Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol: Exfiltration Over Asymmetric Encrypted Non-C2 Protocol

Adversaries may steal data by exfiltrating it over an asymmetrically encrypted network protocol other than that of the existing command and control channel. The data may also be sent to an alternate network location from the main command and control server.

Asymmetric encryption algorithms are those that use different keys on each end of the channel. Also known as public-key cryptography, this requires pairs of cryptographic keys that can encrypt/decrypt data from the corresponding key. Each end of the communication channels requires a private key (only in the procession of that entity) and the public key of the other entity. The public keys of each entity are exchanged before encrypted communications begin.

Network protocols that use asymmetric encryption (such as HTTPS/TLS/SSL) often utilize symmetric encryption once keys are exchanged. Adversaries may opt to use these encrypted mechanisms that are baked into a protocol.

ID: T1048.002
Sub-technique of:  T1048
Tactic: Exfiltration
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
Data Sources: Command: Command Execution, File: File Access, Network Traffic: Network Connection Creation, Network Traffic: Network Traffic Content, Network Traffic: Network Traffic Flow
Requires Network:  Yes
Version: 1.0
Created: 15 March 2020
Last Modified: 28 March 2020

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0016 APT29

APT29 has exfiltrated collected data over a simple HTTPS request to a password-protected archive staged on a victim's OWA servers.[1]


ID Mitigation Description
M1037 Filter Network Traffic

Enforce proxies and use dedicated servers for services such as DNS and only allow those systems to communicate over respective ports/protocols, instead of all systems within a network.

M1031 Network Intrusion Prevention

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

M1030 Network Segmentation

Follow best practices for network firewall configurations to allow only necessary ports and traffic to enter and exit the network.[2]


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.[3]