User Account Creationedit

Identifies attempts to create new users. This is sometimes done by attackers to increase access or establish persistence on a system or domain.

Rule type: eql

Rule indices:

  • winlogbeat-*
  • logs-windows.*

Severity: low

Risk score: 21

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
  • Persistence
  • Investigation Guide

Version: 102 (version history)

Added (Elastic Stack release): 7.6.0

Last modified (Elastic Stack release): 8.6.0

Rule authors: Elastic

Rule license: Elastic License v2

Investigation guideedit

## Triage and analysis

### Investigating User Account Creation

Attackers may create new accounts (both local and domain) to maintain access to victim systems.

This rule identifies the usage of `net.exe` to create new accounts.

#### 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.
- Identify if the account was added to privileged groups or assigned special privileges after creation.
- Investigate other alerts associated with the user/host during the past 48 hours.

### False positive analysis

- Account creation is a common administrative task, so there is a high chance of the activity being legitimate. Before
investigating further, verify that this activity is not benign.

### Related rules

- Creation of a Hidden Local User Account - 2edc8076-291e-41e9-81e4-e3fcbc97ae5e
- Windows User Account Creation - 38e17753-f581-4644-84da-0d60a8318694

### 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.
- Delete the created account.
- 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.
- 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).

Rule queryedit

process where event.type == "start" and : ("net.exe",
"net1.exe") and not : "net.exe" and
(process.args : "user" and process.args : ("/ad", "/add"))

Threat mappingedit


Rule version historyedit

Version 102 (8.6.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 101 (8.5.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    process where event.type in ("start", "process_started") and : ("net.exe", "net1.exe") and not :
    "net.exe" and (process.args : "user" and process.args : ("/ad",
Version 13 (8.4.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 11 (8.3.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 10 (8.2.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 9 (7.16.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 8 (7.13.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    event.category:process and event.type:(start or process_started) and or net1.exe) and not
    and process.args:(user and (/ad or /add))
Version 7 (7.12.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 6 (7.11.2 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 5 (7.10.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 4 (7.9.1 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 3 (7.9.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    event.action:"Process Create (rule: ProcessCreate)" and or net1.exe) and not
    and process.args:(user and (/ad or /add))
Version 2 (7.7.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    event.action:"Process Create (rule: ProcessCreate)" and"net.exe" or "net1.exe") and not"net.exe" and process.args:("user" and ("/add" or