Weaken Encryption

Adversaries may compromise a network device’s encryption capability in order to bypass encryption that would otherwise protect data communications. [1]

Encryption can be used to protect transmitted network traffic to maintain its confidentiality (protect against unauthorized disclosure) and integrity (protect against unauthorized changes). Encryption ciphers are used to convert a plaintext message to ciphertext and can be computationally intensive to decipher without the associated decryption key. Typically, longer keys increase the cost of cryptanalysis, or decryption without the key.

Adversaries can compromise and manipulate devices that perform encryption of network traffic. For example, through behaviors such as Modify System Image, Reduce Key Space, and Disable Crypto Hardware, an adversary can negatively effect and/or eliminate a device’s ability to securely encrypt network traffic. This poses a greater risk of unauthorized disclosure and may help facilitate data manipulation, Credential Access, or Collection efforts. [2]

ID: T1600
Sub-techniques:  T1600.001, T1600.002
Tactic: Defense Evasion
Platforms: Network
Permissions Required: Administrator
Defense Bypassed: Encryption
Version: 1.0
Created: 19 October 2020
Last Modified: 21 October 2020


This type of attack technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on the abuse of system features.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0022 File File Modification

There is no documented method for defenders to directly identify behaviors that weaken encryption. Detection efforts may be focused on closely related adversary behaviors, such as Modify System Image. Some detection methods require vendor support to aid in investigation.