Standard Application Layer Protocol

Adversaries may communicate using a common, standardized application layer protocol such as HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, or DNS to avoid detection by blending in with existing traffic.

In the mobile environment, the Google Cloud Messaging (GCM; two-way) and Apple Push Notification Service (APNS; one-way server-to-device) are commonly used protocols on Android and iOS respectively that would blend in with routine device traffic and are difficult for enterprises to inspect. Google reportedly responds to reports of abuse by blocking access to GCM.[1]

ID: T1437
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic Type: Post-Adversary Device Access
Tactics: Command And Control, Exfiltration
Platforms: Android, iOS
Version: 1.1
Created: 25 October 2017
Last Modified: 03 February 2019

Procedure Examples

Name Description

Android/Chuli.A used HTTP uploads to a URL as a command and control mechanism.[2]


Bread communicates with the C2 server using HTTP requests.[3]


Cerberus communicates with the C2 server using HTTP.[4]


Concipit1248 communicates with the C2 server using HTTP requests.[5]

Corona Updates

Corona Updates communicates with the C2 server using HTTP requests and has exfiltrated data using FTP.[5]

Dark Caracal

Dark Caracal controls implants using standard HTTP communication.[6]


DEFENSOR ID has used Firebase Cloud Messaging for C2.[7]


eSurv has exfiltrated data using HTTP PUT requests.[8]


EventBot communicates with the C2 using HTTP requests.[9]


Exodus One checks in with the command and control server using HTTP POST requests.[10]


FakeSpy exfiltrates data using HTTP requests.[11]


GolfSpy exfiltrates data using HTTP POST requests.[12]


Gustuff communicates with the command and control server using HTTP requests.[13]


INSOMNIA communicates with the C2 server using HTTPS requests.[14]


Pallas exfiltrates data using HTTP.[6]


RedDrop uses standard HTTP for communication and exfiltration.[15]


Riltok communicates with the command and control server using HTTP requests.[16]


Rotexy can communicate with the command and control server using JSON payloads sent in HTTP POST request bodies. It can also communicate by using JSON messages sent through Google Cloud Messaging.[17]


RuMMS uses HTTP for command and control.[18]


Skygofree can be controlled via HTTP, XMPP, FirebaseCloudMessaging, or GoogleCloudMessaging in older versions.[19]


Triada utilized HTTP to exfiltrate data through POST requests to the command and control server.[20]


TrickMo communicates with the C2 by sending JSON objects over unencrypted HTTP requests.[21] uses Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) for command and control.[1]


Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakeInst.a uses Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) for command and control.[1]


Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.OpFake.a uses Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) for command and control.[1]


ViceLeaker uses HTTP for C2 communication and data exfiltration.[22][23]

XLoader for iOS

XLoader for iOS has exfiltrated data using HTTP requests.[24]


This type of attack technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on the abuse of system features.


  1. Roman Unuchek and Victor Chebyshev. (2014, February 24). Mobile Malware Evolution: 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  2. Costin Raiu, Denis Maslennikov, Kurt Baumgartner. (2013, March 26). Android Trojan Found in Targeted Attack. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  3. A. Guertin, V. Kotov, Android Security & Privacy Team. (2020, January 9). PHA Family Highlights: Bread (and Friends) . Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  4. A. Hazum, B. Melnykov, C. Efrati, D. Golubenko, I. Wernik, L. Kuperman, O. Mana. (2020, April 29). First seen in the wild – Malware uses Corporate MDM as attack vector. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  5. T. Bao, J. Lu. (2020, April 14). Coronavirus Update App Leads to Project Spy Android and iOS Spyware. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  6. Blaich, A., et al. (2018, January 18). Dark Caracal: Cyber-espionage at a Global Scale. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  7. L. Stefanko. (2020, May 22). Insidious Android malware gives up all malicious features but one to gain stealth. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  8. A. Bauer. (2019, April 8). Lookout discovers phishing sites distributing new iOS and Android surveillanceware. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  9. D. Frank, L. Rochberger, Y. Rimmer, A. Dahan. (2020, April 30). EventBot: A New Mobile Banking Trojan is Born. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  10. Security Without Borders. (2019, March 29). Exodus: New Android Spyware Made in Italy. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  11. O. Almkias. (2020, July 1). FakeSpy Masquerades as Postal Service Apps Around the World. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  12. E. Xu, G. Guo. (2019, June 28). Mobile Cyberespionage Campaign ‘Bouncing Golf’ Affects Middle East. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  1. Vitor Ventura. (2019, April 9). Gustuff banking botnet targets Australia . Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  2. A. Case, D. Lassalle, M. Meltzer, S. Koessel, et al.. (2020, April 21). Evil Eye Threat Actor Resurfaces with iOS Exploit and Updated Implant. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  3. Nell Campbell. (2018, February 27). RedDrop: the blackmailing mobile malware family lurking in app stores. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  4. Tatyana Shishkova. (2019, June 25). Riltok mobile Trojan: A banker with global reach. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  5. T. Shishkova, L. Pikman. (2018, November 22). The Rotexy mobile Trojan – banker and ransomware. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  6. Wu Zhou, Deyu Hu, Jimmy Su, Yong Kang. (2016, April 26). RUMMS: THE LATEST FAMILY OF ANDROID MALWARE ATTACKING USERS IN RUSSIA VIA SMS PHISHING. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  7. Nikita Buchka and Alexey Firsh. (2018, January 16). Skygofree: Following in the footsteps of HackingTeam. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  8. Lukasz Siewierski. (2019, June 6). PHA Family Highlights: Triada. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  9. P. Asinovsky. (2020, March 24). TrickBot Pushing a 2FA Bypass App to Bank Customers in Germany. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  10. GReAT. (2019, June 26). ViceLeaker Operation: mobile espionage targeting Middle East. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  11. L. Arsene, C. Ochinca. (2018, August 20). Triout – Spyware Framework for Android with Extensive Surveillance Capabilities. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  12. Hiroaki, H., Wu, L., Wu, L.. (2019, April 2). XLoader Disguises as Android Apps, Has FakeSpy Links. Retrieved July 20, 2020.