Skip to main content

Active DirectoryBeing Targeted By Malware Called TrickBot

By January 30, 2020May 9th, 2022Cybersecurity

The malware named TrickBot has some new tricks up its sleeves. Recently, a new strain of the malware was spotted in the wild with new capabilities that allow it to target the Active Directory database stored on compromised Windows domain controllers.

While TrickBot has never been seen as one of the most dire threats in the malware universe, this new functionality does make it dangerous.

Domain administrators need to be aware of the dangers associated with hackers gaining access to and exploiting Active Directory. The directory stores user names, password hashes, computer names, groups, and a variety of other sensitive data.

To understand how TrickBot manages this feat, it’s important to dig into a few technical details. For example, when a server is promoted as a domain controller, the Active Directory database is created and saved on that machine in the c:WindowsNTDS folder. One of the files contained in this folder is ntds.dit, which is the specific file that contains all of the Active Directory services information.

Given the sensitivity of this information, Windows encrypts the data using a BootKey, which is stored in the System hive of the Registry. Since ntds.dit is opened by the domain controller, it’s not possible for any external process to access the data it contains. Although Windows Domain Controllers have a tool called ntdsutil that allows administrators to perform maintenance on the database.

TrickBot gets around this by taking advantage of the “Install from Media” command into the %Temp% folder, where it can be compressed and sent to a command and control server controlled by the hackers. Once they’ve got their hands on the file itself, it’s easy enough to crack it open to get what’s inside. That of course, spells trouble for the organization that owns the server.

All that to say, if TrickBot isn’t currently on your radar, it deserves a spot there. Its new capabilities make the malware significantly more dangerous.

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.