The NTDSUtil tool may be used to dump a Microsoft Active Directory database to disk for processing with a credential access tool such as Mimikatz. This is performed by launching ntdsutil.exe as a privileged user with command line arguments indicating that media should be created for offline Active Directory installation and specifying a folder path. This process will create a copy of the Active Directory database, ntds.dit, to the specified folder path.

This requires filesystem data to determine whether files have been created.

ATT&CK Detection

Technique Subtechnique(s) Tactic(s) Level of Coverage
OS Credential Dumping NTDS Credential Access Low

Data Model References

Object Action Field
file create file_name
file create image_path


NTDSUtil - File Create (Pseudocode)

This base pseudocode looks for file create events where a file with a name of ntds.dit is created by the ntdsutil process.

files = search File:Create
ntds_dump = filter files where (
  file_name = "ntds.dit"  and
  image_path = "*ntdsutil.exe")
output ntds_dump

NTDSUtil - File Create (Splunk, Sysmon native)

A Splunk/Sysmon version of the above pseudocode.

index=__your_sysmon_index__ EventCode=11 TargetFilename="*ntds.dit" Image="*ntdsutil.exe"

NTDSUtil - File Create (Eql, EQL native)

An EQL version of the above pseudocode.

file where file_name == "ntds.dit" and process_name == "ntdsutil.exe"

Unit Tests

Test Case 1

  1. Open a Windows Command Prompt or PowerShell instance as Administrator
  2. Execute ntdsutil.exe “ac i ntds” “ifm” “create full c:\temp” q q