Stage Capabilities: Upload Malware

Adversaries may upload malware to third-party or adversary controlled infrastructure to make it accessible during targeting. Malicious software can include payloads, droppers, post-compromise tools, backdoors, and a variety of other malicious content. Adversaries may upload malware to support their operations, such as making a payload available to a victim network to enable Ingress Tool Transfer by placing it on an Internet accessible web server.

Malware may be placed on infrastructure that was previously purchased/rented by the adversary (Acquire Infrastructure) or was otherwise compromised by them (Compromise Infrastructure). Malware can also be staged on web services, such as GitHub or Pastebin, or hosted on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), where decentralized content storage makes the removal of malicious files difficult.[1][2]

Adversaries may upload backdoored files, such as application binaries, virtual machine images, or container images, to third-party software stores or repositories (ex: GitHub, CNET, AWS Community AMIs, Docker Hub). By chance encounter, victims may directly download/install these backdoored files via User Execution. Masquerading may increase the chance of users mistakenly executing these files.

ID: T1608.001
Sub-technique of:  T1608
Platforms: PRE
Contributors: Goldstein Menachem; Kobi Haimovich, CardinalOps
Version: 1.2
Created: 17 March 2021
Last Modified: 11 April 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0050 APT32

APT32 has hosted malicious payloads in Dropbox, Amazon S3, and Google Drive for use during targeting.[1]


BITTER has registered domains to stage payloads.[3]

C0010 C0010

For C0010, UNC3890 actors staged malware on their infrastructure for direct download onto a compromised system.[4]

C0011 C0011

For C0011, Transparent Tribe hosted malicious documents on domains registered by the group.[5]

C0021 C0021

For C0021, the threat actors uploaded malware to websites under their control.[6][7]

G1006 Earth Lusca

Earth Lusca has staged malware and malicious files on compromised web servers, GitHub, and Google Drive.[8]


EXOTIC LILY has uploaded malicious payloads to file-sharing services including TransferNow, TransferXL, WeTransfer, and OneDrive.[9]

G0046 FIN7

FIN7 has staged legitimate software, that was trojanized to contain an Atera agent installer, on Amazon S3.[10]

G0047 Gamaredon Group

Gamaredon Group has registered domains to stage payloads.[11][12]


HEXANE has staged malware on fraudulent websites set up to impersonate targeted organizations.[13]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has used Blogspot to host malicious content such as beacons, file exfiltrators, and implants.[14]

G0140 LazyScripter

LazyScripter has hosted open-source remote access Trojans used in its operations in GitHub.[15]

G1014 LuminousMoth

LuminousMoth has hosted malicious payloads on Dropbox.[16]

G0129 Mustang Panda

Mustang Panda has hosted malicious payloads on DropBox including PlugX.[17]

C0002 Night Dragon

During Night Dragon, threat actors uploaded commonly available hacker tools to compromised web servers.[18]

C0022 Operation Dream Job

For Operation Dream Job, Lazarus Group used compromised servers to host malware.[19][20][21][22]

C0013 Operation Sharpshooter

For Operation Sharpshooter, the threat actors staged malicious files on Dropbox and other websites.[23]

C0005 Operation Spalax

For Operation Spalax, the threat actors staged malware and malicious files in legitimate hosting services such as OneDrive or MediaFire.[24]

G1008 SideCopy

SideCopy has used compromised domains to host its malicious payloads.[25]

G1018 TA2541

TA2541 has uploaded malware to various platforms including Google Drive, Pastetext, Sharetext, and GitHub.[26][27]

G0092 TA505

TA505 has staged malware on actor-controlled domains.[28]

G0139 TeamTNT

TeamTNT has uploaded backdoored Docker images to Docker Hub.[29]

G0027 Threat Group-3390

Threat Group-3390 has hosted malicious payloads on Dropbox.[30]


ID Mitigation Description
M1056 Pre-compromise

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.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0035 Internet Scan Response Content

If infrastructure or patterns in malware have been previously identified, internet scanning may uncover when an adversary has staged malware to make it accessible for targeting.Much of this activity will take place outside the visibility of the target organization, making detection of this behavior difficult. Detection efforts may be focused on post-compromise phases of the adversary lifecycle, such as User Execution or Ingress Tool Transfer .


  1. Adair, S. and Lancaster, T. (2020, November 6). OceanLotus: Extending Cyber Espionage Operations Through Fake Websites. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  2. Edmund Brumaghin. (2022, November 9). Threat Spotlight: Cyber Criminal Adoption of IPFS for Phishing, Malware Campaigns. Retrieved March 8, 2023.
  3. Dela Paz, R. (2016, October 21). BITTER: a targeted attack against Pakistan. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  4. Mandiant Israel Research Team. (2022, August 17). Suspected Iranian Actor Targeting Israeli Shipping, Healthcare, Government and Energy Sectors. Retrieved September 21, 2022.
  5. N. Baisini. (2022, July 13). Transparent Tribe begins targeting education sector in latest campaign. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  6. Dunwoody, M., et al. (2018, November 19). Not So Cozy: An Uncomfortable Examination of a Suspected APT29 Phishing Campaign. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  7. Microsoft Defender Research Team. (2018, December 3). Analysis of cyberattack on U.S. think tanks, non-profits, public sector by unidentified attackers. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  8. Chen, J., et al. (2022). Delving Deep: An Analysis of Earth Lusca’s Operations. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  9. Stolyarov, V. (2022, March 17). Exposing initial access broker with ties to Conti. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  10. Abdo, B., et al. (2022, April 4). FIN7 Power Hour: Adversary Archaeology and the Evolution of FIN7. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  11. Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center. (2022, February 4). ACTINIUM targets Ukrainian organizations. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  12. Unit 42. (2022, February 3). Russia’s Gamaredon aka Primitive Bear APT Group Actively Targeting Ukraine. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  13. ClearSky Cyber Security . (2021, August). New Iranian Espionage Campaign By “Siamesekitten” - Lyceum. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  14. An, J and Malhotra, A. (2021, November 10). North Korean attackers use malicious blogs to deliver malware to high-profile South Korean targets. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  15. Jazi, H. (2021, February). LazyScripter: From Empire to double RAT. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  1. Lechtik, M, and etl. (2021, July 14). LuminousMoth APT: Sweeping attacks for the chosen few. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  2. Raggi, M. et al. (2022, March 7). The Good, the Bad, and the Web Bug: TA416 Increases Operational Tempo Against European Governments as Conflict in Ukraine Escalates. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  3. McAfee® Foundstone® Professional Services and McAfee Labs™. (2011, February 10). Global Energy Cyberattacks: “Night Dragon”. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  4. ClearSky Research Team. (2020, August 13). Operation 'Dream Job' Widespread North Korean Espionage Campaign. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  5. Breitenbacher, D and Osis, K. (2020, June 17). OPERATION IN(TER)CEPTION: Targeted Attacks Against European Aerospace and Military Companies. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  6. Cashman, M. (2020, July 29). Operation North Star Campaign. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  7. Beek, C. (2020, November 5). Operation North Star: Behind The Scenes. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  8. Sherstobitoff, R., Malhotra, A., et. al.. (2018, December 18). Operation Sharpshooter Campaign Targets Global Defense, Critical Infrastructure. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  9. M. Porolli. (2021, January 21). Operation Spalax: Targeted malware attacks in Colombia. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
  10. Threat Intelligence Team. (2021, December 2). SideCopy APT: Connecting lures victims, payloads to infrastructure. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  11. Larson, S. and Wise, J. (2022, February 15). Charting TA2541's Flight. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  12. Ventura, V. (2021, September 16). Operation Layover: How we tracked an attack on the aviation industry to five years of compromise. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  13. Financial Security Institute. (2020, February 28). Profiling of TA505 Threat Group That Continues to Attack the Financial Sector. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  14. Stroud, J. (2021, May 25). Taking TeamTNT's Docker Images Offline. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  15. Lunghi, D. et al. (2020, February). Uncovering DRBControl. Retrieved November 12, 2021.