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The following analytic detects the execution of mshta.exe via registry entries to run malicious scripts. It leverages registry activity logs to identify entries containing "mshta," "javascript," "vbscript," or "WScript.Shell." This behavior is significant as it indicates potential fileless malware, such as Kovter, which uses encoded scripts in the registry to persist and execute without files. If confirmed malicious, this activity could allow attackers to maintain persistence, execute arbitrary code, and evade traditional file-based detection methods, posing a significant threat to system integrity and security.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2024-05-12
  • Author: Teoderick Contreras, Splunk
  • ID: e13ceade-b673-4d34-adc4-4d9c01729753




ID Technique Tactic
T1218.005 Mshta Defense Evasion
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime FROM datamodel=Endpoint.Registry where Registry.registry_value_data = "*mshta*" OR Registry.registry_value_data IN ("*javascript:*", "*vbscript:*","*WScript.Shell*") by Registry.registry_key_name Registry.registry_path Registry.registry_value_data Registry.action Registry.dest Registry.user
| `drop_dm_object_name(Registry)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `windows_mshta_execution_in_registry_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: windows_mshta_execution_in_registry_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
  • Registry.registry_key_name
  • Registry.registry_path
  • Registry.dest
  • Registry.registry_value_data
  • Registry.action

How To Implement

To successfully implement this search, you must be ingesting data that records registry activity from your hosts to populate the endpoint data model in the registry node. This is typically populated via endpoint detection-and-response product, such as Carbon Black or endpoint data sources, such as Sysmon. The data used for this search is typically generated via logs that report reads and writes to the registry.

Known False Positives


Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
72.0 80 90 A registry $registry_path$ contains mshta $registry_value_data$ in $dest$

: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

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