After gaining initial access to a system, threat actors attempt to escalate privileges as they may be operating within a lower privileged process which does not allow them to access protected information or carry out tasks which require higher permissions. A common way of escalating privileges in a system is by externally invoking and exploiting spoolsv or connhost executables, both of which are legitimate Windows applications. This query searches for an invocation of either of these executables by a user, thus alerting us of any potentially malicious activity.

ATT&CK Detection

Technique Subtechnique(s) Tactic(s) Level of Coverage
Exploitation for Privilege Escalation N/A Privilege Escalation Low

Data Model References

Object Action Field
process create command_line

Applicable Sensors


Splunk search - Unusual Child Process For Spoolsv.exe Or Connhost.exe (Splunk, Sysmon native)

This query looks for processes spawned by spoolsv.exe or connhost.exe externally, thus alerting us of potentially malicious activity.

(index=__your_sysmon_index__ EventCode=1) (Image=C:\\Windows\\System32\\spoolsv.exe* OR Image=C:\\Windows\\System32\\conhost.exe) ParentImage = "C:\\Windows\\System32\\cmd.exe"