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Monitor for signs that Ntdsutil is being used to Extract Active Directory database - NTDS.dit, typically used for offline password cracking. It may be used in normal circumstances with no command line arguments or shorthand variations of more common arguments. Ntdsutil.exe is typically seen run on a Windows Server. Typical command used to dump ntds.dit ntdsutil "ac i ntds" "ifm" "create full C:\Temp" q q This technique uses "Install from Media" (IFM), which will extract a copy of the Active Directory database. A successful export of the Active Directory database will yield a file modification named ntds.dit to the destination.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud
  • Datamodel: Endpoint
  • Last Updated: 2021-01-28
  • Author: Michael Haag, Patrick Bareiss, Splunk
  • ID: da63bc76-61ae-11eb-ae93-0242ac130002




ID Technique Tactic
T1003.003 NTDS Credential Access
T1003 OS Credential Dumping Credential Access
Kill Chain Phase
  • Exploitation
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
| tstats `security_content_summariesonly` count min(_time) as firstTime max(_time) as lastTime from datamodel=Endpoint.Processes where (Processes.process_name=ntdsutil.exe Processes.process=*ntds* Processes.process=*create*) by Processes.dest Processes.user Processes.parent_process Processes.process_name Processes.process Processes.process_id Processes.parent_process_id 
| `drop_dm_object_name(Processes)` 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)`
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `ntdsutil_export_ntds_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: ntdsutil_export_ntds_filter is a empty macro by default. It allows the user to filter out any results (false positives) without editing the SPL.

Required fields

List of fields required to use this analytic.

  • _time
  • Processes.process_name
  • Processes.process
  • Processes.dest
  • Processes.user
  • Processes.parent_process
  • Processes.process_id
  • Processes.parent_process_id

How To Implement

The detection is based on data that originates from Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) agents. These agents are designed to provide security-related telemetry from the endpoints where the agent is installed. To implement this search, you must ingest logs that contain the process GUID, process name, and parent process. Additionally, you must ingest complete command-line executions. These logs must be processed using the appropriate Splunk Technology Add-ons that are specific to the EDR product. The logs must also be mapped to the Processes node of the Endpoint data model. Use the Splunk Common Information Model (CIM) to normalize the field names and speed up the data modeling process.

Known False Positives

Highly possible Server Administrators will troubleshoot with ntdsutil.exe, generating false positives.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
50.0 100 50 Active Directory NTDS export on $dest$

:information_source: The Risk Score is calculated by the following formula: Risk Score = (Impact * Confidence/100). Initial Confidence and Impact is set by the analytic author.


Test Dataset

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