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Windows Admin Shares

Windows systems have hidden network shares that are accessible only to administrators and provide the ability for remote file copy and other administrative functions. Example network shares include C$, ADMIN$, and IPC$.

Adversaries may use this technique in conjunction with administrator-level Valid Accounts to remotely access a networked system over server message block (SMB) [1] to interact with systems using remote procedure calls (RPCs), [2] transfer files, and run transferred binaries through remote Execution. Example execution techniques that rely on authenticated sessions over SMB/RPC are Scheduled Task, Service Execution, and Windows Management Instrumentation. Adversaries can also use NTLM hashes to access administrator shares on systems with Pass the Hash and certain configuration and patch levels. [3]

The Net utility can be used to connect to Windows admin shares on remote systems using net use commands with valid credentials. [4]

ID: T1077
Tactic: Lateral Movement
Platform: Windows
System Requirements: File and printer sharing over SMB enabled; Host/network firewalls not blocking SMB ports between source and destination; Use of domain account in administrator group on remote system or default system admin account.
Permissions Required: Administrator
Data Sources: Process use of network, Authentication logs, Process monitoring, Process command-line parameters
Version: 1.0

Procedure Examples

Name Description
APT3 APT3 will copy files over to Windows Admin Shares (like ADMIN$) as part of lateral movement. [27]
APT32 APT32 used Net to use Windows' hidden network shares to copy their tools to remote machines for execution. [28]
BlackEnergy BlackEnergy has run a plug-in on a victim to spread through the local network by using PsExec and accessing admin shares. [8]
Cobalt Strike Cobalt Strike can use Window admin shares (C$ and ADMIN$) for lateral movement. [6]
Deep Panda Deep Panda uses net.exe to connect to network shares using net use commands with compromised credentials. [19]
Duqu Adversaries can instruct Duqu to spread laterally by copying itself to shares it has enumerated and for which it has obtained legitimate credentials (via keylogging or other means). The remote host is then infected by using the compromised credentials to schedule a task on remote machines that executes the malware. [9]
Emotet Emotet leverages the Admin$ share for lateral movement once the local admin password has been brute forced. [18]
FIN8 FIN8 has attempted to map to C$ on enumerated hosts to test the scope of their current credentials/context. [24]
Ke3chang Ke3chang actors have been known to copy files to the network shares of other computers to move laterally. [20] [21]
Kwampirs Kwampirs copies itself over network shares to move laterally on a victim network. [13]
Lazarus Group Lazarus Group malware SierraAlfa accesses the ADMIN$ share via SMB to conduct lateral movement. [22] [23]
Net Lateral movement can be done with Net through net use commands to connect to the on remote systems. [7]
Net Crawler Net Crawler uses Windows admin shares to establish authenticated sessions to remote systems over SMB as part of lateral movement. [14]
NotPetya NotPetya can use PsExec, which interacts with the ADMIN$ network share to execute commands on remote systems. [16] [17] [5]
Olympic Destroyer Olympic Destroyer uses PsExec to interact with the ADMIN$ network share to execute commands on remote systems. [15] [5]
Orangeworm Orangeworm has copied its backdoor across open network shares, including ADMIN$, C$WINDOWS, D$WINDOWS, and E$WINDOWS. [13]
PsExec PsExec, a tool that has been used by adversaries, writes programs to the ADMIN$ network share to execute commands on remote systems. [5]
Regin The Regin malware platform can use Windows admin shares to move laterally. [11]
Shamoon Shamoon accesses network share(s), enables share access to the target device, copies an executable payload to the target system, and uses a Scheduled Task to execute the malware. [10]
Threat Group-1314 Threat Group-1314 actors mapped network drives using net use. [26]
Turla Turla used net use commands to connect to lateral systems within a network. [25]
zwShell zwShell has been copied over network shares to move laterally. [12]


Mitigation Description
Password Policies Do not reuse local administrator account passwords across systems. Ensure password complexity and uniqueness such that the passwords cannot be cracked or guessed.
Privileged Account Management Deny remote use of local admin credentials to log into systems. Do not allow domain user accounts to be in the local Administrators group multiple systems.


Ensure that proper logging of accounts used to log into systems is turned on and centrally collected. Windows logging is able to collect success/failure for accounts that may be used to move laterally and can be collected using tools such as Windows Event Forwarding. [29] [30] Monitor remote login events and associated SMB activity for file transfers and remote process execution. Monitor the actions of remote users who connect to administrative shares. Monitor for use of tools and commands to connect to remote shares, such as Net, on the command-line interface and Discovery techniques that could be used to find remotely accessible systems.


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  1. Chiu, A. (2016, June 27). New Ransomware Variant "Nyetya" Compromises Systems Worldwide. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  2. US-CERT. (2017, July 1). Alert (TA17-181A): Petya Ransomware. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  3. Smith, A.. (2017, December 22). Protect your network from Emotet Trojan with Malwarebytes Endpoint Security. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  4. Alperovitch, D. (2014, July 7). Deep in Thought: Chinese Targeting of National Security Think Tanks. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
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  6. Smallridge, R. (2018, March 10). APT15 is alive and strong: An analysis of RoyalCli and RoyalDNS. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
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  9. Elovitz, S. & Ahl, I. (2016, August 18). Know Your Enemy: New Financially-Motivated & Spear-Phishing Group. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  10. Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team. (2014, August 7). The Epic Turla Operation: Solving some of the mysteries of Snake/Uroburos. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
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  12. Symantec Security Response. (2016, September 6). Buckeye cyberespionage group shifts gaze from US to Hong Kong. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  13. Dahan, A. (2017). Operation Cobalt Kitty. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  14. Payne, J. (2015, November 26). Tracking Lateral Movement Part One - Special Groups and Specific Service Accounts. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  15. Payne, J. (2015, November 23). Monitoring what matters - Windows Event Forwarding for everyone (even if you already have a SIEM.). Retrieved February 1, 2016.