Cobalt Strike Malware Threat Intel Advisory

CloudSEK threat intelligence advisory on Cobalt Strike malware delivered by Iranian APT group MuddyWater, weaponizes Word documents.
Updated on
April 19, 2023
Published on
December 31, 2020
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  The Iranian APT MuddyWater potentially uses a new strand of malware. The new variant weaponizes Word documents, embedded with malicious macros, that are sent to the victims as part of a phishing attack. The macros then launch a Powershell script that further downloads and x. The second Powershell script downloads a legitimate image that contains a Cobalt Strike malware encoded in the pixels of the image.

Malware Execution

When the malware is executed in the infected environment, it launches a Powershell script which further downloads a second Powershell script which is hosted on Github. The Powershell script then downloads an image [PNG] from the image hosting platform, which hides an encoded Cobalt Strike payload in its pixels. After downloading the image the Powershell script decodes the payload which inturn enables the Cobalt Strike beacon to connect to the attackers’ infrastructure. Cobalt Strike masquerades as eicar, an anti-malware test file, to connect to the C2 server. The account that holds the Powershell script on Github. Powershell script on Github  

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

Initial Access T1566.001 Phishing: Spear Phishing Attachment
Execution T1059.001 Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell
Defense Evasion T1140 Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information
T1027.003 Obfuscated Files or Information: Steganography
Command and Control T1001.002 Data Obfuscation: Steganography

Indicators of Compromise

  • d1c7a7511bd09b53c651f8ccc43e9c36ba80265ba11164f88d6863f0832d8f81
  • Ed93ce9f84dbea3c070b8e03b82b95eb0944c44c6444d967820a890e8218b866
  • Domain:Port : Mazzion1234-44451[.]portmap[.]host:44451
  • Url: hxxp://


Technical Impact:
  • The malware is responsible of downloading Cobalt Strike malware
  • The malware can lead to further attacks on the victims
Business Impact:
  • Privacy violation
  • Victims are exposed to other attacks


  • Be careful with any attachment delivered by emails
  • Stay updated with latest patching
  • Apply effective application control policies

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