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ID T1099
Tactic Defense Evasion
Platform Linux, Windows
Permissions Required User, Administrator, SYSTEM
Data Sources File monitoring, Process monitoring, Process command-line parameters
Defense Bypassed Host forensic analysis

Timestomping is a technique that modifies the timestamps of a file (the modify, access, create, and change times), often to mimic files that are in the same folder. This is done, for example, on files that have been modified or created by the adversary so that they do not appear conspicuous to forensic investigators or file analysis tools. Timestomping may be used along with file name Masquerading to hide malware and tools.1


  • APT28 has performed timestomping on victim files.2
  • APT32 has used scheduled task raw XML with a backdated timestamp of June 2, 2016.3
  • Several Lazarus Group malware families use timestomping, including modifying the last write timestamp of a specified Registry key to a random date, as well as copying the timestamp for legitimate .exe files (such as calc.exe or mspaint.exe) to its dropped files.45
  • 3PARA RAT has a command to set certain attributes such as creation/modification timestamps on files.6
  • Cobalt Strike will timestomp any files or payloads placed on a target machine to help them blend in.7
  • The Derusbi malware supports timestomping.89
  • Elise performs timestomping of a CAB file it creates.10
  • FALLCHILL can modify file or directory timestamps.11
  • For early Gazer versions, the compilation timestamp was faked.12
  • Many Misdat samples were programmed using Borland Delphi, which will mangle the default PE compile timestamp of a file.13
  • OwaAuth has a command to timestop a file or directory.14
  • POSHSPY modifies timestamps of all downloaded executables to match a randomly selected file created prior to 2013.15
  • Psylo has a command to conduct timestomping by setting a specified file’s timestamps to match those of a system file in the System32 directory.16
  • SEASHARPEE can timestomp files on victims using a Web shell.17
  • After creating a new service for persistence, TDTESS sets the file creation time for the service to the creation time of the victim's legitimate svchost.exe file.18
  • USBStealer sets the timestamps of its dropper files to the last-access and last-write timestamps of a standard Windows library chosen on the system.19


Mitigation of timestomping specifically is likely difficult. Efforts should be focused on preventing potentially malicious software from running. Identify and block potentially malicious software that may contain functionality to perform timestomping by using whitelisting20 tools like AppLocker2122 or Software Restriction Policies23 where appropriate.24


Forensic techniques exist to detect aspects of files that have had their timestamps modified.1 It may be possible to detect timestomping using file modification monitoring that collects information on file handle opens and can compare timestamp values.


  1. a b  Carvey, H. (2013, July 23). HowTo: Determine/Detect the use of Anti-Forensics Techniques. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  2. ^  Alperovitch, D.. (2016, June 15). Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  3. ^  Carr, N.. (2017, May 14). Cyber Espionage is Alive and Well: APT32 and the Threat to Global Corporations. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  4. ^  Novetta Threat Research Group. (2016, February 24). Operation Blockbuster: Destructive Malware Report. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  5. ^  Novetta Threat Research Group. (2016, February 24). Operation Blockbuster: Loaders, Installers and Uninstallers Report. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  6. ^  Crowdstrike Global Intelligence Team. (2014, June 9). CrowdStrike Intelligence Report: Putter Panda. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  7. ^  Strategic Cyber LLC. (2017, March 14). Cobalt Strike Manual. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  8. ^  Novetta. (n.d.). Operation SMN: Axiom Threat Actor Group Report. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  9. ^  Fidelis Cybersecurity. (2016, February 29). The Turbo Campaign, Featuring Derusbi for 64-bit Linux. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  10. ^  Falcone, R., et al.. (2015, June 16). Operation Lotus Blossom. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  11. ^  US-CERT. (2017, November 22). Alert (TA17-318A): HIDDEN COBRA – North Korean Remote Administration Tool: FALLCHILL. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  12. ^  ESET. (2017, August). Gazing at Gazer: Turla’s new second stage backdoor. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  1. ^  Gross, J. (2016, February 23). Operation Dust Storm. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  2. ^  Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit Threat Intelligence. (2015, August 5). Threat Group-3390 Targets Organizations for Cyberespionage. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  3. ^  Dunwoody, M.. (2017, April 3). Dissecting One of APT29’s Fileless WMI and PowerShell Backdoors (POSHSPY). Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  4. ^  Falcone, R. and Miller-Osborn, J.. (2016, January 24). Scarlet Mimic: Years-Long Espionage Campaign Targets Minority Activists. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  5. ^  Davis, S. and Caban, D. (2017, December 19). APT34 - New Targeted Attack in the Middle East. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  6. ^  ClearSky Cyber Security and Trend Micro. (2017, July). Operation Wilted Tulip: Exposing a cyber espionage apparatus. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  7. ^  Calvet, J. (2014, November 11). Sednit Espionage Group Attacking Air-Gapped Networks. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  8. ^  Beechey, J. (2010, December). Application Whitelisting: Panacea or Propaganda?. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  9. ^  Tomonaga, S. (2016, January 26). Windows Commands Abused by Attackers. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  10. ^  NSA Information Assurance Directorate. (2014, August). Application Whitelisting Using Microsoft AppLocker. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  11. ^  Corio, C., & Sayana, D. P. (2008, June). Application Lockdown with Software Restriction Policies. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  12. ^  Microsoft. (2012, June 27). Using Software Restriction Policies and AppLocker Policies. Retrieved April 7, 2016.