The Microsoft Windows Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC) reuses a known, static, zero-value initialization vector (IV) in AES-CFB8 mode. This allows an unauthenticated attacker to impersonate a domain-joined computer, including a domain controller, and potentially obtain domain administrator privileges.
The Microsoft Windows Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC) is a core authentication component of Active Directory that provides authentication for user and computer accounts. MS-NRPC uses an initialization vector (IV) of 0 (zero) in AES-CFB8 mode when authenticating computer accounts.
Zerologon: Unauthenticated domain controller compromise by subverting Netlogon cryptography (CVE-2020-1472) describes how this cryptographic failure allows a trivial statistical attack on the MS-NRPC authentication handshake:
The ComputeNetlogonCredential function, however, defines that this IV is fixed and should always consist of 16 zero bytes. This violates the requirements for using AES-CFB8 securely: its security properties only hold when IVs are random.
When encrypting a message consisting only of zeroes, with an all-zero IV, there is a 1 in 256 chance that the output will only contain zeroes as well.
By choosing a client challenge and ClientCredential of all zeros, an attacker has a 1 in 256 chance of successfully authenticating as any domain-joined computer. By impersonating a domain controller, an attacker can take additional steps to change a computer's Active Directory password (Exploit step 4: changing a computer’s AD password) and potentially gain domain administrator privileges (Exploit step 5: from password change to domain admin).
An unauthenticated attacker with network access to a domain controller can impersonate any domain-joined computer, including a domain controller. Among other actions, the attacker can set an empty password for the domain controller's Active Directory computer account, causing a denial of service, and potentially allowing the attacker to gain domain administrator privileges.
The compromise of Active Directory infrastructure is likely a significant and costly impact.
Apply an update
On August 11, 2020, Microsoft issued an advisory that provides updates for this vulnerability.
Enable secure RPC enforcement mode
The August 2020 updates for CVE-2020-1472 include changes to domain controllers that can optionally be enabled to require secure RPC for Netlogon secure channel connections. The changes to require secure RPC must be made to receive the most complete protection from this vulnerability. For systems that have the August 2020 update for CVE-2020-1472, enabling secure RPC enforcement mode will change domain controller behavior to require Netlogon secure channel connections using secure MS-NRPC. This change to enable enforcement mode will be deployed automatically on or after February 9, 2021.
Microsoft acknowledges Tom Tervoort of Secura for reporting this vulnerability.
This document was written by Eric Hatleback, Art Manion, and Will Dormann.
Alpine Linux Affected
Arch Linux Affected
Debian GNU/Linux Affected
Fedora Project Affected
Gentoo Linux Affected
Micro Focus Affected
Red Hat Inc. Affected
Slackware Linux Inc. Affected
SUSE Linux Affected
Blackberry QNX Not Affected
FreeBSD Project Not Affected
Illumos Not Affected
Joyent Not Affected
Arista Networks Inc. Unknown
Aspera Inc. Unknown
Dell EMC Unknown
DragonFly BSD Project Unknown
F5 Networks Inc. Unknown
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Unknown
HP Inc. Unknown
Juniper Networks Unknown
Marconi Inc. Unknown
NEC Corporation Unknown
Openwall GNU/*/Linux Unknown
Oracle Corporation Unknown
The OpenBSD project Unknown
Unisys Corporation Unknown