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The following analytic identifies a source process name failing to authenticate with multiple users. This behavior could represent an adversary performing a Password Spraying attack against an Active Directory environment to obtain initial access or elevate privileges. Event 4625 generates on domain controllers, member servers, and workstations when an account fails to logon. Logon Type 2 describes an iteractive logon attempt. The detection calculates the standard deviation for each host and leverages the 3-sigma statistical rule to identify an unusual number of users. To customize this analytic, users can try different combinations of the bucket span time and the calculation of the upperBound field. This logic can be used for real time security monitoring as well as threat hunting exercises. This detection will trigger on the potenfially malicious host, perhaps controlled via a trojan or operated by an insider threat, from where a password spraying attack is being executed. This could be a domain controller as well as a member server or workstation. The analytics returned fields allow analysts to investigate the event further by providing fields like source process name, source account and attempted user accounts.

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

  • Last Updated: 2022-09-22
  • Author: Mauricio Velazco, Splunk
  • ID: 25bdb6cb-2e49-4d34-a93c-d6c567c122fe




ID Technique Tactic
T1110.003 Password Spraying Credential Access
T1110 Brute Force Credential Access
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
  • DE.AE
  • CIS 10
 `wineventlog_security`  EventCode=4625 Logon_Type=2 ProcessName!="-" 
| bucket span=2m _time 
| stats dc(TargetUserName) AS unique_accounts values(TargetUserName) as user by _time, ProcessName, SubjectUserName, Computer 
| eventstats avg(unique_accounts) as comp_avg , stdev(unique_accounts) as comp_std by ProcessName, SubjectUserName, Computer 
| eval upperBound=(comp_avg+comp_std*3) 
| eval isOutlier=if(unique_accounts > 10 and unique_accounts >= upperBound, 1, 0) 
| search isOutlier=1 
| `windows_unusual_count_of_users_failed_to_authenticate_from_process_filter` 


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: windows_unusual_count_of_users_failed_to_authenticate_from_process_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
  • EventCode
  • Logon_Type
  • ProcessName
  • SubjectUserName
  • TargetUserName
  • Computer

How To Implement

To successfully implement this search, you need to be ingesting Windows Event Logs from domain controllers aas well as member servers and workstations. The Advanced Security Audit policy setting Audit Logon within Logon/Logoff needs to be enabled.

Known False Positives

A process failing to authenticate with multiple users is not a common behavior for legitimate user sessions. Possible false positive scenarios include but are not limited to vulnerability scanners and missconfigured systems.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
49.0 70 70 Potential password spraying attack from $Computer$

: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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