VU#490028: Microsoft Windows Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC) uses insecure AES-CFB8 initialization vector

Vulnerability Note: VU#490028: Microsoft Windows Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC) uses insecure AES-CFB8 initialization vector




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.

Source: CERT.ORG