Command and Control (C2) systems play a crucial role in Red Team operations, emergency response scenarios, and various other domains where effective coordination and stability is needed, Over the years, many command and control frameworks has been developed, You can find either open source or paid aka commercial options based on your preferences, The development of C2 systems, enabling more efficient and streamlined operations. In this article, we will explore few aspects of C2 frameworks and highlight key innovations that have transformed command and control processes.
- The Implants are getting more Intelligent: In the past usually Implants were beaconing almost 24/365 times. and that will definitely raise suspicion either from security sensors or from vigilant defenders, But now there are implants that only operate and beacon in 1 hour a day and that hour is the company break time. or they only beacon in working hours after that it will stop. also you can see some implants that tries to trace where it can spread and when to stop. also implants are coded in a way to be less noisy I mean from a forensic standpoint and try to hide its existence by either removing its tracks or choose more stealthy commands.
- Integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI): The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies has revolutionized C2 systems. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and provide valuable insights to commanders and operators. Machine learning techniques allow C2 systems to adapt and learn from historical data, improving decision-making processes. AI-powered C2 systems can automate routine tasks, such as data processing, finding resources in the network, testing unusual payloads, testing new queries, get data based on historical engagements, enabling operators to focus on higher-level strategic thinking and planning and not spending time on troubleshooting some technical aspect of it.
- Cybersecurity and Resilience: In the digital age, cybersecurity has become a critical aspect of C2 development. Command and control systems are vulnerable to cyber threats that can compromise the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of information. C2 systems must implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect against unauthorized access, data breaches, and other malicious activities. Additionally, ensuring system resilience is vital to maintain continuous operations in the face of cyberattacks or system failures. believe it or not there are some hackers that try to find bug and vulnerabilities in C2 frameworks try to think why for a second. let me give you the answer, so other hackers can hijack the C2 communications and gain access to the list of victims who are already connected to the C2 application. remember the Cobalt strike vulnerabilities?, CVE-2022-39197, CVE-2022-42948.
- Mobile and Distributed C2: Modern C2 systems are designed to be mobile and distributed, allowing commanders and operators to access critical information and exercise command authority from anywhere. Mobile C2 applications enable personnel on the field to receive real-time updates, contribute to the decision-making process, and interact with the broader command structure. This flexibility enhances the agility and responsiveness of C2 systems, especially in dynamic and rapidly changing operational environments. and you can see many people using even telegram to either send commands or receive information. as a way to communicate with the C2 application. Many hacked wordpress sites have a small phishing kits that communicate with the operator via telegram as an easy way to communicate back and forth to the server.
The development of Command and Control (C2) systems has witnessed significant advancements in recent years. Incorporating network-centric operations, AI integration, robust cybersecurity measures, and mobile capabilities has transformed the way C2 systems function. These technical aspects have enhanced situational awareness, streamlined decision-making processes, and improved the overall effectiveness of command and control operations. As technology continues to evolve, C2 development will likely continue advance and achieve greater operational efficiency and effectiveness. operators now are more focused on the tactical part rather than the technical part. Before the technology was kinda limited and red teamers or operators had to understand many technical aspect to tackle problems or limitation caused by the software. today the application is so well written and more capable hackers started to make different version of the same tool, and operate upon it. you can find cracked cobalt strike versions, forked open source C2 software from GitHub and many more. The key is understanding your threat landscape and understand how you can detect things in a timely manner.