encrypted with 3DES and reversed. API function names are also reversed, presumably to avoid detection in memory.[9][10]

S0331 Agent Tesla

Agent Tesla has had its code obfuscated in an apparent attempt to make analysis difficult.[11] Agent Tesla has used the Rijndael symmetric encryption algorithm to encrypt strings.[12]

S1025 Amadey

Amadey has obfuscated strings such as antivirus vendor names, domains, files, and others.[13]

S0504 Anchor

Anchor has obfuscated code with stack strings and string encryption.[14]

S0584 AppleJeus

AppleJeus has XOR-encrypted collected system information prior to sending to a C2. AppleJeus has also used the open source ADVObfuscation library for its components.[15]

S0622 AppleSeed

AppleSeed has the ability to Base64 encode its payload and custom encrypt API calls.[16]

G0099 APT-C-36

APT-C-36 has used ConfuserEx to obfuscate its variant of Imminent Monitor, compressed payload and RAT packages, and password protected encrypted email attachments to avoid detection.[17]

G0026 APT18

APT18 obfuscates strings in the payload.[18]

G0073 APT19

APT19 used Base64 to obfuscate payloads.[19]

G0007 APT28

APT28 encrypted a .dll payload using RTL and a custom encryption algorithm. APT28 has also obfuscated payloads with base64, XOR, and RC4.[10][20][21][22][23]

G0022 APT3

APT3 obfuscates files or information to help evade defensive measures.[24]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has performed code obfuscation, including encoding payloads using Base64 and using a framework called "Dont-Kill-My-Cat (DKMC). APT32 also encrypts the library used for network exfiltration with AES-256 in CBC mode in their macOS backdoor.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31]

G0064 APT33

APT33 has used base64 to encode payloads.[32]

G0067 APT37

APT37 obfuscates strings and payloads.[33][34][35]

G0087 APT39

APT39 has used malware to drop encrypted CAB files.[36]

G0096 APT41

APT41 used VMProtected binaries in multiple intrusions.[37]

S0456 Aria-body

Aria-body has used an encrypted configuration file for its loader.[38]

S0373 Astaroth

Astaroth has used an XOR-based algorithm to encrypt payloads twice with different keys.[39]

S0438 Attor

Strings in Attor's components are encrypted with a XOR cipher, using a hardcoded key and the configuration data, log files and plugins are encrypted using a hybrid encryption scheme of Blowfish-OFB combined with RSA.[40]

S0347 AuditCred

AuditCred encrypts the configuration.[41]

S0640 Avaddon

Avaddon has used encrypted strings.[42]

S0473 Avenger

Avenger has the ability to XOR encrypt files to be sent to C2.[43]

S1053 AvosLocker

AvosLocker has used XOR-encoded strings.[44]

G0135 BackdoorDiplomacy

BackdoorDiplomacy has obfuscated tools and malware it uses with VMProtect.[45]


BADHATCH can be compressed with the ApLib algorithm.[46]

S0534 Bazar

Bazar has used XOR, RSA2, and RC4 encrypted files.[47][48][49]

S0574 BendyBear

BendyBear has encrypted payloads using RC4 and XOR.[50]

S0268 Bisonal

Bisonal's DLL file and non-malicious decoy file are encrypted with RC4 and some function name strings are obfuscated.[51][52]

S0570 BitPaymer

BitPaymer has used RC4-encrypted strings and string hashes to avoid identifiable strings within the binary.[53]


BITTER has used a RAR SFX dropper to deliver malware.[54]

G0063 BlackOasis

BlackOasis's first stage shellcode contains a NOP sled with alternative instructions that was likely designed to bypass antivirus tools.[55]


BLINDINGCAN has obfuscated code using Base64 encoding.[56]

G0108 Blue Mockingbird

Blue Mockingbird has obfuscated the wallet address in the payload binary.[57]


BLUELIGHT has a XOR-encoded payload.[58]

S0635 BoomBox

BoomBox can encrypt data using AES prior to exfiltration.[59]


BOOSTWRITE has encoded its payloads using a ChaCha stream cipher with a 256-bit key and 64-bit Initialization vector (IV) to evade detection.[60]

S0651 BoxCaon

BoxCaon used the "StackStrings" obfuscation technique to hide malicious functionalities.[61]

S1063 Brute Ratel C4

Brute Ratel C4 has used encrypted payload files and maintains an encrypted configuration structure in memory.[62][63]

S1039 Bumblebee

Bumblebee has been delivered as password-protected zipped ISO files and used control-flow-flattening to obfuscate the flow of functions.[64][65][66]

S0482 Bundlore

Bundlore has obfuscated data with base64, AES, RC4, and bz2.[67]

C0015 C0015

During C0015, the threat actors used Base64-encoded strings.[68]

C0017 C0017

During C0017, APT41 broke malicious binaries, including DEADEYE and KEYPLUG, into multiple sections on disk to evade detection.[69]

S0030 Carbanak

Carbanak encrypts strings to make analysis more difficult.[70]

S0484 Carberp

Carberp has used XOR-based encryption to mask C2 server locations within the trojan.[71]

S0335 Carbon

Carbon encrypts configuration files and tasks for the malware to complete using CAST-128 algorithm.[72][73]

S0348 Cardinal RAT

Cardinal RAT encodes many of its artifacts and is encrypted (AES-128) when downloaded.[74]


CARROTBALL has used a custom base64 alphabet to decode files.[75]


CARROTBAT has the ability to download a base64 encoded payload.[76]

S1041 Chinoxy

Chinoxy has encrypted its configuration file.[77]

S0667 Chrommme

Chrommme can encrypt sections of its code to evade detection.[78]

S0660 Clambling

The Clambling executable has been obfuscated when dropped on a compromised host.[79]

S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike can hash functions to obfuscate calls to the Windows API and use a public/private key pair to encrypt Beacon session metadata.[80][81]

S0369 CoinTicker

CoinTicker initially downloads a hidden encoded file.[82]

S0244 Comnie

Comnie uses RC4 and Base64 to obfuscate strings.[83]

S0126 ComRAT

ComRAT has encrypted its virtual file system using AES-256 in XTS mode.[84][85]

S0608 Conficker

Conficker has obfuscated its code to prevent its removal from host machines.[86]

S0575 Conti

Conti can use compiler-based obfuscation for its code, encrypt DLLs, and hide Windows API calls.[87][88][49]


CORESHELL obfuscates strings using a custom stream cipher.[89]

S0046 CozyCar

The payload of CozyCar is encrypted with simple XOR with a rotating key. The CozyCar configuration file has been encrypted with RC4 keys.[90]

S0625 Cuba

Cuba has used multiple layers of obfuscation to avoid analysis, including its Base64 encoded payload.[91]

S0497 Dacls

Dacls can encrypt its configuration file with AES CBC.[92]

S1014 DanBot

DanBot can Base64 encode its payload.[93]

G0070 Dark Caracal

Dark Caracal has obfuscated strings in Bandook by base64 encoding, and then encrypting them.[94]

G0012 Darkhotel

Darkhotel has obfuscated code using RC4, XOR, and RSA.[95][96]

S1066 DarkTortilla

DarkTortilla has been obfuscated with the DeepSea .NET and ConfuserEx code obfuscators.[97]

S0673 DarkWatchman

DarkWatchman has been delivered as compressed RAR payloads in ZIP files to victims.[98]

S0187 Daserf

Daserf uses encrypted Windows APIs and also encrypts data using the alternative base64+RC4 or the Caesar cipher.[99]

S1033 DCSrv

DCSrv's configuration is encrypted.[100]


DEADEYE has encrypted its payload.[69]

S0354 Denis

Denis obfuscates its code and encrypts the API names.[29]

S0659 Diavol

Diavol has Base64 encoded the RSA public key used for encrypting files.[101]


DOGCALL is encrypted using single-byte XOR.[102]

S0695 Donut

Donut can generate encrypted, compressed/encoded, or otherwise obfuscated code modules.[103]

S0694 DRATzarus

DRATzarus can be partly encrypted with XOR.[104]

S0384 Dridex

Dridex's strings are obfuscated using RC4.[105]

S0502 Drovorub

Drovorub has used XOR encrypted payloads in WebSocket client to server messages.[106]

S0062 DustySky

The DustySky dropper uses a function to obfuscate the name of functions and other parts of the malware.[107]

G1006 Earth Lusca

Earth Lusca used Base64 to encode strings.[108]

S0377 Ebury

Ebury has obfuscated its strings with a simple XOR encryption with a static key.[109]


ECCENTRICBANDWAGON has encrypted strings with RC4.[110]

S0624 Ecipekac

Ecipekac can use XOR, AES, and DES to encrypt loader shellcode.[111]


EKANS uses encoded strings in its process kill list.[112]

G0066 Elderwood

Elderwood has encrypted documents and malicious executables.[113]

S0081 Elise

Elise encrypts several of its files, including configuration files.[114]

G1003 Ember Bear

Ember Bear has obfuscated malware to help avoid detection.[115]

S0082 Emissary

Variants of Emissary encrypt payloads using various XOR ciphers, as well as a custom algorithm that uses the "srand" and "rand" functions.[116][117]

S0634 EnvyScout

EnvyScout can Base64 encode payloads.[59]

S0091 Epic

Epic heavily obfuscates its code to make analysis more difficult.[118]

S0401 Exaramel for Linux

Exaramel for Linux uses RC4 for encrypting the configuration.[119][120]

S0512 FatDuke

FatDuke can use base64 encoding, string stacking, and opaque predicates for obfuscation.[121]


FELIXROOT encrypts strings in the backdoor using a custom XOR algorithm.[122][123]

S0355 Final1stspy

Final1stspy obfuscates strings with base64 encoding.[102]

S0182 FinFisher

FinFisher is heavily obfuscated in many ways, including through the use of spaghetti code in its functions in an effort to confuse disassembly programs. It also uses a custom XOR algorithm to obfuscate code.[124][125]


The FIVEHANDS payload is encrypted with AES-128.[126][127][128]

S0696 Flagpro

Flagpro has been delivered within ZIP or RAR password-protected archived files.[129]

S0383 FlawedGrace

FlawedGrace encrypts its C2 configuration files with AES in CBC mode.[130]

S0661 FoggyWeb

FoggyWeb has been XOR-encoded.[131]

G0117 Fox Kitten

Fox Kitten has base64 encoded payloads to avoid detection.[132]

S1044 FunnyDream

FunnyDream can Base64 encode its C2 address stored in a template binary with the xyz0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw_- orxyz0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw_= character sets.[77]

S0410 Fysbis

Fysbis has been encrypted using XOR and RC4.[133]


GALLIUM used a modified version of HTRAN in which they obfuscated strings such as debug messages in an apparent attempt to evade detection.[134]

G0084 Gallmaker

Gallmaker obfuscated shellcode used during execution.[135]

G0047 Gamaredon Group

Gamaredon Group has delivered self-extracting 7z archive files within malicious document attachments.[136]

S0168 Gazer

Gazer logs its actions into files that are encrypted with 3DES. It also uses RSA to encrypt resources.[137]

S0666 Gelsemium

Gelsemium has the ability to compress its components.[78]

S0493 GoldenSpy

GoldenSpy's uninstaller has base64-encoded its variables. [138]

S0588 GoldMax

GoldMax has written AES-encrypted and Base64-encoded configuration files to disk.[139][140]

S0477 Goopy

Goopy's decrypter have been inflated with junk code in between legitimate API functions, and also included infinite loops to avoid analysis.[29]

S0531 Grandoreiro

The Grandoreiro payload has been delivered encrypted with a custom XOR-based algorithm and also as a base64-encoded ZIP file.[39][141][141]

S0237 GravityRAT

GravityRAT supports file encryption (AES with the key "lolomycin2017").[142]

S0690 Green Lambert

Green Lambert has encrypted strings.[143][144]

S0342 GreyEnergy

GreyEnergy encrypts its configuration files with AES-256 and also encrypts its strings.[123]

S0632 GrimAgent

GrimAgent has used Rotate on Right (RoR) and Rotate on Left (RoL) functionality to encrypt strings.[145]

G0043 Group5

Group5 disguised its malicious binaries with several layers of obfuscation, including encrypting the files.[146]

S0132 H1N1

H1N1 uses multiple techniques to obfuscate strings, including XOR.[147]

S0499 Hancitor

Hancitor has used Base64 to encode malicious links. Hancitor has also delivered compressed payloads in ZIP files to victims.[148][149]


HAWKBALL has encrypted the payload with an XOR-based algorithm.[150]

S0170 Helminth

The Helminth config file is encrypted with RC4.[151]

S0697 HermeticWiper

HermeticWiper can compress 32-bit and 64-bit driver files with the Lempel-Ziv algorithm.[152][153][154]

S0698 HermeticWizard

HermeticWizard has the ability to encrypt PE files with a reverse XOR loop.[155]

S1027 Heyoka Backdoor

Heyoka Backdoor can encrypt its payload.[156]

S0087 Hi-Zor

Hi-Zor uses various XOR techniques to obfuscate its components.[157]

S0394 HiddenWasp

HiddenWasp encrypts its configuration and payload.[158]

G0126 Higaisa

Higaisa used Base64 encoded compressed payloads.[159][160]

S0601 Hildegard

Hildegard has encrypted an ELF file.[161]


Some strings in HOMEFRY are obfuscated with XOR x56.[162]

S0431 HotCroissant

HotCroissant has encrypted strings with single-byte XOR and base64 encoded RC4.[163]

S0070 HTTPBrowser

HTTPBrowser's code may be obfuscated through structured exception handling and return-oriented programming.[164]

S0203 Hydraq

Hydraq uses basic obfuscation in the form of spaghetti code.[113][165]

S0398 HyperBro

HyperBro can be delivered encrypted to a compromised host.[79]

S0483 IcedID

IcedID has utilzed encrypted binaries and base64 encoded strings.[166]

S0434 Imminent Monitor

Imminent Monitor has encrypted the spearphish attachments to avoid detection from email gateways; the debugger also encrypts information before sending to the C2.[17]

G0100 Inception

Inception has encrypted malware payloads dropped on victim machines with AES and RC4 encryption.[167]

S0604 Industroyer

Industroyer uses heavily obfuscated code in its Windows Notepad backdoor.[7]

S0259 InnaputRAT

InnaputRAT uses an 8-byte XOR key to obfuscate API names and other strings contained in the payload.[168]

S0260 InvisiMole

InvisiMole avoids analysis by encrypting all strings, internal files, configuration data and by using a custom executable format.[169][170]

S0581 IronNetInjector

IronNetInjector can obfuscate variable names, encrypt strings, as well as base64 encode and Rijndael encrypt payloads.[171]

S0189 ISMInjector

ISMInjector is obfuscated with the off-the-shelf SmartAssembly .NET obfuscator created by red-gate.com.[172]


Many strings in JHUHUGIT are obfuscated with a XOR algorithm.[173][174][22]

S0201 JPIN

A JPIN uses a encrypted and compressed payload that is disguised as a bitmap within the resource section of the installer.[175]

S0283 jRAT

jRAT’s Java payload is encrypted with AES.[176] Additionally, backdoor files are encrypted using DES as a stream cipher. Later variants of jRAT also incorporated AV evasion methods such as Java bytecode obfuscation via the commercial Allatori obfuscation tool.[177]

S0265 Kazuar

Kazuar is obfuscated using the open source ConfuserEx protector. Kazuar also obfuscates the name of created files/folders/mutexes and encrypts debug messages written to log files using the Rijndael cipher.[178]

G0004 Ke3chang

Ke3chang has used Base64-encoded shellcode strings.[179]

S0585 Kerrdown

Kerrdown can encrypt, encode, and compress multiple layers of shellcode.[180]

S0487 Kessel

Kessel's configuration is hardcoded and RC4 encrypted within the binary.[181]

S1020 Kevin

Kevin has Base64-encoded its configuration file.[182]

S0387 KeyBoy

In one version of KeyBoy, string obfuscation routines were used to hide many of the critical values referenced in the malware.[183]


KEYPLUG can use a hardcoded one-byte XOR encoded configuration file.[69]


KGH_SPY has used encrypted strings in its installer.[184]

S0607 KillDisk

KillDisk uses VMProtect to make reverse engineering the malware more difficult.[185]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has obfuscated binary strings including the use of XOR encryption and Base64 encoding.[186][187] Kimsuky has also modified the first byte of DLL implants targeting victims to prevent recognition of the executable file format.[188]

S0641 Kobalos

Kobalos encrypts all strings using RC4 and bundles all functionality into a single function call.[189]


KONNI is heavily obfuscated and includes encrypted configuration files.[190]

S0236 Kwampirs

Kwampirs downloads additional files that are base64-encoded and encrypted with another cipher.[191]

G0032 Lazarus Group

Lazarus Group has used multiple types of encryption and encoding for their payloads, including AES, Caracachs, RC4, XOR, Base64, and other tricks such as creating aliases in code for Native API function names.[192][193][194][195][92][196][197]

G0065 Leviathan

Leviathan has obfuscated code using base64 and gzip compression.[198]

S0395 LightNeuron

LightNeuron encrypts its configuration files with AES-256.[199]

S0447 Lokibot

Lokibot has obfuscated strings with base64 encoding.[200]

S0451 LoudMiner

LoudMiner has encrypted DMG files.[201]

S1060 Mafalda

Mafalda has been obfuscated and contains encrypted functions.[202]

G0059 Magic Hound

Magic Hound malware has used base64-encoded files and has also encrypted embedded strings with AES.[203][204]

S0167 Matryoshka

Matryoshka obfuscates API function names using a substitute cipher combined with Base64 encoding.[205]

S0449 Maze

Maze has decrypted strings and other important information during the encryption process. Maze also calls certain functions dynamically to hinder analysis.[206]

S0500 MCMD

MCMD can Base64 encode output strings prior to sending to C2.[207]

G0045 menuPass

menuPass has encoded strings in its malware with base64 as well as with a simple, single-byte XOR obfuscation using key 0x40.[208][209][210]

G1013 Metador

Metador has encrypted their payloads.[202]

S1059 metaMain

metaMain's module file has been encrypted via XOR.[211]

S0455 Metamorfo

Metamorfo has encrypted payloads and strings.[212][213]

S0339 Micropsia

Micropsia obfuscates the configuration with a custom Base64 and XOR.[214][215]

S1015 Milan

Milan can encode files containing information about the targeted system.[216][182]

S0051 MiniDuke

MiniDuke can use control flow flattening to obscure code.[121]

G0103 Mofang

Mofang has compressed the ShimRat executable within malicious email attachments. Mofang has also encrypted payloads before they are downloaded to victims.[217]

G0021 Molerats

Molerats has delivered compressed executables within ZIP files to victims.[218]

S0284 More_eggs

More_eggs's payload has been encrypted with a key that has the hostname and processor family information appended to the end.[219]

G1009 Moses Staff

Moses Staff has used obfuscated web shells in their operations.[100]

S0256 Mosquito

Mosquito’s installer is obfuscated with a custom crypter to obfuscate the installer.[220]

G0129 Mustang Panda

Mustang Panda has delivered initial payloads hidden using archives and encoding measures.[221][222][223][224][225][226]

S0228 NanHaiShu

NanHaiShu encodes files in Base64.[227]

S0336 NanoCore

NanoCore’s plugins were obfuscated with Eazfuscater.NET 3.3.[228]


NETWIRE has used a custom obfuscation algorithm to hide strings including Registry keys, APIs, and DLL names.[229]

C0002 Night Dragon

During Night Dragon, threat actors used a DLL that included an XOR-encoded section.[230]

S1090 NightClub

NightClub can obfuscate strings using the congruential generator (LCG): staten+1 = (690069 × staten + 1) mod 232.[231]

S0385 njRAT

njRAT has included a base64 encoded executable.[232]


NOKKI uses Base64 encoding for strings.[233]

G0049 OilRig

OilRig has encrypted and encoded data in its malware, including by using base64.[234][235][236][237][238]


OLDBAIT obfuscates internal strings and unpacks them at startup.[89]

S0264 OopsIE

OopsIE uses the Confuser protector to obfuscate an embedded .Net Framework assembly used for C2. OopsIE also encodes collected data in hexadecimal format before writing to files on disk and obfuscates strings.[239][240]

C0022 Operation Dream Job

During Operation Dream Job, Lazarus Group encrypted malware such as DRATzarus with XOR and DLL files with base64.[104][241][242][243]

C0016 Operation Dust Storm

During Operation Dust Storm, the threat actors encoded some payloads with a single-byte XOR, both skipping the key itself and zeroing in an attempt to avoid exposing the key; other payloads were Base64-encoded.[244]

C0006 Operation Honeybee

During Operation Honeybee, the threat actors used Base64 to encode files with a custom key.[245]

C0005 Operation Spalax

For Operation Spalax, the threat actors used XOR-encrypted payloads.[246]

S0229 Orz

Some Orz strings are base64 encoded, such as the embedded DLL known as MockDll.[198]


OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D encrypts its strings in RSA256 and encodes them in a custom base64 scheme and XOR.[247]

S0594 Out1

Out1 has the ability to encode data.[248]

S0598 P.A.S. Webshell

P.A.S. Webshell can use encryption and base64 encoding to hide strings and to enforce access control once deployed.[120]

S0664 Pandora

Pandora has the ability to compress stings with QuickLZ.[249]

S1050 PcShare

PcShare has been encrypted with XOR using different 32-long Base16 strings and compressed with LZW algorithm.[77]

S0587 Penquin

Penquin has encrypted strings in the binary for obfuscation.[250]

S0517 Pillowmint

Pillowmint has been compressed and stored within a registry key. Pillowmint has also obfuscated the AES key used for encryption.[251]

S0501 PipeMon

PipeMon modules are stored encrypted on disk.[252]

S0124 Pisloader

Pisloader obfuscates files by splitting strings into smaller sub-strings and including "garbage" strings that are never used. The malware also uses return-oriented programming (ROP) technique and single-byte XOR to obfuscate data.[253]

S0013 PlugX

PlugX can use API hashing and modify the names of strings to evade detection.[79][226]

S0428 PoetRAT

PoetRAT has used a custom encryption scheme for communication between scripts.[254]

S0012 PoisonIvy

PoisonIvy hides any strings related to its own indicators of compromise.[255]

S0518 PolyglotDuke

PolyglotDuke can custom encrypt strings.[121]

S0453 Pony

Pony attachments have been delivered via compressed archive files. Pony also obfuscates the memory flow by adding junk instructions when executing to make analysis more difficult.[256]


POSHSPY appends a file signature header (randomly selected from six file types) to encrypted data prior to upload or download.[257]

S0393 PowerStallion

PowerStallion uses a XOR cipher to encrypt command output written to its OneDrive C2 server.[258]

S0113 Prikormka

Some resources in Prikormka are encrypted with a simple XOR operation or encoded with Base64.[259]

S0613 PS1

PS1 is distributed as a set of encrypted files and scripts.[260]


PUNCHBUGGY has hashed most its code's functions and encrypted payloads with base64 and XOR.[261]


PUNCHTRACK is loaded and executed by a highly obfuscated launcher.[262]

G0024 Putter Panda

Droppers used by Putter Panda use RC4 or a 16-byte XOR key consisting of the bytes 0xA0 – 0xAF to obfuscate payloads.[263]

S1032 PyDCrypt

PyDCrypt has been compiled and encrypted with PyInstaller, specifically using the --key flag during the build phase.[100]

S0650 QakBot

QakBot has hidden code within Excel spreadsheets by turning the font color to white and splitting it across multiple cells.[264]

S0565 Raindrop

Raindrop encrypted its payload using a simple XOR algorithm with a single-byte key.[265][266]

S0629 RainyDay

RainyDay has downloaded as a XOR-encrypted payload.[267]

S0458 Ramsay

Ramsay has base64-encoded its portable executable and hidden itself under a JPG header. Ramsay can also embed information within document footers.[268]

S0662 RCSession

RCSession can compress and obfuscate its strings to evade detection on a compromised host.[79]

S0172 Reaver

Reaver encrypts some of its files with XOR.[269]

S0153 RedLeaves

A RedLeaves configuration file is encrypted with a simple XOR key, 0x53.[270]

S0511 RegDuke

RegDuke can use control-flow flattening or the commercially available .NET Reactor for obfuscation.[121]

S0332 Remcos

Remcos uses RC4 and base64 to obfuscate data, including Registry entries and file paths.[271]

S0375 Remexi

Remexi obfuscates its configuration data with XOR.[272]

S0125 Remsec

Some data in Remsec is encrypted using RC5 in CBC mode, AES-CBC with a hardcoded key, RC4, or Salsa20. Some data is also base64-encoded.[273][274]

S0496 REvil

REvil has used encrypted strings and configuration files.[275][276][277][278][279][280][281]

S0433 Rifdoor

Rifdoor has encrypted strings with a single byte XOR algorithm.[163]

S0448 Rising Sun

Configuration data used by Rising Sun has been encrypted using an RC4 stream algorithm.[282]

G0106 Rocke

Rocke has modified UPX headers after packing files to break unpackers.[283]


ROKRAT can encrypt data prior to exfiltration by using an RSA public key.[35][284]

S0148 RTM

RTM strings, network data, configuration, and modules are encrypted with a modified RC4 algorithm. RTM has also been delivered to targets as various archive files including ZIP, 7-ZIP, and RAR.[285][286]

S0446 Ryuk

Ryuk can use anti-disassembly and code transformation obfuscation techniques.[49]

S1018 Saint Bot

Saint Bot has been obfuscated to help avoid detection.[115]

S0074 Sakula

Sakula uses single-byte XOR obfuscation to obfuscate many of its files.[287]

S0370 SamSam

SamSam has been seen using AES or DES to encrypt payloads and payload components.[288][289]

G0034 Sandworm Team

Sandworm Team has used Base64 encoding within malware variants.[290]

S1085 Sardonic

Sardonic can use certain ConfuserEx features for obfuscation and can be encoded in a base64 string.[291]

S0461 SDBbot

SDBbot has the ability to XOR the strings for its installer component with a hardcoded 128 byte key.[292]

S0345 Seasalt

Seasalt obfuscates configuration data.[293]

S0596 ShadowPad

ShadowPad has encrypted its payload, a virtual file system, and various files.[294][108]

S0140 Shamoon

Shamoon contains base64-encoded strings.[295]

S1019 Shark

Shark can use encrypted and encoded files for C2 configuration.[216][296]

S0444 ShimRat

ShimRat has been delivered as a package that includes compressed DLL and shellcode payloads within a .dat file.[217]

S0445 ShimRatReporter

ShimRatReporter encrypted gathered information with a combination of shifting and XOR using a static key.[217]


SHOTPUT is obscured using XOR encoding and appended to a valid GIF file.[297][298]

G0121 Sidewinder

Sidewinder has used base64 encoding and ECDH-P256 encryption for payloads.[299][300][301]

S0623 Siloscape

Siloscape itself is obfuscated and uses obfuscated API calls.[302]

S0468 Skidmap

Skidmap has encrypted it's main payload using 3DES.[303]

S0633 Sliver

Sliver can encrypt strings at compile time.[304][305]

S1035 Small Sieve

Small Sieve has the ability to use a custom hex byte swapping encoding scheme combined with an obfuscated Base64 function to protect program strings and Telegram credentials.[306]

S0226 Smoke Loader

Smoke Loader uses a simple one-byte XOR method to obfuscate values in the malware.[307][308]

S1086 Snip3

Snip3 has the ability to obfuscate strings using XOR encryption.[309]

S0627 SodaMaster

SodaMaster can use "stackstrings" for obfuscation.[111]

S0615 SombRAT

SombRAT can encrypt strings with XOR-based routines and use a custom AES storage format for plugins, configuration, C2 domains, and harvested data.[260][126][127]

S0516 SoreFang

SoreFang has the ability to encode and RC6 encrypt data sent to C2.[310]

S0374 SpeakUp

SpeakUp encodes its second-stage payload with Base64. [311]

S1030 Squirrelwaffle

Squirrelwaffle has been obfuscated with a XOR-based algorithm.[312][313]


STARWHALE has been obfuscated with hex-encoded strings.[314]

S0380 StoneDrill

StoneDrill has obfuscated its module with an alphabet-based table or XOR encryption.[315]

S0142 StreamEx

StreamEx obfuscates some commands by using statically programmed fragments of strings when starting a DLL. It also uses a one-byte xor against 0x91 to encode configuration data.[316]

S0491 StrongPity

StrongPity has used encrypted strings in its dropper component.[317][318]

S0603 Stuxnet

Stuxnet uses encrypted configuration blocks and writes encrypted files to disk.[319]


SUNBURST strings were compressed and encoded in Base64.[320] SUNBURST also obfuscated collected system information using a FNV-1a + XOR algorithm.[321]


SUNSPOT encrypted log entries it collected with the stream cipher RC4 using a hard-coded key. It also uses AES128-CBC encrypted blobs for SUNBURST source code and data extracted from the SolarWinds Orion <MsBuild.exe process.[322]


SUPERNOVA contained Base64-encoded strings.[323]

S1064 SVCReady

SVCReady can encrypt victim data with an RC4 cipher.[324]

S0242 SynAck

SynAck payloads are obfuscated prior to compilation to inhibit analysis and/or reverse engineering.[325][326]

S0663 SysUpdate

SysUpdate can encrypt and encode its configuration file.[249]

G1018 TA2541

TA2541 has used compressed and char-encoded scripts in operations.[327]

G0092 TA505

TA505 has password-protected malicious Word documents.[328]

S0011 Taidoor

Taidoor can use encrypted string blocks for obfuscation.[329]

S0467 TajMahal

TajMahal has used an encrypted Virtual File System to store plugins.[330]

G0139 TeamTNT

TeamTNT has encrypted its binaries via AES and encoded files using Base64.[331][332]


TEARDROP created and read from a file with a fake JPG header, and its payload was encrypted with a simple rotating XOR cipher.[321][333][266]

G0027 Threat Group-3390

A Threat Group-3390 tool can encrypt payloads using XOR. Threat Group-3390 malware is also obfuscated using Metasploit’s shikata_ga_nai encoder as well as compressed with LZNT1 compression.[334][335][336]

S0665 ThreatNeedle

ThreatNeedle has been compressed and obfuscated using RC4, AES, or XOR.[337]


TINYTYPHON has used XOR with 0x90 to obfuscate its configuration file.[338]

S0678 Torisma

Torisma has been Base64 encoded and AES encrypted.[243]

G0134 Transparent Tribe

Transparent Tribe has dropped encoded executables on compromised hosts.[339]

S0266 TrickBot

TrickBot uses non-descriptive names to hide functionality and uses an AES CBC (256 bits) encryption algorithm for its loader and configuration files.[340]

S0094 Trojan.Karagany

Trojan.Karagany can base64 encode and AES-128-CBC encrypt data prior to transmission.[341]

G0081 Tropic Trooper

Tropic Trooper has encrypted configuration files.[342][343]

S0647 Turian

Turian can use VMProtect for obfuscation.[45]


APIs and strings in some TYPEFRAME variants are RC4 encrypted. Another variant is encoded with XOR.[344]

S0333 UBoatRAT

UBoatRAT encrypts instructions in the payload using a simple XOR cipher.[345]

S0022 Uroburos

Uroburos can use AES and CAST-128 encryption to obfuscate resources.[346]

S0386 Ursnif

Ursnif has used an XOR-based algorithm to encrypt Tor clients dropped to disk.[347] Ursnif droppers have also been delivered as password-protected zip files that execute base64 encoded PowerShell commands.[348]

S0136 USBStealer

Most strings in USBStealer are encrypted using 3DES and XOR and reversed.[349]

S0476 Valak

Valak has the ability to base64 encode and XOR encrypt strings.[350][351][352]


VERMIN is obfuscated using the obfuscation tool called ConfuserEx.[353]

S0180 Volgmer

A Volgmer variant is encoded using a simple XOR cipher.[354]

S0612 WastedLocker

The WastedLocker payload includes encrypted strings stored within the .bss section of the binary file.[355]

S0579 Waterbear

Waterbear has used RC4 encrypted shellcode and encrypted functions.[356]

S0689 WhisperGate

WhisperGate can Base64 encode strings, store downloaded files in reverse byte order, and use the Eazfuscator tool to obfuscate its third stage.[357][358][359]

G0107 Whitefly

Whitefly has encrypted the payload used for C2.[360]

G0112 Windshift

Windshift has used string encoding with floating point calculations.[361]

S0466 WindTail

WindTail can be delivered as a compressed, encrypted, and encoded payload.[362]

S0430 Winnti for Linux

Winnti for Linux can encode its configuration file with single-byte XOR encoding.[363]

S0141 Winnti for Windows

Winnti for Windows has the ability to encrypt and compress its payload.[364]

S1065 Woody RAT

Woody RAT has used Base64 encoded strings and scripts.[365]

S0117 XTunnel

A version of XTunnel introduced in July 2015 obfuscated the binary using opaque predicates and other techniques in a likely attempt to obfuscate it and bypass security products.[366]


YAHOYAH encrypts its configuration file using a simple algorithm.[367]

S0230 ZeroT

ZeroT has encrypted its payload with RC4.[368]

S0330 Zeus Panda

Zeus Panda encrypts strings with XOR. Zeus Panda also encrypts all configuration and settings in AES and RC4.[369][370]

S0672 Zox

Zox has been encoded with Base64.[371]

S1013 ZxxZ

ZxxZ has been encoded to avoid detection from static analysis tools.[372]


ID Mitigation Description
M1049 Antivirus/Antimalware

Anti-virus can be used to automatically detect and quarantine suspicious files. Consider utilizing the Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) on Windows 10+ to analyze commands after being processed/interpreted. [373]

M1047 Audit

Consider periodic review of common fileless storage locations (such as the Registry or WMI repository) to potentially identify abnormal and malicious data.

M1040 Behavior Prevention on Endpoint

On Windows 10+, enable Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rules to prevent execution of potentially obfuscated payloads. [374]

M1017 User Training

Ensure that a finite amount of ingress points to a software deployment system exist with restricted access for those required to allow and enable newly deployed software.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0017 Command Command Execution

Monitor executed commands and arguments for indicators of obfuscation and potentially suspicious syntax such as uninterpreted escape characters (e.g., ^).

Also monitor command-lines for syntax-specific signs of obfuscation, such as variations of arguments associated with encoding.

DS0022 File File Creation

Detection of file obfuscation is difficult unless artifacts are left behind by the obfuscation process that are uniquely detectable with a signature. If detection of the obfuscation itself is not possible, it may be possible to detect the malicious activity that caused the obfuscated file (for example, the method that was used to write, read, or modify the file on the file system).

File Metadata

Monitor for contextual data about a file, which may include information such as name, the content (ex: signature, headers, or data/media), user/owner, permissions, etc.

File-based signatures may be capable of detecting code obfuscation depending on the methods used.[375][376][377]

DS0011 Module Module Load

Monitoring module loads, especially those not explicitly included in import tables, may highlight obfuscated code functionality. Dynamic malware analysis may also expose signs of code obfuscation.[376]

DS0009 Process OS API Execution

Monitor and analyze calls to functions such as GetProcAddress() that are associated with malicious code obfuscation.[375]

Process Creation

Monitor for newly executed processes that may attempt to make an executable or file difficult to discover or analyze by encrypting, encoding, or otherwise obfuscating its contents on the system or in transit.

DS0012 Script Script Execution

Monitor executed scripts for indicators of obfuscation and potentially suspicious command syntax, such as uninterpreted escape characters (e.g., ^).

Also monitor commands within scripts for syntax-specific signs of obfuscation, such as encoded or otherwise unreadable blobs of characters.

DS0024 Windows Registry Windows Registry Key Creation

Monitor for the creation of Registry values that may highlight storage of malicious data such as commands or payloads.

DS0005 WMI WMI Creation

Monitor for the creation of WMI Objects and values that may highlight storage of malicious data such as commands or payloads.


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