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T1059.002 AppleScript

Adversaries may abuse AppleScript for execution. AppleScript is a macOS scripting language designed to control applications and parts of the OS via inter-application messages called AppleEvents.1 These AppleEvent messages can be sent independently or easily scripted with AppleScript. These events can locate open windows, send keystrokes, and interact with almost any open application locally or remotely.

Scripts can be run from the command-line via osascript /path/to/script or osascript -e “script here”. Aside from the command line, scripts can be executed in numerous ways including Mail rules, alarms, and Automator workflows. AppleScripts can also be executed as plain text shell scripts by adding #!/usr/bin/osascript to the start of the script file.3

AppleScripts do not need to call osascript to execute. However, they may be executed from within mach-O binaries by using the macOS Native APINSAppleScript or OSAScript, both of which execute code independent of the /usr/bin/osascript command line utility.

Adversaries may abuse AppleScript to execute various behaviors, such as interacting with an open SSH connection, moving to remote machines, and even presenting users with fake dialog boxes. These events cannot start applications remotely (they can start them locally), but they can interact with applications if they’re already running remotely. On macOS 10.10 Yosemite and higher, AppleScript has the ability to execute Native APIs, which otherwise would require compilation and execution in a mach-O binary file format.2 Since this is a scripting language, it can be used to launch more common techniques as well such as a reverse shell via Python.4

Item Value
ID T1059.002
Sub-techniques T1059.001, T1059.002, T1059.003, T1059.004, T1059.005, T1059.006, T1059.007, T1059.008, T1059.009
Tactics TA0002
Platforms macOS
Version 1.1
Created 09 March 2020
Last Modified 19 October 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0482 Bundlore Bundlore can use AppleScript to inject malicious JavaScript into a browser.6
S0281 Dok Dok uses AppleScript to create a login item for persistence.9
S1048 macOS.OSAMiner macOS.OSAMiner has used osascript to call itself via the do shell script command in the Launch Agent .plist file.7
S0595 ThiefQuest ThiefQuest uses AppleScript‘s osascript -e command to launch ThiefQuest‘s persistence via Launch Agent and Launch Daemon. 8


ID Mitigation Description
M1045 Code Signing Require that all AppleScript be signed by a trusted developer ID before being executed - this will prevent random AppleScript code from executing.5 This subjects AppleScript code to the same scrutiny as other .app files passing through Gatekeeper.
M1038 Execution Prevention Use application control where appropriate.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0009 Process OS API Execution