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This analytic focuses on detecting potentially malicious unsigned DLLs created in either the c:\windows\system32 or c:\windows\syswow64 folders. This particular technique was observed in the context of the Warzone (Ave Maria) RAT, where it employed a method known as DLL hijacking (dll-side-loading) by dropping the "dismcore.dll" to achieve privilege escalation. DLL hijacking is a stealthy attack technique used by cybercriminals to exploit the way Windows searches and loads DLLs. By placing a malicious DLL with the same name as one that a legitimate application is expected to load, the attacker can gain unauthorized access and execute malicious code. In the case of Warzone RAT (Ave Maria), the dropped "dismcore.dll" was intended to deceive the system into loading the rogue DLL instead of the legitimate version, thereby granting the malware elevated privileges and enabling further compromise of the target system. Detecting such suspicious DLLs is crucial in preventing privilege escalation attacks and other potential security breaches. Regular security assessments, thorough monitoring, and implementing security best practices are essential in safeguarding systems from such threats.

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

  • Last Updated: 2023-07-26
  • Author: Teoderick Contreras, Splunk
  • ID: 5a83ce44-8e0f-4786-a775-8249a525c879




ID Technique Tactic
T1574.002 DLL Side-Loading Persistence, Privilege Escalation, Defense Evasion
Kill Chain Phase
  • Installation
  • Exploitation
  • DE.AE
  • CIS 10
`sysmon` EventCode=7 Signed=false OriginalFileName = "-" SignatureStatus="unavailable" ImageLoaded IN ("*:\\windows\\system32\\*", "*:\\windows\\syswow64\\*") 
| stats count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime by Image ImageLoaded Signed SignatureStatus OriginalFileName process_name dest EventCode ProcessId Hashes IMPHASH 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `windows_unsigned_dll_side_loading_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: windows_unsigned_dll_side-loading_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
  • Image
  • ImageLoaded
  • Signed
  • SignatureStatus
  • OriginalFileName
  • process_name
  • dest
  • EventCode
  • ProcessId
  • Hashes

How To Implement

To successfully implement this search, you need to be ingesting logs with the process name and imageloaded executions from your endpoints. If you are using Sysmon, you must have at least version 6.0.4 of the Sysmon TA.

Known False Positives

It is possible some Administrative utilities will load dismcore.dll outside of normal system paths, filter as needed.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
49.0 70 70 An unsigned dll module was loaded 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

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