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The following analytic detects when a user sets a default policy version in AWS. It leverages AWS CloudTrail logs to identify the SetDefaultPolicyVersion event from the IAM service. This activity is significant because attackers may exploit this technique for privilege escalation, especially if previous policy versions grant more extensive permissions than the current one. If confirmed malicious, this could allow an attacker to gain elevated access to AWS resources, potentially leading to unauthorized actions and data breaches.

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

  • Last Updated: 2024-05-16
  • Author: Bhavin Patel, Splunk
  • ID: 2a9b80d3-6340-4345-11ad-212bf3d0dac4




ID Technique Tactic
T1078.004 Cloud Accounts Defense Evasion, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, Initial Access
T1078 Valid Accounts Defense Evasion, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, Initial Access
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
  • Installation
  • Delivery
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
`cloudtrail` eventName=SetDefaultPolicyVersion eventSource = 
| stats count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime values(requestParameters.policyArn) as policy_arn by src requestParameters.versionId eventName eventSource aws_account_id errorCode userAgent eventID awsRegion userIdentity.principalId user_arn 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `aws_setdefaultpolicyversion_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: aws_setdefaultpolicyversion_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.

  • _time
  • eventName
  • userAgent
  • errorCode
  • requestParameters.userName
  • eventSource

How To Implement

You must install splunk AWS add on and Splunk App for AWS. This search works with AWS CloudTrail logs.

Known False Positives

While this search has no known false positives, it is possible that an AWS admin has legitimately set a default policy to allow a user to access all resources. That said, AWS strongly advises against granting full control to all AWS resources

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
30.0 50 60 From IP address $src$, user $user_arn$ has trigged an event $eventName$ for updating the the default policy version

: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