Unsecured Credentials: Bash History

Adversaries may search the bash command history on compromised systems for insecurely stored credentials. Bash keeps track of the commands users type on the command-line with the "history" utility. Once a user logs out, the history is flushed to the user’s .bash_history file. For each user, this file resides at the same location: ~/.bash_history. Typically, this file keeps track of the user’s last 500 commands. Users often type usernames and passwords on the command-line as parameters to programs, which then get saved to this file when they log out. Adversaries can abuse this by looking through the file for potential credentials. [1]

ID: T1552.003
Sub-technique of:  T1552
Platforms: Linux, macOS
Permissions Required: User
Version: 1.1
Created: 04 February 2020
Last Modified: 08 March 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0599 Kinsing

Kinsing has searched bash_history for credentials.[2]


ID Mitigation Description
M1028 Operating System Configuration

There are multiple methods of preventing a user's command history from being flushed to their .bash_history file, including use of the following commands:set +o history and set -o history to start logging again;unset HISTFILE being added to a user's .bash_rc file; andln -s /dev/null ~/.bash_history to write commands to /dev/nullinstead.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0017 Command Command Execution

While users do typically rely on their history of commands, they often access this history through other utilities like "history" instead of commands like cat ~/.bash_history.

DS0022 File File Access

Monitoring when the user's .bash_history is read can help alert to suspicious activity.