Uncover and Close Active Directory Attack Paths

Cybercriminals exploit common Active Directory attack vectors

Active Directory is the soft underbelly of hybrid identity security. It’s a prime target for cybercriminals who exploit this 20-plus-year-old technology to gain access to their victims’ critical data and systems, typically by repeatedly using tried-and-true attack paths. Active Directory is often the common denominator in disastrous, high-profile malware incidents—including SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline, and PrintNightmare.

To effectively defend against Active Directory attacks, you need to anticipate the adversaries’ advances and thwart attacks at every stage of the cyber kill chain. However, traditional monitoring tools often lack the AD-centric detection methods that are required to catch sophisticated identity attacks.

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Most ransomware attacks involve manipulating Active Directory


80% of security breaches involve privileged access abuse


Active Directory is the prime target for attackers seeking to obtain administrator access


90%+ of all organizations use Active Directory


Active Directory is easy to exploit and is rarely properly secured

Anticipate and thwart Active Directory attacks at every stage of the cyber kill chain.

Securing Active Directory is difficult given its constant flux, the sheer number of settings, and increasingly sophisticated threat landscape. AD’s default configuration is easy to exploit, and closing every AD security gap is challenging. Hacking tools such as BloodHound, PowerSploit, and Mimikatz make it easy for attackers to exploit Active Directory and breach information systems. The attack paths vary, but they all exploit AD. Here are some of the tactics cybercriminals use to exploit AD:

  • Using BloodHound to identify attack paths and find the easiest way to elevate privileges in Active Directory
  • Targeting the AdminSDHolder object to modify the Access Control List (ACL) and change permissions on privileged objects
  • Launching Golden Ticket attacks, which target Kerberos to forge logon tickets to escalate privileges

Most of these attack paths can be closed with systematic monitoring of Active Directory misconfigurations and unwanted changes. Analysis from the Purple Knight free security assessment tool (built by Semperis identity experts) revealed that the most organizations fail to adequately secure their AD environments. The Purple Knight tool scans environments for more than 60 Indicators of Exposure (IOEs) and Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) and generates a scorecard. Initial scores averaged 61%—a barely passing grade. The weakest area was Kerberos security at 43%, followed by Group Policy security at 58%. Every indicator flagged by Purple Knight is a potential attack path for bad actors.

“You’d have to be living under a rock for the past year in order to have missed the significant cyber security events that have happened on a week-to week-basis. We spend a lot of time talking about the novel ways bad guys attack, but in reality, the threat actors are not in it to find novel ways; they just want to get in—and the superhighway for threat actors is Active Directory.”

Sean Deuby | Director of Services

Uncover and Obstruct AD-based Attack Paths

The remedy for Active Directory cyberattacks is to implement a security program that recognizes AD as a prime target and guards against AD exploits. An effective Active Directory security solution:

  • Offers full coverage across the entire attack life cycle—before, during, and after an attack
  • Continuously monitors AD for IOEs and IOCs.
  • Provides full visibility into shadow attacks that SIEMs often miss
  • Locks down sensitive accounts with auto-remediation capabilities
  • Detects advanced attacks by shining a spotlight on attackers moving laterally through your network
  • Proactively hardens your AD against new adversary tactics and techniques with built-in threat intelligence from a community of security researchers
  • Reveals attack paths by searching, correlating, and undoing Active Directory changes at the object and attribute level

Learn how to find indicators of exposure and stop attackers cold

Now's the Time to Rethink Active Directory Security

Do You Know Your AD Security Vulnerabilities?

“Great product for peace of mind when protecting your Active Directory.” 

—Microsoft Systems Engineer, Infrastructure & Operations, $500M+ Services Company 

 See the full review on Gartner Peer Insights