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The following analytic detects the behavior of decoding base64-encoded data and passing it to a Linux shell. Additionally, it mitigates the potential damage and protects the organization's systems and data.The detection is made by searching for specific commands in the Splunk query, namely "base64 -d" and "base64 –decode", within the Endpoint.Processes data model. The analytic also includes a filter for Linux shells. The detection is important because it indicates the presence of malicious activity since Base64 encoding is commonly used to obfuscate malicious commands or payloads, and decoding it can be a step in running those commands. It suggests that an attacker is attempting to run malicious commands on a Linux system to gain unauthorized access, for data exfiltration, or perform other malicious actions.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2022-07-27
  • Author: Michael Haag, Splunk
  • ID: 637b603e-1799-40fd-bf87-47ecbd551b66




ID Technique Tactic
T1027 Obfuscated Files or Information Defense Evasion
T1059.004 Unix Shell Execution
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
  • Installation
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where Processes.process IN ("*base64 -d*","*base64 --decode*") AND Processes.process="*
|*" `linux_shells` by Processes.dest Processes.user Processes.parent_process_name Processes.process_name Processes.process Processes.process_id Processes.parent_process_id 
| `drop_dm_object_name(Processes)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `linux_decode_base64_to_shell_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: linux_decode_base64_to_shell_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

False positives may be present based on legitimate software being utilized. Filter as needed.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
25.0 50 50 An instance of $parent_process_name$ spawning $process_name$ was identified on endpoint $dest$ by user $user$ decoding base64 and passing it to a shell.

: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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