Active Directory Penetration Testing Checklist – 2023

This article covers Active directory penetration testing that can help penetration testers and security experts who want to secure their networks.

Performing a penetration test on Active Directory helps identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.

Active Directory Pentesting” Called as “AD penetration Testing” is a directory service that Microsoft developed for the Windows domain network. Using it you can control domain computers and services that are running on every node of your domain.

What is Active Directory Penetration Testing?

Active Directory (AD) is a popular directory service used by organizations to manage their network resources and user accounts. Penetration testing is an important aspect of securing any IT infrastructure, including AD.

Penetration testing is an important aspect of securing any IT infrastructure, including AD. Performing a penetration test on Active Directory helps identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.

Also Read: Active Directory Kill Chain Attack & Defense Guide

Active Directory Penetration Testing

In this section, we have some levels, the first level is a reconnaissance of your network. every user can enter a domain by having an account in the domain controller (DC).

All this information is just gathered by the user that is an AD user. In the username, there are two parts the first is the domain name and the second part is your username. like below :

Reconnaissance Commands:

+             c:\ > net user

By running this command in CMD (Command Prompt) you can easily see local users on your PC.

+             c:\ >whoami

This command can help you to see the current user associated with Active Directory logged in.

+             c:\ >whoami /groups

This command helps you to show the current group

+             c:\ > net user \domain

This command shows you all users from any group in the active directory.
also, you can see every user’s group by running this command :

+             c:\ > net user [username] domain.

To have a better look, you can use the “AD Recon” script. AD Recon is a script written by “Sense of Security“.

It uses about 12 thousand lines of PowerShell script that gives you a good look at AD and all info that you will need it.

You can download this script from GitHub: https://github.com/sense-of-security/ADRecon screenshots of the report of this app:

Picture2 – List of AD Groups
Picture3 – List of DNS Record Zones

When you get all AD users, now you should take a look at the group policy.

The group policy is a feature of the Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems that controls the working environment of user accounts and computer accounts.

In the group policy, you can see environmental policies such as the “Account Lockout Policy“.

It is a method that provides your network’s users to be secure from password-guessing attacks.

Also, you can see the “Password Policy“. A password policy is a set of rules designed to enhance computer security by encouraging users to employ strong passwords and use them properly.

When you get all the data that you need, now you can execute different attacks on users like :

Brute Force Active Directory

To brute force an attack on an active directory, you can use Metasploit Framework auxiliaries. You can use the below auxiliary:

msf > use auxiliary/scanner/smb/smb_login

The options of this auxiliary you can set the username file and password file. and set an IP that has SMB service open.

then you can run this auxiliary by entering the “run” command.

If you try false passwords more than Account Lockout Policy, you can see this message “Account Has Been Locked out“.

If you try it on all accounts, all users will be disabled and you can see disorder in the network. As you can see in the Password Policy, you can set your password list to brute-force.

All hashes are stored in a file named “NTDS.dit” in this location :

C:\Windows\NTDS

You will extract hashes from this file by using mimikatz. mimikatz has a feature that utilizes the Directory Replication Service (DRS) to retrieve password hashes from NTDS.DIT file. you can run it as you can see below :
mimikatz # lsadump::dcsync /domain:pentestlab.local /all /csv

Then you can see hashes and passwords (if the password can be found).

The active directory includes several services that run on Windows servers, it includes user groups, applications, printers, and other resources.

It helps server administrators to manage devices connected with the network and it includes a number of services such as Domain, Certificate Services, Lightweight Directory Services, Directory Federation, and rights management.

Active directory penetration testing is required for any organization, nowadays APT groups actively target Active Directories using different techniques.

Priya James

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