Screensaver Plist File Modified by Unexpected Processedit

Identifies when a screensaver plist file is modified by an unexpected process. An adversary can maintain persistence on a macOS endpoint by creating a malicious screensaver (.saver) file and configuring the screensaver plist file to execute code each time the screensaver is activated.

Rule type: eql

Rule indices:

  • auditbeat-*

Severity: medium

Risk score: 47

Runs every: 5 minutes

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

Maximum alerts per execution: 100



  • Elastic
  • Host
  • macOS
  • Threat Detection
  • Persistence

Version: 100 (version history)

Added (Elastic Stack release): 7.16.0

Last modified (Elastic Stack release): 8.5.0

Rule authors: Elastic

Rule license: Elastic License v2

Investigation guideedit

## Triage and analysis

- Analyze the plist file modification event to identify whether the change was expected or not
- Investigate the process that modified the plist file for malicious code or other suspicious behavior
- Identify if any suspicious or known malicious screensaver (.saver) files were recently written to or modified on the host

Rule queryedit

file where event.type != "deletion" and
"*.plist" and file.path : (
"/Users/*/Library/Preferences/ByHost/*", "/Library/Managed
Preferences/*", "/System/Library/Preferences/*" ) and /*
Filter OS processes modifying screensaver plist files */ not
process.executable : ( "/usr/sbin/cfprefsd",
"/usr/libexec/xpcproxy", "/System/Library/CoreServices/ManagedClie", "/System/Library/CoreSer
vices/" )

Threat mappingedit


Rule version historyedit

Version 100 (8.5.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 4 (8.4.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 2 (8.2.0 release)
  • Formatting only