Credential Acquisition via Registry Hive Dumpingedit

Identifies attempts to export a registry hive which may contain credentials using the Windows reg.exe tool.

Rule type: eql

Rule indices:

  • winlogbeat-*
  • logs-windows.*
  • endgame-*

Severity: high

Risk score: 73

Runs every: 5m

Searches indices from: now-9m (Date Math format, see also Additional look-back time)

Maximum alerts per execution: 100



  • Domain: Endpoint
  • OS: Windows
  • Use Case: Threat Detection
  • Tactic: Credential Access
  • Resources: Investigation Guide
  • Data Source: Elastic Endgame
  • Data Source: Elastic Defend

Version: 107

Rule authors:

  • Elastic

Rule license: Elastic License v2

Investigation guideedit

## Triage and analysis

### Investigating Credential Acquisition via Registry Hive Dumping

Dumping registry hives is a common way to access credential information as some hives store credential material.

For example, the SAM hive stores locally cached credentials (SAM Secrets), and the SECURITY hive stores domain cached credentials (LSA secrets).

Dumping these hives in combination with the SYSTEM hive enables the attacker to decrypt these secrets.

This rule identifies the usage of `reg.exe` to dump SECURITY and/or SAM hives, which potentially indicates the compromise of the credentials stored in the host.

#### Possible investigation steps

- Investigate the script execution chain (parent process tree) for unknown processes. Examine their executable files for prevalence, whether they are located in expected locations, and if they are signed with valid digital signatures.
- Identify the user account that performed the action and whether it should perform this kind of action.
- Contact the account owner and confirm whether they are aware of this activity.
- Investigate other alerts associated with the user/host during the past 48 hours.
- Investigate if the credential material was exfiltrated or processed locally by other tools.
- Investigate potentially compromised accounts. Analysts can do this by searching for login events (e.g., 4624) to the target host.

### False positive analysis

- Administrators can export registry hives for backup purposes using command line tools like `reg.exe`. Check whether the user is legitamitely performing this kind of activity.

### Related rules

- Registry Hive File Creation via SMB - a4c7473a-5cb4-4bc1-9d06-e4a75adbc494

### Response and remediation

- Initiate the incident response process based on the outcome of the triage.
- Isolate the involved hosts to prevent further post-compromise behavior.
- Investigate credential exposure on systems compromised or used by the attacker to ensure all compromised accounts are identified. Reset passwords for these accounts and other potentially compromised credentials, such as email, business systems, and web services.
- Reimage the host operating system and restore compromised files to clean versions.
- Run a full antimalware scan. This may reveal additional artifacts left in the system, persistence mechanisms, and malware components.
- Determine the initial vector abused by the attacker and take action to prevent reinfection through the same vector.
- Using the incident response data, update logging and audit policies to improve the mean time to detect (MTTD) and the mean time to respond (MTTR).

Rule queryedit

process where host.os.type == "windows" and event.type == "start" and == "reg.exe" and
 process.args : ("save", "export") and
 process.args : ("hklm\\sam", "hklm\\security")