Encrypted Channel: Symmetric Cryptography
Adversaries may employ a known symmetric encryption algorithm to conceal command and control traffic rather than relying on any inherent protections provided by a communication protocol. Symmetric encryption algorithms use the same key for plaintext encryption and ciphertext decryption. Common symmetric encryption algorithms include AES, DES, 3DES, Blowfish, and RC4.
3PARA RAT command and control commands are encrypted within the HTTP C2 channel using the DES algorithm in CBC mode with a key derived from the MD5 hash of the string HYF54&%9&jkMCXuiS. 3PARA RAT will use an 8-byte XOR key derived from the string HYF54&%9&jkMCXuiS if the DES decoding fails
BRONZE BUTLER has used RC4 encryption (for Datper malware) and AES (for xxmm malware) to obfuscate HTTP traffic. BRONZE BUTLER has also used a tool called RarStar that encodes data with a custom XOR algorithm when posting it to a C2 server.
The C2 server response to a beacon sent by a variant of Emissary contains a 36-character GUID value that is used as an encryption key for subsequent network communications. Some variants of Emissary use various XOR operations to encrypt C2 data.
The original variant of FakeM encrypts C2 traffic using a custom encryption cipher that uses an XOR key of "YHCRA" and bit rotation between each XOR operation. Some variants of FakeM use RC4 to encrypt C2 traffic.
Before being appended to image files, HAMMERTOSS commands are encrypted with a key composed of both a hard-coded value and a string contained on that day's tweet. To decrypt the commands, an investigator would need access to the intended malware sample, the day's tweet, and the image file containing the command.
Several Lazarus Group malware families encrypt C2 traffic using custom code that uses XOR with an ADD operation and XOR with a SUB operation. Another Lazarus Group malware sample XORs C2 traffic. Other Lazarus Group malware uses Caracachs encryption to encrypt C2 payloads.
Some versions of UPPERCUT have used the hard-coded string "this is the encrypt key" for Blowfish encryption when communicating with a C2. Later versions have hard-coded keys uniquely for each C2 address.
|S0430||Winnti for Linux|
|M1031||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.
With symmetric encryption, it may be possible to obtain the algorithm and key from samples and use them to decode network traffic to detect malware communications signatures.
In general, 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.
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