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T1543.001 Launch Agent

Adversaries may create or modify launch agents to repeatedly execute malicious payloads as part of persistence. When a user logs in, a per-user launchd process is started which loads the parameters for each launch-on-demand user agent from the property list (.plist) file found in /System/Library/LaunchAgents, /Library/LaunchAgents, and ~/Library/LaunchAgents.14 7 Property list files use the Label, ProgramArguments , and RunAtLoad keys to identify the Launch Agent’s name, executable location, and execution time.8 Launch Agents are often installed to perform updates to programs, launch user specified programs at login, or to conduct other developer tasks.

Launch Agents can also be executed using the Launchctl command.

Adversaries may install a new Launch Agent that executes at login by placing a .plist file into the appropriate folders with the RunAtLoad or KeepAlive keys set to true.25 The Launch Agent name may be disguised by using a name from the related operating system or benign software. Launch Agents are created with user level privileges and execute with user level permissions.63

Item Value
ID T1543.001
Sub-techniques T1543.001, T1543.002, T1543.003, T1543.004
Tactics TA0003, TA0004
Platforms macOS
Permissions required Administrator, User
Version 1.4
Created 17 January 2020
Last Modified 21 April 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0482 Bundlore Bundlore can persist via a LaunchAgent.20
S0274 Calisto Calisto adds a .plist file to the /Library/LaunchAgents folder to maintain persistence.10
S0369 CoinTicker CoinTicker creates user launch agents named .espl.plist and[random string].plist to establish persistence.25
S0492 CookieMiner CookieMiner has installed multiple new Launch Agents in order to maintain persistence for cryptocurrency mining software.21
S0235 CrossRAT CrossRAT creates a Launch Agent on macOS.28
S0497 Dacls Dacls can establish persistence via a LaunchAgent.2324
S0281 Dok Dok installs two LaunchAgents to redirect all network traffic with a randomly generated name for each plist file maintaining the format
S0277 FruitFly FruitFly persists via a Launch Agent.13
S0690 Green Lambert Green Lambert can create a Launch Agent with the RunAtLoad key-value pair set to true, ensuring the file runs every time a user logs in.1516
S0276 Keydnap Keydnap uses a Launch Agent to persist.22
S0162 Komplex The Komplex trojan creates a persistent launch agent called with $HOME/Library/LaunchAgents/ with launchctl load -w ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
S1016 MacMa MacMa installs a file in the /LaunchAgents folder with the RunAtLoad value set to true. Upon user login, MacMa is executed from /var/root/.local/softwareupdate with root privileges. Some variations also include the LimitLoadToSessionType key with the value Aqua, ensuring the MacMa only runs when there is a logged in GUI user.1819
S1048 macOS.OSAMiner macOS.OSAMiner has placed a Stripped Payloads with a plist extension in the Launch Agent‘s folder. 27
S0282 MacSpy MacSpy persists via a Launch Agent.13
S0198 NETWIRE NETWIRE can use launch agents for persistence.26
S0352 OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D OSX_OCEANLOTUS.D can create a persistence file in the folder /Library/LaunchAgents.1112
S0279 Proton Proton persists via Launch Agent.13
S0595 ThiefQuest ThiefQuest installs a launch item using an embedded encrypted launch agent property list template. The plist file is installed in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents/ folder and configured with the path to the persistent binary located in the ~/Library/ folder.17


ID Mitigation Description
M1022 Restrict File and Directory Permissions Set group policies to restrict file permissions to the ~/launchagents folder.9


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Creation
DS0019 Service Service Creation


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  18. M.Léveillé, M., Cherepanov, A.. (2022, January 25). Watering hole deploys new macOS malware, DazzleSpy, in Asia. Retrieved May 6, 2022. 

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