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The following analytic identifies the creation of a new task to start and run as an elevated user - SYSTEM using Schtasks.exe. This behavior is commonly used by adversaries to spawn a process in an elevated state. If a true positive is found, it suggests an attacker is attempting to persist within the environment or potentially deliver additional malicious payloads, leading to data theft, ransomware, or other damaging outcomes. Upon triage, review the scheduled task's source and the command to be executed. Capture and inspect any relevant on-disk artifacts, and look for concurrent processes to identify the attack source. This approach helps analysts detect potential threats earlier and mitigate the risks.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2022-02-07
  • Author: Michael Haag, Splunk
  • ID: 41a0e58e-884c-11ec-9976-acde48001122




ID Technique Tactic
T1053.005 Scheduled Task Execution, Persistence, Privilege Escalation
T1053 Scheduled Task/Job Execution, Persistence, Privilege Escalation
Kill Chain Phase
  • Installation
  • Exploitation
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where `process_schtasks` Processes.process="*/create *" AND Processes.process="*/ru *" AND Processes.process="*system*" by Processes.dest Processes.user Processes.parent_process_name Processes.process_name Processes.original_file_name Processes.process Processes.process_id Processes.parent_process_id 
| `drop_dm_object_name(Processes)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `windows_schtasks_create_run_as_system_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: windows_schtasks_create_run_as_system_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

False positives will be limited to legitimate applications creating a task to run as SYSTEM. Filter as needed based on parent process, or modify the query to have world writeable paths to restrict it.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
48.0 80 60 An $process_name$ was created on endpoint $dest$ attempting to spawn as SYSTEM.

: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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