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What is Mimikatz? How to Protect Yourself From this Credential Theft?

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PUREVPNOnline SecurityWhat is Mimikatz? How to Protect Yourself From this Credential Theft?

Do you know that 96% of common passwords can be cracked by hacking tools in less than one second?

Now, what are these hacking tools? 

These tools provide new strategies for malicious actors to compromise system security and steal sensitive data. One such device that has gained notoriety in recent years and ranked 5th in threat detection research is Mimikatz. 

In this article, we’re going to explore what Mimikatz is, the way it works, and the significant risks it poses to companies and individuals.

What is Mimikatz

What is Mimikatz?

Mimikatz is a powerful exploitation device initially developed by French security researcher Benjamin Delpy. Its primary reason is to extract sensitive data, specifically authentication credentials, and passwords, from Windows-based working structures.

This device has legitimate packages because it was created at the start to assist gadget administrators and protection experts to identify vulnerabilities in their systems. However, it has now been weaponized via cybercriminals for evil functions.

How has Mimikatz evolved since its creation?

Since its creation, Mimikatz has evolved from a proof-of-concept application to an effective platform for compromising personal credentials. Here are some key points on how Mimikatz has evolved:

Original Purpose

Mimikatz was at first evolved by French researcher Benjamin Delpy with a concept to demonstrate a flaw in Microsoft’s authentication protocols. It was designed to expose how passwords and other authentication tokens might be extracted from Windows endpoints.

Widespread Use

Mimikatz, by accident, has become one of the most broadly used and downloaded dangerous applications in the past twenty years. 

It is now used by hackers to assault authentication mechanisms on Microsoft-based endpoints, as well as with the aid of penetration testers and safety groups of workers to evaluate vulnerability to these kinds of attacks.

Expanded Functionality

Mimikatz has evolved to expose numerous distinct types of vulnerabilities and can carry out various credential-gathering techniques. These encompass dumped passwords from memory extracting hashes, PINs, and Kerberos tickets.

Maintenance and Updates

Mimikatz is still maintained by using Delpy, and new variations are constantly developed to keep up with updates to Windows running systems. You can download the brand-new variations on GitHub.

Inclusion in Malicious Threat Kits

Mimikatz has been included in famous malicious hazard kits, including NotPetya and BadRabbit, which in addition make a contribution to its extensive use in cyberattacks.

Double-Edged Nature

Mimikatz is considered a double-edged sword, as it can be used for legitimate purposes and malicious activities. Its effectiveness and potential for damage have made it a large tool inside the cybersecurity panorama.

How Does Mimikatz Work?

Mimikatz capitalizes on inherent weaknesses in the Windows operating device’s handling credentials. It can be utilized in several ways, relying on the attacker’s goals:

Pass-the-Hash (PtH) Attack

Mimikatz can extract hashed password information from the Windows Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) memory. These hashed values can then be used to authenticate to other systems, successfully bypassing the need for the actual password.

Pass-the-Ticket (PtT) Attack

This attack entails extracting Ticket Granting Tickets (TGTs) from LSASS memory, which might be a part of the Kerberos authentication device utilized in Windows networks. 

Attackers can then reuse those tickets to impersonate customers and get unauthorized access to system resources.

Overpass-the-Hash Attack

Mimikatz can control the Kerberos price tag via replacing the unique hash with a new one, granting attackers the potential to forge authentication tokens and get entry to systems undetected.

Golden Ticket Attack

By compromising the encryption keys utilized by the Key Distribution Center (KDC) in a Windows Active Directory environment, attackers can create “Golden Tickets.” These tickets grant them chronic and unrestricted entry to network resources.

The Mimikatz Risk: What You Need to Know

Here are the reasons why Mimikatz presents big risks to companies and people:

Credential Theft

The primary goal of Mimikatz is to borrow authentication credentials, which include usernames and passwords. Once compromised, these credentials may be used to get access to sensitive systems, records, and packages.

Lateral Movement

Attackers can use the stolen credentials to transport laterally inside a network, escalating privileges and compromising structures. This can cause complete-scale network breaches.

Persistence

Mimikatz allows attackers to hold patience within a compromised device, making it difficult for security teams to detect and put off the danger.

Unauthorized Access

The tool can be used to benefit unauthorized entry to critical infrastructure, highbrow property, and sensitive data, potentially inflicting financial and reputational damage.

How Mimikatz Has Devastated Organizations

Mimikatz has left an extensive mark on the cybersecurity panorama, with several incidents showcasing its effectiveness in cyberattacks. Here are some high-profile instances that spotlight the tool’s effect and the ensuing economic and reputational results for companies:

Equifax Data Breach (2017)

In one of the most notorious information breaches in records, cybercriminals exploited a vulnerability in Equifax’s website software program. They used Mimikatz to steal sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers and economic statistics, of almost 147 million people.

The breach had extreme financial outcomes for Equifax, including prison settlements, fines, and a drop in supply price. It additionally damaged the employer’s reputation, leading to public outrage and elevated scrutiny of data security practices.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Hack (2014)

In this excessive-profile cyberattack attributed to North Korean hackers, Mimikatz performed a role in gaining unauthorized entry to Sony’s network. Attackers used stolen credentials to navigate via the business enterprise’s systems and leak confidential documents and emails.

Sony Pictures confronted extensive financial losses incurred from both the breach and the subsequent decision to cancel the discharge of a film. The incident also damaged the business enterprise’s recognition in the entertainment enterprise.

WannaCry Ransomware Attack (2017)

WannaCry ransomware, which exploited a Windows vulnerability, used Mimikatz to steal credentials from infected systems. It then encrypted files and demanded ransom payments for decryption.

The WannaCry attack had large financial implications, affecting agencies, hospitals, and government companies worldwide. It also highlighted the significance of rapid response in applying protection patches to secure companies from such incidents.

NotPetya Ransomware Attack (2017)

NotPetya, another ransomware strain, applied Mimikatz to extract credentials and propagate across networks. The attack began with targeted Ukraine but rapidly unfolded globally, impacting numerous groups.

Financial losses due to the NotPetya attack had been big, with affected corporations facing giant charges for recovery, remediation, and lost business possibilities. Reputational damage also became a factor in the aftermath.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Hack (2016)

During the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, Mimikatz was used as a part of a cyberattack on the DNC. Attackers gained unauthorized rights to access private emails and files, leading to political repercussions.

The breach had political and reputational effects, affecting not only the DNC however additionally influencing the country’s discourse all through the election cycle.

How to Keep Your Credentials Safe from Mimikatz

To protect you from Mimikatz and comparable credential theft, companies, and individuals can put into effect numerous safety features:

Regular Patching

Keep structures and software updated with the best protection patches to decrease vulnerabilities that Mimikatz can make the most of.

Least Privilege Principle

Limit user and system privileges to handle what’s important for their particular responsibilities. This reduces the effect of credential robbery.

Strong Authentication

Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an additional layer of protection that makes it greater difficult for attackers to benefit from getting access, although credentials are compromised.

Network Segmentation

Segment your network to limit lateral movement, stopping attackers from having access to critical structures.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Deploy EDR solutions that could discover suspicious activities, including memory scraping, and reply rapidly to threats.

User Training

Train employees about the risks of phishing attacks, as many Mimikatz infections start with phishing emails.

Monitor and Analyze

Implement real-time monitoring and analysis of system logs and network traffic to come across and immediately reply to unauthorized access attempts.

Limiting Access to LSASS Memory

Mimikatz typically uses the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) memory to extract credentials. To mitigate this threat:

Isolate LSASS Memory

Isolate LSASS memory to prevent unauthorized access. Solutions like Microsoft’s Credential Guard create a stable environment for LSASS, making it tougher for attackers to extract sensitive statistics.

Monitor LSASS Access

Implement monitoring measures that alert on any attempts to access LSASS memory, taking into account rapid detection and response to suspicious activities.

Use Protected Process Light (PPL)

PPL is a Windows protection feature that may be used to defend critical tactics like LSASS from tampering or compromise. It restricts access to trusted and signed codes only.

Implementing Group Policy Settings

Group Policy Objects (GPOs)

Configure GPOs to put in force security settings across your corporation. This consists of settings related to credential control, user privileges, and protection regulations.

Password Policy

Implement password regulations that require complex passwords, normal changes, and account lockouts after failed multiple login attempts.

Employing Enhanced Security Solutions

Windows Defender Credential Guard

As part of Microsoft’s security suite, Windows Defender Credential Guard provides superior safety towards credential robbery. It isolates credentials and stops attacks like Pass-the-Hash (PtH) and Pass-the-Ticket (PtT).

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

Consider using advanced threat protection that could detect and reply to suspicious activities in real time. ATP equipment can assist, alert, and block Mimikatz-associated attacks.

Incident Response Plans

Develop and regularly replace incident response plans that encompass precise procedures for coping with credential robbery incidents. Ensure that your group is organized to incorporate and mitigate such assaults immediately.

Mimikatz: A Serious Threat

Mimikatz is a dangerous threat in credential burglary and suspicious roaming inside networks. Although the software was created in legitimate security research, it’s inappropriate use made it one of the top threats in cyber security. 

However, by enforcing security features, staying knowledgeable about emerging threats, and fostering a protection-aware lifestyle, we will collectively reduce the dangers related to credential theft and protect our digital belongings from exploitation.

Read more : How to secure your data with Cloud Backup Solutions

author

Anas Hasan

date

September 21, 2023

time

9 months ago

Anas Hassan is a tech geek and cybersecurity enthusiast. He has a vast experience in the field of digital transformation industry. When Anas isn’t blogging, he watches the football games.

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