T1543.001 Launch Agent Mappings

Adversaries may create or modify launch agents to repeatedly execute malicious payloads as part of persistence. Per Apple’s developer documentation, 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) files found in <code>/System/Library/LaunchAgents</code>, <code>/Library/LaunchAgents</code>, and <code>$HOME/Library/LaunchAgents</code> (Citation: AppleDocs Launch Agent Daemons) (Citation: OSX Keydnap malware) (Citation: Antiquated Mac Malware). These launch agents have property list files which point to the executables that will be launched (Citation: OSX.Dok Malware).

Adversaries may install a new launch agent that can be configured to execute at login by using launchd or launchctl to load a plist into the appropriate directories (Citation: Sofacy Komplex Trojan) (Citation: Methods of Mac Malware Persistence). The agent name may be disguised by using a name from a related operating system or benign software. Launch Agents are created with user level privileges and are executed with the privileges of the user when they log in (Citation: OSX Malware Detection) (Citation: OceanLotus for OS X). They can be set up to execute when a specific user logs in (in the specific user’s directory structure) or when any user logs in (which requires administrator privileges).



Capability ID Capability Description Mapping Type ATT&CK ID ATT&CK Name
AC-2 Account Management Protects T1543.001 Launch Agent
AC-3 Access Enforcement Protects T1543.001 Launch Agent
AC-5 Separation of Duties Protects T1543.001 Launch Agent
AC-6 Least Privilege Protects T1543.001 Launch Agent
CM-11 User-installed Software Protects T1543.001 Launch Agent
CM-5 Access Restrictions for Change Protects T1543.001 Launch Agent
IA-2 Identification and Authentication (organizational Users) Protects T1543.001 Launch Agent
action.hacking.variety.Abuse of functionality Abuse of functionality related-to T1543.001 Create or Modify System Process: Launch Agent