Remote Scheduled Task Creationedit

Identifies remote scheduled task creations on a target host. This could be indicative of adversary lateral movement.

Rule type: eql

Rule indices:

  • winlogbeat-*
  • logs-windows.sysmon_operational-*

Severity: medium

Risk score: 47

Runs every: 5m

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

Maximum alerts per execution: 100

References: None


  • Domain: Endpoint
  • OS: Windows
  • Use Case: Threat Detection
  • Tactic: Lateral Movement
  • Resources: Investigation Guide
  • Data Source: Elastic Defend
  • Data Source: Sysmon

Version: 108

Rule authors:

  • Elastic

Rule license: Elastic License v2

Investigation guideedit

Triage and analysis

Investigating Remote Scheduled Task Creation

Scheduled tasks are a great mechanism for persistence and program execution. These features can be used remotely for a variety of legitimate reasons, but at the same time used by malware and adversaries. When investigating scheduled tasks that were set up remotely, one of the first steps should be to determine the original intent behind the configuration and to verify if the activity is tied to benign behavior such as software installation or any kind of network administrator work. One objective for these alerts is to understand the configured action within the scheduled task. This is captured within the registry event data for this rule and can be base64 decoded to view the value.

Possible investigation steps

  • Review the base64 encoded tasks actions registry value to investigate the task configured action.
  • Validate if the activity is not related to planned patches, updates, network administrator activity, or legitimate software installations.
  • Further examination should include review of host-based artifacts and network logs from around when the scheduled task was created, on both the source and target machines.

False positive analysis

  • There is a high possibility of benign activity tied to the creation of remote scheduled tasks as it is a general feature within Windows and used for legitimate purposes for a wide range of activity. Any kind of context should be found to further understand the source of the activity and determine the intent based on the scheduled task’s contents.

Related rules

  • Service Command Lateral Movement - d61cbcf8-1bc1-4cff-85ba-e7b21c5beedc
  • Remotely Started Services via RPC - aa9a274d-6b53-424d-ac5e-cb8ca4251650

Response and remediation

  • Initiate the incident response process based on the outcome of the triage.
  • Isolate the involved host to prevent further post-compromise behavior.
  • Remove scheduled task and any other related artifacts.
  • Review privileged account management and user account management settings. Consider implementing group policy object (GPO) policies to further restrict activity, or configuring settings that only allow administrators to create remote scheduled tasks.

Rule queryedit

/* Task Scheduler service incoming connection followed by TaskCache registry modification  */

sequence by, process.entity_id with maxspan = 1m
   [network where host.os.type == "windows" and : "svchost.exe" and
   network.direction : ("incoming", "ingress") and source.port >= 49152 and destination.port >= 49152 and
   source.ip != "" and source.ip != "::1"
   [registry where host.os.type == "windows" and registry.path : "HKLM\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows NT\\CurrentVersion\\Schedule\\TaskCache\\Tasks\\*\\Actions"]