Kerboroasting Attack


The scary face of Kerberoasting attack

The ugly truth is that cybercrime is on the rise. It has been increasing drastically every year. The financial industry is the second largest industry that is regularly attacked after retail and startups. With security solutions costing vast amounts of money and the complexities that attackers are evolving and plowing ways into security systems, businesses are finding it harder to stay ahead of the threats they face. Unfortunately, becoming a victim of a cyber-attack is a reality for more and more businesses.

Every major computer operating system has a built-in computer network security protocol that authenticates service requests between two or more trusted hosts across an untrusted network called Kerberos. It uses secret-key cryptography and a trusted third party for authenticating client-server applications and verifying users’ identities. Kerberos was initially developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for Project Athena in the late ’80s, Kerberos is now the default authorization technology used by Microsoft Windows. Kerberos implementations also exist for other operating systems such as Apple OS, FreeBSD, UNIX, and Linux.

And now, cybercriminals can now hack into a system through Kerberos. In a Kerberoasting attack, a cybercriminal uses specialized tools to extract encrypted Kerberos tickets from a network and then attempts to crack the encryption. Cybercriminals can gain access to sensitive information or network resources if successful. This blog post will share insights into this attack and the strategies that can be employed to detect the attack.

A Kerberoasting attack detects vulnerabilities in the Kerberos authentication protocol and exploits it. Such an attack can have serious consequences in a business environment since this manipulation by the attacker now obtains the encoded password of service accounts on a business network, then go ahead to crack the hashes to disclose the passwords in bare text. These service accounts usually have high privileges on the network, so gaining access to them can give a cybercriminal posing as a legitimate user significant control over the network. This can include accessing sensitive data, modifying or deleting files, and even creating new accounts with elevated privileges.

Businesses may also experience loss of productivity and revenue, damage to their reputation, and regulatory fines if sensitive data is endangered, in addition to the immediate unpleasant result caused by the attack.  Furthermore, it can be hard to detect a Kerberoasting attack, as the attackers often use legitimate tools and protocols to conduct the attack, making it difficult to differentiate an impersonator’s activity from normal network traffic.

To reduce the risk of a Kerberoasting attack, businesses should enforce strong password regulations and use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. They should also apply security patches and updates at appropriate times and monitor network activity regularly. Additionally, employees should be trained on how to decipher and report suspicious activity and have incident response schemes in place to respond to a security breach quickly and effectively.

Kerberoasting attacks can be detected in the following ways:

Network monitoring: Keeping a keen eye over network traffic for unusual patterns of Kerberos traffic, such as a large number of requests for service tickets, can indicate an ongoing attack.

Log investigation: Revisiting event logs on domain controllers and other systems for any indication of Kerberos-related activity, such as ticket requests as it can provide signs of an attack.

Intrusion detection systems: IDS and IPS systems can detect and alert on known Kerberoasting attack techniques.

Hash monitoring: Monitoring changes to the Kerberos password hashes stored in Active Directory can provide an early warning of a successful attack.

Behavior-based detection: This is an advanced method that uses machine learning algorithms to discover abnormal behavior in the network, such as unusual activity from a specific user account, abnormal ticket requests, and other indicators.

It’s important to note that even with the best detection methods, attackers may be able to evade detection if they use sophisticated techniques and tools. Therefore, it is important to be conscious of security measures as well as observe them to further avert the risk of a Kerberoasting attack.


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