Valid Accounts: Default Accounts

Adversaries may obtain and abuse credentials of a default account as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. Default accounts are those that are built-into an OS, such as the Guest or Administrator accounts on Windows systems or default factory/provider set accounts on other types of systems, software, or devices.[1]

Default accounts are not limited to client machines, rather also include accounts that are preset for equipment such as network devices and computer applications whether they are internal, open source, or commercial. Appliances that come preset with a username and password combination pose a serious threat to organizations that do not change it post installation, as they are easy targets for an adversary. Similarly, adversaries may also utilize publicly disclosed or stolen Private Keys or credential materials to legitimately connect to remote environments via Remote Services.[2]

ID: T1078.001
Sub-technique of:  T1078
Tactics: Defense Evasion, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, Initial Access
Platforms: AWS, Azure, Azure AD, GCP, Linux, Office 365, SaaS, Windows, macOS
Permissions Required: Administrator, User
Data Sources: AWS CloudTrail logs, Authentication logs, Process monitoring, Stackdriver logs
Version: 1.1
Created: 13 March 2020
Last Modified: 16 September 2020


Mitigation Description
Password Policies

Applications and appliances that utilize default username and password should be changed immediately after the installation, and before deployment to a production environment. [3]


Monitor whether default accounts have been activated or logged into. These audits should also include checks on any appliances and applications for default credentials or SSH keys, and if any are discovered, they should be updated immediately.