Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: LSASS Driver

Adversaries may modify or add LSASS drivers to obtain persistence on compromised systems. The Windows security subsystem is a set of components that manage and enforce the security policy for a computer or domain. The Local Security Authority (LSA) is the main component responsible for local security policy and user authentication. The LSA includes multiple dynamic link libraries (DLLs) associated with various other security functions, all of which run in the context of the LSA Subsystem Service (LSASS) lsass.exe process. [1]

Adversaries may target LSASS drivers to obtain persistence. By either replacing or adding illegitimate drivers (e.g., Hijack Execution Flow), an adversary can use LSA operations to continuously execute malicious payloads.

ID: T1547.008
Sub-technique of:  T1547
Tactics: Persistence, Privilege Escalation
Platforms: Windows
Permissions Required: Administrator, SYSTEM
Data Sources: Driver: Driver Load, File: File Creation, File: File Modification, Module: Module Load
Contributors: Vincent Le Toux
Version: 1.0
Created: 24 January 2020
Last Modified: 25 March 2020

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0208 Pasam

Pasam establishes by infecting the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) DLL to load a malicious DLL dropped to disk.[2]

S0176 Wingbird

Wingbird drops a malicious file (sspisrv.dll) alongside a copy of lsass.exe, which is used to register a service that loads sspisrv.dll as a driver. The payload of the malicious driver (located in its entry-point function) is executed when loaded by lsass.exe before the spoofed service becomes unstable and crashes.[3][4]


ID Mitigation Description
M1043 Credential Access Protection

On Windows 10 and Server 2016, enable Windows Defender Credential Guard [5] to run lsass.exe in an isolated virtualized environment without any device drivers. [6]

M1025 Privileged Process Integrity

On Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2, enable LSA Protection by setting the Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa\RunAsPPL to dword:00000001. [7] LSA Protection ensures that LSA plug-ins and drivers are only loaded if they are digitally signed with a Microsoft signature and adhere to the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) process guidance.

M1044 Restrict Library Loading

Ensure safe DLL search mode is enabled HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\SafeDllSearchMode to mitigate risk that lsass.exe loads a malicious code library. [8]


With LSA Protection enabled, monitor the event logs (Events 3033 and 3063) for failed attempts to load LSA plug-ins and drivers. [7] Also monitor DLL load operations in lsass.exe. [8]

Utilize the Sysinternals Autoruns/Autorunsc utility [9] to examine loaded drivers associated with the LSA.