AD CS Account Persistence

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Active User Credential Theft via Certificates – PERSIST1

If the user is allowed to request a certificate that allows domain authentication, an attacker could request and steal it to maintain persistence.
The User template allows that and comes by default. However, it might be disabled. So, Certify allows you to find valid certificates to persist:
Certify.exe find /clientauth
Note that a certificate can be used for authentication as that user as long as the certificate is valid, even if the user changes their password.
From the GUI it's possible to request a certificate with certmgr.msc or via the command-line with certreq.exe.
Using Certify you can run:
Certify.exe request /ca:CA-SERVER\CA-NAME /template:TEMPLATE-NAME
The result will be a certificate + private key .pem formatted block of text
openssl pkcs12 -in cert.pem -keyex -CSP "Microsoft Enhanced Cryptographic Provider v1.0" -export -out cert.pfx
To use that certificate, one can then upload the .pfx to a target and use it with Rubeus to request a TGT for the enrolled user, for as long as the certificate is valid (default lifetime is 1 year):
Rubeus.exe asktgt /user:harmj0y /certificate:C:\Temp\cert.pfx /password:CertPass!
Combined with the technique outlined in the THEFT5 section, an attacker can also persistently obtain the account’s NTLM hash, which the attacker could use to authenticate via pass-the-hash or crack to obtain the plaintext password. This is an alternative method of long-term credential theft that does not touch LSASS and is possible from a non-elevated context.

Machine Persistence via Certificates - PERSIST2

If a certificate template allowed for Domain Computers as enrolment principals, an attacker could enrol a compromised system’s machine account. The default Machine template matches all those characteristics.
If an attacker elevates privileges on compromised system, the attacker can use the SYSTEM account to enrol in certificate templates that grant enrolment privileges to machine accounts (more information in THEFT3).
You can use Certify to gather a certificate for the machine account elevating automatically to SYSTEM with:
Certify.exe request /ca:dc.theshire.local/theshire-DC-CA /template:Machine /machine
Note that with access to a machine account certificate, the attacker can then authenticate to Kerberos as the machine account. Using S4U2Self, an attacker can then obtain a Kerberos service ticket to any service on the host (e.g., CIFS, HTTP, RPCSS, etc.) as any user.
Ultimately, this gives an attack a machine persistence method.

Account Persistence via Certificate Renewal - PERSIST3

Certificate templates have a Validity Period which determines how long an issued certificate can be used, as well as a Renewal period (usually 6 weeks). This is a window of time before the certificate expires where an account can renew it from the issuing certificate authority.
If an attacker compromises a certificate capable of domain authentication through theft or malicious enrolment, the attacker can authenticate to AD for the duration of the certificate’s validity period. The attacker, however, can renew the certificate before expiration. This can function as an extended persistence approach that prevents additional ticket enrolments from being requested, which can leave artifacts on the CA server itself.
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