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Ransomware: Analysing the Impact on Windows Active Directory Domain Services

McDonald, Grant; Papadopoulos, Pavlos; Pitropakis, Nikolaos; Ahmad, Jawad; Buchanan, William J.


Grant McDonald


Ransomware has become an increasingly popular type of malware across the past decade and continues to rise in popularity due to its high profitability. Organisations and enterprises have become prime targets for ransomware as they are more likely to succumb to ransom demands as part of operating expenses to counter the cost incurred from downtime. Despite the prevalence of ransomware as a threat towards organisations, there is very little information outlining how ransomware affects Windows Server environments, and particularly its proprietary domain services such as Active Directory. Hence, we aim to increase the cyber situational awareness of organisations and corporations that utilise these environments. Dynamic analysis was performed using three ransomware variants to uncover how crypto-ransomware affects Windows Server-specific services and processes. Our work outlines the practical investigation undertaken as WannaCry, TeslaCrypt, and Jigsaw were acquired and tested against several domain services. The findings showed that none of the three variants stopped the processes and decidedly left all domain services untouched. However, although the services remained operational, they became uniquely dysfunctional as ransomware encrypted the files pertaining to those services.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 24, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 26, 2022
Publication Date 2022-02
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 31, 2022
Journal Sensors
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 3
Article Number 953
Keywords ransomware; WannaCry; TeslaCrypt; Jigsaw; Windows Server; Active Directory Services
Public URL


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