Introduction:

Querying the Windows Security Account Manager (SAM) remotely via the SAM-Remote (SAMR) protocol against their victim’s domain machines, allows the attackers to get all domain and local users with their group membership and map possible routes within the victim’s network. Recently, some frameworks (e.g. BloodHound) have automated that mapping process.

By default, the SAM can be accessed remotely (via SAMR) by any authenticated user, including network connected users, which effectively means that any domain user is able to access it. Windows 10 had introduced an option to control the remote access to the SAM, through a specific registry value. On Windows Anniversary update (Windows 10 Version 1607) the default permissions were changed to allow remote access only to administrators. An accompanying Group Policy setting was added, which gives a user-friendly interface to alter these default permissions.

SAMR: Remote Querying of SAM

The Security Account Manager Remote Protocol (SAMR) exposes the security accounts manager database for a remote authenticated domain user. It does so for both local and domain accounts. There are five objects that are exposed by the protocol; server, domain, group, alias and user. All these objects can be updated and read, and some (user, group and alias) can also be created and deleted.

Flow and Usage

The basic flow of using the SAMR protocol is as such:

  1. Connect to a server (the remote machine).
  2. Enumerate/lookup the server for domains.
  3. Open the domain of interest.
  4. Lookup a user or alias/group in the domain.
  5. Open the user/alias of interest.
  6. Query the user/alias of interest.

There are a few tools that utilize these API calls, such as Net User/Group, PowerSploit’s Get-NetLocalGroup and Imapcket’s SAMRdump. Net User and Net Group are Windows built-in command line tools. With these tools an authenticated user can add or modify and display information on users or groups respectively on the local machine or its domain controller. The Get-NetLocalGroup queries a remote machine for its local groups (including the “Administrators” and “Users” groups). SAMRdump, queries the target machine for its local users (using the EnumDomainUsers on the target machine). MicrosoftATA detects the use of such query and alerts the security administrator about it.

Hardening SAM Remote access: https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SAMRi10-Hardening-Remote-48d94b5b

 

 

 

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