Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols

Adversaries may communicate using application layer protocols associated with web traffic to avoid detection/network filtering by blending in with existing traffic. Commands to the remote system, and often the results of those commands, will be embedded within the protocol traffic between the client and server.

Protocols such as HTTP and HTTPS that carry web traffic may be very common in environments. HTTP/S packets have many fields and headers in which data can be concealed. An adversary may abuse these protocols to communicate with systems under their control within a victim network while also mimicking normal, expected traffic.

ID: T1071.001
Sub-technique of:  T1071
Tactic: Command And Control
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
Data Sources: Netflow/Enclave netflow, Network protocol analysis, Packet capture, Process monitoring, Process use of network
Version: 1.0
Created: 15 March 2020
Last Modified: 26 March 2020

Procedure Examples

Name Description
3PARA RAT

3PARA RAT uses HTTP for command and control.[21]

4H RAT

4H RAT uses HTTP for command and control.[21]

ABK

ABK has the ability to use HTTP in communications with C2.[150]

ADVSTORESHELL

ADVSTORESHELL connects to port 80 of a C2 server using Wininet API. Data is exchanged via HTTP POSTs.[58]

Agent Tesla

Agent Tesla has used HTTP for C2 communications.[36][37]

APT18

APT18 uses HTTP for C2 communications.[164]

APT19

APT19 used HTTP for C2 communications. APT19 also used an HTTP malware variant to communicate over HTTP for C2.[158][159]

APT28

Later implants used by APT28, such as CHOPSTICK, use a blend of HTTP and other legitimate channels for C2, depending on module configuration.[40]

APT32

APT32 has used JavaScript that communicates over HTTP or HTTPS to attacker controlled domains to download additional frameworks. The group has also used downloaded encrypted payloads over HTTP.[170][154]

APT33

APT33 has used HTTP for command and control.[181]

APT37

APT37 uses HTTPS to conceal C2 communications.[169]

APT38

APT38 used a backdoor, QUICKRIDE, to communicate to the C2 server over HTTP and HTTPS.[163]

APT39

APT39 has used HTTP in communications with C2.[191]

APT41

APT41 used HTTP to download payloads for CVE-2019-19781 and CVE-2020-10189 exploits.[185]

Aria-body

Aria-body has used HTTP in C2 communications.[146]

Avenger

Avenger has the ability to use HTTP in communication with C2.[150]

BackConfig

BackConfig has the ability to use HTTPS for C2 communiations.[152]

BACKSPACE

BACKSPACE uses HTTP as a transport to communicate with its command server.[18]

BADNEWS

BADNEWS establishes a backdoor over HTTP.[6]

BadPatch

BadPatch uses HTTP for C2.[86]

Bankshot

Bankshot uses HTTP for command and control communication.[59]

BBK

BBK has the ability to use HTTP in communications with C2.[150]

BBSRAT

BBSRAT uses GET and POST requests over HTTP or HTTPS for command and control to obtain commands and send ZLIB compressed data back to the C2 server.[10]

Bisonal

Bisonal uses HTTP for C2 communications.[88]

BlackEnergy

BlackEnergy communicates with its C2 server over HTTP.[77]

BRONZE BUTLER

BRONZE BUTLER malware has used HTTP for C2.[28]

BUBBLEWRAP

BUBBLEWRAP can communicate using HTTP or HTTPS.[54]

Bundlore

Bundlore uses HTTP requests for C2.[157]

Carbanak

The Carbanak malware communicates to its command server using HTTP with an encrypted payload.[22]

Cardinal RAT

Cardinal RAT is downloaded using HTTP over port 443.[94]

ChChes

ChChes communicates to its C2 server over HTTP and embeds data within the Cookie HTTP header.[42][43]

China Chopper

China Chopper's server component executes code sent via HTTP POST commands.[63]

CHOPSTICK

Various implementations of CHOPSTICK communicate with C2 over HTTP.[99]

CloudDuke

One variant of CloudDuke uses HTTP and HTTPS for C2.[13]

Cobalt Group

Cobalt Group has used HTTPS for C2.[95][160][161]

Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike uses a custom command and control protocol that can be encapsulated in HTTP or HTTPS, or DNS. All protocols use their standard assigned ports.[4]

Comnie

Comnie uses HTTP for C2 communication.[35]

ComRAT

ComRAT has used HTTP requests for command and control.[108][109]

CORESHELL

CORESHELL can communicate over HTTP for C2.[40][41]

CosmicDuke

CosmicDuke can use HTTP or HTTPS for command and control to hard-coded C2 servers.[13][92]

CozyCar

CozyCar's main method of communicating with its C2 servers is using HTTP or HTTPS.[9]

Dark Caracal

Dark Caracal's version of Bandook communicates with their server over a TCP port using HTTP payloads Base64 encoded and suffixed with the string "&&&".[179]

DarkComet

DarkComet can use HTTP for C2 communications.[49]

Daserf

Daserf uses HTTP for C2.[28]

DealersChoice

DealersChoice uses HTTP for communication with the C2 server.[107]

Dipsind

Dipsind uses HTTP for C2.[17]

down_new

down_new has the ability to use HTTP in C2 communications.[150]

DownPaper

DownPaper communicates to its C2 server over HTTP.[38]

Dridex

Dridex has used HTTPS for C2 communications.[121]

DustySky

DustySky has used both HTTP and HTTPS for C2.[110]

Dyre

Dyre uses HTTPS for C2 communications.[64][65]

Elise

Elise communicates over HTTP or HTTPS for C2.[93]

ELMER

ELMER uses HTTP for command and control.[46]

Emissary

Emissary uses HTTP or HTTPS for C2.[111]

Empire

Empire can conduct command and control over protocols like HTTP and HTTPS.[2]

Epic

Epic uses HTTP and HTTPS for C2 communications.[55][56]

EvilBunny

EvilBunny has executed C2 commands directly via HTTP.[128]

Exaramel for Linux

Exaramel for Linux uses HTTPS for C2 communications.[131]

Felismus

Felismus uses HTTP for C2.[103]

FELIXROOT

FELIXROOT uses HTTP and HTTPS to communicate with the C2 server.[15][16]

FIN4

FIN4 has used HTTP POST requests to transmit data.[176][177]

Final1stspy

Final1stspy uses HTTP for C2.[104]

FlawedAmmyy

FlawedAmmyy has used HTTP for C2.[119]

Gamaredon Group

A Gamaredon Group file stealer can communicate over HTTP for C2.[11][168]

Gazer

Gazer communicates with its C2 servers over HTTP.[50]

GeminiDuke

GeminiDuke uses HTTP and HTTPS for command and control.[13]

Get2

Get2 has the ability to use HTTP to send information collected from an infected host to C2.[148]

Gold Dragon

Gold Dragon uses HTTP for communication to the control servers.[102]

Goopy

Goopy has the ability to communicate with its C2 over HTTP.[154]

GravityRAT

GravityRAT uses HTTP for C2.[19]

GreyEnergy

GreyEnergy uses HTTP and HTTPS for C2 communications.[16]

HAMMERTOSS

The "Uploader" variant of HAMMERTOSS visits a hard-coded server over HTTP/S to download the images HAMMERTOSS uses to receive commands.[87]

HAWKBALL

HAWKBALL has used HTTP to communicate with a single hard-coded C2 server.[127]

Helminth

Helminth can use HTTP for C2.[60]

Hi-Zor

Hi-Zor communicates with its C2 server over HTTPS.[105]

Hikit

Hikit has used HTTP for C2.[142]

HTTPBrowser

HTTPBrowser has used HTTP and HTTPS for command and control.[7][8]

httpclient

httpclient uses HTTP for command and control.[21]

HyperBro

HyperBro has used HTTPS for C2 communications.[130]

Inception

Inception has used HTTP, HTTPS, and WebDav in network communications.[186][140]

InvisiMole

InvisiMole uses HTTP for C2 communications.[51]

Ixeshe

Ixeshe uses HTTP for command and control.[125][126]

JHUHUGIT

JHUHUGIT variants have communicated with C2 servers over HTTP and HTTPS.[70][71][72]

Kazuar

Kazuar uses HTTP and HTTPS to communicate with the C2 server. Kazuar can also act as a webserver and listen for inbound HTTP requests through an exposed API.[12]

Ke3chang

Ke3chang malware RoyalCli and BS2005 have communicated over HTTP with the C2 server through Internet Explorer (IE) by using the COM interface IWebBrowser2.[178]

Keydnap

Keydnap uses HTTPS for command and control.[52]

Komplex

The Komplex C2 channel uses HTTP POST requests.[48]

KONNI

KONNI has used HTTP for C2.[85]

Lazarus Group

A Lazarus Group malware sample conducts C2 over HTTP.[166]

Lokibot

Lokibot has used HTTP for C2 communications.[143]

LOWBALL

LOWBALL command and control occurs via HTTPS over port 443.[54]

Machete

Machete uses HTTP for Command & Control.[133]

Machete

Machete malware used Python’s urllib library to make HTTP requests to the C2 server.[183]

MacSpy

MacSpy uses HTTP for command and control.[47]

Magic Hound

Magic Hound malware has used HTTP for C2.[180]

MAZE

MAZE has communicated to hard-coded IP addresses via HTTP.[144]

MechaFlounder

MechaFlounder has the ability to use HTTP in communication with C2.[147]

Metamorfo

Metamorfo has used HTTP for downloading items.[155]

Micropsia

Micropsia uses HTTP and HTTPS for C2 network communications.[113][114]

MiniDuke

MiniDuke uses HTTP and HTTPS for command and control.[13]

Mis-Type

Mis-Type network traffic can communicate over HTTP.[53]

More_eggs

More_eggs uses HTTPS for C2.[95][96]

MuddyWater

MuddyWater has used HTTP for C2 communications.[188]

NETEAGLE

NETEAGLE will attempt to detect if the infected host is configured to a proxy. If so, NETEAGLE will send beacons via an HTTP POST request. NETEAGLE will also use HTTP to download resources that contain an IP address and Port Number pair to connect to for further C2.[18]

Night Dragon

Night Dragon has used HTTP for C2.[175]

NOKKI

NOKKI has used HTTP for C2 communications.[134]

Octopus

Octopus uses HTTP for C2 communications.[20]

OilRig

OilRig has used HTTP for C2.[72][30][171]

Okrum

Okrum uses HTTP for communication with its C2.[139]

OLDBAIT

OLDBAIT can use HTTP for C2.[40]

OnionDuke

OnionDuke uses HTTP and HTTPS for C2.[13]

OopsIE

OopsIE uses HTTP for C2 communications.[44][45]

Orangeworm

Orangeworm has used HTTP for C2.[172]

OwaAuth

OwaAuth uses incoming HTTP requests with a username keyword and commands and handles them as instructions to perform actions.[7]

PinchDuke

PinchDuke transfers files from the compromised host via HTTP or HTTPS to a C2 server.[13]

PLEAD

PLEAD has used HTTP for communications with command and control (C2) servers.[136]

PlugX

PlugX can be configured to use HTTP for command and control.[7]

pngdowner

pngdowner uses HTTP for command and control.[21]

Pony

Pony has sent collected information to the C2 via HTTP POST request.[145]

PoshC2

PoshC2 can use protocols like HTTP/HTTPS for command and control traffic.[3]

PowerShower

PowerShower has sent HTTP GET and POST requests to C2 servers to send information and receive instructions.[140]

POWERTON

POWERTON has used HTTP/HTTPS for C2 traffic.[116]

POWRUNER

POWRUNER can use HTTP for C2 communications.[29][30]

Proxysvc

Proxysvc uses HTTP over SSL to communicate commands with the control server.[23]

Psylo

Psylo uses HTTPS for C2.[14]

Pteranodon

Pteranodon can use HTTP for C2.[11]

PUNCHBUGGY

PUNCHBUGGY enables remote interaction and can obtain additional code over HTTPS GET and POST requests.[66][67][68]

Pupy

Pupy can communicate over HTTP for C2.[1]

QUADAGENT

QUADAGENT uses HTTPS and HTTP for C2 communications.[57]

Rancor

Rancor has used HTTP for C2.[167]

RATANKBA

RATANKBA uses HTTP/HTTPS for command and control communication.[97][98]

Reaver

Some Reaver variants use HTTP for C2.[115]

RedLeaves

RedLeaves can communicate to its C2 over HTTP and HTTPS if directed.[39][90]

Regin

The Regin malware platform supports many standard protocols, including HTTP and HTTPS.[91]

Remexi

Remexi uses BITSAdmin to communicate with the C2 server over HTTP.[118]

Remsec

Remsec is capable of using HTTP and HTTPS for C2.[32][33][34]

RGDoor

RGDoor uses HTTP for C2 communications.[31]

RIPTIDE

APT12 has used RIPTIDE, a RAT that uses HTTP to communicate.[24]

Rising Sun

Rising Sun has used HTTP for command and control.[156]

Rocke

Rocke has executed wget and curl commands to Pastebin over the HTTPS protocol.[192]

ROKRAT

ROKRAT use HTTPS for all command and control communication methods.[61][62]

RTM

RTM has initiated connections to external domains using HTTPS.[151]

S-Type

S-Type uses HTTP for C2.[53]

Sakula

Sakula uses HTTP for C2.[112]

Sandworm Team

Sandworm Team's BCS-server tool connects to the designated C2 server via HTTP.[194]

SeaDuke

SeaDuke uses HTTP and HTTPS for C2.[13]

Seasalt

Seasalt uses HTTP for C2 communications.[27]

ServHelper

ServHelper uses HTTP for C2.[120]

Shamoon

Shamoon has used HTTP for C2.[69]

ShimRat

ShimRat communicated over HTTP and HTTPS with C2 servers.[5]

ShimRatReporter

ShimRatReporter communicated over HTTP with preconfigured C2 servers.[5]

SilverTerrier

SilverTerrier uses HTTP for C2 communications.[184]

Smoke Loader

Smoke Loader uses HTTP for C2.[106]

SNUGRIDE

SNUGRIDE communicates with its C2 server over HTTP.[39]

SpeakUp

SpeakUp uses POST and GET requests over HTTP to communicate with its main C&C server. [117]

Stealth Falcon

Stealth Falcon malware communicates with its C2 server via HTTPS.[165]

Sys10

Sys10 uses HTTP for C2.[101]

TA505

TA505 has used HTTP to communiate with C2 nodes.[193]

Threat Group-3390

Threat Group-3390 malware has used HTTP for C2.[162]

TrickBot

TrickBot uses HTTPS to communicate with its C2 servers, to get malware updates, modules that perform most of the malware logic and various configuration files.[26]

Tropic Trooper

Tropic Trooper has used HTTP in communication with the C2.[189][190]

TSCookie

TSCookie can multiple protocols including HTTP and HTTPS in communication with command and control (C2) servers.[137][138]

Turla

Turla has used HTTP and HTTPS for C2 communications.[173][174]

UBoatRAT

UBoatRAT has used HTTP for C2 communications.[89]

UPPERCUT

UPPERCUT has used HTTP for C2, including sending error codes in Cookie headers.[73]

Ursnif

Ursnif has used HTTPS for C2.[122][123][124]

Valak

Valak has used HTTP in communications with C2.[153]

Vasport

Vasport creates a backdoor by making a connection using a HTTP POST.[100]

VBShower

VBShower has attempted to obtain a VBS script from command and control (C2) nodes over HTTP.[141]

VERMIN

VERMIN uses HTTP for C2 communications.[76]

WindTail

WindTail has the ability to use HTTP for C2 communications.[149]

WinMM

WinMM uses HTTP for C2.[101]

Winnti for Linux

Winnti for Linux has used HTTP in outbound communications.[135]

WIRTE

WIRTE has used HTTP for network communication.[182]

Wizard Spider

Wizard Spider has used HTTP for network communications.[187]

Xbash

Xbash uses HTTP for C2 communications.[25]

YAHOYAH

YAHOYAH uses HTTP for C2.[129]

Zebrocy

Zebrocy uses HTTP for C2.[79][80][81][82][83][84]

ZeroT

ZeroT has used HTTP for C2.[74][75]

Zeus Panda

Zeus Panda uses HTTP for C2 communications.[78]

ZLib

ZLib communicates over HTTP for C2.[53]

ZxShell

ZxShell has used HTTP for C2 connections.[132]

Mitigations

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 activity at the network level.

Detection

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 application layer protocols that do not follow the expected protocol standards regarding syntax, structure, or any other variable adversaries could leverage to conceal data.[195]

Monitor for web traffic to/from known-bad or suspicious domains.

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