Unusual Windows Network Activityedit

Identifies Windows processes that do not usually use the network but have unexpected network activity, which can indicate command-and-control, lateral movement, persistence, or data exfiltration activity. A process with unusual network activity can denote process exploitation or injection, where the process is used to run persistence mechanisms that allow a malicious actor remote access or control of the host, data exfiltration, and execution of unauthorized network applications.

Rule type: machine_learning

Machine learning job: v3_windows_anomalous_network_activity

Machine learning anomaly threshold: 50

Severity: low

Risk score: 21

Runs every: 15 minutes

Searches indices from: now-45m (Date Math format, see also Additional look-back time)

Maximum alerts per execution: 100



  • Elastic
  • Host
  • Windows
  • Threat Detection
  • ML

Version: 8 (version history)

Added (Elastic Stack release): 7.7.0

Last modified (Elastic Stack release): 8.3.0

Rule authors: Elastic

Rule license: Elastic License v2

Potential false positivesedit

A newly installed program or one that rarely uses the network could trigger this alert.

Investigation guideedit

## Triage and analysis

### Investigating Unusual Network Activity
Detection alerts from this rule indicate the presence of network activity from a Windows process for which network activity is very unusual.  Here are some possible avenues of investigation:
- Consider the IP addresses, protocol and ports. Are these used by normal but infrequent network workflows? Are they expected or unexpected?
- If the destination IP address is remote or external, does it associate with an expected domain, organization or geography? Note: avoid interacting directly with suspected malicious IP addresses.
- Consider the user as identified by the username field. Is this network activity part of an expected workflow for the user who ran the program?
- Examine the history of execution. If this process only manifested recently, it might be part of a new software package. If it has a consistent cadence (for example if it runs monthly or quarterly), it might be part of a monthly or quarterly business process.
- Examine the process arguments, title and working directory. These may provide indications as to the source of the program or the nature of the tasks it is performing.
- Consider the same for the parent process. If the parent process is a legitimate system utility or service, this could be related to software updates or system management. If the parent process is something user-facing like an Office application, this process could be more suspicious.
- If you have file hash values in the event data, and you suspect malware, you can optionally run a search for the file hash to see if the file is identified as malware by anti-malware tools.

Rule version historyedit

Version 8 (8.3.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 7 (7.15.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 6 (7.14.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 5 (7.13.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 4 (7.12.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 3 (7.10.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 2 (7.9.0 release)
  • Formatting only