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Description

The following analytic identifies "mshta.exe" execution with inline protocol handlers. "JavaScript", "VBScript", and "About" are the only supported options when invoking HTA content directly on the command-line. The search will return the first time and last time these command-line arguments were used for these executions, as well as the target system, the user, process "mshta.exe" and its parent process.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Behavioral Analytics
  • Datamodel: Endpoint_Processes
  • Last Updated: 2022-02-23
  • Author: Michael Haag, Splunk
  • ID: 24962154-9524-11ec-9333-acde48001122

ATT&CK

ID Technique Tactic
T1218.005 Mshta Defense Evasion
T1218 Signed Binary Proxy Execution Defense Evasion
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| from read_ssa_enriched_events() 
| eval timestamp=parse_long(ucast(map_get(input_event, "_time"), "string", null)), cmd_line=lower(ucast(map_get(input_event, "process"), "string", null)), process_name=lower(ucast(map_get(input_event, "process_name"), "string", null)), process_path=ucast(map_get(input_event, "process_path"), "string", null), parent_process_name=ucast(map_get(input_event, "parent_process_name"), "string", null), event_id=ucast(map_get(input_event, "event_id"), "string", null) 
| where cmd_line IS NOT NULL AND process_name IS NOT NULL 
| where process_name="mshta.exe" AND (like (cmd_line, "%vbscript%") OR like (cmd_line, "%javascript%") OR like (cmd_line, "%about%")) 
| eval start_time=timestamp, end_time=timestamp, entities=mvappend(ucast(map_get(input_event, "dest_user_id"), "string", null), ucast(map_get(input_event, "dest_device_id"), "string", null)), body=create_map(["event_id", event_id, "cmd_line", cmd_line, "process_name", process_name, "parent_process_name", parent_process_name, "process_path", process_path]) 
| into write_ssa_detected_events();

Macros

The SPL above uses the following Macros:

Note that windows_mshta_inline_hta_execution_filter is a empty macro by default. It allows the user to filter out any results (false positives) without editing the SPL.

Required field

  • _time
  • dest_device_id
  • process_name
  • parent_process_name
  • process_path
  • dest_user_id
  • process
  • cmd_line

How To Implement

To successfully implement this search you need to be ingesting information on process that include the name of the process responsible for the changes from your endpoints into the Endpoint datamodel in the Processes node. In addition, confirm the latest CIM App 4.20 or higher is installed and the latest TA for the endpoint product.

Known False Positives

Although unlikely, some legitimate applications may exhibit this behavior, triggering a false positive.

Associated Analytic story

Kill Chain Phase

  • Exploitation

RBA

Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
80.0 80 100 An instance of $parent_process_name$ spawning $process_name$ was identified on endpoint $dest_device_id$ by user $dest_user_id$ executing with inline HTA, indicative of defense evasion.

Note that risk score is calculated base on the following formula: (Impact * Confidence)/100

Reference

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

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