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This query identifies a shell, PowerShell.exe or Cmd.exe, spawning from W3WP.exe, or IIS. In addition to IIS logs, this behavior with an EDR product will capture potential webshell activity, similar to the HAFNIUM Group abusing CVEs, on publicly available Exchange mail servers. During triage, review the parent process and child process of the shell being spawned. Review the command-line arguments and any file modifications that may occur. Identify additional parallel process, child processes, that may highlight further commands executed. After triaging, work to contain the threat and patch the system that is vulnerable.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2023-07-10
  • Author: Michael Haag, Splunk
  • ID: 0f03423c-7c6a-11eb-bc47-acde48001122




ID Technique Tactic
T1505 Server Software Component Persistence
T1505.003 Web Shell Persistence
Kill Chain Phase
  • Installation
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
ID Summary CVSS
CVE-2021-34473 Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability 10.0
CVE-2021-34523 Microsoft Exchange Server Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability 7.5
CVE-2021-31207 Microsoft Exchange Server Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability 6.5
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count values(Processes.process_name) as process_name values(Processes.process) as process min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where Processes.parent_process_name=w3wp.exe AND `process_cmd` OR `process_powershell` by Processes.dest Processes.parent_process Processes.original_file_name Processes.user 
| `drop_dm_object_name(Processes)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)`
| `w3wp_spawning_shell_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: w3wp_spawning_shell_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
  • Processes.dest
  • Processes.user
  • Processes.parent_process_name
  • Processes.parent_process
  • Processes.original_file_name
  • Processes.process_name
  • Processes.process
  • Processes.process_id
  • Processes.parent_process_path
  • Processes.process_path
  • Processes.parent_process_id

How To Implement

The detection is based on data that originates from Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) agents. These agents are designed to provide security-related telemetry from the endpoints where the agent is installed. To implement this search, you must ingest logs that contain the process GUID, process name, and parent process. Additionally, you must ingest complete command-line executions. These logs must be processed using the appropriate Splunk Technology Add-ons that are specific to the EDR product. The logs must also be mapped to the Processes node of the Endpoint data model. Use the Splunk Common Information Model (CIM) to normalize the field names and speed up the data modeling process.

Known False Positives

Baseline your environment before production. It is possible build systems using IIS will spawn cmd.exe to perform a software build. Filter as needed.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
56.0 70 80 Possible Web Shell execution on $dest$

: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

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