ADillesHeel: Making the Impossible Possible in AD Attack Path Analysis

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Active Directory (AD) lies at the heart of corporate IT security but is often its Achilles’ heel due to its inherent complexity. With potential attack paths numbering in the trillions, conventional analysis tools fall short, leaving vast security gaps. Our research introduces an innovative methodology that simplifies AD’s tangled structures, enabling the comprehensive mapping of critical attack vectors previously beyond reach.

This approach reveals alarming insights, including the underestimation of Tier-0 AD accounts by an average of 580%. Through targeted case studies, we uncover hidden high-risk paths and deliver actionable strategies for mitigating these vulnerabilities. Our findings not only challenge existing paradigms in AD security but also equip cybersecurity professionals with the knowledge to fortify their defenses against sophisticated threats.

Embark on a journey with us to redefine the landscape of Active Directory security and navigate towards a more secure AD future.

Active Directory has been known for its burdensome challenges in permission management, opening up a new research topic for cybersecurity experts. Despite the availability of some graphical analysis and detection tools, such as the open-source project Adalanche, which aims to visualize possible attack paths from various configurations by converting the AD into directed graphs. Applying such solutions to AD in large enterprises presents a more complex issue since the real-world AD can produce extraordinarily large graphs that are potentially impossible to explore for all feasible attack paths (approximately 4,221 TRILLION paths in one of our customers), let alone provide an edge removal strategy based on cybersecurity experts’ feedback.

This work focuses on unraveling the tangled AD graph structure. By applying our method, it allows us to enumerate all attack paths or at least all structurally representative ones, transforming it to a manageable problem. We will demonstrate why having a complete view of the AD graph is crucial. Moreover, we will provide multiple real-world case studies from different industries covering high-risk attack paths that can only be uncovered if the cybersecurity expert has a complete view of AD. Additionally, We will also share informative findings gathered and analyzed from dozens of our customers. For example, the actual number of Tier-0 AD accounts is, on average, 580% higher than the number known to the customer. We will also discuss how we dealt with a high-risk path with unremovable edges to minimize its potential risk.

In conclusion, this work effectively analyzes Active Directory attack paths, even in complex domains beyond existing solutions’ capabilities. It enhances understanding of attack topology and improves strategic decision-making on edge removal. This work significantly contributes to the cybersecurity field, specifically in improving the security posture of Active Directory attack paths.

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