TrickBot has some new tricks up its sleeves

Recently, a new strain of the malware was spotted in the wild with new capabilities that allow it to target the Windows Server Active Directory database stored on compromised Windows domain controllers (the principal controller role of Windows networks).

While TrickBot has never been seen as one of the direst threats in the malware universe, this new functionality does make it dangerous.

Active Directory exploited to give up network data

Domain administrators need to be aware of the dangers associated with hackers gaining access to and exploiting Active Directory. The directory stores user names, password hashes, computer names, groups, and a variety of other sensitive data.

To understand how TrickBot manages this feat, it's important to dig into a few technical details. For example, when a server is promoted as a domain controller, the Active Directory database is created and saved on that machine in the c:WindowsNTDS folder. One of the files contained in this folder is ntds.dit, which is the specific file that contains all of the Active Directory services information.

Given the sensitivity of this information, Windows encrypts the data using a BootKey, which is stored in the System hive of the Registry. Since ntds.dit is opened by the domain controller, it's not possible for any external process to access the data it contains. Although Windows Domain Controllers have a tool called ntdsutil that allows administrators to perform maintenance on the database.

TrickBot gets around this by taking advantage of the "Install from Media" command into the %Temp% folder, where it can be compressed and sent to a command and control server controlled by the hackers. Once they've got their hands on the file itself, it's easy enough to crack it open to get what's inside. That of course, spells trouble for the organization that owns the server.

Our perspective

All that to say, if TrickBot isn't currently on your radar, it deserves a spot there. Its new capabilities make the malware significantly more dangerous.


~ As Hill Street Blues' Sgt. Esterhaus always advised: "Hey, let's be careful out there! " ~


Meanwhile, check out this report

This free executive report may give you insights into how to build your business with safe IT environments: 10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business and 1 Easy Way to Find Them

The author

Thanks for reading this short post. For more tips on thriving with small business technology, check out the other blog posts at DWPia Blogs. I am also available on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Cybersecurity Expert, Small Business Technology Consultant, Managed Services Provider, Managed IT SupportI am Denis Wilson, President and Principal Consultant for DWP Information Architects. I help professionals grow their business by building a foundation of rock-solid information solutions for smaller healthcare, insurance, financial, legal, and nonprofits firms in Ventura County and San Fernando Valley. And have created cost-effective IT solutions, for over 20 years, specializing in cybersecurity and regulatory compliance. I am also a published author and speaker, working extensively with a variety of organizations, as well as providing small business technology education programs through business and professional associations. This just in: I will be speaking regularly at California Lutheran University's Center for Nonprofit Leadership starting in September.

Contact me if you would like me to speak at your association.