Gaining Root Access
to Your Network
June 24, 2014
Tim Slaybaugh
Cyber Incident Analyst
Northrop Grumman Information Systems
What is Pass-The-Hash?
“Attackers using PtH completely compromise just
about every network they hit. Pretty much every
APT attack team uses them.”
– Roger Grimes, InfoWorld
What is Pass-The-Hash?
• First published in 1997 by Paul Ashton
• Allows the use of LM and NTLM hashes to
authenticate to a remote host
• Passwords do not need to be cracked
• Hashes can be harvested from the physical disk or
How does Pass-The-Hash work?
• Requires admin privileges, therefore an exploit has to be
run to gain access
• Injects into the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service
(LSASS) process to access hashes in memory
• Grabs locally stored hashes from SAM registry hive.
• Smartcard credentials and Kerberos tickets can be
harvested also!
Pass-The-Hash and Smartcards
• Smart card credentials are cached in an identical manner
as passwords.
• Systems that allow both Smartcard or password logons
store smartcard credentials for a very long time
• Systems that require smartcard only logon will periodically
change the hash.
Pass-The-Hash Tools: PWDump
• Latest version is PWDump 7.1
• Author: Andres Tarasco Acuna
• Dumps the local SAM hive
• Uses syskey key from SYSTEM hive to dump LM and
NTLM hashes
• Statically links the OpenSSL library, libeay32.dll
• PWDump 6 links lsremora.dll
PWDump runs from the command line and dumps LM
and NTLM hashes from the local SAM hive.
PWDump with dependency, libeay32.dll in $LogFile
PWDump in AV signature database
Keywords used to identify PWDump activity:
• Error reading hive root key
• Andres Tarasco Acuna
• savedump.dat
• Error opening sam hive
• raw password extractor
Pass-The-Hash Tools: Mimikatz
• Author: Benjamin Delpy
• Support for both x86 and 64bit systems
• Requires sekurLSA.dll to run
• Extracts hashes and cleartext passwords
Unlike most PTH tools, Mimikatz will run from the root of
Mimikatz hooks the System
Service Descriptor Table
(SSDT) similar to rootkit
Hooks lsass.exe
Runs from across the
network via PSEXECSVC
Looking at mimikatz.exe using Volatility plugin ‘handles’
‘Handles’ will also identify this hook into the Local
Security Authority Subsystem Service (lsass.exe).
Mimikatz.exe and conhost.exe start up at the same time
indicating that mimikatz is likely being controlled through
an interactive console.
Console activity can be recovered from memory.
Mimikatz is logged in the Windows power configuration
file, ‘energy-ntkl.etl’.
From Memory
Keywords used to identify Mimikatz activity:
• Benjamin DELPY
• gentilkiwi
• sekurlsa
• kiwissp.log
• Pass-the-Ticket
Pass-The-Hash Tools: gsecdump
• Johannes Gumbel, Truesec
• Freeware
• Latest version is 2.0b5
• Extracts hashes from SAM, Active Directory and active
logon sessions
• Works with both x86 and 64bit systems
Keywords used to identify gsecdump activity:
• Johannes Gumbel
• Truesec
• dump_usedhashes
• crap!
• gsecdump
Pass-The-Hash Tools: PSHToolkit
• Author: Hernan Ochoa, Core Labs
• Latest version, 1.4
• Toolkit contains three tools: iam.exe, whosthere.exe and
• Iam.exe is used to change/modify NTLM credentials in memory
• Whosthere.exe is used to list logon sessions that are using
NTLM credentials
• Genhash.exe used to test iam.exe
PSH Toolkit
Iam.dll requires a dependent library, iamdll.dll
Strings extracted from the iamdll.dll indicate that it
is capable of changing NTLM credentials.
PSH Toolkit
Indicators of the PSH Toolkit can be found in several
Windows metadata files like $LogFile seen above.
PSH Toolkit
Keywords used to identify PSH Toolkit activity:
• Hernan Ochoa
• ChangeCreds
• GenHash
• iamdll.dll
• pth.dll
Pass-The-Hash Tools: Windows Credential
• Author: Hernan Ochoa, Amplia Security
• Latest release is 1.42 beta
• Support for both x86 and 64bit systems
• Extracts NTLM credentials from memory as well as
Kerberos tickets and cleartext passwords
Windows Credential Editor
Windows Time Stamp
Library called by
• RecentFileCache.bcf is part of Windows Application
Experience and Compatibility feature.
Windows Credential Editor
Wceaux.dll is dropped in the user’s AppData\Local\Temp
Windows Credential Editor
BootCKCL.etl located at %System32%\WDI\LogFiles
generates a boot trace each time a profile logs on.
WCE.EXE shows up if it is set for persistence.
Windows Credential Editor
Windows Credential Editor set for persistence with the –r
Windows Credential Editor
WCE injects into the lsass.exe process every five
seconds to dump user credentials.
Windows Credential Editor
• WCE.EXE will also generate output files for password
hashes (credentials.txt) and Kerberos tickets
Windows Credential Editor
Keywords used to identify WCE.EXE activity:
• Hernan Ochoa
• \\.\pipe\WCEServicePipe
• Dump Kerberos tickets to file
• Getlsasrvaddr.exe
APIs Associated with Pass-The-Hash
• SamLookupDomainInSamServer
• NlpGetPrimaryCredential
• LsaEnumerateLogonSessions
• SamrOpenDomain
• SamrOpenUser
• SamIGetPrivateData
• SamrQueryInformationUser
• SamIConnect
• SamRidToSid
They have my hash. Where do they go from
Scenarios for Pass-The-Hash:
• Dump all hashes on local system looking for admin privileges.
• Remote Admin support
• Local Admin
• Help Desk support
• Patches and updates
• Database logons
Was Pass-The-Hash used on your system?
• Grep \:[0-9,A-F,a-f]{32,32}\:[0-9,A-F,a-f]{32,32}
• Grep \:[0-9,A-W,a-f,\*,\x00]{32,32}\:[0-9,A-F,a-f]{32,32}
Was Pass-The-Hash used on your system?
Grep for hashes in memory also!
Was Pass-The-Hash used on your network?
• SMB connections over ports 139/445 to a writeable share
(e.g. C$, admin$)
• Client then accesses svcctl named pipe through SMB
• Malware files are transferred, usually an EXE and a DLL
• Connection to Windows Service Control Manager (SCM)
remote protocol
• SCM will run under services.exe
Network Activity
Call stack of a server side RPC call. This connection
was initiated from a remote system.
Data was recovered from ‘pagefile.sys’.
Named Pipes as Attack Vectors
Security = Impersonation Dynamic
False – User has full privileges
pipe\svcctl – access to
all processes running
Remote connection from mimikatz.exe via named pipe
Named Pipes as Attack Vectors
The lsarpc interface is used to communicate with the
Local Security Authority
Named Pipes as Attack Vectors
Output from the Volatility plugin, ‘handles’ give clear
indication of mimikatz being executed across the
network via a PSEXESVC named pipe.
Named Pipes as Attack Vectors
Require SMB Security Signatures
s\LanManServer\Parameters\RequireSecuritySignature "0"
Proprietary services and Named Pipes
Windows Credential Editor connects using a named pipe
for its own proprietary service.
Event Logs
Connections can often be correlated through local
system event logs
Event Logs
Access to the share
with System level
Access to all
services running on
the system
Pass-The-Hash and Windows 8.1
• Domain Accounts do not store plaintext passwords in
• Restricted Admin RDP uses only network authentication –
No credentials left on the remote box
• Protected users using Kerberos authentication cannot be
• Authentication silos introduced
Pass-The-Hash and Windows 8.1
• LSASS runs as a protected process
• LM Hashes are not stored in memory
• New SIDs for the “Local Account”
• Use Kerberos authentication package
• Enforce a password policy of a 14 character
• Remove or limit access to Windows shares
• Disable the remote registry service
• Limit the possibility of DLL injection by
removing users and groups from the ‘Debug
Programs’ policy setting (SeDebugPrivilege)
• Use NTLMv2 over NTLM if you cannot use
• Use console tools like Tivoli for remote
• Use two factor authentication
• Protected Users Group
–NTLM is not used. Kerberos or third party
SSP is required
–Kerberos tickets have a shorter life span
–Windows Digest is not cached
• Delfy, B. (2012). Blog de Gentil Kiwi/Mimikatz. Retrieved from
• Ewaida, B. (2010). Pass-the-hash attacks: Tools and Mitigation.
SANS Institute.
• Gumbel, J. (2010). Gsecdump v2.0b5. Retrieved from URL.
• Hummel, C. (2009). Why Crack When You Can Pass The Hash?
SANS Institute.
• Microsoft Corp, (2014) Microsoft Developer Network,
• National Security Agency/Central Security Service (2013).
Reducing the Effectiveness of Pass-The-Hash.
• Ochoa, H. (2011). Windows Credential Editor. Amplia Security.
Retrieved from URL.
• Sanders, C. (2010). Dissecting the Pass The Hash attack. Retrieved
from URL.
• Tarasco Acuna, A. (2010). Password Dumper pwdump7 (v7.1).
Retrieved from URL.
• Vipzen (2014). Sorry, Microsoft: Pass The Hash on Windows 8.1 still
works. Retrieved from URL.
Thank You!
[email protected]

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