Credential Access

The adversary is trying to steal account names and passwords.

Credential Access consists of techniques for stealing credentials like account names and passwords. Techniques used to get credentials include keylogging or credential dumping. Using legitimate credentials can give adversaries access to systems, make them harder to detect, and provide the opportunity to create more accounts to help achieve their goals.

ID: TA0006
Created: 17 October 2018
Last Modified: 19 July 2019


Techniques: 16
ID Name Description
T1557 Adversary-in-the-Middle Adversaries may attempt to position themselves between two or more networked devices using an adversary-in-the-middle (AiTM) technique to support follow-on behaviors such as Network Sniffing or Transmitted Data Manipulation. By abusing features of common networking protocols that can determine the flow of network traffic (e.g. ARP, DNS, LLMNR, etc.), adversaries may force a device to communicate through an adversary controlled system so they can collect information or perform additional actions.
.001 LLMNR/NBT-NS Poisoning and SMB Relay By responding to LLMNR/NBT-NS network traffic, adversaries may spoof an authoritative source for name resolution to force communication with an adversary controlled system. This activity may be used to collect or relay authentication materials.
.002 ARP Cache Poisoning Adversaries may poison Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) caches to position themselves between the communication of two or more networked devices. This activity may be used to enable follow-on behaviors such as Network Sniffing or Transmitted Data Manipulation.
.003 DHCP Spoofing Adversaries may redirect network traffic to adversary-owned systems by spoofing Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) traffic and acting as a malicious DHCP server on the victim network. By achieving the adversary-in-the-middle (AiTM) position, adversaries may collect network communications, including passed credentials, especially those sent over insecure, unencrypted protocols. This may also enable follow-on behaviors such as Network Sniffing or Transmitted Data Manipulation.
T1110 Brute Force Adversaries may use brute force techniques to gain access to accounts when passwords are unknown or when password hashes are obtained. Without knowledge of the password for an account or set of accounts, an adversary may systematically guess the password using a repetitive or iterative mechanism. Brute forcing passwords can take place via interaction with a service that will check the validity of those credentials or offline against previously acquired credential data, such as password hashes.
.001 Password Guessing Adversaries with no prior knowledge of legitimate credentials within the system or environment may guess passwords to attempt access to accounts. Without knowledge of the password for an account, an adversary may opt to systematically guess the password using a repetitive or iterative mechanism. An adversary may guess login credentials without prior knowledge of system or environment passwords during an operation by using a list of common passwords. Password guessing may or may not take into account the target's policies on password complexity or use policies that may lock accounts out after a number of failed attempts.
.002 Password Cracking Adversaries may use password cracking to attempt to recover usable credentials, such as plaintext passwords, when credential material such as password hashes are obtained. OS Credential Dumping can be used to obtain password hashes, this may only get an adversary so far when Pass the Hash is not an option. Further, adversaries may leverage Data from Configuration Repository in order to obtain hashed credentials for network devices.
.003 Password Spraying Adversaries may use a single or small list of commonly used passwords against many different accounts to attempt to acquire valid account credentials. Password spraying uses one password (e.g. 'Password01'), or a small list of commonly used passwords, that may match the complexity policy of the domain. Logins are attempted with that password against many different accounts on a network to avoid account lockouts that would normally occur when brute forcing a single account with many passwords.
.004 Credential Stuffing Adversaries may use credentials obtained from breach dumps of unrelated accounts to gain access to target accounts through credential overlap. Occasionally, large numbers of username and password pairs are dumped online when a website or service is compromised and the user account credentials accessed. The information may be useful to an adversary attempting to compromise accounts by taking advantage of the tendency for users to use the same passwords across personal and business accounts.
T1555 Credentials from Password Stores Adversaries may search for common password storage locations to obtain user credentials. Passwords are stored in several places on a system, depending on the operating system or application holding the credentials. There are also specific applications that store passwords to make it easier for users manage and maintain. Once credentials are obtained, they can be used to perform lateral movement and access restricted information.
.001 Keychain Adversaries may acquire credentials from Keychain. Keychain (or Keychain Services) is the macOS credential management system that stores account names, passwords, private keys, certificates, sensitive application data, payment data, and secure notes. There are three types of Keychains: Login Keychain, System Keychain, and Local Items (iCloud) Keychain. The default Keychain is the Login Keychain, which stores user passwords and information. The System Keychain stores items accessed by the operating system, such as items shared among users on a host. The Local Items (iCloud) Keychain is used for items synced with Apple’s iCloud service.
.002 Securityd Memory An adversary may obtain root access (allowing them to read securityd’s memory), then they can scan through memory to find the correct sequence of keys in relatively few tries to decrypt the user’s logon keychain. This provides the adversary with all the plaintext passwords for users, WiFi, mail, browsers, certificates, secure notes, etc.
.003 Credentials from Web Browsers Adversaries may acquire credentials from web browsers by reading files specific to the target browser. Web browsers commonly save credentials such as website usernames and passwords so that they do not need to be entered manually in the future. Web browsers typically store the credentials in an encrypted format within a credential store; however, methods exist to extract plaintext credentials from web browsers.
.004 Windows Credential Manager Adversaries may acquire credentials from the Windows Credential Manager. The Credential Manager stores credentials for signing into websites, applications, and/or devices that request authentication through NTLM or Kerberos in Credential Lockers (previously known as Windows Vaults).
.005 Password Managers Adversaries may acquire user credentials from third-party password managers. Password managers are applications designed to store user credentials, normally in an encrypted database. Credentials are typically accessible after a user provides a master password that unlocks the database. After the database is unlocked, these credentials may be copied to memory. These databases can be stored as files on disk.
T1212 Exploitation for Credential Access Adversaries may exploit software vulnerabilities in an attempt to collect credentials. Exploitation of a software vulnerability occurs when an adversary takes advantage of a programming error in a program, service, or within the operating system software or kernel itself to execute adversary-controlled code. Credentialing and authentication mechanisms may be targeted for exploitation by adversaries as a means to gain access to useful credentials or circumvent the process to gain access to systems. One example of this is MS14-068, which targets Kerberos and can be used to forge Kerberos tickets using domain user permissions. Exploitation for credential access may also result in Privilege Escalation depending on the process targeted or credentials obtained.
T1187 Forced Authentication Adversaries may gather credential material by invoking or forcing a user to automatically provide authentication information through a mechanism in which they can intercept.
T1606 Forge Web Credentials Adversaries may forge credential materials that can be used to gain access to web applications or Internet services. Web applications and services (hosted in cloud SaaS environments or on-premise servers) often use session cookies, tokens, or other materials to authenticate and authorize user access.
.001 Web Cookies Adversaries may forge web cookies that can be used to gain access to web applications or Internet services. Web applications and services (hosted in cloud SaaS environments or on-premise servers) often use session cookies to authenticate and authorize user access.
.002 SAML Tokens An adversary may forge SAML tokens with any permissions claims and lifetimes if they possess a valid SAML token-signing certificate. The default lifetime of a SAML token is one hour, but the validity period can be specified in the NotOnOrAfter value of the conditions ... element in a token. This value can be changed using the AccessTokenLifetime in a LifetimeTokenPolicy. Forged SAML tokens enable adversaries to authenticate across services that use SAML 2.0 as an SSO (single sign-on) mechanism.
T1056 Input Capture Adversaries may use methods of capturing user input to obtain credentials or collect information. During normal system usage, users often provide credentials to various different locations, such as login pages/portals or system dialog boxes. Input capture mechanisms may be transparent to the user (e.g. Credential API Hooking) or rely on deceiving the user into providing input into what they believe to be a genuine service (e.g. Web Portal Capture).
.001 Keylogging Adversaries may log user keystrokes to intercept credentials as the user types them. Keylogging is likely to be used to acquire credentials for new access opportunities when OS Credential Dumping efforts are not effective, and may require an adversary to intercept keystrokes on a system for a substantial period of time before credentials can be successfully captured.
.002 GUI Input Capture Adversaries may mimic common operating system GUI components to prompt users for credentials with a seemingly legitimate prompt. When programs are executed that need additional privileges than are present in the current user context, it is common for the operating system to prompt the user for proper credentials to authorize the elevated privileges for the task (ex: Bypass User Account Control).
.003 Web Portal Capture Adversaries may install code on externally facing portals, such as a VPN login page, to capture and transmit credentials of users who attempt to log into the service. For example, a compromised login page may log provided user credentials before logging the user in to the service.
.004 Credential API Hooking Adversaries may hook into Windows application programming interface (API) functions to collect user credentials. Malicious hooking mechanisms may capture API calls that include parameters that reveal user authentication credentials. Unlike Keylogging, this technique focuses specifically on API functions that include parameters that reveal user credentials. Hooking involves redirecting calls to these functions and can be implemented via:
T1556 Modify Authentication Process Adversaries may modify authentication mechanisms and processes to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. The authentication process is handled by mechanisms, such as the Local Security Authentication Server (LSASS) process and the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) on Windows, pluggable authentication modules (PAM) on Unix-based systems, and authorization plugins on MacOS systems, responsible for gathering, storing, and validating credentials. By modifying an authentication process, an adversary may be able to authenticate to a service or system without using Valid Accounts.
.001 Domain Controller Authentication Adversaries may patch the authentication process on a domain controller to bypass the typical authentication mechanisms and enable access to accounts.
.002 Password Filter DLL Adversaries may register malicious password filter dynamic link libraries (DLLs) into the authentication process to acquire user credentials as they are validated.
.003 Pluggable Authentication Modules Adversaries may modify pluggable authentication modules (PAM) to access user credentials or enable otherwise unwarranted access to accounts. PAM is a modular system of configuration files, libraries, and executable files which guide authentication for many services. The most common authentication module is, which retrieves, sets, and verifies account authentication information in /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow.
.004 Network Device Authentication Adversaries may use Patch System Image to hard code a password in the operating system, thus bypassing of native authentication mechanisms for local accounts on network devices.
.005 Reversible Encryption An adversary may abuse Active Directory authentication encryption properties to gain access to credentials on Windows systems. The AllowReversiblePasswordEncryption property specifies whether reversible password encryption for an account is enabled or disabled. By default this property is disabled (instead storing user credentials as the output of one-way hashing functions) and should not be enabled unless legacy or other software require it.
T1111 Multi-Factor Authentication Interception Adversaries may target multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanisms, (I.e., smart cards, token generators, etc.) to gain access to credentials that can be used to access systems, services, and network resources. Use of MFA is recommended and provides a higher level of security than user names and passwords alone, but organizations should be aware of techniques that could be used to intercept and bypass these security mechanisms.
T1621 Multi-Factor Authentication Request Generation Adversaries may attempt to bypass multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanisms and gain access to accounts by generating MFA requests sent to users.
T1040 Network Sniffing Adversaries may sniff network traffic to capture information about an environment, including authentication material passed over the network. Network sniffing refers to using the network interface on a system to monitor or capture information sent over a wired or wireless connection. An adversary may place a network interface into promiscuous mode to passively access data in transit over the network, or use span ports to capture a larger amount of data.
T1003 OS Credential Dumping Adversaries may attempt to dump credentials to obtain account login and credential material, normally in the form of a hash or a clear text password, from the operating system and software. Credentials can then be used to perform Lateral Movement and access restricted information.
.001 LSASS Memory Adversaries may attempt to access credential material stored in the process memory of the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS). After a user logs on, the system generates and stores a variety of credential materials in LSASS process memory. These credential materials can be harvested by an administrative user or SYSTEM and used to conduct Lateral Movement using Use Alternate Authentication Material.
.002 Security Account Manager Adversaries may attempt to extract credential material from the Security Account Manager (SAM) database either through in-memory techniques or through the Windows Registry where the SAM database is stored. The SAM is a database file that contains local accounts for the host, typically those found with the net user command. Enumerating the SAM database requires SYSTEM level access.
.003 NTDS Adversaries may attempt to access or create a copy of the Active Directory domain database in order to steal credential information, as well as obtain other information about domain members such as devices, users, and access rights. By default, the NTDS file (NTDS.dit) is located in %SystemRoot%\NTDS\Ntds.dit of a domain controller.
.004 LSA Secrets Adversaries with SYSTEM access to a host may attempt to access Local Security Authority (LSA) secrets, which can contain a variety of different credential materials, such as credentials for service accounts. LSA secrets are stored in the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY\Policy\Secrets. LSA secrets can also be dumped from memory.
.005 Cached Domain Credentials Adversaries may attempt to access cached domain credentials used to allow authentication to occur in the event a domain controller is unavailable.
.006 DCSync Adversaries may attempt to access credentials and other sensitive information by abusing a Windows Domain Controller's application programming interface (API) to simulate the replication process from a remote domain controller using a technique called DCSync.
.007 Proc Filesystem Adversaries may gather credentials from information stored in the Proc filesystem or /proc. The Proc filesystem on Linux contains a great deal of information regarding the state of the running operating system. Processes running with root privileges can use this facility to scrape live memory of other running programs. If any of these programs store passwords in clear text or password hashes in memory, these values can then be harvested for either usage or brute force attacks, respectively.
.008 /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow Adversaries may attempt to dump the contents of /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow to enable offline password cracking. Most modern Linux operating systems use a combination of /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow to store user account information including password hashes in /etc/shadow. By default, /etc/shadow is only readable by the root user.
T1528 Steal Application Access Token Adversaries can steal application access tokens as a means of acquiring credentials to access remote systems and resources.
T1558 Steal or Forge Kerberos Tickets Adversaries may attempt to subvert Kerberos authentication by stealing or forging Kerberos tickets to enable Pass the Ticket. Kerberos is an authentication protocol widely used in modern Windows domain environments. In Kerberos environments, referred to as "realms", there are three basic participants: client, service, and Key Distribution Center (KDC). Clients request access to a service and through the exchange of Kerberos tickets, originating from KDC, they are granted access after having successfully authenticated. The KDC is responsible for both authentication and ticket granting. Adversaries may attempt to abuse Kerberos by stealing tickets or forging tickets to enable unauthorized access.
.001 Golden Ticket Adversaries who have the KRBTGT account password hash may forge Kerberos ticket-granting tickets (TGT), also known as a golden ticket. Golden tickets enable adversaries to generate authentication material for any account in Active Directory.
.002 Silver Ticket Adversaries who have the password hash of a target service account (e.g. SharePoint, MSSQL) may forge Kerberos ticket granting service (TGS) tickets, also known as silver tickets. Kerberos TGS tickets are also known as service tickets.
.003 Kerberoasting Adversaries may abuse a valid Kerberos ticket-granting ticket (TGT) or sniff network traffic to obtain a ticket-granting service (TGS) ticket that may be vulnerable to Brute Force.
.004 AS-REP Roasting Adversaries may reveal credentials of accounts that have disabled Kerberos preauthentication by Password Cracking Kerberos messages.
T1539 Steal Web Session Cookie An adversary may steal web application or service session cookies and use them to gain access to web applications or Internet services as an authenticated user without needing credentials. Web applications and services often use session cookies as an authentication token after a user has authenticated to a website.
T1552 Unsecured Credentials Adversaries may search compromised systems to find and obtain insecurely stored credentials. These credentials can be stored and/or misplaced in many locations on a system, including plaintext files (e.g. Bash History), operating system or application-specific repositories (e.g. Credentials in Registry), or other specialized files/artifacts (e.g. Private Keys).
.001 Credentials In Files Adversaries may search local file systems and remote file shares for files containing insecurely stored credentials. These can be files created by users to store their own credentials, shared credential stores for a group of individuals, configuration files containing passwords for a system or service, or source code/binary files containing embedded passwords.
.002 Credentials in Registry Adversaries may search the Registry on compromised systems for insecurely stored credentials. The Windows Registry stores configuration information that can be used by the system or other programs. Adversaries may query the Registry looking for credentials and passwords that have been stored for use by other programs or services. Sometimes these credentials are used for automatic logons.
.003 Bash History Adversaries may search the bash command history on compromised systems for insecurely stored credentials. Bash keeps track of the commands users type on the command-line with the "history" utility. Once a user logs out, the history is flushed to the user’s .bash_history file. For each user, this file resides at the same location: ~/.bash_history. Typically, this file keeps track of the user’s last 500 commands. Users often type usernames and passwords on the command-line as parameters to programs, which then get saved to this file when they log out. Adversaries can abuse this by looking through the file for potential credentials.
.004 Private Keys Adversaries may search for private key certificate files on compromised systems for insecurely stored credentials. Private cryptographic keys and certificates are used for authentication, encryption/decryption, and digital signatures. Common key and certificate file extensions include: .key, .pgp, .gpg, .ppk., .p12, .pem, .pfx, .cer, .p7b, .asc.
.005 Cloud Instance Metadata API Adversaries may attempt to access the Cloud Instance Metadata API to collect credentials and other sensitive data.
.006 Group Policy Preferences Adversaries may attempt to find unsecured credentials in Group Policy Preferences (GPP). GPP are tools that allow administrators to create domain policies with embedded credentials. These policies allow administrators to set local accounts.
.007 Container API Adversaries may gather credentials via APIs within a containers environment. APIs in these environments, such as the Docker API and Kubernetes APIs, allow a user to remotely manage their container resources and cluster components.