Linux Implementation of Cobalt Strike Beacon Targeting Organizations Worldwide

Researchers on Monday took the wraps off a newly discovered Linux and Windows re-implementation of Cobalt Strike Beacon that’s actively set its sights on government, telecommunications, information technology, and financial institutions in the wild.

The as-yet undetected version of the penetration testing tool — codenamed “Vermilion Strike” — marks one of the rare Linux ports, which has been traditionally a Windows-based red team tool heavily repurposed by adversaries to mount an array of targeted attacks. Cobalt Strike bills itself as a “threat emulation software,” with Beacon being the payload engineered to model an advanced actor and duplicate their post-exploitation actions.

“The stealthy sample uses Cobalt Strike’s command-and-control (C2) protocol when communicating to the C2 server and has remote access capabilities such as uploading files, running shell commands and writing to files,” Intezer researchers said in a report published today and shared with The Hacker News.

The Israeli cybersecurity company’s findings come from an artifact uploaded to VirusTotal on August 10 from Malaysia. As of writing, only two anti-malware engines flag the file as malicious.

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