Starting Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike Team Server

Cobalt Strike is split into client and server components. The server, referred to as the team server, is the controller for the Beacon payload and the host for Cobalt Strike’s social engineering features. The team server also stores data collected by Cobalt Strike and it manages logging.

The Cobalt Strike team server must run, as root, on a supported Linux system. To start a Cobalt Strike team server, issue the following command to run the team server script included with the Cobalt Strike Linux package:

./teamserver <ip_address> <password> [<malleableC2profile> <kill_date>]

The team server script uses the following two mandatory and two optional parameters:

IP Address - (mandatory) Enter the externally reachable IP address of the team server. Cobalt Strike uses this value as a default host for its features.

Password - (mandatory) Enter a password that your team members will use to connect the Cobalt Strike client to the team server.

Malleable C2 Profile - (optional) Specify a valid Malleable C2 Profile.

Kill Date - (optional) Enter a date value in YYYY-MM-DD format. The team server will embed this kill date into each Beacon stage it generates. The Beacon payload will refuse to run on or after this date and will also exit if it wakes up on or after this date.

When the team server starts, it will publish the SHA256 hash of the team server’s SSL certificate. Distribute this hash to your team members. When your team members connect, their Cobalt Strike client will ask if they recognize this hash before it authenticates to the team server. This is an important protection against man-in-the-middle attacks.

Cobalt Strike Client

Follow the steps below to connect the Cobalt Strike client to the team server.

Steps

  1. To start the Cobalt Strike client, use the launcher included with your platform's package.
    1. For Linux:
      1. Enter the following commands:
        ./cobaltstrike

    2. For MacOS X:
      1. Navigate to the Cobalt Strike folder.
      2. Double-click cobaltstrike.

    3. For Windows:
      1. Navigate to the Cobalt Strike folder.
      2. Double-click cobaltstrike.exe.

    The Connect Dialog screen displays.

  2. Cobalt Strike keeps track of the team servers you connect to and remembers your information. Select one of these team server profiles from the left-hand-side of the connect dialog to populate the connect dialog with its information. Use the Alias Names and Host Names buttons to toggle how the list of hosts are displayed. Active connections will be displayed in blue text. You may control how the host list is initially displayed, active connection text color, and prune the list through Cobalt Strike -> Preferences -> TeamServers.

    Parameters:

    Alias - Enter an alias for the host or use the default. The alias name can not be empty, start with an '*', or use the same alias name of an active connection.

    Host - Specify your team server's address in the Host field. The host name can not be empty.

    Port - Displays the default Port for the team server (50050). This is rarely changed. The port can not be empty and must be a numeric number.

    User - The User field is your nickname on the team server. Change this to your call sign, handle, or made-up hacker fantasy name. The user name can not be empty.

    Password - Enter the shared password for the team server.

  3. Press Connect to connect to the Cobalt Strike team server.

    If this is your first connection to this team server, Cobalt Strike will ask if you recognize the SHA256 hash of this team server.

  4. If you do, press Yes, and the Cobalt Strike client will connect to the server and open the client user interface.

    Note: Cobalt Strike will also remember this SHA256 hash for future connections. You may manage these hashes through Cobalt Strike -> Preferences -> Fingerprints.