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Domain admin privilege escalation from local admin

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TITLE:
Flaw in Microsoft Domain Account Caching Allows Local Workstation Admins to Temporarily Escalate Privileges and Login as Cached Domain Admin Accounts

SUMMARY AND IMPACT:
All versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems allow real-time modifications to the Active Directory cached accounts listing stored on all Active Directory domain workstations and servers. This allows domain users that have local administrator privileges on domain assets to modify their cached accounts to masquerade as other domain users that have logged in to those domain assets. This will allow local administrators to temporarily escalate their domain privileges on domain workstations or servers. If the local administrator masquerades as an Active Directory Domain Admin account, the modified cached account is now free to modify system files and user account profiles using the identity of the Domain Admin's account. This includes creating scripts to run as the Domain Admin account the next time that they log in. All files created will not be linked to your domain account in file and folder access lists. All security access lists will only show the Domain Admin's account once you log out of the modified cached account. This leads to a number of security issues that I will not attempt to identify in the article. One major issue is the lack of non-repudiation. Editing files and other actions will be completed as another user account. Event log entries for object access will only be created if administrators are auditing successful access to files (This will lead to enormous event log sizes).

DETAILS:
Prerequisites to exploit:

#1: The user has a "Domain User" account that has administrative privileges on his/her workstation (This is a common configuration for both small and enterprise networks).
#2: The Microsoft Windows Active Directory domain has not disabled the use of Group Policy "Interactive logon: Number of previous logons to cache (in case domain controller is not available)". The default value for this setting is "10 logons".
#3: A domain/enterprise/schema/privileged administrator has logged in to the user's workstation at any time in the past (It would be very difficult to not have some type of admin from the domain login to a workstation for a number of reasons).

Use the following steps to exploit this vulnerability:

Step 1: Log in to your workstation using your Active Directory domain account. This account only needs to have administrative access to your workstation.
Step 2: Create an interactive scheduled task to run a minute after creating it. This scheduled task brings up a command prompt as the NT Authority\SYSTEM account on Windows XP, and 2003. 'at 11:24 /interactive cmd.exe'. If using Windows Vista, 7, or 2008 Server, the attacker can use the psexec tool (psexec -i -s cmd.exe).
Step 3: Once the SYSTEM command prompt comes up, open regedit from the command line.
Step 4: Browse to 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY\Cache'
Step 5: The list of "NL$1-10" records contain the cached active directory domain account sessions. To identify which account is yours, perform the following steps. Take note of all NL$ entries and entry content. Change your domain account password. Leave the SYSTEM shell and regedit application open. Log off the workstation, and then log back in to your domain account. Refresh the NL$ list. The NL$ line item that has been updated is your domain user's cached session.
Step 6: For this example, we will assume that your NL$ record is "NL$4"
Step 7: Double click on "NL$4". Take note of the four hex characters that are located in positions 1, 2, 3, and 4 on line 3 of the hex data.
Step 8: For this example, the hex characters are "5a 04". This number is the Active Directory octet string representation of your domain account's objectSID (The user account unique section of your AD Security Identifier).
Step 9: For this example, there is only one other cached account listed in the NL$ listing (NL$3). Double click on "NL$3". Take note of the four hex characters that are located in positions 1, 2, 3, and 4 on line 3 of the hex data.
Step 10: For this example, the hex characters are "59 04". This user account is "Domain\DomainAdminAcct".
Step 11: Double click on "NL$4". Replace your SID hex representation "5a 04", with DomainAdminAcct's SID hex representation "59 04".
Step 12: *Important* Disconnect all physical network connections from the workstation.
Step 13: Log off of the domain account, then log back in to your domain account.
Step 14: You will now be logged in to your modified cached account that is really the Domain Admin's account.
Step 15: You are now free to modify system files and user account profiles using the identity of the Domain Admin's account. This includes creating scripts to run as the Domain Admin account the next time that they log in. All files created will not be linked to your domain account. All security access lists will only show the Domain Admin's account once you log out of the modified cached account.
Step 16: All actions taken are indeed logged in the Security Event Log, but all actions are shown as being completed by "Domain\DomainAdminAcct". Deeper inspection of event logs will show inside the login and logout events for your modified cached account, your actual user name is listed inside the event, but not in the Security Event Log Viewer listing. Event log entries for object access will only be created if administrators are auditing successful access to files (This will lead to enormous event log sizes). These events will be listed as being performed as "Domain\DomainAdminAcct" in the event log viewer, but deeper inspection will show your true user name.

VULNERABLE PRODUCTS:
All patch levels of Windows 2003 Server, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 2008 Server.

REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
N/A

CREDITS:
StenoPlasma (at) ExploitDevelopment.com

TIMELINE:
Discovery: December 4, 2010
Vendor Notified: December 7, 2010
Vendor Fixed: N/A
Vendor Dismissed: December 9, 2010
Vendor Notified of Disclosure: December 9, 2010
Disclosed: December 9, 2010

VENDOR URL:
http://www.microsoft.com

ADVISORY URL:
http://www.ExploitDevelopment.com/Vulnerabilities/2010-M$-002.html

VENDOR ADVISORY URL:
N/A

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