Pass the Hash

Pass the hash (PtH) is a method of authenticating as a user without having access to the user's cleartext password. This method bypasses standard authentication steps that require a cleartext password, moving directly into the portion of the authentication that uses the password hash. In this technique, valid password hashes for the account being used are captured using a Credential Access technique. Captured hashes are used with PtH to authenticate as that user. Once authenticated, PtH may be used to perform actions on local or remote systems.

Windows 7 and higher with KB2871997 require valid domain user credentials or RID 500 administrator hashes. [1]

ID: T1075

Tactic: Lateral Movement

Platform:  Windows

System Requirements:  Requires Microsoft Windows as target system

Data Sources:  Authentication logs

Contributors:  Travis Smith, Tripwire
Version: 1.0


Mitigation Description
Password Policies Ensure that built-in and created local administrator accounts have complex, unique passwords.
Privileged Account Management Limit credential overlap across systems to prevent the damage of credential compromise and reduce the adversary's ability to perform Lateral Movement between systems.
Update Software Apply patch KB2871997 to Windows 7 and higher systems to limit the default access of accounts in the local administrator group.
User Account Control Enable pass the hash mitigations to apply UAC restrictions to local accounts on network logon. The associated Registry key is located HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy Through GPO: Computer Configuration > [Policies] > Administrative Templates > SCM: Pass the Hash Mitigations: Apply UAC restrictions to local accounts on network logons.[13]
User Account Management Do not allow a domain user to be in the local administrator group on multiple systems.


Name Description

The APT1 group is known to have used pass the hash.[2]


APT28 has used pass the hash for lateral movement.[3]


APT32 has used pass the hash for lateral movement.[4]

Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike can perform pass the hash.[5]


Empire can perform pass the hash attacks.[6]


HOPLIGHT has been observed loading several APIs associated with Pass the Hash. [7]


Mimikatz's SEKURLSA::Pth module can impersonate a user, with only a password hash, to execute arbitrary commands.[8][9]

Night Dragon

Night Dragon used pass-the-hash tools to gain usernames and passwords.[10]

Pass-The-Hash Toolkit

Pass-The-Hash Toolkit can perform pass the hash.[2]


PoshC2 has a number of modules that leverage pass the hash for lateral movement.[11]

Soft Cell

Soft Cell used dumped hashes to authenticate to other machines via pass the hash.[12]


Audit all logon and credential use events and review for discrepancies. Unusual remote logins that correlate with other suspicious activity (such as writing and executing binaries) may indicate malicious activity. NTLM LogonType 3 authentications that are not associated to a domain login and are not anonymous logins are suspicious.