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Obfuscated Files or Information


Adversaries may attempt to make an executable or file difficult to discover or analyze by encrypting, encoding, or otherwise obfuscating its contents on the system or in transit. This is common behavior that can be used across different platforms and the network to evade defenses.

Payloads may be compressed, archived, or encrypted in order to avoid detection. These payloads may be used during Initial Access or later to mitigate detection. Sometimes a user's action may be required to open and [Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information](https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/T1140) for [User Execution](https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/T1204). The user may also be required to input a password to open a password protected compressed/encrypted file that was provided by the adversary. (Citation: Volexity PowerDuke November 2016) Adversaries may also used compressed or archived scripts, such as Javascript.

Portions of files can also be encoded to hide the plain-text strings that would otherwise help defenders with discovery. (Citation: Linux/Cdorked.A We Live Security Analysis) Payloads may also be split into separate, seemingly benign files that only reveal malicious functionality when reassembled. (Citation: Carbon Black Obfuscation Sept 2016)

Adversaries may also obfuscate commands executed from payloads or directly via a [Command-Line Interface](https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/T1059). Environment variables, aliases, characters, and other platform/language specific semantics can be used to evade signature based detections and whitelisting mechanisms. (Citation: FireEye Obfuscation June 2017) (Citation: FireEye Revoke-Obfuscation July 2017) (Citation: PaloAlto EncodedCommand March 2017)

Another example of obfuscation is through the use of steganography, a technique of hiding messages or code in images, audio tracks, video clips, or text files. One of the first known and reported adversaries that used steganography activity surrounding [Invoke-PSImage](https://attack.mitre.org/software/S0231). The Duqu malware encrypted the gathered information from a victim's system and hid it into an image followed by exfiltrating the image to a C2 server. (Citation: Wikipedia Duqu) By the end of 2017, an adversary group used [Invoke-PSImage](https://attack.mitre.org/software/S0231) to hide PowerShell commands in an image file (png) and execute the code on a victim's system. In this particular case the PowerShell code downloaded another obfuscated script to gather intelligence from the victim's machine and communicate it back to the adversary. (Citation: McAfee Malicious Doc Targets Pyeongchang Olympics)






Windows event logs
Process command-line parameters
Process monitoring
File monitoring
SSL/TLS inspection
Network intrusion detection system
Network protocol analysis
Process use of network
Email gateway
Binary file metadata
Malware reverse engineering
Environment variable


Not Tracked