Acquire Infrastructure: Domains

Before compromising a victim, adversaries may purchase domains that can be used during targeting. Domain names are the human readable names used to represent one or more IP addresses. They can be purchased or, in some cases, acquired for free.

Adversaries can use purchased domains for a variety of purposes, including for Phishing, Drive-by Compromise, and Command and Control.[1] Adversaries may choose domains that are similar to legitimate domains, including through use of homoglyphs or use of a different top-level domain (TLD).[2][3] Typosquatting may be used to aid in delivery of payloads via Drive-by Compromise. Adversaries can also use internationalized domain names (IDNs) to create visually similar lookalike domains for use in operations.[4]

Domain registrars each maintain a publicly viewable database that displays contact information for every registered domain. Private WHOIS services display alternative information, such as their own company data, rather than the owner of the domain. Adversaries may use such private WHOIS services to obscure information about who owns a purchased domain. Adversaries may further interrupt efforts to track their infrastructure by using varied registration information and purchasing domains with different domain registrars.[5]

ID: T1583.001
Sub-technique of:  T1583
Tactic: Resource Development
Platforms: PRE
Data Sources: Domain registration
Contributors: Deloitte Threat Library Team; Vinayak Wadhwa, Lucideus; Wes Hurd
Version: 1.0
Created: 30 September 2020
Last Modified: 20 October 2020

Procedure Examples

Name Description

APT1 has registered hundreds of domains for use in operations.[5]


APT28 registered domains imitating NATO, OSCE security websites, Caucasus information resources and other organizations.[2] [6]


Mitigation Description

Organizations may intentionally register similar domains to their own to deter adversaries from creating typosquatting domains. Other facets of this technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on behaviors performed outside of the scope of enterprise defenses and controls.


Domain registration information is, by design, captured in public registration logs. Consider use of services that may aid in tracking of newly acquired domains, such as WHOIS databases and/or passive DNS. In some cases it may be possible to pivot on known pieces of domain registration information to uncover other infrastructure purchased by the adversary. Consider monitoring for domains created with a similar structure to your own, including under a different TLD. Though various tools and services exist to track, query, and monitor domain name registration information, tracking across multiple DNS infrastructures can require multiple tools/services or more advanced analytics.

Detection efforts may be focused on related stages of the adversary lifecycle, such as during Initial Access and Command and Control.