3 Techniques for Stopping Domain Controller Attacks

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Through our Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Incident Response engagements, we have seen an increase in attacks targeting domain controllers. In this eBook, we will take a look at three common techniques for gaining unauthorized access to domain controllers, as well as the foundational hygiene tips you can take to protect your domain controller.

How to Prevent 3 Domain Controller Attacks

Compromised user and administrative credentials

Attack method: Gaining user credentials for an endpoint, administrative credentials, or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) makes the first step of a domain controller compromise much easier.

Prevention: To prevent a bad actor from seizing credentials, ensure that multifactor authentication is enabled on compatible protocols for all domain level systems.

Legitimate credentials via remote desktop protocol (RDP)

Attack method : RDP is a legitimate tool that enables IT departments to remotely and easily access and manage Windows systems. RDP exploit programs and services are easy to purchase and use. It is the most frequently abused protocol when considering lateral movements, network entry and exploitation.

Prevention: If you must enable RDP, ensure that there are compensating controls associated with it such as registered origin IP addresses, destination-only access, and individual credentials with multifactor authentication added.

Altering configurations over server message block

Attack method: Organizations that handle sensitive information such as personally identifiable information, financial data, and corporate information tend to be prime targets for cyberattacks.

Prevention: Server Message Block (SMB) requires protection from attacks where a server or device might be tricked into contacting a malicious server running inside a trusted network or to a perceived trusted remote server outside the network perimeter. Segmentation, traffic monitoring, enhanced authentication and firewall best practices can enhance security preventing malicious traffic from accessing the system or its network.

How Pondurance can help

Our mission is to ensure that every organization is able to detect and respond to cyber threats – regardless of size, industry or current in-house capabilities. We combine our advanced platform with decades of human intelligence to decrease risk to your mission.


Recognized by Gartner, Pondurance provides 24/7 US-Based security operation center (SOC) services powered by analysts, threat hunters, and incident responders who utilize our advanced cloud-native platform technology to provide you with continuous cyber risk reduction. By integrating 360-degree visibility across log, endpoint, and network data and with proactive threat hunting, we reduce the time it takes to respond to emerging cyber threats. Pondurance MDR is the proactive security service backed by authentic human intelligence. Technology is not enough to stop cyber threats.


When every minute counts, organizations need specialized cybersecurity experts to help them respond to a compromise, minimize losses, and prevent future incidents.

Pondurance delivers digital forensics and incident response services with an experienced team capable of guiding you and your organization every step of the way. This includes scoping and containing the incident, determining exposure through forensic analysis and helping to quickly restore your normal operations.


Our specialized consultancy services will help you assess systems, controls, programs and teams to uncover and manage vulnerabilities. Our suite of services ranges from Penetration Testing to red team exercises, along with compliance program assessments for highly regulated industries. We provide security Incident Response and business continuity planning to put you in the best position to defend against and respond to cyberattacks.

Want to dive deeper into attacks on domain controllers?

As domain controller attacks continue to increase in frequency and evolve, it is critical that your organization be aware of current attack patterns that lead to an attacker’s success and what steps you can take to reduce your exposure. By following prevention steps and developing a plan, you can lower the probability of a successful cyber attack through your domain controller.

About Pondurance

Pondurance delivers world-class managed detection and response services to industries facing today’s most pressing and dynamic cybersecurity challenges including ransomware, complex compliance requirements and digital transformation accelerated by a distributed workforce.

By combining our advanced platform with our experienced team of analysts we continuously hunt, investigate, validate and contain threats so your own team can focus on what matters most.

Pondurance experts include seasoned security operations analysts, digital forensics and incident response professionals and compliance and security strategists who provide always-on services to customers seeking broader visibility, faster response and containment and more unified risk management for their organizations.