Python api for usage with cobalt strike's External C2 specification
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external_c2 framework

Python framework for usage with Cobalt Strike's External C2 specification as described in the spec.

The primary design goal is to be a very modular implementation of the external c2 spec that provides enough abstraction to easily implement C2 channels for Cobalt Strike. Ideally, all a user would have to do is create a transport module, an encoder module, and populate a configuration file to implement a new channel.


This project consists of three main parts:

  • Builder (not yet implemented)
  • Client
  • Server


The builder dynamically builds client and server deployments based on the specified configuration. Ideally, the client would be able to be distributed as a single compiled file such as a dll or exe.


The client is essentially the payload that runs on the endpoint, referred to as third-party client within the spec. The logic of the client is primarily static:

  1. Run any preparations need to be utilizing the transport
  2. Receive the stager
  3. Inject the stager and open the handle to the beacon
  4. Obtain metadata from the beacon
  5. Relay the metadata from the beacon to the C2 server via the transport
  6. Watch the transport for new tasks
  7. Relay new tasks to the beacon
  8. Relay responses from the beacon via the transport
  9. Repeat steps 6-8.

Configurations needed for the transport and encoding mechanisms are statically copied into the client. Function logic for transporting and encoding mechanisms are also statically copied into from their respective modules.

Process injection logic is determined from the builder.


The server is the application that brokers communication between the client and the c2 server, referred to as third-party Client Controller within the spec. The server logic is primarily static, but supports verbose and debug output to assist with development:

  1. Parse the configuration
  2. Import the specified encoding module
  3. Import the specified transport module
  4. Establish a connection to the c2 server
  5. Request a stager from the c2 server
  6. Encode the stager with the encoder module
  7. Transport the stager with the transport module
  8. Await for a metadata response from the client received via the transport
  9. Decode the metadata with the encoder module
  10. Relay the metadata to the c2 server.
  11. Receive a new task from the c2 server.
  12. Encode the new task
  13. Relay the new task to the client via the transport
  14. Receive for a response from the client received via the transport
  15. Decode the response via the encoder module
  16. Relay the response to the c2 server.
  17. Repeat steps 11-16

The determination of which encoder and transport module the server imports is determined from the values stored in

No imports of ununsed transport or encoder modules are performed.

Client and module shared functionality

The following tables describe shared functions between the encoding and transport modules, and the client. Shared functions are essentially the exact same code.

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The data send to the client's sendData and recvData functions should be raw data, where data send to the transport module's sendData and retrieveData functions should already be encoded or decoded as needed.

Transport module

Transport Function Client Function Description
prepTransport prepTransport Performs any preconfigurations required to utilize the transport mechanism
sendData sendData Defines how data is sent through the transport mechanism
retrieveData recvData Defines how data is received through the transport mechanism

Encoder Module

Encoder Function Client Function Description
encode encode Defines modifications done to raw data to prepare it for transport
decode decode Defines modifications done to raw data received from the transport to be relayed to its destination

How to use this

First, determine which transport and encoding module you'd like to use. We'll use transport_gmail and encoder_b64url for the following example.

Next, modify server/ to suit your needs, ensuring the ENCODER_MODULE and TRANSPORT_MODULE are properly configured and pointed to your desired modules:


C2_PIPE_NAME = "foobar"
C2_ARCH = "x86"
ENCODER_MODULE = "encoder_b64url"
TRANSPORT_MODULE = "transport_gmail"
verbose = False
debug = False

Next, modify the configuration section for your selected transport and encoder module.

Ensure that client/mechanism/$'s configuration section matches with any configurations you have defined thus far.

On the machine running the server, execute:


For more verbose output, you may run:

python -v

For more verbose output and additional output that is useful for debugging, you may run:

python -d

Next, execute the client on the targeted endpoint.

If everything worked, a new beacon will be registered within the Cobalt Strike console that you may interact with.


Why would you write this?: There weren't very many released implementation of the spec, and of the ones that are released, they either are not in a language that I am familiar with or do not have the modularity and abstraction that I was seeking.

Why Python 2?: I'm lazy and it's easy to implement new transport and encoding channels in it.

Your code sucks: That's not a question.

Can I submit new transport and/or encoder modules?: Yes please! Submit a pull request and I would be happy to review.


  • Similar abstraction and modularity will be implemented in the client component as well, to support different methods of process injection for the beacon payload and other features on the roadmap.

  • Currently, this is missing the builder functionality, which is planned to dynamically build client and server deployments, but it is on the roadmap.