Active Directory (Attack & Defense )

understand the specific tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) attackers are leveraging to compromise the active directory, this document is being updated regularly grabbed from different sources

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


SPN Scanning

Data Mining

User Hunting




Active Directory Federation Services

Privilege Escalation

Enumeration Tool kits

Passwords in SYSVOL & Group Policy Preferences

MS14-068 Kerberos Vulnerability


Kerberos Delegation

Unconstrained Delegation

Constrained Delegation

Resource-Based Constrained Delegation

Insecure Group Policy Object Permission Rights

Insecure ACLs Permission Rights

Domain Trusts



Microsoft SQL Server

Red Forest



Lateral Movement

Microsoft SQL Server Database links

Pass The Hash

System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)


Password Spraying

Automated Lateral Movement

Defense Evasion

In-Memory Evasion

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Evasion


Microsoft ATA & ATP Evasion

PowerShell ScriptBlock Logging Bypass

PowerShell Anti-Malware Scan Interface (AMSI) Bypass

Loading .NET Assemblies Anti-Malware Scan Interface (AMSI) Bypass

AppLocker & Device Guard Bypass

Sysmon Evasion

HoneyTokens Evasion

Disabling Security Tools

Credential Dumping

NTDS.DIT Password Extraction

SAM (Security Accounts Manager)


Kerberos AP-REP Roasting

Windows Credential Manager/Vault


LLMNR/NBT-NS Poisoning



Golden Ticket

SID History

Silver Ticket



Group Policy Object

Skeleton Keys


Security Support Provider

Directory Services Restore Mode

ACLs & Security Descriptors

Tools & Scripts

  • PowerView – Situational Awareness PowerShell framework
  • BloodHound – Six Degrees of Domain Admin
  • Impacket – Impacket is a collection of Python classes for working with network protocols
  • – Active Directory ACL exploitation with BloodHound
  • CrackMapExec – A swiss army knife for pentesting networks
  • ADACLScanner – A tool with GUI or command linte used to create reports of access control lists (DACLs) and system access control lists (SACLs) in Active Directory
  • zBang – zBang is a risk assessment tool that detects potential privileged account threats
  • SafetyKatz – SafetyKatz is a combination of slightly modified version of @gentilkiwi’s Mimikatz project and @subTee’s .NET PE Loader.
  • SharpDump – SharpDump is a C# port of PowerSploit’s Out-Minidump.ps1 functionality.
  • PowerUpSQL – A PowerShell Toolkit for Attacking SQL Server
  • Rubeus – Rubeus is a C# toolset for raw Kerberos interaction and abuses
  • ADRecon – A tool which gathers information about the Active Directory and generates a report which can provide a holistic picture of the current state of the target AD environment
  • Mimikatz – Utility to extract plaintexts passwords\, hash\, PIN code and kerberos tickets from memory but also perform pass-the-hash\, pass-the-ticket or build Golden tickets
  • Grouper – A PowerShell script for helping to find vulnerable settings in AD Group Policy.
  • Powermad – PowerShell MachineAccountQuota and DNS exploit tools
  • RACE – RACE is a PowerShell module for executing ACL attacks against Windows targets.
  • DomainPasswordSpray – DomainPasswordSpray is a tool written in PowerShell to perform a password spray attack against users of a domain.
  • MailSniper – MailSniper is a penetration testing tool for searching through email in a Microsoft Exchange environment for specific terms (passwords\, insider intel\, network architecture information\, etc.)
  • LAPSToolkit – Tool to audit and attack LAPS environments.
  • CredDefense – Credential and Red Teaming Defense for Windows Environments


Cheat Sheets

Other Resources

Defense & Detection

Tools & Scripts

  • Create-Tiers in AD – Project Title Active Directory Auto Deployment of Tiers in any environment
  • SAMRi10 – Hardening SAM Remote Access in Windows 10/Server 2016
  • Net Cease – Hardening Net Session Enumeration
  • PingCastle – A tool designed to assess quickly the Active Directory security level with a methodology based on risk assessment and a maturity framework
  • Aorato Skeleton Key Malware Remote DC Scanner – Remotely scans for the existence of the Skeleton Key Malware
  • Reset the krbtgt account password/keys – This script will enable you to reset the krbtgt account password and related keys while minimizing the likelihood of Kerberos authentication issues being caused by the operation
  • Reset The KrbTgt Account Password/Keys For RWDCs/RODCs
  • RiskySPN – RiskySPNs is a collection of PowerShell scripts focused on detecting and abusing accounts associated with SPNs (Service Principal Name).
  • Deploy-Deception – A PowerShell module to deploy active directory decoy objects
  • SpoolerScanner – Check if MS-RPRN is remotely available with powershell/c#
  • dcept – A tool for deploying and detecting use of Active Directory honeytokens
  • LogonTracer – Investigate malicious Windows logon by visualizing and analyzing Windows event log
  • DCSYNCMonitor – Monitors for DCSYNC and DCSHADOW attacks and create custom Windows Events for these events
  • Sigma – Generic Signature Format for SIEM Systems
  • Sysmon – System Monitor (Sysmon) is a Windows system service and device driver that\, once installed on a system\, remains resident across system reboots to monitor and log system activity to the Windows event log.
  • SysmonSearch – Investigate suspicious activity by visualizing Sysmon’s event log
  • ClrGuard – ClrGuard is a proof of concept project to explore instrumenting the Common Language Runtime (CLR) for security purposes.
  • Get-ClrReflection – Detects memory-only CLR (.NET) modules.
  • Get-InjectedThread – Get-InjectedThread looks at each running thread to determine if it is the result of memory injection.
  • SilkETW – SilkETW & SilkService are flexible C# wrappers for ETW\, they are meant to abstract away the complexities of ETW and give people a simple interface to perform research and introspection.

Sysmon Configuration

  • sysmon-modular – A Sysmon configuration repository for everybody to customise
  • sysmon-dfir – Sources\, configuration and how to detect evil things utilizing Microsoft Sysmon.
  • sysmon-config – Sysmon configuration file template with default high-quality event tracing

Active Directory Security Checks (by Sean Metcalf – @Pyrotek3)

General Recommendations

  • Manage local Administrator passwords (LAPS).
  • Implement RDP Restricted Admin mode (as needed).
  • Remove unsupported OSs from the network.
  • Monitor scheduled tasks on sensitive systems (DCs, etc.).
  • Ensure that OOB management passwords (DSRM) are changed regularly & securely stored.
  • Use SMB v2/v3+
  • Default domain Administrator & KRBTGT password should be changed every year & when an AD admin leaves.
  • Remove trusts that are no longer necessary & enable SID filtering as appropriate.
  • All domain authentications should be set (when possible) to: “Send NTLMv2 response onlyrefuse LM & NTLM.”
  • Block internet access for DCs, servers, & all administration systems.

Protect Admin Credentials

  • No “user” or computer accounts in admin groups.
  • Ensure all admin accounts are “sensitive & cannot be delegated”.
  • Add admin accounts to “Protected Users” group (requires Windows Server 2012 R2 Domain Controllers, 2012R2 DFL for domain protection).
  • Disable all inactive admin accounts and remove from privileged groups.

Protect AD Admin Credentials

  • Limit AD admin membership (DA, EA, Schema Admins, etc.) & only use custom delegation groups.
  • ‘Tiered’ Administration mitigating credential theft impact.
  • Ensure admins only logon to approved admin workstations & servers.
  • Leverage time-based, temporary group membership for all admin accounts

Protect Service Account Credentials

  • Limit to systems of the same security level.
  • Leverage “(Group) Managed Service Accounts” (or PW >20 characters) to mitigate credential theft (kerberoast).
  • Implement FGPP (DFL =>2008) to increase PW requirements for SAs and administrators.
  • Logon restrictions – prevent interactive logon & limit logon capability to specific computers.
  • Disable inactive SAs & remove from privileged groups.

Protect Resources

  • Segment network to protect admin & critical systems.
  • Deploy IDS to monitor the internal corporate network.
  • Network device & OOB management on separate network.

Protect Domain Controllers

  • Only run software & services to support AD.
  • Minimal groups (& users) with DC admin/logon rights.
  • Ensure patches are applied before running DCPromo (especially MS14-068 and other critical patches).
  • Validate scheduled tasks & scripts.

Protect Workstations (& Servers)

  • Patch quickly, especially privilege escalation vulnerabilities.
  • Deploy security back-port patch (KB2871997).
  • Set Wdigest reg key to 0 (KB2871997/Windows 8.1/2012R2+): HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSecurityProvidersWdigest
  • Deploy workstation whitelisting (Microsoft AppLocker) to block code exec in user folders – home dir & profile path.
  • Deploy workstation app sandboxing technology (EMET) to mitigate application memory exploits (0-days).


  • Enable enhanced auditing
  • “Audit: Force audit policy subcategory settings (Windows Vista or later) to override audit policy category settings”
  • Enable PowerShell module logging (“*”) & forward logs to central log server (WEF or other method).
  • Enable CMD Process logging & enhancement (KB3004375) and forward logs to central log server.
  • SIEM or equivalent to centralize as much log data as possible.
  • User Behavioural Analysis system for enhanced knowledge of user activity (such as Microsoft ATA).

Security Pro’s Checks

  • Identify who has AD admin rights (domain/forest).
  • Identify who can logon to Domain Controllers (& admin rights to virtual environment hosting virtual DCs).
  • Scan Active Directory Domains, OUs, AdminSDHolder, & GPOs for inappropriate custom permissions.
  • Ensure AD admins (aka Domain Admins) protect their credentials by not logging into untrusted systems (workstations).
  • Limit service account rights that are currently DA (or equivalent).

Important Security Updates

CVE-2019-1040Windows NTLM Tampering VulnerabilityA tampering vulnerability exists in Microsoft Windows when a man-in-the-middle attacker is able to successfully bypass the NTLM MIC (Message Integrity Check) protection, aka ‘Windows NTLM Tampering Vulnerability’.
CVE-2019-0683Active Directory Elevation of Privilege VulnerabilityAn elevation of privilege vulnerability exists in Active Directory Forest trusts due to a default setting that lets an attacker in the trusting forest request delegation of a TGT for an identity from the trusted forest, aka ‘Active Directory Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability’.
CVE-2019-0708Remote Desktop Services Remote Code Execution VulnerabilityA remote code execution vulnerability exists in Remote Desktop Services formerly known as Terminal Services when an unauthenticated attacker connects to the target system using RDP and sends specially crafted requests, aka ‘Remote Desktop Services Remote Code Execution Vulnerability’.
CVE-2018-8581Microsoft Exchange Server Elevation of Privilege VulnerabilityAn elevation of privilege vulnerability exists in Microsoft Exchange Server, aka “Microsoft Exchange Server Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability.” This affects Microsoft Exchange Server.
CVE-2017-0143Windows SMB Remote Code Execution VulnerabilityThe SMBv1 server in Microsoft Windows Vista SP2; Windows Server 2008 SP2 and R2 SP1; Windows 7 SP1; Windows 8.1; Windows Server 2012 Gold and R2; Windows RT 8.1; and Windows 10 Gold, 1511, and 1607; and Windows Server 2016 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via crafted packets, aka “Windows SMB Remote Code Execution Vulnerability.” This vulnerability is different from those described in CVE-2017-0144, CVE-2017-0145, CVE-2017-0146, and CVE-2017-0148.
CVE-2016-0128Windows SAM and LSAD Downgrade VulnerabilityThe SAM and LSAD protocol implementations in Microsoft Windows Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 SP2 and R2 SP1, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 Gold and R2, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows 10 Gold and 1511 do not properly establish an RPC channel, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to perform protocol-downgrade attacks and impersonate users by modifying the client-server data stream, aka “Windows SAM and LSAD Downgrade Vulnerability” or “BADLOCK.”
CVE-2014-6324Vulnerability in Kerberos Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (3011780)The Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC) in Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 SP2 and R2 SP1, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 Gold and R2 allows remote authenticated domain users to obtain domain administrator privileges via a forged signature in a ticket, as exploited in the wild in November 2014, aka “Kerberos Checksum Vulnerability.”
CVE-2014-1812Vulnerability in Group Policy Preferences could allow elevation of privilegeThe Group Policy implementation in Microsoft Windows Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 SP2 and R2 SP1, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 Gold and R2 does not properly handle distribution of passwords, which allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive credential information and consequently gain privileges by leveraging access to the SYSVOL share, as exploited in the wild in May 2014, aka “Group Policy Preferences Password Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability.”


AttackEvent ID
Account and Group Enumeration4798: A user’s local group membership was enumerated4799: A security-enabled local group membership was enumerated
AdminSDHolder4780: The ACL was set on accounts which are members of administrators groups
Kekeo4624: Account Logon4672: Admin Logon4768: Kerberos TGS Request
Silver Ticket4624: Account Logon4634: Account Logoff4672: Admin Logon
Golden Ticket4624: Account Logon4672: Admin Logon
PowerShell4103: Script Block Logging400: Engine Lifecycle403: Engine Lifecycle4103: Module Logging600: Provider Lifecycle
DCShadow4742: A computer account was changed5137: A directory service object was created5141: A directory service object was deleted4929: An Active Directory replica source naming context was removed
Skeleton Keys4673: A privileged service was called4611: A trusted logon process has been registered with the Local Security Authority4688: A new process has been created4689: A new process has exited
PYKEK MS14-0684672: Admin Logon4624: Account Logon4768: Kerberos TGS Request
Kerberoasting4769: A Kerberos ticket was requested
S4U2Proxy4769: A Kerberos ticket was requested
Lateral Movement4688: A new process has been created4689: A process has exited4624: An account was successfully logged on4625: An account failed to log on
DNSAdmin770: DNS Server plugin DLL has been loaded541: The setting serverlevelplugindll on scope . has been set to <dll path> 150: DNS Server could not load or initialize the plug-in DLL
DCSync4662: An operation was performed on an object
Password Spraying4625: An account failed to log on4771: Kerberos pre-authentication failed4648: A logon was attempted using explicit credentials


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