User Execution

Adversaries may rely on a targeted organizations user interaction for the execution of malicious code. User interaction may consist of installing applications, opening email attachments, or granting higher permissions to documents. Adversaries may embed malicious code or visual basic code into files such as Microsoft Word and Excel documents or software installers. [1] Execution of this code requires that the user enable scripting or write access within the document. Embedded code may not always be noticeable to the user especially in cases of trojanized software. [2] A Chinese spearphishing campaign running from December 9, 2011 through February 29, 2012 delivered malware through spearphishing attachments which required user action to achieve execution. [3]

ID: T0863
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic: Execution
Platforms: Engineering Workstation, Human-Machine Interface
Version: 1.0
Created: 21 May 2020
Last Modified: 06 May 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0093 Backdoor.Oldrea

Execution of Backdoor.Oldrea relies on a user opening a trojanized installer attached to an email. [2] [4]

S0606 Bad Rabbit

Bad Rabbit is disguised as an Adobe Flash installer. When the file is opened it starts locking the infected computer. [5]

S0496 REvil

REvil initially executes when the user clicks on a JavaScript file included in the phishing emails .zip attachment. [6]

S0603 Stuxnet

Stuxnet infects DLL's associated with the WinCC Simatic manager which are responsible for opening project files. If a user opens an uninfected project file using a compromised manager, the file will be infected with Stuxnet code. If an infected project is opened with the Simatic manager, the modified data file will trigger a search for the \xyz.dll\ file. If the \xyz.dll\ file is not found in any of the specified locations, the malicious DLL will be loaded and executed by the manager. [7]


ID Mitigation Description
M0949 Antivirus/Antimalware

Ensure anti-virus solution can detect malicious files that allow user execution (e.g., Microsoft Office Macros, program installers).

M0945 Code Signing

Prevent the use of unsigned executables, such as installers and scripts.

M0938 Execution Prevention

Application control may be able to prevent the running of executables masquerading as other files.

M0931 Network Intrusion Prevention

If a link is being visited by a user, network intrusion prevention systems and systems designed to scan and remove malicious downloads can be used to block activity.

M0921 Restrict Web-Based Content

If a link is being visited by a user, block unknown or unused files in transit by default that should not be downloaded or by policy from suspicious sites as a best practice to prevent some vectors, such as .scr, .exe, .pif, .cpl, etc. Some download scanning devices can open and analyze compressed and encrypted formats, such as zip and rar that may be used to conceal malicious files.

M0917 User Training

Use user training as a way to bring awareness to common phishing and spearphishing techniques and how to raise suspicion for potentially malicious events.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0015 Application Log Application Log Content
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Creation
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Connection Creation
Network Traffic Content
DS0009 Process Process Creation