Cobalt Strike 2023 Alternatives


Top 5 Alternatives to Cobalt Strike for Red Team Operators

What is Cobalt Strike?

Cobalt Strike is a C2 Framework described by Help Systems ( The company behind Cobalt Strike ) as a “post-exploitation agent and covert channels to emulate a quiet long-term embedded actor in your customer’s network”.

Why would you want to use this product? Cobalt Strike works wonders for adversary simulation. With Cobalt Strike, you can do anything from creating beacons and pivoting, to creating fake traffic to hide from SOC Analysts. There are only a few downsides to their product. It costs a pretty penny to use this product, you have to install malware on the target system ( instead of using the internal utils ), and you need to know a little about the scripting language for the malleable C2 profiles to be effective.

In this article, we will be showing off some free alternatives to Cobalt Strike. Every product shown is similar to cobalt strike and has some of the same functionality.

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What is Empire? ( Powershell Empire )

Powershell Empire is a Post Exploitation Framework maintained now by BC-Security. It is described by BC-Security as “a post-exploitation framework that includes a pure-PowerShell Windows agents, Python 3.x Linux/OS X agents, and C# agents. It is the merger of the previous PowerShell Empire and Python EmPyre projects. The framework offers cryptologically-secure communications and flexible architecture”.

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What is Covenant?

Covenant is a Post Exploitation Framework maintained by Cobbr. “Covenant is a .NET command and control framework that aims to highlight the attack surface of .NET, make the use of offensive .NET tradecraft easier, and serve as a collaborative command and control platform for red teamers.”

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What is FactionC2?

FactionC2 is a post-exploitation framework. It is described by the creators as “A C2 framework for security professionals, providing an easy way to extend and interact with agents. It focuses on providing an easy, stable, and approachable platform for C2 communications through well-documented REST and Socket.IO APIs.”

Here is a walkthrough posted on the creator’s blog:

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What is Metasploit Framework?

Metasploit Framework is an all-in-one advanced Enumeration, Delivery, Exploitation, and Post exploitation framework.

The Metasploit Project is a computer security project that provides information about security vulnerabilities and aids in penetration testing and IDS signature development. It is owned by Boston, Massachusetts-based security company Rapid7.

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What is Merlin C2?

Merlin C2 is a Post Exploitation Framework created by a single person in golang. It is described by its creator as “A post-exploit Command & Control (C2) tool, also known as a Remote Access Tool (RAT), that communicates using the HTTP/1.1, HTTP/2, and HTTP/3 protocols. HTTP/3 is the combination of HTTP/2 over the Quick UDP Internet Connections (QUIC) protocol. This tool was the result of my work evaluating HTTP/2 in a paper titled Practical Approach to Detecting and Preventing Web Application Attacks over HTTP/2.”

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Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this post you should check out The Effects of Data Breaches.

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