Whoami Process Activityedit

Identifies suspicious use of whoami.exe which displays user, group, and privileges information for the user who is currently logged on to the local system.

Rule type: eql

Rule indices:

  • winlogbeat-*
  • logs-endpoint.events.process-*
  • logs-windows.*
  • logs-system.*
  • endgame-*

Severity: low

Risk score: 21

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: Discovery
  • Resources: Investigation Guide
  • Data Source: Elastic Endgame
  • Data Source: Elastic Defend

Version: 111

Rule authors:

  • Elastic

Rule license: Elastic License v2

Investigation guideedit

Triage and analysis

Investigating Whoami Process Activity

After successfully compromising an environment, attackers may try to gain situational awareness to plan their next steps. This can happen by running commands to enumerate network resources, users, connections, files, and installed security software.

This rule looks for the execution of the whoami utility. Attackers commonly use this utility to measure their current privileges, discover the current user, determine if a privilege escalation was successful, etc.

Possible investigation steps

  • Investigate the process 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.
  • Investigate other alerts associated with the user/host during the past 48 hours.
  • Investigate any abnormal account behavior, such as command executions, file creations or modifications, and network connections.

False positive analysis

  • Discovery activities are not inherently malicious if they occur in isolation. As long as the analyst did not identify suspicious activity related to the user or host, such alerts can be dismissed.

Related rules

  • Account Discovery Command via SYSTEM Account - 2856446a-34e6-435b-9fb5-f8f040bfa7ed

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.
  • 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).



If enabling an EQL rule on a non-elastic-agent index (such as beats) for versions <8.2, events will not define event.ingested and default fallback for EQL rules was not added until version 8.2. Hence for this rule to work effectively, users will need to add a custom ingest pipeline to populate event.ingested to @timestamp. For more details on adding a custom ingest pipeline refer - https://www.elastic.co/guide/en/fleet/current/data-streams-pipeline-tutorial.html

Rule queryedit

process where host.os.type == "windows" and event.type == "start" and process.name : "whoami.exe" and
    /* scoped for whoami execution under system privileges */
      user.domain : ("NT *", "* NT", "IIS APPPOOL") and
      user.id : ("S-1-5-18", "S-1-5-19", "S-1-5-20", "S-1-5-82-*") and
      not ?winlog.event_data.SubjectUserName : "*$"
    ) and
    not (
      process.parent.name : "cmd.exe" and
      process.parent.args : (
          "chcp 437>nul 2>&1 & C:\\WINDOWS\\System32\\whoami.exe  /groups",
          "chcp 437>nul 2>&1 & %systemroot%\\system32\\whoami /user",
          "C:\\WINDOWS\\System32\\whoami.exe /groups",
    ) and
    not (process.parent.executable : "C:\\Windows\\system32\\inetsrv\\appcmd.exe" and process.parent.args : "LIST") and
    not process.parent.executable : (
        "C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Monitoring Agent\\Agent\\MonitoringHost.exe",
        "C:\\Program Files\\Cohesity\\cohesity_windows_agent_service.exe"
  ) or
  process.parent.name : ("wsmprovhost.exe", "w3wp.exe", "wmiprvse.exe", "rundll32.exe", "regsvr32.exe")