Valid Accounts: Default Accounts

Adversaries may obtain and abuse credentials of a default account as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. Default accounts are those that are built-into an OS, such as the Guest or Administrator accounts on Windows systems. Default accounts also include default factory/provider set accounts on other types of systems, software, or devices, including the root user account in AWS and the default service account in Kubernetes.[1][2][3]

Default accounts are not limited to client machines, rather also include accounts that are preset for equipment such as network devices and computer applications whether they are internal, open source, or commercial. Appliances that come preset with a username and password combination pose a serious threat to organizations that do not change it post installation, as they are easy targets for an adversary. Similarly, adversaries may also utilize publicly disclosed or stolen Private Keys or credential materials to legitimately connect to remote environments via Remote Services.[4]

ID: T1078.001
Sub-technique of:  T1078
Platforms: Azure AD, Containers, Google Workspace, IaaS, Linux, Office 365, SaaS, Windows, macOS
Permissions Required: Administrator, User
Version: 1.2
Created: 13 March 2020
Last Modified: 05 April 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0537 HyperStack

HyperStack can use default credentials to connect to IPC$ shares on remote machines.[5]

S0603 Stuxnet

Stuxnet infected WinCC machines via a hardcoded database server password.[6]

S0689 WhisperGate

The WhisperGate third stage can use the AdvancedRun.exe tool to execute commands in the context of the Windows TrustedInstaller group.[7]


ID Mitigation Description
M1027 Password Policies

Applications and appliances that utilize default username and password should be changed immediately after the installation, and before deployment to a production environment. [8]


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0028 Logon Session Logon Session Creation
DS0002 User Account User Account Authentication

Monitor whether default accounts have been activated or logged into. These audits should also include checks on any appliances and applications for default credentials or SSH keys, and if any are discovered, they should be updated immediately.