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The following analytic detects PowerShell processes launched with command-line arguments indicative of obfuscation techniques. It leverages data from Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) agents, focusing on process names, parent processes, and complete command-line executions. This activity is significant because obfuscated PowerShell commands are often used by attackers to evade detection and execute malicious scripts. If confirmed malicious, this activity could lead to unauthorized code execution, privilege escalation, or persistent access within the environment, posing a significant security risk.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2024-05-18
  • Author: David Dorsey, Splunk
  • ID: cde75cf6-3c7a-4dd6-af01-27cdb4511fd4




ID Technique Tactic
T1059 Command and Scripting Interpreter Execution
T1059.001 PowerShell Execution
Kill Chain Phase
  • Installation
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count values(Processes.process) as process values(Processes.parent_process) as parent_process min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where `process_powershell` by Processes.user Processes.process_name Processes.original_file_name Processes.parent_process_name Processes.dest Processes.process 
| `drop_dm_object_name(Processes)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)`
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)`
| eval num_obfuscation = (mvcount(split(process,"`"))-1) + (mvcount(split(process, "^"))-1) + (mvcount(split(process, "'"))-1) 
| `malicious_powershell_process_with_obfuscation_techniques_filter` 
| search num_obfuscation > 10 


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: malicious_powershell_process_with_obfuscation_techniques_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

These characters might be legitimately on the command-line, but it is not common.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
42.0 70 60 Powershell.exe running with potential obfuscated arguments 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

Replay any dataset to Splunk Enterprise by using our tool or the UI. Alternatively you can replay a dataset into a Splunk Attack Range

source | version: 6