The User Defined Reflective Loader (UDRL) was first introduced in Cobalt Strike 4.4. to allow the creation and use of a custom reflective loader. This quickly took off by the community and its limits were pushed. Updates were made in 4.5 to help address some of these limits.


Increased Size

A new hook BEACON_DLL_SIZE was added to specify either 5k or 100k for your custom loader. This increase will be reflected in your payloads.

Artifact Kit

The artifact kit has been updated to allow customization of sizes to ensure space is available for your loader.

UDRL and Malleable C2 Profile Consideration

When using the default reflective loader and generating Beacons there are a few settings that affect Beacon’s runtime configuration and the loader, which are automatically handled when the payload is generated. This ability allows an operator to change these settings in the profile which will modify how the payload is generated and how it looks like in memory. 

When using a UDRL these settings are inserted into the Beacon’s runtime configuration. However, because the reflective loader is defined by the user it is not possible to modify the reflective loader as it does in the default case. It is on the user to modify their reflective loader accordingly. 

For example, if you are using the example loader from the URDL kit, there is no code in the loader to do any conditional setup based on information stored in the header of the image. This could cause runtime issues with Beacon that you are not expecting because of the settings in your Malleable C2 profile. You will have to deal with the same type of issues when writing your own reflective loader from scratch.

Settings to be Considered

The following are settings to consider when the malleable C2 profile option stage.sleepmask is set to TRUE:


This setting is a Boolean and informs the default loader to either use RWX or RX memory. At runtime Beacon will either include or not include the .text section for masking. If the setting is set to TRUE, your user defined loader needs to set the protection on the .text section as RWX otherwise Beacon will crash. If the setting is set to FALSE, your user defined loader should set the protection on the .text section as RX as the .text section will not be masked. 


This setting is a Boolean and informs the default loader to either copy the header or not copy the header into memory. At runtime Beacon will either include or not include the header section for masking. If the setting is set to TRUE, your UDRL should not copy the header into memory as Beacon will not mask the header section. If the setting is set to FALSE, your user defined loader should copy the header into memory as Beacon will mask the header section. 

Depending on how sophisticated your reflective loader is you will need to make sure the settings in the Malleable C2 profile will work with how the Beacon payload is loaded into memory. With the BEACON_RDLL_GENERATE and BEACON_RDLL_GENERATE_LOCAL aggressor script hooks you do have the opportunity to modify your reflective loader by using the aggressor script pe_* functions. 

Handling a UDRL over 5k

The following is an example error that indicates your loader is over 5k. You can use the BEACON_DLL_SIZE hook to increase this space to 100k.

Loader is over 5k

Artifact Kit Considerations

If you are using an artifact kit based on the kit provided by Cobalt Strike, but is using the default ‘stagesize‘ values, this error is logged indicating the larger patched Beacon will not fit in the standard artifacts generated for the kit. You will need to rebuild the artifact kit with larger ‘stagesize‘ environment variable definitions.

Artifact kit hook error when the stagesize value is too low