Unusual File Modification by dns.exeedit

Identifies an unexpected file being modified by dns.exe, the process responsible for Windows DNS Server services, which may indicate activity related to remote code execution or other forms of exploitation.

Rule type: eql

Rule indices:

  • winlogbeat-*
  • logs-endpoint.events.*
  • logs-windows.*

Severity: high

Risk score: 73

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
  • Windows
  • Threat Detection
  • Initial Access

Version: 6 (version history)

Added (Elastic Stack release): 7.10.0

Last modified (Elastic Stack release): 8.2.0

Rule authors: Elastic

Rule license: Elastic License v2

Investigation guideedit

## Triage and analysis

### Investigating Unusual File Write
Detection alerts from this rule indicate potential unusual/abnormal file writes from the DNS Server service process (`dns.exe`) after exploitation from CVE-2020-1350 (SigRed) has occurred. Here are some possible avenues of investigation:
- Post-exploitation, adversaries may write additional files or payloads to the system as additional discovery/exploitation/persistence mechanisms.
- Any suspicious or abnormal files written from `dns.exe` should be reviewed and investigated with care.

## Config

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 8.2, so you will need to add a custom pipeline to populate `event.ingested` to @timestamp for this rule to work.

Rule queryedit

file where process.name : "dns.exe" and event.type in ("creation",
"deletion", "change") and not file.name : "dns.log"

Threat mappingedit


Rule version historyedit

Version 6 (8.2.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 5 (7.13.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    event.category:file and process.name:dns.exe and event.type:(creation
    or deletion or change) and not file.name:dns.log
Version 4 (7.12.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 3 (7.11.2 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 2 (7.11.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    event.category:file and process.name:dns.exe and not file.name:dns.log