Today Active Directory Security is mission-critical to organizational security worldwide and thus mission-critical to Cyber Security worldwide. On this blog, former Microsoft Program Manager for Active Directory Security, and today, CEO of Paramount Defenses, shares valuable technical insights on Active Directory Security.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Coming Soon... How to Thwart Sneaky Persistence in Active Directory


As I briefly mentioned earlier, a few weeks ago, at the Black Hat Conference 2017 (which we skipped) on Cyber Security, two fine gentlemen made an interesting presentation titled An ACE Up The Sleeve - Designing Active Directory DACL Backdoors.

In this presentation, a whitepaper on which can now be downloaded from here, its authors have presented what may seem like a ground-breaking revelation to those uninitiated to the subject, but what in reality is actually just Active Directory Security 101.

With full respect to its authors, I will say that for someone who may have been relatively new to this subject (which most cyber security pen testers, ethical hackers and hackers are these days) and coming from a mainstream pen-testing/attack background (i.e. generally focused on and employing local credential-theft attack-vectors) they got close to actual sneaky persistence in AD.

Incredulously and amazingly, perhaps because a majority of cyber security experts (both, defenders and attackers) and IT pros may not know Active Directory Security that well, this presentation has been garnering a lot of attention, including at Microsoft.

Here's proof - In the last ONE month alone, Microsoft's Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) Team has published TWO blog posts in response to this presentation (on Sep 18 here and on Oct 11 here), so this clearly seems to have Microsoft's attention!

Speaking of which, here's a quote from Microsoft's latest blog post regarding this topic/presentation - "In general, this is a very important goal for an attacker and is a big part of a successful mission performed either by a nation state or by a hacker group."

Wow!   Hmm.    Keep reading ;-)

How to Easily Thwart Sneaky Persistence in Active Directory

I may no longer officially be an employee of Microsoft, but I am former Microsoft Program Manager for Active Directory Security, and just because I work for a different company now, that neither diminishes my knowledge nor my passion to help the world.

So, in a few days, right here, to help organizations worldwide, including to help my fine colleagues at Microsoft who seem to be struggling to figure out how to deal with this, I will share just how EASY it is to thwart sneaky persistence in Active Directory -

If you truly understand Active Directory Security, then you know that there are far greater challenges facing most organizations worldwide, so to help put this behind them, and to adequately address that whitepaper, I'll pen an insightful post on the subject.

BTW, in the whitepaper, regarding Defenses, the authors state - "Some defenders may believe the detection of these types of backdoors is a lost cause... ...the primary method for detection and investigation remains properly tuned event logs for DCs...  ... one interesting defensive tool is the use of AD replication metadata." etc. It appears these wonderful folks are trying too hard!

Oh, and the most amusing part is to see Microsoft try even harder, and I'm quoting this verbatim from here - "This does sound like an issue..., this made me think - Is there a way we can identify all the objects to which I don't have permissions?;-)

This one's actually quite simple.  The answer, coming up, in a few days...


CEO, Paramount Defenses

Update - October 24, 2017 > Here it is - How To Easily Identify & Thwart Sneaky Persistence in Active Directory

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