🏺 Accounts

Created: 21.06.2023

To carry out nearly any action on a system, one requires an account, which is typically safeguarded by passwords or other credentials. Hence, it is crucial to understand why attackers exhibit such a strong interest in acquiring them.


Below is the structure of a SID. SID, shortly speaking, is a user id. The actual ID of the user is the RID (relative identifier) part.


In case Who created it? aka issuing authority ends with number 21, a trailing SID will represent PC or domain identifier (purple in the picture above). 1 - revision number, 5 - issuing authority, 21 - sub-issuing authority.

Here the most common SIDs you will see in the wild:

img Those SIDs starting from 1-5-32-XXX are for groups and 1-5-XXX for users.

  • 1-5-32-544 - Admins
  • 1-5-32-545 - Users
  • 1-5-32-546 - Guests
  • 1-5-1-10 - all
  • 1-5-19 - Local Service
  • 1-5-20 - Network Service
  • 1-5-11 - auth user
  • 1-5-16-16384 - system mandatory level
  • 1-5-512 - domain admin
  • 1-5-513 - local admin

RID 1300+ -> domain users RID 200+ -> local users

❗️Built-in accounts don’t have a Unique domain identifier and RID.

To get a user’s SID:

wmic useraccount where name='veronicazvereva' get sid # or
whoami /user # for current user

PC/domain ID can be viewed in SAM\SAM\Domains\Accounts, value V, last 12 bytes of the data chunk:


In order to translate this value, split the hex 12 byte value into three 4 byte chunks. Since these are little-endian, reverse the order of the bytes, convert each to decimal If this is a negative value, something is not right. It’s a 32-bit unsigned value! For example, in the below picture we see that the machine id is 2d 48 f4 b4 1a b1 b8 73 f1 2a 8a a3. Splitting into 3 chunks gives us: 2d 48 f4 b4, 1a b1 b8 73 and f1 2a 8a a3. Lets now convert each to little-endian: b4 f4 48 2d, 73, b8, b1, 1a and a3 8a 2a f1. Now, each set of 4 bytes in decimal: 3035908141, 1941483802, 2743741169. The resulting machine ID part of the SID is then: 3035908141-1941483802-2743741169. Let’s check in PowerShell:


In the picture above with the registry window, the green square 🟩 shows the RIDs in hex. Given the RID, one can deduce something about the user, since some users have predefined RIDs:

  • S-1-5-21-X-X-X-500 - default admin
  • S-1-5-21-X-X-X-501 - default guest
  • S-1-5-21-X-X-X-1000 - the first user created on a Windows 7 and below, S-1-5-21-X-X-X-1001 - for newer systems
  • S-1-5-18 - System
  • S-1-5-3 - batch
  • S-1-5-2 - network
  • S-1-5-21-544 - local admin group

The previous picture shows that the RID is 1000, meaning it’s the first user account (surprisingly not 1001 since it’s a Windows 10 machine).


  1. SYSTEM πŸ‘‘
  2. Network service (very close to a user account)
  3. Local service (like the previous one but not “chatting” over the network allowed)
  4. DWM and UMFD (no docs, some built-in service account)
  5. Anonymous (no creds, limited privileges). Usually used by some shared resources like a printer.

Built-in Admin (RID 500)

They have the privilege of writing to C$ and Admin$ shares.

Guest (RID 501)

Domain Admin (RID 512)

Members of the Domain Admins group have full control over all domain controllers and all directories and files that are stored on the domain controllers. They can also make changes to all accounts and groups in the domain. This includes the ability to:

  • Create, modify and delete user accounts and groups within the domain.
  • Modify the domain’s security policies.
  • Install, update or remove software on any computer in the domain.
  • Access any file on any computer in the domain.
  • Perform administrative tasks on any computer in the domain.

Domain User (RID 513)

Members of the Domain Users group, on the other hand, have much more limited permissions. By default, Domain Users have permission to do the following:

  • Log on to any computer in the domain, unless logon rights have been specifically denied.
  • Create, modify, or delete their own files and directories in their user profile or shared directories.
  • Run applications that have been installed on computers in the domain.

Local Admin (RID NOT 500)

❗️This is not the same as the built-in admin account on every Windows system with RID 500.

❗️The use of a local admin account with a single password that grants remote access to all machines within an enterprise is considered a well-known vulnerability.

Local User Accounts

For each user there will be a separate sub-key under SAM\SAM\Domains\Account\Users. The sub-keys names are actually RID of the user in hex. Each sub-key will have several values. Record V contains static information (username, password length etc), while record F contains constantly updated information like timestamps πŸ•°:

  • Last login is a little endian 8 byte value at 0x08-0x0f offset.
  • Last password change time at offset 0x18-0x1f, 8 bytes long.
  • Last failed logon time is at offset 0x28-0x2f, 8 bytes.

RID itself is stored in F record at offset 0x30-0x33 (little endian). Also, there is PasswordRequired (at 0x38). There several possible values for this nibble (half byte): 0 - account active + pass required, 1 - account is not active, 4 - any policies do not apply to this account.

πŸ§ͺ I have 5 on my machine, what does it mean?

Logon count is at 0x42-0x43 (two bytes).

The V value is more interesting. It contains usernames and hashes (NTLM). The user account name is at 0x1C0 offset (Unicode). What about the juicy stuff? I mean the password hashes. SAM file contains a 56-byte NTLM hash of the password, which is encrypted with an AES algo, the key πŸ”‘ is stored in a system file. You’ll need both SAM and the system file to decrypt the password. Password cracking methodology:

  • Export SAM and SYSTEM hives from the forensic image/suspect machine.
  • Unencrypt the hash stored in the SAM file (πŸ›  mimikatz).
  • Create a word list from the current case (may export from Autopsy, EnCase etc).
  • Run a dictionary πŸ“– or brute-force attack πŸ’ͺ against this NTLM hash (πŸ› : hashcat πŸˆβ€β¬› , John the Ripper πŸ”ͺ, Cain and Able πŸ”ͺ 🐏).
# decrypt the hashes:
> lsadump::sam /system:"path_to_SYSTEM" /SAM:"path_to_SAM"

# crach the hash with hashcat

Other values are stored in this sub-key. ForcePasswordReset speaks for itself, and SupplementalCredentials do not. There also can be a UserPasswordHint, which sometimes contains the actual password.

Microsoft Accounts

Since Win8. Can be logged in if there is internet access. Profiles and settings are stored in the cloud ☁️. Additional values are stored in SAM: InternetUID and InternetUserName. Both are unique to the user. InternetUID is a 16 byte Unicode string. InternetUserName - usually an email used as a login.

❗️As an account domain field, Microsoft uses both email and username (the first part of it) interchangeably.

🏺 LiveSSD

It is derived from the Windows Live cloud accounts.

Domain Accounts

Key πŸ”‘ : Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.

The key above will have a ProfileImagePath.

⚠️ SAM doesn’t have any information about domain accounts! See more info in software section, domain accounts.

❗️Domain admin is part of the local admin group. It can be removed from this group by the local admin. ❗️SeDelegateSessionUserImpersonatePrivilege marks a domain admin.

Deleted Accounts

πŸ›  Registry Explorer (Eric Zimmerman’s tool) shows deleted accounts. If the data was not overwritten, we will be able to get the information.


Default Accounts

Default local user account:

  • Administrator
  • Guest
  • HelpAssistant
  • DefaultAccount

Default system accounts (not visible for the user):


There are two main places within the registry that contains that information: SAM hive for local and Microsoft accounts and Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList for Domain Accounts.

❗️❗️❗️❗️ More details see here.

To crack Windows NTLM hashes (for local accounts only), you’ll need both SYSTEM and SAM hives. SYSTEM contains an AES key πŸ”‘ for NTLM decryption and SAM contains the encrypted hash. After the hash is decrypted, either brute-force πŸ’ͺ or dictionary πŸ“– attack needs.

Xbox on later versions is a built-in game center. It also contains some information about the user (if he uses it for fames): C:\Users\%Username%\AppData\Local\LocalState\ModelManager\Xboxlivegamer.xml (user profile).

Also, collect DPAPI master user and system keys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA4qa0uWRHU.



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