Adversaries may attempt to manipulate features of their artifacts to make them appear legitimate or benign to users and/or security tools. Masquerading occurs when the name or location of an object, legitimate or malicious, is manipulated or abused for the sake of evading defenses and observation. This may include manipulating file metadata, tricking users into misidentifying the file type, and giving legitimate task or service names.

Renaming abusable system utilities to evade security monitoring is also a form of Masquerading.[1]

ID: T1036
Tactic: Defense Evasion
Platforms: Containers, Linux, Windows, macOS
Defense Bypassed: Application control by file name or path
Contributors: Bartosz Jerzman; David Lu, Tripwire; Elastic; Felipe Espósito, @Pr0teus; Nick Carr, Mandiant; Oleg Kolesnikov, Securonix
Version: 1.4
Created: 31 May 2017
Last Modified: 18 October 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0622 AppleSeed

AppleSeed can disguise JavaScript files as PDFs.[2]

G0007 APT28

APT28 has renamed the WinRAR utility to avoid detection.[3]

G0016 APT29

APT29 has set the hostnames of its C2 infrastructure to match legitimate hostnames in the victim environment. They have also used IP addresses originating from the same country as the victim for their VPN infrastructure.[4]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has disguised a Cobalt Strike beacon as a Flash Installer.[5]

S0268 Bisonal

Bisonal dropped a decoy payload with a .jpg extension that contained a malicious Visual Basic script.[6]

S0635 BoomBox

BoomBox has the ability to mask malicious data strings as PDF files.[7]


BRONZE BUTLER has masked executables with document file icons including Word and Adobe PDF.[8]

S0497 Dacls

The Dacls Mach-O binary has been disguised as a .nib file.[9]

S0673 DarkWatchman

DarkWatchman has used an icon mimicking a text file to mask a malicious executable.[10]

G0035 Dragonfly

Dragonfly has created accounts disguised as legitimate backup and service accounts as well as an email administration account.[11]

S0634 EnvyScout

EnvyScout has used folder icons for malicious files to lure victims into opening them.[7]

S0512 FatDuke

FatDuke has attempted to mimic a compromised user's traffic by using the same user agent as the installed browser.[12]

S0696 Flagpro

Flagpro can download malicious files with a .tmp extension and append them with .exe prior to execution.[13]

S0661 FoggyWeb

FoggyWeb can masquerade the output of C2 commands as a fake, but legitimately formatted WebP file.[14]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has disguised its C2 addresses as the websites of shopping malls, governments, universities, and others.[15]

G0032 Lazarus Group

Lazarus Group has disguised malicious template files as JPEG files to avoid detection.[16]

G0140 LazyScripter

LazyScripter has used several different security software icons to disguise executables.[17]

G0045 menuPass

menuPass has used esentutl to change file extensions to their true type that were masquerading as .txt files.[18]

S0637 NativeZone

NativeZone has, upon execution, displayed a message box that appears to be related to a Ukrainian electronic document management system.[19]

G0133 Nomadic Octopus

Nomadic Octopus attempted to make Octopus appear as a Telegram Messenger with a Russian interface.[20]

S0368 NotPetya

NotPetya drops PsExec with the filename dllhost.dat.[21]

G0049 OilRig

OilRig has used .doc file extensions to mask malicious executables.[22]


PLATINUM has renamed rar.exe to avoid detection.[23]

S0650 QakBot

The QakBot payload has been disguised as a PNG file.[24]

S0565 Raindrop

Raindrop was built to include a modified version of 7-Zip source code (including associated export names) and Far Manager source code.[25][26]

S0458 Ramsay

Ramsay has masqueraded as a JPG image file.[27]

S0662 RCSession

RCSession has used a file named English.rtf to appear benign on victim hosts.[28][29]

S0148 RTM

RTM has been delivered as archived Windows executable files masquerading as PDF documents.[30]

S0446 Ryuk

Ryuk can create .dll files that actually contain a Rich Text File format document.[31]

S0615 SombRAT

SombRAT can use a legitimate process name to hide itself.[32]

G0127 TA551

TA551 has masked malware DLLs as dat and jpg files.[33]

S0682 TrailBlazer

TrailBlazer has used filenames that match the name of the compromised system in attempt to avoid detection.[34]

S0266 TrickBot

The TrickBot downloader has used an icon to appear as a Microsoft Word document.[35]


TRITON attempts to write a dummy program into memory if it fails to reset the Triconex controller.[36]

S0689 WhisperGate

WhisperGate has been disguised as a JPG extension to avoid detection as a malicious PE file.[37]

G0112 Windshift

Windshift has used icons mimicking MS Office files to mask malicious executables.[38] Windshift has also attempted to hide executables by changing the file extension to ".scr" to mimic Windows screensavers.[39]

S0466 WindTail

WindTail has used icons mimicking MS Office files to mask payloads.[38]


XCSSET builds a malicious application bundle to resemble Safari through using the Safari icon and Info.plist. [40]


ZIRCONIUM has spoofed legitimate applications in phishing lures and changed file extensions to conceal installation of malware.[41][42]


ID Mitigation Description
M1045 Code Signing

Require signed binaries.

M1038 Execution Prevention

Use tools that restrict program execution via application control by attributes other than file name for common operating system utilities that are needed.

M1022 Restrict File and Directory Permissions

Use file system access controls to protect folders such as C:\Windows\System32.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Metadata
File Modification
DS0007 Image Image Metadata
DS0009 Process Process Metadata
DS0003 Scheduled Job Scheduled Job Metadata
Scheduled Job Modification
DS0019 Service Service Creation
Service Metadata

Collect file hashes; file names that do not match their expected hash are suspect. Perform file monitoring; files with known names but in unusual locations are suspect. Likewise, files that are modified outside of an update or patch are suspect.

If file names are mismatched between the file name on disk and that of the binary's PE metadata, this is a likely indicator that a binary was renamed after it was compiled. Collecting and comparing disk and resource filenames for binaries by looking to see if the InternalName, OriginalFilename, and/or ProductName match what is expected could provide useful leads, but may not always be indicative of malicious activity. [43] Do not focus on the possible names a file could have, but instead on the command-line arguments that are known to be used and are distinct because it will have a better rate of detection.[44]

Look for indications of common characters that may indicate an attempt to trick users into misidentifying the file type, such as a space as the last character of a file name or the right-to-left override characters"\u202E", "[U+202E]", and "%E2%80%AE".


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