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this search is to detect potential DNS exfiltration using nslookup application. This technique are seen in couple of malware and APT group to exfiltrated collected data in a infected machine or infected network. This detection is looking for unique use of nslookup where it tries to use specific record type, TXT, A, AAAA, that are commonly used by attacker and also the retry parameter which is designed to query C2 DNS multiple tries.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2021-04-15
  • Author: Teoderick Contreras, Splunk
  • ID: 2452e632-9e0d-11eb-bacd-acde48001122




ID Technique Tactic
T1048 Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol Exfiltration
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` values(Processes.process) as process values(Processes.process_id) as process_id values(Processes.parent_process) as parent_process count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where Processes.process_name = "nslookup.exe" Processes.process = "*-querytype=*" OR Processes.process="*-qt=*" OR Processes.process="*-q=*" OR Processes.process="-type=*" OR Processes.process="*-retry=*" by Processes.dest Processes.user Processes.process_name  
| `drop_dm_object_name(Processes)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `dns_exfiltration_using_nslookup_app_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

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

Supported Add-on (TA)

List of Splunk Add-on’s tested to work with the analytic.

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

To successfully implement this search, you need to be ingesting logs with the process name, parent process, and command-line executions from your endpoints. If you are using Sysmon, you must have at least version 6.0.4 of the Sysmon TA. Tune and filter known instances of nslookup.exe may be used.

Known False Positives

admin nslookup usage

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
72.0 90 80 An instance of $parent_process_name$ spawning $process_name$ was identified on endpoint $dest$ by user $user$ performing activity related to DNS exfiltration.

: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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