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The following analytic detects potential malicious activities related to PowerShell's task scheduling cmdlets. It looks for anomalies in PowerShell logs, specifically EventCode 4104, associated with script block logging. The analytic flags unusual or suspicious use patterns of key task-related cmdlets such as 'New-ScheduledTask', 'Set-ScheduledTask', and others, which are often used by attackers for persistence and remote execution of malicious code. If a true positive is found, it suggests an possible attacker is attempting to persist within the environment or potentially deliver additional malicious payloads, leading to data theft, ransomware, or other damaging outcomes. To implement this analytic, PowerShell Script Block Logging needs to be enabled on some or all endpoints. Analysts should be aware of benign administrative tasks that can trigger alerts and tune the analytic accordingly to reduce false positives. Upon triage, review the PowerShell logs for any unusual or unexpected cmdlet usage, IP addresses, user accounts, or timestamps. If these factors align with known malicious behavior patterns, immediate mitigation steps, such as isolation of the affected systems, user account changes, and relevant threat hunting activities, should be initiated. This proactive analysis significantly enhances an organization's capacity to swiftly respond to, and potentially prevent, the execution of advanced persistent threats in their network.

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

  • Last Updated: 2023-06-12
  • Author: Michael Haag, Splunk
  • ID: ddf82fcb-e9ee-40e3-8712-a50b5bf323fc




ID Technique Tactic
T1053.005 Scheduled Task Execution, Persistence, Privilege Escalation
T1059.001 PowerShell Execution
T1059 Command and Scripting Interpreter Execution
Kill Chain Phase
  • Installation
  • Exploitation
  • DE.AE
  • CIS 10
`powershell` EventCode=4104 ScriptBlockText IN ("*New-ScheduledTask*", "*New-ScheduledTaskAction*", "*New-ScheduledTaskSettingsSet*", "*New-ScheduledTaskTrigger*", "*Register-ClusteredScheduledTask*", "*Register-ScheduledTask*", "*Set-ClusteredScheduledTask*", "*Set-ScheduledTask*", "*Start-ScheduledTask*", "*Enable-ScheduledTask*") 
| stats count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime by EventCode ScriptBlockText Computer user_id 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `windows_powershell_scheduletask_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: windows_powershell_scheduletask_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
  • ScriptBlockText
  • Computer
  • EventCode

How To Implement

To successfully implement this analytic, you will need to enable PowerShell Script Block Logging on some or all endpoints. Additional setup here

Known False Positives

Benign administrative tasks can also trigger alerts, necessitating a firm understanding of the typical system behavior and precise tuning of the analytic to reduce false positives.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
25.0 50 50 The PowerShell cmdlets related to task creation, modification and start occurred on $Computer$ by $user_id$.

: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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