A Command-and-Control (C2) server, often referred to as a C2 server or C&C server, is a computer or a network of computers that cybercriminals and threat actors use to control and manage compromised devices or malware-infected systems. The primary purpose of a C2 server is to act as a centralized hub for issuing commands to infected devices, receiving stolen data, and coordinating malicious activities. Here are key characteristics and functions of a C2 server:
- Control of Compromised Devices: C2 servers are used to remotely control and manage computers, servers, or IoT devices that have been compromised by malware, viruses, or other malicious software.
- Command Delivery: They deliver instructions and commands to the compromised devices, directing them to carry out specific actions, such as launching attacks, exfiltrating data, or spreading malware to other targets.
- Data Exfiltration: C2 servers collect and store data stolen from infected devices, which can include sensitive information like login credentials, financial data, or intellectual property.
- Updates and Upgrades: Threat actors can use C2 servers to update the malware on infected devices, making it more difficult for security software to detect and remove.
- Botnets: C2 servers are often associated with the control of botnets, which are networks of compromised devices (bots) that can be harnessed for various malicious purposes, such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
- Communication Security: C2 servers typically use encrypted communication protocols to maintain secrecy and evade detection by security measures.
- Resilience: Cybercriminals may employ multiple C2 servers or domain generation algorithms to make it harder for security experts to take them down.
Detecting and disrupting C2 servers is a critical part of cybersecurity efforts. Security professionals and organizations use various techniques, including network monitoring, threat intelligence, and advanced cybersecurity tools, to identify and mitigate the threats posed by C2 servers.