SANS Digital Forensics and Incident Response Blog

WMIC for incident response

Earlier this week, I posted about using psexec during incident response. I mentioned at the end of that post that I've been using WMIC in place of psexec and that I'd have more on that later. This post, is a follow up to the psexec post.


Prompted by the excellent work of Ed Skoudis and his part in the Command Line Kung Fu blog, as well as a really nice webcast he did a few years ago titled Essential Windows Command-Line Kung Fu for Info Sec Pros and an Internet Storm Center article from the same year, I've come to rely on WMIC for a large number of IR tasks. It provides much of the functionality of PsExec, as well as a lot of additional functionality, and it does so without ever sending the password in the clear. Instead, authentication is performed via native Windows network authentication methods.

The WMIC tool was introduced in Windows XP Professional and has been included in every version of Windows since. Furthermore, it can be used to manage every Windows version since Window 95, although 9x and NT require the Microsoft WMI Core add-on to be installed.

Unfortunately there is not a lot of detailed documentation on WMIC. Ed has arguably produced much more and much better documentation than Microsoft, or anyone else for that matter, so the links above to Ed's resources are your best bet for digging deeper into its capabilities.

For my purposes, the following are several WMIC examples which I find very useful.

The first couple of examples are useful for enterprise forensic purposes, where the responder's goal is to deploy an agent:

? For EnCase Enterprise users, here's a method to deploy the servlet (named Setup.exe, which has been copied to the remote machine via ?xcopy Setup.exe \\remote-host\c$\Windows\Temp'):

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> process call create "C:\Windows\Temp\Setup.exe <-n process name> <-l port >"

? For FTK users, here's a method to deploy the agent (FTKAgent.exe and InvestigatorCert.crt have been copied to the remote machine via xcopy):

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> process call create "C:\Windows\Temp\FTKAgent.exe —cert InvestigatorCert.crt —port 3999 —timeout 20"

The rest of the examples are useful for incident response. Many of these were taken directly from Ed's ISC article linked above.

? Examine Auto Start processes:

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> startup list full

? Find who is logged on to a computer's console:

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> ComputerSystem Get UserName

? Query local user accounts:

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> useraccount list full

? Find the path to a specific running executable and its parent process (for all, leave off ?where name='):

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> process where get ExecutablePath,parentprocessid

? Find command line invocation of a specific executable as well as the creation time for the process (for all, leave off ?where name='). Reference this Microsoft TechNet article for converting the time:

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> process where get name,processid,commandline,creationdate

? Find status of a specific service?note that 'caption' is needed in the where clause, but it is actually the 'displayname' (for all, leave off ?where caption='):

wmic /node:<remote-ip> /user:<username> service where caption="PsExec" get displayname,startname,state,status,startmode

This is by no means an exhaustive list of useful WMIC commands. I've found that you can do just about anything with it with respect to querying a machine or starting and stopping processes and services. The one thing it doesn't do is interactive access, which is why the use of PsExec can still be useful on occasion.

Mike Pilkington, GCFA, EnCE, is a Sr. Security Analyst and Lead Incident Responder for a global Fortune 500 company in Houston, TX, as well as a SANS Mentor.  Visit for more on Mike's activities and SANS Mentor schedule.


Posted June 4, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Reply


Just out of curiosity, has wmic been tested with specific malware installed to determine if malware was able to hook the requests? For example, will processes hidden to task manager also be hidden to WMIC? Will reg keys hidden to regedit be hidden from WMIC? Just curious how much the tool could be relied upon.

Posted June 5, 2010 at 1:45 AM | Permalink | Reply


Im currently looking for a tool or process that will help find a virus in a machine that the antivirus can't. Recently, Ive use Process Explorer, Autorun and TCPview, Cacls command to achieve this. however I believe there is a more technical way to find a virus without using any antivirus. I wonder if PsExc and WMIC can go deeper to achieve this or any suggestion will help? This is very helpful in finding a malware in a virus outbreak environment

Posted June 6, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

justin hall

i recently wrote up a couple of scripts to use WMIC to perform live response against suspect hosts. nothing too fancy ''" they grab common data we use during analysis. the zipfile contains a script that can be run from the suspect host and one that uses /node to hit a remote host, provided you have admin privileges on the machine.
they're free to download from additional notes are in the script's comments. feel free to redistribute, modify, etc. enjoy!

Posted June 7, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

Dave Hull

Justin, these are great. Thank you for sharing them.