Valid Accounts: Local Accounts

Adversaries may obtain and abuse credentials of a local account as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. Local accounts are those configured by an organization for use by users, remote support, services, or for administration on a single system or service.

Local Accounts may also be abused to elevate privileges and harvest credentials through OS Credential Dumping. Password reuse may allow the abuse of local accounts across a set of machines on a network for the purposes of Privilege Escalation and Lateral Movement.

ID: T1078.003
Sub-technique of:  T1078
Platforms: Containers, Linux, Windows, macOS
Permissions Required: Administrator, User
Version: 1.2
Created: 13 March 2020
Last Modified: 18 October 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0016 APT29

APT29 has used compromised local accounts to access victims' networks.[1]

G0050 APT32

APT32 has used legitimate local admin account credentials.[2]

S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike can use known credentials to run commands and spawn processes as a local user account.[3][4]

S0367 Emotet

Emotet can brute force a local admin password, then use it to facilitate lateral movement.[5]

G0051 FIN10

FIN10 has moved laterally using the Local Administrator account.[6]


HAFNIUM has used the NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM account to create files on Exchange servers.[7]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has used a tool called GREASE to add a Windows admin account in order to allow them continued access via RDP.[8]

S0368 NotPetya

NotPetya can use valid credentials with PsExec or wmic to spread itself to remote systems.[9][10]

G0116 Operation Wocao

Operation Wocao has used local account credentials found during the intrusion for lateral movement and privilege escalation.[11]


PROMETHIUM has created admin accounts on a compromised host.[12]

G0081 Tropic Trooper

Tropic Trooper has used known administrator account credentials to execute the backdoor directly.[13]

G0010 Turla

Turla has abused local accounts that have the same password across the victim’s network.[14]

S0221 Umbreon

Umbreon creates valid local users to provide access to the system.[15]


ID Mitigation Description
M1027 Password Policies

Ensure that local administrator accounts have complex, unique passwords across all systems on the network.

M1026 Privileged Account Management

Audit local accounts permission levels routinely to look for situations that could allow an adversary to gain wide access by obtaining credentials of a privileged account. [16] [17] These audits should check if new local accounts are created that have not be authorized. Implementing LAPS may help prevent reuse of local administrator credentials across a domain.[18]


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

Perform regular audits of local system accounts to detect accounts that may have been created by an adversary for persistence. Look for suspicious account behavior, such as accounts logged in at odd times or outside of business hours.