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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Few vulnerabilities in the Windows Active Directory environment have had the long-lasting impact that Service Principal Names (SPN) have.  Domain-connected services, such as MSSQL servers, web servers, and more may be connected and issued identifiers that allow Kerberos to authenticate the service account.  If a domain user account is compromised, then that account can request kerberoastable account names and their associated ticket.  That ticket can then be cracked offline, and if successful, used to access the target machine in the domain.

How Does Kerberoasting Occur?

In order to request SPNs, a domain account must be utilized to make the query. Once an account is compromised, a tool such as Bloodhound can be used to query Kerberoastable accounts from the Domain Controller.

Kerberoastable MSSQL_SVC Account
MSSQL_SVC Account Admin Rights to DC01

In the following, the user s.chisholm has been compromised, and utilizing Rubeus, a password hash for mssql_svc is obtained.

Utilizing Rubeus to Obtain Hash for MSSQL_SVC Account

This hash can then be cracked offline with a tool like Hashcat, and depending on the complexity of the password it may be cracked quickly as seen below.

Hashcat Cracking Kerberoastable Hash
Hash Cracked

Depending on the permissions granted to the service principal, it may be possible to gain access to a local machine, or in the example below, the full domain controller. 


The best mitigation against Kerberoasting is to utilize strong passwords in accordance with organization policies and industry best practices.  Event 4769 in Event Viewer will show the event information when a Kerberos service ticket is requested and where it was requested from. This can be a massive undertaking, however, and is best managed with a SIEM solution.  Finally, removing service accounts that are no longer in use will lessen the chances of a successful Kerberoasting attack.

Event Viewer Log 4769 Entry for SPN Ticket Request

How TCM Security Can Help

Our testers attempt Kerberoasting attacks on every internal penetration test.  We can work with you to ensure that active service principal accounts are necessary for operations and help identify those that are no longer needed.  Our experienced testers can help assess your organizations password policies and ensure it is strong enough to protect against the most advanced attacks.  For more information please contact us.


Blumira Defending Against Directory Kerberos Attacks
Microsoft Service Principal Names