Valid Accounts: Cloud Accounts

Adversaries may obtain and abuse credentials of a cloud account as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. Cloud accounts are those created and configured by an organization for use by users, remote support, services, or for administration of resources within a cloud service provider or SaaS application. In some cases, cloud accounts may be federated with traditional identity management system, such as Window Active Directory.[1][2][3]

Compromised credentials for cloud accounts can be used to harvest sensitive data from online storage accounts and databases. Access to cloud accounts can also be abused to gain Initial Access to a network by abusing a Trusted Relationship. Similar to Domain Accounts, compromise of federated cloud accounts may allow adversaries to more easily move laterally within an environment.

ID: T1078.004
Sub-technique of:  T1078
Tactics: Defense Evasion, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, Initial Access
Platforms: AWS, Azure, Azure AD, GCP, Office 365, SaaS
Permissions Required: Administrator, User
Data Sources: AWS CloudTrail logs, Authentication logs, Azure activity logs, Stackdriver logs
Version: 1.0
Created: 13 March 2020
Last Modified: 23 March 2020

Procedure Examples

Name Description

APT33 has used compromised Office 365 accounts in tandem with Ruler in an attempt to gain control of endpoints.[6]


Mitigation Description
Password Policies

Ensure that privileged cloud accounts have complex, unique passwords across all systems on the network.

Privileged Account Management

Audit cloud accounts permission levels routinely to look for situations that could allow an adversary to gain wide access by obtaining credentials of a privileged account. [4] [5] These audits should check if new cloud accounts are created that have not be authorized.


Perform regular audits of cloud accounts to detect abnormal or malicious activity, such as accessing information outside of the normal function of the account or account usage at atypical hours.