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T1218.014 MMC

Adversaries may abuse mmc.exe to proxy execution of malicious .msc files. Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a binary that may be signed by Microsoft and is used in several ways in either its GUI or in a command prompt.47 MMC can be used to create, open, and save custom consoles that contain administrative tools created by Microsoft, called snap-ins. These snap-ins may be used to manage Windows systems locally or remotely. MMC can also be used to open Microsoft created .msc files to manage system configuration.3

For example, mmc C:\Users\foo\admintools.msc /a will open a custom, saved console msc file in author mode.4 Another common example is mmc gpedit.msc, which will open the Group Policy Editor application window.

Adversaries may use MMC commands to perform malicious tasks. For example, mmc wbadmin.msc delete catalog -quiet deletes the backup catalog on the system (i.e. Inhibit System Recovery) without prompts to the user (Note: wbadmin.msc may only be present by default on Windows Server operating systems).58

Adversaries may also abuse MMC to execute malicious .msc files. For example, adversaries may first create a malicious registry Class Identifier (CLSID) subkey, which uniquely identifies a Component Object Model class object.6 Then, adversaries may create custom consoles with the “Link to Web Address” snap-in that is linked to the malicious CLSID subkey.2 Once the .msc file is saved, adversaries may invoke the malicious CLSID payload with the following command: mmc.exe -Embedding C:\path\to\test.msc.1

Item Value
ID T1218.014
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 2.0
Created 28 September 2021
Last Modified 20 May 2022


ID Mitigation Description
M1042 Disable or Remove Feature or Program MMC may not be necessary within a given environment since it is primarily used by system administrators, not regular users or clients.
M1038 Execution Prevention Use application control configured to block execution of MMC if it is not required for a given system or network to prevent potential misuse by adversaries.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Creation
DS0009 Process Process Creation