CAPEC Details
Name Use of Known Domain Credentials
Likelyhood of attack Typical severity
High High
Summary An adversary guesses or obtains (i.e. steals or purchases) legitimate credentials (e.g. userID/password) to achieve authentication and to perform authorized actions under the guise of an authenticated user or service. Attacks leveraging trusted credentials typically result in the adversary laterally moving within the local network, since users are often allowed to login to systems/applications within the network using the same password. This further allows the adversary to obtain sensitive data, download/install malware on the system, pose as a legitimate user for social engineering purposes, and more. Attacks on known passwords generally rely on the primary fact that users often reuse the same username/password combination for a variety of systems, applications, and services, coupled with poor password policies on the target system or application. Adversaries can also utilize known passwords to target Single Sign On (SSO) or cloud-based applications and services, which often don't verify the authenticity of the user's input. Known credentials are usually obtained by an adversary via a system/application breach and/or by purchasing dumps of credentials on the dark web. These credentials may be further gleaned via exposed configuration and properties files that contain system passwords, database connection strings, and other sensitive data. Successful spoofing and impersonation of trusted credentials can lead to an adversary breaking authentication, authorization, and audit controls with the target system or application.
Prerequisites The system/application uses one factor password based authentication, SSO, and/or cloud-based authentication. The system/application does not have a sound password policy that is being enforced. The system/application does not implement an effective password throttling mechanism. The adversary possesses a list of known user accounts and corresponding passwords that may exist on the target.
Execution Flow
Step Phase Description Techniques
1 Explore [Acquire known credentials] The adversary must obtain known credentials in order to access the target system, application, or service.
  • An adversary purchases breached username/password combinations or leaked hashed passwords from the dark web.
  • An adversary leverages a key logger or phishing attack to steal user credentials as they are provided.
  • An adversary conducts a sniffing attack to steal credentials as they are transmitted.
  • An adversary gains access to a database and exfiltrates password hashes.
  • An adversary examines outward-facing configuration and properties files to discover hardcoded credentials.
2 Explore [Determine target's password policy] Determine the password policies of the target system/application to determine if the known credentials fit within the specified criteria.
  • Determine minimum and maximum allowed password lengths.
  • Determine format of allowed passwords (whether they are required or allowed to contain numbers, special characters, etc., or whether they are allowed to contain words from the dictionary).
  • Determine account lockout policy (a strict account lockout policy will prevent brute force attacks if multiple passwords are known for a single user account).
3 Experiment [Attempt authentication] Try each credential until the target grants access.
  • Manually or automatically enter each credential through the target's interface.
4 Exploit [Impersonate] An adversary can use successful experiments or authentications to impersonate an authorized user or system, or to laterally move within a system or application
5 Exploit [Spoofing] Malicious data can be injected into the target system or into a victim user's system by an adversary. The adversary can also pose as a legitimate user to perform social engineering attacks.
6 Exploit [Data Exfiltration] The adversary can obtain sensitive data contained within the system or application.
Solutions Leverage multi-factor authentication for all authentication services and prior to granting an entity access to the domain network. Create a strong password policy and ensure that your system enforces this policy. Ensure users are not reusing username/password combinations for multiple systems, applications, or services. Do not reuse local administrator account credentials across systems. Deny remote use of local admin credentials to log into domain systems. Do not allow accounts to be a local administrator on more than one system. Implement an intelligent password throttling mechanism. Care must be taken to assure that these mechanisms do not excessively enable account lockout attacks such as CAPEC-2. Monitor system and domain logs for abnormal credential access.
Related Weaknesses
CWE ID Description
CWE-262 Not Using Password Aging
CWE-263 Password Aging with Long Expiration
CWE-307 Improper Restriction of Excessive Authentication Attempts
CWE-308 Use of Single-factor Authentication
CWE-309 Use of Password System for Primary Authentication
CWE-522 Insufficiently Protected Credentials
CWE-654 Reliance on a Single Factor in a Security Decision
CWE-1273 Device Unlock Credential Sharing
Related CAPECS
CAPEC ID Description
CAPEC-151 Identity Spoofing refers to the action of assuming (i.e., taking on) the identity of some other entity (human or non-human) and then using that identity to accomplish a goal. An adversary may craft messages that appear to come from a different principle or use stolen / spoofed authentication credentials. Alternatively, an adversary may intercept a message from a legitimate sender and attempt to make it look like the message comes from them without changing its content. The latter form of this attack can be used to hijack credentials from legitimate users. Identity Spoofing attacks need not be limited to transmitted messages - any resource that is associated with an identity (for example, a file with a signature) can be the target of an attack where the adversary attempts to change the apparent identity. This attack differs from Content Spoofing attacks where the adversary does not wish to change the apparent identity of the message but instead wishes to change what the message says. In an Identity Spoofing attack, the adversary is attempting to change the identity of the content.
Taxonomy: ATTACK
Entry ID Entry Name
1078.001 Valid Accounts:Default Accounts
1078.002 Valid Accounts:Domain Accounts
1078.003 Valid Accounts:Local Accounts
1199 Trusted Relationship