September 22, 2023

Microsoft released an alert on two AD vulnerabilities addressed with the November 2021 Patch Tuesday, urging customers to install the available patches as soon as possible, to prevent potential compromise.

Tracked as CVE-2021-42287 and CVE-2021-42278, the two security errors can be chained to impersonate domain controllers and gain administrative privileges on Active Directory.


PoC exploiting the two bugs has been public for more than a week, and Microsoft is warning companies of potential malicious attacks, while also sharing a guide to help organizations identify suspicious behavior exploiting the flaws.

An attacker can create a straightforward path to a Domain Admin user in an Active Directory environment that hasn’t applied these new updates. This escalation attack allows attackers to easily elevate their privilege to that of a Domain Admin once they compromise a regular user in the domain.

CVE-2021-42278 is a security bypass vulnerability where attackers can employ computer account sAMAccountName spoofing to impersonate a domain controller.

sAMAccountName attributes,usually have “$” at the end of their names, which is meant to help distinguish between user and computer objects. Because of the bug, a normal user has permission to modify a machine account (up to 10 machines) and as its owner, they also have the permissions to edit its sAMAccountName attribute.

A security bypass flaw, CVE-2021-42287 affects the Kerberos Privilege Attribute Certificate (PAC), also leading to domain controller impersonation. The vulnerability results in the Key Distribution Center (KDC) creating service tickets with higher privilege levels than those of the domain account.


During authentication using Kerberos, Ticket-Granting-Ticket (TGT) and the Ticket-Granting-Service (TGS) are requested from KDC. If the account for which TGS was requested could not be found, KDC would append a trailing $ to attempt to find it again.

An attacker in the possession of domain user credentials can combine the two vulnerabilities and exploit them to gain domain admin privileges.As always, Strongly advised deploying the latest patches on the domain controllers as soon as possible

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