C2 Framework - MuddyC2Go


C2 Framework - MuddyC2Go

A C2 Framework (Command and Control) is a set of tools and protocols which allow red teamers or hackers to have remote control over compromised devices through network connections. This has recently become an issue as there have been recent cyber-attacks that rely on these Frameworks. This article will discuss MuddyWater’s version of the C2 Framework, which is an Iranian government-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT).

Modus Operandi

The C2 Framework sees the usage of an implant and a command and control server. The implant is malware that’s deployed on the target system so a connection can be established between the device and the command and control (C2) server. The C2 server is the point at which compromised devices are able to be managed or controlled so the attacker can send commands, as well receive data to keep their control over the compromised network; these systems mimic benign traffic over the network to avoid detection and to bypass network security.

The MuddyC2Go version involves using password protected archives to evade email security mechanisms, the attack strategy involves sending spear phishing emails that contain malware or links that lead to deployment of remote administration tools. As the password protected files are encrypted, they are unreadable by security tools until a password has been provided. When attempting a social engineering aspect, the attacker will label the file as something such as an invoice.

Once the attacker has achieved their goal of getting the file onto the system, they can exfiltrate data, escalate privileges and perform lateral movement. MuddyWater are a state sponsored group with their attacks focusing on Middle Eastern Nations, as well as surrounding nations and targets in India and the USA.

Why does this Matter?

The C2 Framework is important because in order to have a successful cyber-attack, you need to be able to maintain your presence within the target’s systems so the attacker can act on their objective.

As discussed prior, Iranian APT MuddyWater utilise this framework and they are able to use it on such a large scale, recently it’s been used to target Israel. They often use legitimate public document names that can be found on Government websites, which we have to watch out for as similar tactics may be deployed on us or those that we work with.

Their main motivator is to support their government’s political ideologies and these attacks are often targeted on the rival nation’s infrastructure and government. An example of this, is their attacks on Turkey’s government.

Their tactics are a cause for concern as they can lead to giant financial and reputational damage to those who are victims to the attack. As they gain access to sensitive data and systems it can lead to loss of intellectual property, financial information and confidential data. We should also be aware of C2 Framework as previously mentioned, massive corporations such as Google and their services can be used to host Command and Control infrastructure which means we always need to be vigilant, regardless of which software or services we are using.

How to Protect Yourself

Seeing the prevalent nature of cyber threats such as the MuddyC2Go framework which utilise spear phishing emails, it is imperative to receive proper training and to have a keen eye so that it is easy to distinguish legitimate emails from phishing emails.

This should include being able to recognise which links are safe to click and which should be approached with caution. Through education and awareness, you will be able to identify common phishing techniques such as suspicious sender addresses or distrustful content.

Staff training is always important regardless of the cyber threat. When they receive quality training in being able to identify and report suspicious activity, it is a huge benefit as it can prevent attackers from gaining access through social engineering attacks like spear phishing.

Spam filtering is another technique that can help mitigate the threat of MuddyC2Go as it can prevent the delivery of incoming phishing emails that contain the payload.

Strong password management is advised as utilising a unique and strong password for all of your accounts can only benefit you and your organisation by keeping attackers out of the system.

MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) provides another layer of security as it doesn’t just require a password to gain access to an account, but also a second device to verify that you entered the password.


In conclusion, C2 frameworks have emerged as a trend in recent cyber-attacks. Due to this, it is important that all users are vigilant and scrutinise all emails that they receive. Everyone should be proactive in looking to enhance their skills in identifying phishing emails and being able to separate them from genuine emails.

But it is important to remember that the end user is always the weakest link in a system. You should look to implement spam filtering and MFA in order to lower the risks of these emails arriving in the inbox and to apply user awareness training so the end user is able to recognise fraudulent/suspicious emails.


[1] Red Team: C2 frameworks for pentesting | Infosec (infosecinstitute.com)

[2] What is C2? Command and Control Infrastructure Explained (varonis.com)

[3] MuddyC2Go: New C2 Framework Iranian Hackers Using Against Israel (thehackernews.com)

[4] Google Warns How Hackers Could Abuse Calendar Service as a Covert C2 Channel (thehackernews.com)

[5] An In-Depth Look at Iranian APT "MuddyWater" (avertium.com)

[6] Malicious password-protected files - Blog | Menlo Security

[7] Google Calendar Is a Potential Tool for Hackers to Control Malware (pcmag.com)

[8] MuddyWater (Threat Actor) (fraunhofer.de)

Would you like to talk to us and find out more about our services?

Please fill in the form below and one of the team will get in touch.