This detection has been marked experimental by the Splunk Threat Research team. This means we have not been able to test, simulate, or build datasets for this detection. Use at your own risk. This analytic is NOT supported.

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The following analytic identifies unauthorized software downloads to network devices via TFTP, FTP, or SSH/SCP. It detects this activity by analyzing network traffic events on specific ports (69, 21, 22) from devices categorized as network, router, or switch. This activity is significant because adversaries may exploit netbooting to load unauthorized operating systems, potentially compromising network integrity. If confirmed malicious, this could lead to unauthorized control over network devices, enabling further attacks, data exfiltration, or persistent access within the network.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Network_Traffic
  • Last Updated: 2024-05-20
  • Author: Mikael Bjerkeland, Splunk
  • ID: cc590c66-f65f-48f2-986a-4797244762f8




ID Technique Tactic
T1542.005 TFTP Boot Defense Evasion, Persistence
T1542 Pre-OS Boot Defense Evasion, Persistence
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
  • Installation
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 13
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Network_Traffic where (All_Traffic.transport=udp AND All_Traffic.dest_port=69) OR (All_Traffic.transport=tcp AND All_Traffic.dest_port=21) OR (All_Traffic.transport=tcp AND All_Traffic.dest_port=22) AND All_Traffic.dest_category!=common_software_repo_destination AND All_Traffic.src_category=network OR All_Traffic.src_category=router OR All_Traffic.src_category=switch by All_Traffic.src All_Traffic.dest All_Traffic.dest_port 
| `drop_dm_object_name("All_Traffic")` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)`
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `detect_software_download_to_network_device_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: detect_software_download_to_network_device_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
  • All_Traffic.transport
  • All_Traffic.dest_port
  • All_Traffic.dest_category
  • All_Traffic.src_category
  • All_Traffic.src
  • All_Traffic.dest

How To Implement

This search looks for Network Traffic events to TFTP, FTP or SSH/SCP ports from network devices. Make sure to tag any network devices as network, router or switch in order for this detection to work. If the TFTP traffic doesn't traverse a firewall nor packet inspection, these events will not be logged. This is typically an issue if the TFTP server is on the same subnet as the network device. There is also a chance of the network device loading software using a DHCP assigned IP address (netboot) which is not in the Asset inventory.

Known False Positives

This search will also report any legitimate attempts of software downloads to network devices as well as outbound SSH sessions from network devices.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
25.0 50 50 tbd

: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 replay.py tool or the UI. Alternatively you can replay a dataset into a Splunk Attack Range

source | version: 2