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The following detection identifies Microsoft Word spawning PowerShell. Typically, this is not common behavior and not default with winword.exe. Winword.exe will generally be found in the following path C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16 (version will vary). PowerShell spawning from winword.exe is common for a spearphishing attachment and is actively used. Albeit, the command executed will most likely be encoded and captured via another detection. During triage, review parallel processes and identify any files that may have been written.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2021-04-12
  • Author: Michael Haag, Splunk
  • ID: b2c950b8-9be2-11eb-8658-acde48001122




ID Technique Tactic
T1566 Phishing Initial Access
T1566.001 Spearphishing Attachment Initial Access
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where Processes.parent_process_name="winword.exe" `process_powershell` by Processes.dest Processes.user Processes.parent_process 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)` 
| `winword_spawning_powershell_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: winword_spawning_powershell_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 information on process that include the name of the process responsible for the changes from your endpoints into the Endpoint datamodel in the Processes node. In addition, confirm the latest CIM App 4.20 or higher is installed and the latest TA for the endpoint product.

Known False Positives

False positives should be limited, but if any are present, filter as needed.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
70.0 70 100 $parent_process_name$ on $dest$ by $user$ launched the following powershell process: $process_name$ which is very common in spearphishing attacks

: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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