Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

Adversaries may abuse the Windows Task Scheduler to perform task scheduling for initial or recurring execution of malicious code. There are multiple ways to access the Task Scheduler in Windows. The schtasks can be run directly on the command line, or the Task Scheduler can be opened through the GUI within the Administrator Tools section of the Control Panel. In some cases, adversaries have used a .NET wrapper for the Windows Task Scheduler, and alternatively, adversaries have used the Windows netapi32 library to create a scheduled task.

The deprecated at utility could also be abused by adversaries (ex: At (Windows)), though at.exe can not access tasks created with schtasks or the Control Panel.

An adversary may use Windows Task Scheduler to execute programs at system startup or on a scheduled basis for persistence. The Windows Task Scheduler can also be abused to conduct remote Execution as part of Lateral Movement and or to run a process under the context of a specified account (such as SYSTEM).

ID: T1053.005
Sub-technique of:  T1053
Platforms: Windows
Permissions Required: Administrator
Data Sources: Command: Command Execution, File: File Modification, Process: Process Creation, Scheduled Job: Scheduled Job Creation
Supports Remote:  Yes
Version: 1.0
Created: 27 November 2019
Last Modified: 30 December 2020

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0331 Agent Tesla

Agent Tesla has achieved persistence via scheduled tasks.[1]

S0504 Anchor

Anchor can create a scheduled task for persistence.[2]

S0584 AppleJeus

AppleJeus has created a scheduled SYSTEM task that runs when a user logs in.[3]

G0099 APT-C-36

APT-C-36 has used a macro function to set scheduled tasks, disguised as those used by Google.[4]

G0016 APT29

APT29 used scheduler and schtasks to create new tasks on remote hosts as part of lateral movement.[5] They have manipulated scheduled tasks by updating an existing legitimate task to execute their tools and then returned the scheduled task to its original configuration.[6] APT29 also created a scheduled task to maintain SUNSPOT persistence when the host booted during the 2020 SolarWinds intrusion.[7] They previously used named and hijacked scheduled tasks to also establish persistence.[8]

G0022 APT3

An APT3 downloader creates persistence by creating the following scheduled task: schtasks /create /tn "mysc" /tr C:\Users\Public\test.exe /sc ONLOGON /ru "System".[9]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has used scheduled tasks to persist on victim systems.[10][11][12][13]

G0064 APT33

APT33 has created a scheduled task to execute a .vbe file multiple times a day.[14]

G0087 APT39

APT39 has created scheduled tasks for persistence. [15][16][17]

G0096 APT41

APT41 used a compromised account to create a scheduled task on a system.[18][19]

S0438 Attor

Attor's installer plugin can schedule a new task that loads the dispatcher on boot/logon.[20]

S0414 BabyShark

BabyShark has used scheduled tasks to maintain persistence.[19]

S0475 BackConfig

BackConfig has the ability to use scheduled tasks to repeatedly execute malicious payloads on a compromised host.[21]

S0128 BADNEWS

BADNEWS creates a scheduled task to establish by executing a malicious payload every subsequent minute.[22]

S0534 Bazar

Bazar can create a scheduled task for persistence.[23][24]

G0108 Blue Mockingbird

Blue Mockingbird has used Windows Scheduled Tasks to establish persistence on local and remote hosts.[25]

S0360 BONDUPDATER

BONDUPDATER persists using a scheduled task that executes every minute.[26]

G0060 BRONZE BUTLER

BRONZE BUTLER has used schtasks to register a scheduled task to execute malware during lateral movement.[27]

S0335 Carbon

Carbon creates several tasks for later execution to continue persistence on the victim’s machine.[28]

G0114 Chimera

Chimera has used scheduled tasks to invoke Cobalt Strike including through batch script schtasks /create /ru "SYSTEM" /tn "update" /tr "cmd /c c:\windows\temp\update.bat" /sc once /f /st and to maintain persistence.[29][30]

G0080 Cobalt Group

Cobalt Group has created Windows tasks to establish persistence.[31]

S0126 ComRAT

ComRAT has used a scheduled task to launch its PowerShell loader.[32][33]

S0050 CosmicDuke

CosmicDuke uses scheduled tasks typically named "Watchmon Service" for persistence.[34]

S0046 CozyCar

One persistence mechanism used by CozyCar is to register itself as a scheduled task.[35]

S0538 Crutch

Crutch has the ability to persist using scheduled tasks.[36]

S0527 CSPY Downloader

CSPY Downloader can use the schtasks utility to bypass UAC.[37]

G0074 Dragonfly 2.0

Dragonfly 2.0 used scheduled tasks to automatically log out of created accounts every 8 hours as well as to execute malicious files.[38][39]

S0038 Duqu

Adversaries can instruct Duqu to spread laterally by copying itself to shares it has enumerated and for which it has obtained legitimate credentials (via keylogging or other means). The remote host is then infected by using the compromised credentials to schedule a task on remote machines that executes the malware.[40]

S0024 Dyre

Dyre has the ability to achieve persistence by adding a new task in the task scheduler to run every minute.[41]

S0367 Emotet

Emotet has maintained persistence through a scheduled task. [42]

S0363 Empire

Empire has modules to interact with the Windows task scheduler.[43]

S0396 EvilBunny

EvilBunny has executed commands via scheduled tasks.[44]

G0051 FIN10

FIN10 has established persistence by using S4U tasks as well as the Scheduled Task option in PowerShell Empire.[45][43]

G0037 FIN6

FIN6 has used scheduled tasks to establish persistence for various malware it uses, including downloaders known as HARDTACK and SHIPBREAD and FrameworkPOS.[46]

G0046 FIN7

FIN7 malware has created scheduled tasks to establish persistence.[47][48][49][50]

G0061 FIN8

FIN8 has used scheduled tasks to maintain RDP backdoors.[51]

G0117 Fox Kitten

Fox Kitten has used Scheduled Tasks for persistence and to load and execute a reverse proxy binary.[52][53]

G0101 Frankenstein

Frankenstein has established persistence through a scheduled task using the command: /Create /F /SC DAILY /ST 09:00 /TN WinUpdate /TR , named "WinUpdate".[54]

G0093 GALLIUM

GALLIUM established persistence for PoisonIvy by created a scheduled task.[55]

G0047 Gamaredon Group

Gamaredon Group has created a scheduled task to launch an executable every 10 minutes.[56]

S0168 Gazer

Gazer can establish persistence by creating a scheduled task.[57][58]

S0588 GoldMax

GoldMax has used scheduled tasks to maintain persistence.[59]

S0477 Goopy

Goopy has the ability to maintain persistence by creating scheduled tasks set to run every hour.[12]

S0237 GravityRAT

GravityRAT creates a scheduled task to ensure it is re-executed everyday.[60]

S0417 GRIFFON

GRIFFON has used sctasks for persistence. [61]

S0170 Helminth

Helminth has used a scheduled task for persistence.[62]

G0126 Higaisa

Higaisa dropped and added officeupdate.exe to scheduled tasks.[63][64]

S0431 HotCroissant

HotCroissant has attempted to install a scheduled task named "Java Maintenance64" on startup to establish persistence.[65]

S0483 IcedID

IcedID has created a scheduled task that executes every hour to establish persistence.[66]

S0260 InvisiMole

InvisiMole has used scheduled tasks named MSST and \Microsoft\Windows\Autochk\Scheduled to establish persistence.[67]

S0581 IronNetInjector

IronNetInjector has used a task XML file named mssch.xml to run an IronPython script when a user logs in or when specific system events are created.[68]

S0189 ISMInjector

ISMInjector creates scheduled tasks to establish persistence.[69]

S0044 JHUHUGIT

JHUHUGIT has registered itself as a scheduled task to run each time the current user logs in.[70][71]

S0532 Lucifer

Lucifer has established persistence by creating the following scheduled task schtasks /create /sc minute /mo 1 /tn QQMusic ^ /tr C:Users\%USERPROFILE%\Downloads\spread.exe /F.[72]

S0409 Machete

The different components of Machete are executed by Windows Task Scheduler.[73][74]

G0095 Machete

Machete has created scheduled tasks to maintain Machete's persistence.[75]

S0167 Matryoshka

Matryoshka can establish persistence by adding a Scheduled Task named "Microsoft Boost Kernel Optimization".[76][77]

S0449 Maze

Maze has created scheduled tasks using name variants such as "Windows Update Security", "Windows Update Security Patches", and "Google Chrome Security Update", to launch Maze at a specific time.[78]

S0500 MCMD

MCMD can use scheduled tasks for persistence.[79]

G0045 menuPass

menuPass has used a script (atexec.py) to execute a command on a target machine via Task Scheduler.[80]

G0021 Molerats

Molerats has created scheduled tasks to persistently run VBScripts.[81]

G0069 MuddyWater

MuddyWater has used scheduled tasks to establish persistence.[82]

G0129 Mustang Panda

Mustang Panda has created a scheduled task to execute additional malicious software, as well as maintain persistence.[83][84][85]

S0198 NETWIRE

NETWIRE can create a scheduled task to establish persistence.[86]

S0368 NotPetya

NotPetya creates a task to reboot the system one hour after infection.[87]

G0049 OilRig

OilRig has created scheduled tasks that run a VBScript to execute a payload on victim machines.[88][89][90]

S0439 Okrum

Okrum's installer can attempt to achieve persistence by creating a scheduled task.[91]

S0264 OopsIE

OopsIE creates a scheduled task to run itself every three minutes.[88][92]

G0116 Operation Wocao

Operation Wocao has used scheduled tasks to execute malicious PowerShell code on remote systems.[93]

G0040 Patchwork

A Patchwork file stealer can run a TaskScheduler DLL to add persistence.[94]

S0194 PowerSploit

PowerSploit's New-UserPersistenceOption Persistence argument can be used to establish via a Scheduled Task/Job.[95][96]

S0223 POWERSTATS

POWERSTATS has established persistence through a scheduled task using the command "C:\Windows\system32\schtasks.exe" /Create /F /SC DAILY /ST 12:00 /TN MicrosoftEdge /TR "c:\Windows\system32\wscript.exe C:\Windows\temp\Windows.vbe".[97]

S0184 POWRUNER

POWRUNER persists through a scheduled task that executes it every minute.[98]

S0147 Pteranodon

Pteranodon schedules tasks to invoke its components in order to establish persistence.[99]

S0269 QUADAGENT

QUADAGENT creates a scheduled task to maintain persistence on the victim’s machine.[89]

S0262 QuasarRAT

QuasarRAT contains a .NET wrapper DLL for creating and managing scheduled tasks for maintaining persistence upon reboot.[100]

S0458 Ramsay

Ramsay can schedule tasks via the Windows COM API to maintain persistence.[101]

G0075 Rancor

Rancor launched a scheduled task to gain persistence using the schtasks /create /sc command.[102]

S0375 Remexi

Remexi utilizes scheduled tasks as a persistence mechanism.[103]

S0166 RemoteCMD

RemoteCMD can execute commands remotely by creating a new schedule task on the remote system[104]

S0379 Revenge RAT

Revenge RAT schedules tasks to run malicious scripts at different intervals.[105]

S0148 RTM

RTM tries to add a scheduled task to establish persistence.[106][107]

S0446 Ryuk

Ryuk can remotely create a scheduled task to execute itself on a system.[108]

S0111 schtasks

schtasks is used to schedule tasks on a Windows system to run at a specific date and time.[109]

S0382 ServHelper

ServHelper contains modules that will use schtasks to carry out malicious operations.[110]

S0140 Shamoon

Shamoon copies an executable payload to the target system by using SMB/Windows Admin Shares and then scheduling an unnamed task to execute the malware.[111][112]

S0546 SharpStage

SharpStage has a persistence component to write a scheduled task for the payload.[113]

S0589 Sibot

Sibot has been executed via a scheduled task.[59]

G0091 Silence

Silence has used scheduled tasks to stage its operation.[114]

S0226 Smoke Loader

Smoke Loader launches a scheduled task.[115]

S0516 SoreFang

SoreFang can gain persistence through use of scheduled tasks.[116]

S0390 SQLRat

SQLRat has created scheduled tasks in %appdata%\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\.[50]

G0038 Stealth Falcon

Stealth Falcon malware creates a scheduled task entitled "IE Web Cache" to execute a malicious file hourly.[117]

G0088 TEMP.Veles

TEMP.Veles has used scheduled task XML triggers.[118]

S0266 TrickBot

TrickBot creates a scheduled task on the system that provides persistence.[119][120][121]

S0476 Valak

Valak has used scheduled tasks to execute additional payloads and to gain persistence on a compromised host.[122][123][124]

G0102 Wizard Spider

Wizard Spider has used scheduled tasks establish persistence for TrickBot and other malware.[125][126][127][128]

S0248 yty

yty establishes persistence by creating a scheduled task with the command SchTasks /Create /SC DAILY /TN BigData /TR " + path_file + "/ST 09:30".[129]

S0251 Zebrocy

Zebrocy has a command to create a scheduled task for persistence.[130]

S0350 zwShell

zwShell has used SchTasks for execution.[131]

Mitigations

ID Mitigation Description
M1047 Audit

Toolkits like the PowerSploit framework contain PowerUp modules that can be used to explore systems for permission weaknesses in scheduled tasks that could be used to escalate privileges. [132]

M1028 Operating System Configuration

Configure settings for scheduled tasks to force tasks to run under the context of the authenticated account instead of allowing them to run as SYSTEM. The associated Registry key is located at HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa\SubmitControl. The setting can be configured through GPO: Computer Configuration > [Policies] > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options: Domain Controller: Allow server operators to schedule tasks, set to disabled. [133]

M1026 Privileged Account Management

Configure the Increase Scheduling Priority option to only allow the Administrators group the rights to schedule a priority process. This can be configured through GPO: Computer Configuration > [Policies] > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > User Rights Assignment: Increase scheduling priority. [134]

M1018 User Account Management

Limit privileges of user accounts and remediate Privilege Escalation vectors so only authorized administrators can create scheduled tasks on remote systems.

Detection

Monitor process execution from the svchost.exe in Windows 10 and the Windows Task Scheduler taskeng.exe for older versions of Windows. [135] If scheduled tasks are not used for persistence, then the adversary is likely to remove the task when the action is complete. Monitor Windows Task Scheduler stores in %systemroot%\System32\Tasks for change entries related to scheduled tasks that do not correlate with known software, patch cycles, etc.

Configure event logging for scheduled task creation and changes by enabling the "Microsoft-Windows-TaskScheduler/Operational" setting within the event logging service. [136] Several events will then be logged on scheduled task activity, including: [137][138]

  • Event ID 106 on Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 - Scheduled task registered
  • Event ID 140 on Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 / 4702 on Windows 10, Server 2016 - Scheduled task updated
  • Event ID 141 on Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 / 4699 on Windows 10, Server 2016 - Scheduled task deleted
  • Event ID 4698 on Windows 10, Server 2016 - Scheduled task created
  • Event ID 4700 on Windows 10, Server 2016 - Scheduled task enabled
  • Event ID 4701 on Windows 10, Server 2016 - Scheduled task disabled

Tools such as Sysinternals Autoruns may also be used to detect system changes that could be attempts at persistence, including listing current scheduled tasks. [139]

Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to perform these functions outside of typical system utilities. Tasks may also be created through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell, so additional logging may need to be configured to gather the appropriate data.

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