OS Credential Dumping: Security Account Manager

Adversaries may attempt to extract credential material from the Security Account Manager (SAM) database either through in-memory techniques or through the Windows Registry where the SAM database is stored. The SAM is a database file that contains local accounts for the host, typically those found with the net user command. Enumerating the SAM database requires SYSTEM level access.

A number of tools can be used to retrieve the SAM file through in-memory techniques:

Alternatively, the SAM can be extracted from the Registry with Reg:

  • reg save HKLM\sam sam
  • reg save HKLM\system system

Creddump7 can then be used to process the SAM database locally to retrieve hashes.[1]


  • RID 500 account is the local, built-in administrator.
  • RID 501 is the guest account.
  • User accounts start with a RID of 1,000+.
ID: T1003.002
Sub-technique of:  T1003
Platforms: Windows
Contributors: Ed Williams, Trustwave, SpiderLabs; Olaf Hartong, Falcon Force
Version: 1.1
Created: 11 February 2020
Last Modified: 24 July 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0016 APT29

APT29 has used the reg save command to save registry hives.[2]

G0096 APT41

APT41 extracted user account data from the Security Account Managerr (SAM), making a copy of this database from the registry using the reg save command or by exploiting volume shadow copies.[3]

G1023 APT5

APT5 has copied and exfiltrated the SAM Registry hive from targeted systems.[4]

C0017 C0017

During C0017, APT41 copied the SAM and SYSTEM Registry hives for credential harvesting.[5]

S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike can recover hashed passwords.[6]

S0050 CosmicDuke

CosmicDuke collects Windows account hashes.[7]

S0046 CozyCar

Password stealer and NTLM stealer modules in CozyCar harvest stored credentials from the victim, including credentials used as part of Windows NTLM user authentication.[8]

S0488 CrackMapExec

CrackMapExec can dump usernames and hashed passwords from the SAM.[9]

G0035 Dragonfly

Dragonfly has dropped and executed SecretsDump to dump password hashes.[10]

S0120 Fgdump

Fgdump can dump Windows password hashes.[11]

G1016 FIN13

FIN13 has extracted the SAM and SYSTEM registry hives using the reg.exe binary for obtaining password hashes from a compromised machine.[12]


GALLIUM used reg commands to dump specific hives from the Windows Registry, such as the SAM hive, and obtain password hashes.[13]

S0008 gsecdump

gsecdump can dump Windows password hashes from the SAM.[14]


HOPLIGHT has the capability to harvest credentials and passwords from the SAM database.[15]

S1022 IceApple

IceApple's Credential Dumper module can dump encrypted password hashes from SAM registry keys, including HKLM\SAM\SAM\Domains\Account\F and HKLM\SAM\SAM\Domains\Account\Users\*\V.[16]

S0357 Impacket

SecretsDump and Mimikatz modules within Impacket can perform credential dumping to obtain account and password information.[17]

G0004 Ke3chang

Ke3chang has dumped credentials, including by using gsecdump.[18][19]

S0250 Koadic

Koadic can gather hashed passwords by dumping SAM/SECURITY hive.[20]

G0045 menuPass

menuPass has used a modified version of pentesting tools wmiexec.vbs and secretsdump.py to dump credentials.[21][22]

S0002 Mimikatz

Mimikatz performs credential dumping to obtain account and password information useful in gaining access to additional systems and enterprise network resources. It contains functionality to acquire information about credentials in many ways, including from the SAM table.[23][24][25][26]

S0080 Mivast

Mivast has the capability to gather NTLM password information.[27]

C0002 Night Dragon

During Night Dragon, threat actors dumped account hashes using gsecdump.[28]

C0012 Operation CuckooBees

During Operation CuckooBees, the threat actors leveraged a custom tool to dump OS credentials and used following commands: reg save HKLM\\SYSTEM system.hiv, reg save HKLM\\SAM sam.hiv, and reg save HKLM\\SECURITY security.hiv, to dump SAM, SYSTEM and SECURITY hives.[29]


POWERTON has the ability to dump password hashes.[30]

S0006 pwdump

pwdump can be used to dump credentials from the SAM.[31]

S0125 Remsec

Remsec can dump the SAM database.[32]

G0027 Threat Group-3390

Threat Group-3390 actors have used gsecdump to dump credentials. They have also dumped credentials from domain controllers.[33][34]

G0102 Wizard Spider

Wizard Spider has acquired credentials from the SAM/SECURITY registry hives.[35]


ID Mitigation Description
M1028 Operating System Configuration

Consider disabling or restricting NTLM.[36]

M1027 Password Policies

Ensure that local administrator accounts have complex, unique passwords across all systems on the network.

M1026 Privileged Account Management

Do not put user or admin domain accounts in the local administrator groups across systems unless they are tightly controlled, as this is often equivalent to having a local administrator account with the same password on all systems. Follow best practices for design and administration of an enterprise network to limit privileged account use across administrative tiers.

M1017 User Training

Limit credential overlap across accounts and systems by training users and administrators not to use the same password for multiple accounts.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0017 Command Command Execution

Monitor executed commands and arguments that may attempt to extract credential material from the Security Account Manager (SAM) database either through in-memory techniques or through the Windows Registry where the SAM database is stored.

DS0022 File File Access

Monitor for hash dumpers opening the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) on the local file system (%SystemRoot%/system32/config/SAM). Some hash dumpers will open the local file system as a device and parse to the SAM table to avoid file access defenses. Others will make an in-memory copy of the SAM table before reading hashes. Detection of compromised Valid Accounts in-use by adversaries may help as well.

File Creation

Monitor newly constructed files being written with default names that have extracted credentials from the Security Account Manager.

DS0024 Windows Registry Windows Registry Key Access

Monitor for the SAM registry key dump being created to access stored account password hashes. Some hash dumpers will open the local file system as a device and parse to the SAM table to avoid file access defenses. Others will make an in-memory copy of the SAM table before reading hashes. Detection of compromised Valid Accounts in-use by adversaries may help as well.


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