Command and Scripting Interpreter: Visual Basic

Adversaries may abuse Visual Basic (VB) for execution. VB is a programming language created by Microsoft with interoperability with many Windows technologies such as Component Object Model and the Native API through the Windows API. Although tagged as legacy with no planned future evolutions, VB is integrated and supported in the .NET Framework and cross-platform .NET Core.[1][2]

Derivative languages based on VB have also been created, such as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and VBScript. VBA is an event-driven programming language built into Microsoft Office, as well as several third-party applications.[3][4] VBA enables documents to contain macros used to automate the execution of tasks and other functionality on the host. VBScript is a default scripting language on Windows hosts and can also be used in place of JavaScript on HTML Application (HTA) webpages served to Internet Explorer (though most modern browsers do not come with VBScript support).[5]

Adversaries may use VB payloads to execute malicious commands. Common malicious usage includes automating execution of behaviors with VBScript or embedding VBA content into Spearphishing Attachment payloads (which may also involve Mark-of-the-Web Bypass to enable execution).[6]

ID: T1059.005
Sub-technique of:  T1059
Tactic: Execution
Platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS
Version: 1.4
Created: 09 March 2020
Last Modified: 07 April 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
C0028 2015 Ukraine Electric Power Attack

During the 2015 Ukraine Electric Power Attack, Sandworm Team installed a VBA script called vba_macro.exe. This macro dropped FONTCACHE.DAT, the primary BlackEnergy implant; rundll32.exe, for executing the malware; NTUSER.log, an empty file; and desktop.ini, the default file used to determine folder displays on Windows machines. [7]

C0025 2016 Ukraine Electric Power Attack

During the 2016 Ukraine Electric Power Attack, Sandworm Team created VBScripts to run on an SSH server.[8]

G0099 APT-C-36

APT-C-36 has embedded a VBScript within a malicious Word document which is executed upon the document opening.[9]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has used macros, COM scriptlets, and VBS scripts.[10][11]

G0064 APT33

APT33 has used VBScript to initiate the delivery of payloads.[12]

G0067 APT37

APT37 executes shellcode and a VBA script to decode Base64 strings.[13]

G0082 APT38

APT38 has used VBScript to execute commands and other operational tasks.[14]

G0087 APT39

APT39 has utilized malicious VBS scripts in malware.[15]

S0373 Astaroth

Astaroth has used malicious VBS e-mail attachments for execution.[16]

S0475 BackConfig

BackConfig has used VBS to install its downloader component and malicious documents with VBA macro code.[17]

S0234 Bandook

Bandook has used malicious VBA code against the target system.[18]

S0268 Bisonal

Bisonal's dropper creates VBS scripts on the victim’s machine.[19][20]


BRONZE BUTLER has used VBS and VBE scripts for execution.[21][22]

S1039 Bumblebee

Bumblebee can create a Visual Basic script to enable persistence.[23][24]

C0011 C0011

For C0011, Transparent Tribe used malicious VBA macros within a lure document as part of the Crimson malware installation process onto a compromised host.[25]

C0015 C0015

During C0015, the threat actors used a malicious HTA file that contained a mix of HTML and JavaScript/VBScript code.[26]

S0631 Chaes

Chaes has used VBscript to execute malicious code.[27]

G0080 Cobalt Group

Cobalt Group has sent Word OLE compound documents with malicious obfuscated VBA macros that will run upon user execution.[28][29][30][31][32][33]

S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike can use VBA to perform execution.[34][35][36]

S0244 Comnie

Comnie executes VBS scripts.[37]

G0142 Confucius

Confucius has used VBScript to execute malicious code.[38]

S1014 DanBot

DanBot can use a VBA macro embedded in an Excel file to drop the payload.[39]

S1111 DarkGate

DarkGate initial infection mechanisms include masquerading as pirated media that launches malicious VBScript on the victim.[40]

S0695 Donut

Donut can generate shellcode outputs that execute via VBScript.[41]

G1006 Earth Lusca

Earth Lusca used VBA scripts.[42]

S0367 Emotet

Emotet has sent Microsoft Word documents with embedded macros that will invoke scripts to download additional payloads. [43][44][45][46][47]

S0343 Exaramel for Windows

Exaramel for Windows has a command to execute VBS scripts on the victim’s machine.[48]

S0679 Ferocious

Ferocious has the ability to use Visual Basic scripts for execution.[49]

G1016 FIN13

FIN13 has used VBS scripts for code execution on comrpomised machines.[50]

G0085 FIN4

FIN4 has used VBA macros to display a dialog box and collect victim credentials.[51][52]

G0046 FIN7

FIN7 used VBS scripts to help perform tasks on the victim's machine.[53][54][55]

S0696 Flagpro

Flagpro can execute malicious VBA macros embedded in .xlsm files.[56]

C0001 Frankenstein

During Frankenstein, the threat actors used Word documents that prompted the victim to enable macros and run a Visual Basic script.[57]

C0007 FunnyDream

During FunnyDream, the threat actors used a Visual Basic script to run remote commands.[58]

G0047 Gamaredon Group

Gamaredon Group has embedded malicious macros in document templates, which executed VBScript. Gamaredon Group has also delivered Microsoft Outlook VBA projects with embedded macros.[59][60][61][62][63]

S0477 Goopy

Goopy has the ability to use a Microsoft Outlook backdoor macro to communicate with its C2.[11]

G0078 Gorgon Group

Gorgon Group has used macros in Spearphishing Attachments as well as executed VBScripts on victim machines.[64]

S0531 Grandoreiro

Grandoreiro can use VBScript to execute malicious code.[16][65]

S0170 Helminth

One version of Helminth consists of VBScript scripts.[66]


HEXANE has used a VisualBasic script named MicrosoftUpdator.vbs for execution of a PowerShell keylogger.[67]

G0126 Higaisa

Higaisa has used VBScript code on the victim's machine.[68]

S0483 IcedID

IcedID has used obfuscated VBA string expressions.[69]

G0100 Inception

Inception has used VBScript to execute malicious commands and payloads.[70][71]

S0528 Javali

Javali has used embedded VBScript to download malicious payloads from C2.[16]

S0389 JCry

JCry has used VBS scripts. [72]

S0283 jRAT

jRAT has been distributed as HTA files with VBScript.[73]

S0648 JSS Loader

JSS Loader can download and execute VBScript files.[55]

S0585 Kerrdown

Kerrdown can use a VBS base64 decoder function published by Motobit.[74]

S0387 KeyBoy

KeyBoy uses VBS scripts for installing files and performing execution.[75]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has used Visual Basic to download malicious payloads.[76][77][78][79] Kimsuky has also used malicious VBA macros within maldocs disguised as forms that trigger when a victim types any content into the lure.[79]

S0250 Koadic

Koadic performs most of its operations using Windows Script Host (VBScript) and runs arbitrary shellcode .[80]


KOCTOPUS has used VBScript to call wscript to execute a PowerShell command.[81]

G0032 Lazarus Group

Lazarus Group has used VBA and embedded macros in Word documents to execute malicious code.[82][83]

G0140 LazyScripter

LazyScripter has used VBScript to execute malicious code.[81]

G0065 Leviathan

Leviathan has used VBScript.[84]

S0447 Lokibot

Lokibot has used VBS scripts and XLS macros for execution.[85]

S0582 LookBack

LookBack has used VBA macros in Microsoft Word attachments to drop additional files to the host.[86]

G0095 Machete

Machete has embedded malicious macros within spearphishing attachments to download additional files.[87]

G0059 Magic Hound

Magic Hound malware has used VBS scripts for execution.[88]

G1026 Malteiro

Malteiro has utilized a dropper containing malicious VBS scripts.[89]

S0530 Melcoz

Melcoz can use VBS scripts to execute malicious DLLs.[16]

S0455 Metamorfo

Metamorfo has used VBS code on victims’ systems.[90]

S1122 Mispadu

Mispadu’s dropper uses VBS files to install payloads and perform execution.[89][91]

G0021 Molerats

Molerats used various implants, including those built with VBScript, on target machines.[92][93]

G0069 MuddyWater

MuddyWater has used VBScript files to execute its POWERSTATS payload, as well as macros.[94][95][96][97][98][99][100][101][102]

G0129 Mustang Panda

Mustang Panda has embedded VBScript components in LNK files to download additional files and automate collection.[103][104][105]

S0228 NanHaiShu

NanHaiShu executes additional VBScript code on the victim's machine.[106]

S0336 NanoCore

NanoCore uses VBS files.[107]


NETWIRE has been executed through use of VBScripts.[108][109]

G0049 OilRig

OilRig has used VBScript macros for execution on compromised hosts.[110]

S0264 OopsIE

OopsIE creates and uses a VBScript as part of its persistent execution.[111][112]

C0012 Operation CuckooBees

During Operation CuckooBees, the threat actors executed an encoded VBScript file using wscript and wrote the decoded output to a text file.[113]

C0022 Operation Dream Job

During Operation Dream Job, Lazarus Group executed a VBA written malicious macro after victims download malicious DOTM files; Lazarus Group also used Visual Basic macro code to extract a double Base64 encoded DLL implant.[114][115]

C0016 Operation Dust Storm

During Operation Dust Storm, the threat actors used Visual Basic scripts.[116]

C0006 Operation Honeybee

For Operation Honeybee, the threat actors used a Visual Basic script embedded within a Word document to download an implant.[117]

C0013 Operation Sharpshooter

During Operation Sharpshooter, the threat actors used a VBA macro to execute a simple downloader that installed Rising Sun.[118]

C0014 Operation Wocao

During Operation Wocao, threat actors used VBScript to conduct reconnaissance on targeted systems.[119]


OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D uses Word macros for execution.[120]

G0040 Patchwork

Patchwork used Visual Basic Scripts (VBS) on victim machines.[121][122]

S0428 PoetRAT

PoetRAT has used Word documents with VBScripts to execute malicious activities.[123][124]

S0441 PowerShower

PowerShower has the ability to save and execute VBScript.[70]


POWERSTATS can use VBScript (VBE) code for execution.[98][125]

S0147 Pteranodon

Pteranodon can use a malicious VBS file for execution.[126]

S0650 QakBot

QakBot can use VBS to download and execute malicious files.[127][128][129][130][131][132][133]


QUADAGENT uses VBScripts.[134]

S0458 Ramsay

Ramsay has included embedded Visual Basic scripts in malicious documents.[135][136]

G0075 Rancor

Rancor has used VBS scripts as well as embedded macros for execution.[137]

S0375 Remexi

Remexi uses AutoIt and VBS scripts throughout its execution process.[138]

S0496 REvil

REvil has used obfuscated VBA macros for execution.[139][140]


ROKRAT has used Visual Basic for execution.[141]

S1018 Saint Bot

Saint Bot has used .vbs scripts for execution.[142]

G0034 Sandworm Team

Sandworm Team has created VBScripts to run an SSH server.[143][144][145][8]

S0589 Sibot

Sibot executes commands using VBScript.[146]

G1008 SideCopy

SideCopy has sent Microsoft Office Publisher documents to victims that have embedded malicious macros that execute an hta file via calling mshta.exe.[147]

G0121 Sidewinder

Sidewinder has used VBScript to drop and execute malware loaders.[148]

G0091 Silence

Silence has used VBS scripts.[149]

S0226 Smoke Loader

Smoke Loader adds a Visual Basic script in the Startup folder to deploy the payload.[150]

S1086 Snip3

Snip3 can use visual basic scripts for first-stage execution.[151][152]

C0024 SolarWinds Compromise

For the SolarWinds Compromise, APT29 wrote malware such as Sibot in Visual Basic.[153]

S1030 Squirrelwaffle

Squirrelwaffle has used malicious VBA macros in Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets that execute an AutoOpen subroutine.[154][155]


STARWHALE can use the VBScript function GetRef as part of its persistence mechanism.[156]

S0380 StoneDrill

StoneDrill has several VBS scripts used throughout the malware's lifecycle.[157]


SUNBURST used VBScripts to initiate the execution of payloads.[158]

S1064 SVCReady

SVCReady has used VBA macros to execute shellcode.[159]

G1018 TA2541

TA2541 has used VBS files to execute or establish persistence for additional payloads, often using file names consistent with email themes or mimicking system functionality.[160][161]

G0062 TA459

TA459 has a VBScript for execution.[162]

G0092 TA505

TA505 has used VBS for code execution.[163][164][165][166]

G0134 Transparent Tribe

Transparent Tribe has crafted VBS-based malicious documents.[167][168]

G0010 Turla

Turla has used VBS scripts throughout its operations.[169]


TYPEFRAME has used a malicious Word document for delivery with VBA macros for execution.[170]

S0386 Ursnif

Ursnif droppers have used VBA macros to download and execute the malware's full executable payload.[171]

S0442 VBShower

VBShower has the ability to execute VBScript files.[172]

S0689 WhisperGate

WhisperGate can use a Visual Basic script to exclude the C:\ drive from Windows Defender.[173][174]

G0112 Windshift

Windshift has used Visual Basic 6 (VB6) payloads.[175]


WIRTE has used VBScript in its operations.[176]

S0341 Xbash

Xbash can execute malicious VBScript payloads on the victim’s machine.[177]


ID Mitigation Description
M1049 Antivirus/Antimalware

Anti-virus can be used to automatically quarantine suspicious files.

M1040 Behavior Prevention on Endpoint

On Windows 10, enable Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rules to prevent Visual Basic scripts from executing potentially malicious downloaded content [178].

M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program

Turn off or restrict access to unneeded VB components.

M1038 Execution Prevention

Use application control where appropriate. VBA macros obtained from the Internet, based on the file's Mark of the Web (MOTW) attribute, may be blocked from executing in Office applications (ex: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, and Word) by default starting in Windows Version 2203.[6]

M1021 Restrict Web-Based Content

Script blocking extensions can help prevent the execution of scripts and HTA files that may commonly be used during the exploitation process. For malicious code served up through ads, adblockers can help prevent that code from executing in the first place.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0017 Command Command Execution

Monitor executed commands and arguments that may abuse Visual Basic (VB) for execution.

DS0011 Module Module Load

Monitor for the loading of modules associated with VB languages (ex: vbscript.dll).

Note: For Windows, Sysmon Event ID 7 (Image loaded) can be used to alert on the loading of DLL modules (e.g., vbscript.dll) associated with Visual Basic into processes. Due to the high frequency of image load operations, Event ID 7 can generate a large volume of events. Therefore, we recommend tuning the Sysmon configuration file to exclude common, benign image loads that may result in false positives.

DS0009 Process Process Creation

Monitor for events associated with VB execution, such as Office applications spawning processes, usage of the Windows Script Host (typically cscript.exe or wscript.exe). VB execution is likely to perform actions with various effects on a system that may generate events, depending on the types of monitoring used.

DS0012 Script Script Execution

Monitor for any attempts to enable scripts running on a system would be considered suspicious. If scripts are not commonly used on a system, but enabled, scripts running out of cycle from patching or other administrator functions are suspicious. Scripts should be captured from the file system when possible to determine their actions and intent.

Note: Be aware of VBScript execution from temporary or unusual file locations, which may indicate malicious activity.

Analytic 1 - Script Execution from Temporary Locations

(source=WinEventLog:"Microsoft-Windows-PowerShell/Operational" EventID="4103") | WHERE CommandLine LIKE "AppData.vbs" OR CommandLine LIKE "AppData.vbe" OR CommandLine LIKE "AppData.vba"


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