Permission Groups Discovery

Adversaries may attempt to find local system or domain-level groups and permissions settings.


Examples of commands that can list groups are net group /domain and net localgroup using the Net utility.


On Mac, this same thing can be accomplished with the dscacheutil -q group for the domain, or dscl . -list /Groups for local groups.


On Linux, local groups can be enumerated with the groups command and domain groups via the ldapsearch command.

ID: T1069

Tactic: Discovery

Platform:  Linux, macOS, Windows

Permissions Required:  User

Data Sources:  API monitoring, Process monitoring, Process command-line parameters


Version: 1.0



admin@338 actors used the following command following exploitation of a machine with LOWBALL malware to list local groups: net localgroup administrator >> %temp%\download[1]


APT3 has a tool that can enumerate the permissions associated with Windows groups.[2]

Dragonfly 2.0

Dragonfly 2.0 used batch scripts to enumerate administrators in the environment.[3]


dsquery can be used to gather information on permission groups within a domain.[4]


Emissary has the capability to execute the command net localgroup administrators.[5]


Epic gathers information on local group names.[6]


FIN6 has used tools like Adfind to query users, groups, organizational units, and trusts.



Helminth has checked for the local admin group domain admin group and Exchange Trusted Subsystem groups using the commands net group Exchange Trusted Subsystem /domain and net group domain admins /domain.[8]


JPIN can obtain the victim user name.[9]


Kazuar gathers information about local groups and members.[10]


Ke3chang performs discovery of permission groups net group /domain.[11]


Kwampirs collects lists of local accounts with administrative access, local group user accounts, and domain local groups with the commands net localgroup administrators, net localgroup users, and net localgroup /domain.[12]


MURKYTOP has the capability to retrieve information about groups.[13]


Commands such as net group and net localgroup can be used in Net to gather information about and manipulate groups.[14]


OilRig has used net group /domain, net localgroup administrators, net group "domain admins" /domain, and net group "Exchange Trusted Subsystem" /domain to find group permission settings on a victim.[15]


OSInfo specifically looks for Domain Admins, Power Users, and the Administrators groups within the domain and locally[2]


PoshC2 contains modules, such as Get-LocAdm for enumerating permission groups.[16]


POWRUNER may collect permission group information by running net group /domain or a series of other commands on a victim.[17]


Sys10 collects the group name of the logged-in user and sends it to the C2.


Identify unnecessary system utilities or potentially malicious software that may be used to acquire information about groups and permissions, and audit and/or block them by using whitelisting [18] tools, like AppLocker, [19] [20] or Software Restriction Policies [21] where appropriate. [22]


System and network discovery techniques normally occur throughout an operation as an adversary learns the environment. Data and events should not be viewed in isolation, but as part of a chain of behavior that could lead to other activities, such as Lateral Movement, based on the information obtained.

Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell.


  1. FireEye Threat Intelligence. (2015, December 1). China-based Cyber Threat Group Uses Dropbox for Malware Communications and Targets Hong Kong Media Outlets. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  2. Symantec Security Response. (2016, September 6). Buckeye cyberespionage group shifts gaze from US to Hong Kong. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  3. US-CERT. (2018, March 16). Alert (TA18-074A): Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  4. Microsoft. (n.d.). Dsquery. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  5. Falcone, R. and Miller-Osborn, J.. (2016, February 3). Emissary Trojan Changelog: Did Operation Lotus Blossom Cause It to Evolve?. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  6. Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis Team. (2014, August 06). The Epic Turla Operation: Solving some of the mysteries of Snake/Uroboros. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  7. McKeague, B. et al. (2019, April 5). Pick-Six: Intercepting a FIN6 Intrusion, an Actor Recently Tied to Ryuk and LockerGoga Ransomware. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  8. Unit 42. (2017, December 15). Unit 42 Playbook Viewer. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  9. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Hunting Team. (2016, April 29). PLATINUM: Targeted attacks in South and Southeast Asia. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  10. Levene, B, et al. (2017, May 03). Kazuar: Multiplatform Espionage Backdoor with API Access. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  11. Villeneuve, N., Bennett, J. T., Moran, N., Haq, T., Scott, M., & Geers, K. (2014). OPERATION “KE3CHANG”: Targeted Attacks Against Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved November 12, 2014.