From my experience, when you find evidence of malicious activity in a log file, there is probably more somewhere else, and the actor is likely to continue using the same tools and techniques unless you detect it. Instead of just looking at lines in a log file, when you discovered a malicious activity, write a detection rule that can be applied to all your systems for retro-hunting, added to your detection stack for future events, and shared with peers and partners to benefit the greater good.

My language of choice for detecting suspicious log entries is Sigma. Sigma is to logs what Yara is to files and Snort is to network traffic. (Florian Roth)[] already shares a tremendous amount of Sigma rules that detect suspicious events but some events will be specific to your environment and your incidents. For example,

  • If you detected an abused account, you can write a detection rule that triggers on any log mentioning the account and be notified of any further event.

  • If you detected a compromised host that is used to RDP to other machines, you can write a detection rules that, when executed against the event logs of all your machines, will help you scoping the intrusion.

Because Sigma rules are source-agnostic, you can write one rule and use it to run against collected event log files, as a Kibana query or as a Sentinel KQL query. With the increasing diversity in systems, it is a bless to not have to maintain many detection rules that achieve the same logic.

To learn more about detection engineering with Sigma, I recommend the following course: Detection Engineering with Sigma that has, in my opinion, a good return on investment.

My process to develop Sigma rules against Windows Event logs:

  1. Find malicious or suspicious activity in event log entries.
  2. Characterize why the activity is suspicious, focus on your rationale for assessing that the activity is not right.
  3. Write a Sigma rules that detects the activity
  4. Run the rules against event logs that contains the suspicious activity (to confirm the rule is detecting the activity), against event logs that are known to be clean (to assess the false positive rate), and against a collection of generic event logs containing malicious activity as in the (evtx-attack-sample)[] dataset.
  5. Assess the true and false positives rates, refine and go to Step 4 until you are satisfied.

To run the rules, I use Chainsaw to run the sigma rules against EVTX files.

You first need to install and compile the tool:

$ git clone
$ cd chainsaw
$ cargo build --release

You might need to install dependencies first. On ubuntu:

$ sudo apt install cargo gcc-multilib

The tool is then available in the target/release/ folder:

$ cd target/release/
$ ./chainsaw --help

When installed you can run the rules with hunt command:

$ ./chainsaw hunt /path/to/evtx/folder/ \
    --sigma /path/to/sigma/rules/ \
    --mapping ../../mappings/sigma-event-logs-all.yml

For example, to train, we would like to run the set of “standard” Sigma rules from the (official repository)[] against the known-to-be-malicious evtx files from (evtx-attack-sample)[].

First, clone the rules and the samples

$ git clone
$ git clone 

Then, we can detect malicious activity by running the tool (I assume that your are in chainsaw/target/release folder)

$ ./chainsaw hunt /mnt/hgfs/Cases/EVTX-ATTACK-SAMPLES/ \
    --sigma /mnt/hgfs/Cases/sigma/rules \
    --mapping ../../mappings/sigma-event-logs-all.yml

Depending on your marchine it can take a while to complete. In my case, it detected quite a few log entries to check :-)

[+] 1353 Detections found on 924 documents

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