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.*
  • logs-windows.*
  • logs-system.*
  • endgame-*

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
  • Discovery
  • Investigation Guide
  • Elastic Endgame

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

Potential false positivesedit

Some normal use of this program, at varying levels of frequency, may originate from scripts, automation tools and frameworks. Usage by non-engineers and ordinary users is unusual.

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

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

### 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).

Rule queryedit

process where event.type == "start" and process.name : "whoami.exe"
and ( (/* scoped for whoami execution under system privileges */
APPPOOL") or user.id : ("S-1-5-18", "S-1-5-19", "S-1-5-20")) 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",
"*WINDOWS\\system32\\config\\systemprofile*")) 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") )

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
    process.name : "whoami.exe"
Version 11 (8.4.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 9 (8.3.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 8 (8.2.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 7 (7.13.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    event.category:process and event.type:(start or process_started) and
Version 6 (7.12.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 5 (7.11.2 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 4 (7.10.0 release)
  • Updated query, changed from:

    process.name:whoami.exe and event.code:1
Version 3 (7.9.0 release)
  • Formatting only
Version 2 (7.7.0 release)
  • Formatting only