Credential Dumping

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Credential Dumping
ID T1003
Tactic Credential Access
Platform Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Vista, Windows 8.1
Permissions Required Administrator, SYSTEM
Data Sources API monitoring, Process command-line parameters, Process monitoring, PowerShell logs

Credential dumping is the process of obtaining account login and password information from the operating system and software. Credentials can be used to perform Lateral Movement and access restricted information.

Tools may dump credentials in many different ways: extracting credential hashes for offline cracking, extracting plaintext passwords, and extracting Kerberos tickets, among others. Examples of credential dumpers include pwdump7, Windows Credential Editor, Mimikatz, and gsecdump. These tools are in use by both professional security testers and adversaries.

Plaintext passwords can be obtained using tools such as Mimikatz to extract passwords stored by the Local Security Authority (LSA). If smart cards are used to authenticate to a domain using a personal identification number (PIN), then that PIN is also cached as a result and may be dumped.1


  • Axiom has been known to dump credentials.2
  • Cleaver has been known to dump credentials.3
  • Ke3chang dumps credentials.4
  • APT1 has been known to use credential dumping.5
  • APT28 regularly deploys both publicly available and custom password retrieval tools on victims.6
  • Molerats used the public tool BrowserPasswordDump10 to dump passwords saved in browsers on victims.7
  • APT3 has used a tool to dump credentials by injecting itself into lsass.exe and triggering with the argument "dig." The group has also used a tools to dump passwords from browsers.8
  • Threat Group-3390 actors have used gsecdump to obtain passwords from memory. They have also dumped credentials from domain controllers.9
  • Poseidon Group conducts credential dumping on victims, with a focus on obtaining credentials belonging to domain and database servers.10
  • FIN6 has used Windows Credential Editor for credential dumping, as well as Metasploit’s PsExec NTDSGRAB module to obtain a copy of the victim's Active Directory database.11
  • Stealth Falcon malware gathers passwords from multiple sources, including Windows Credential Vault, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Outlook.12
  • Suckfly used a signed credential-dumping tool to obtain victim account credentials.13
  • Patchwork dumped the login data database from \AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Login Data.14
  • Strider has registered its persistence module on domain controllers as a Windows LSA (Local System Authority) password filter to dump credentials any time a domain, local user, or administrator logs in or changes a password.15
  • Mimikatz performs credential dumping to obtain account and password information useful in gaining access to additional systems and enterprise network resources.16
  • Windows Credential Editor can dump credentials.17
  • pwdump can be used to dump credentials.18
  • gsecdump can dump Windows password hashes and LSA secrets.19
  • Password stealer and NTLM stealer modules in CozyCar harvest stored credentials from the victim, including credentials used as part of Windows NTLM user authentication. CozyCar has also executed Mimikatz for further victim penetration.20
  • PinchDuke steals credentials from compromised hosts. PinchDuke's credential stealing functionality is believed to be based on the source code of the Pinch credential stealing malware (also known as LdPinch). Credentials targeted by PinchDuke include ones associated with The Bat!, Yahoo!,, Passport.Net, Google Talk, Netscape Navigator, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, WinInet Credential Cache, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).21
  • CosmicDuke collects user credentials, including passwords, for various programs and browsers, including popular instant messaging applications, Web browsers, and email clients. Windows account hashes, domain accounts, and LSA secrets are also collected, as are WLAN keys.21
  • OnionDuke steals credentials from its victims.21
  • Net Crawler uses credential dumpers such as Mimikatz and Windows Credential Editor to extract cached credentials from Windows systems.3
  • Mivast has the capability to gather NTLM password information.22
  • Some Backdoor.Oldrea samples contain a publicly available Web browser password recovery tool.23
  • Trojan.Karagany can dump passwords and save them into \ProgramData\Mail\MailAg\pwds.txt.23
  • A module in Prikormka collects passwords stored in applications installed on the victim.24
  • Crimson contains a module to steal credentials from Web browsers on the victim machine.25
  • Cachedump can extract cached password hashes from a system’s registry.5
  • Fgdump can dump Windows password hashes.5
  • Lslsass can dump active logon session password hashes from the lsass process.5
  • Remsec can dump the SAM database.26 It also can register itself as a Windows Local System Authority password filter on domain controllers, which allows it to harvest passwords when users change passwords.15
  • Unknown Logger is capable of stealing usernames and passwords from browsers on the victim machine.27
  • H1N1 dumps usernames and passwords from Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Outlook.28
  • OLDBAIT collects credentials from Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Eudora, and several email clients.29


Monitor/harden access to LSASS and SAM table with tools that allow process whitelisting. Limit credential overlap across systems to prevent lateral movement opportunities using Legitimate Credentials if passwords and hashes are obtained. Ensure that local administrator accounts have complex, unique passwords across all systems on the network. Do not put user or admin domain accounts in the local administrator groups across systems unless they are tightly controlled, as this is often equivalent to having a local administrator account with the same password on all systems. On Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, enable Protected Process Light for LSA.30

Identify and block potentially malicious software that may be used to dump credentials by using whitelisting31 tools, like AppLocker,3233 or Software Restriction Policies34 where appropriate.35

With Windows 10, Microsoft implemented new protections called Credential Guard to protect the LSA secrets that can be used to obtain credentials through forms of credential dumping. It is not implemented by default and has hardware requirements.36


Common credential dumpers such as Mimikatz access the LSA Subsystem Service (LSASS) process by opening the process, locating the LSA secrets key, and decrypting the sections in memory where credential details are stored. Credential dumpers may also use methods for reflective DLL Injection to reduce potential indicators of malicious activity.

NTLM hash dumpers open the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) on the local file system (%SystemRoot%/system32/config/SAM) or create a dump of the Registry SAM key to access stored account password hashes. Some hash dumpers will open the local file system as a device and parse to the SAM table to avoid file access defenses. Others will make an in-memory copy of the SAM table before reading hashes. Detection of compromised Legitimate Credentials in-use by adversaries may help as well.

On Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, monitor Windows Logs for LSASS.exe creation to verify that LSASS started as a protected process.

Monitor processes and command-line arguments for program execution that may be indicative of credential dumping. Remote access tools may contain built-in features or incorporate existing tools like Mimikatz. PowerShell scripts also exist that contain credential dumping functionality, such as PowerSploit's Invoke-Mimikatz module,37 which may require additional logging features to be configured in the operating system to collect necessary information for analysis.


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