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The following analytic identifies attempts by low-privilege users to escalate their privileges to admin by exploiting the edit_user capability. It detects this activity by analyzing audit trail logs for specific actions such as "change_own_password" and "edit_password" where the info field is "granted" and the user is not an admin or system user. This activity is significant because it indicates potential privilege escalation, which is a critical security concern. If confirmed malicious, this could allow an attacker to gain administrative access, leading to full control over the Splunk environment and potential data breaches.

  • Type: Hunting
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud

  • Last Updated: 2024-05-15
  • Author: Rod Soto, Chase Franklin
  • ID: 39e1c326-67d7-4c0d-8584-8056354f6593




ID Technique Tactic
T1548 Abuse Elevation Control Mechanism Privilege Escalation, Defense Evasion
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
  • DE.AE
  • CIS 10
`audittrail` action IN ("change_own_password","password_change","edit_password") AND info="granted" AND NOT user IN (admin, splunk-system-user) 
| stats earliest(_time) as event_time values(index) as index values(sourcetype) as sourcetype values(action) as action values(info) as info by user 
| `splunk_edit_user_privilege_escalation_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: splunk_edit_user_privilege_escalation_filter is a empty macro by default. It allows the user to filter out any results (false positives) without editing the SPL.

Required fields

List of fields required to use this analytic.

  • user
  • action
  • info
  • _time

How To Implement

This detection does not require you to ingest any new data. The detection does require the ability to search the _audit index. This detection may assist in efforts to discover abuse of edit_user privilege.

Known False Positives

This search may produce false positives as password changing actions may be part of normal behavior. Operator will need to investigate these actions in order to discern exploitation attempts.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
64.0 80 80 Possible attempt to abuse edit_user function by $user$

:information_source: The Risk Score is calculated by the following formula: Risk Score = (Impact * Confidence/100). Initial Confidence and Impact is set by the analytic author.


Test Dataset

Replay any dataset to Splunk Enterprise by using our tool or the UI. Alternatively you can replay a dataset into a Splunk Attack Range

source | version: 2