Cyber Security News

Researchers Detail Microsoft Entra Connect Sync & Cloud Sync from Hackers’ Perspective

In a recent analysis, cybersecurity researchers have examined the details of Microsoft Entra Connect Sync and Cloud Sync, revealing potential vulnerabilities from a hacker’s perspective.

The detailed examination, published by Tier Zero Security, provides a comprehensive overview of the synchronization methods used by Microsoft Entra, a critical component for identity and access management in cloud environments.

Microsoft Entra Connect Sync

Microsoft Entra Connect Sync is a tool designed to synchronize on-premises directories with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).

This synchronization is essential for organizations that maintain hybrid environments, ensuring that user identities and attributes are consistent across both on-premises and cloud platforms.

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  • Synchronization Process: Entra Connect Sync uses a series of connectors to link on-premises Active Directory (AD) with Azure AD. These connectors handle the import and export of directory data, ensuring that changes in the on-premises AD are reflected in Azure AD.
  • Data Flow: The data flow involves several stages, including import, synchronization, and export. During the import stage, data from the on-premises AD is brought into the Entra Connect Sync metaverse. The synchronization stage processes this data, and the export stage pushes the synchronized data to Azure AD.
  • Security Measures: Entra Connect Sync employs various security measures, such as encryption of data in transit and at rest, to protect sensitive information. Additionally, it supports multi-factor authentication (MFA) to enhance security during the synchronization process.

Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync

Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync is a cloud-native solution designed to simplify the synchronization of on-premises directories with Azure AD. Unlike Entra Connect Sync, Cloud Sync is fully managed by Microsoft, reducing the administrative overhead for organizations.

  • Agent-Based Architecture: Cloud Sync uses lightweight agents installed on-premises to facilitate synchronization. These agents communicate with the Azure AD Cloud Sync service, which orchestrates the synchronization process.
  • Scalability: The cloud-native architecture of Cloud Sync allows it to scale easily, accommodating the needs of large organizations with complex directory structures.
  • Security Features: Cloud Sync includes robust security features, such as automatic updates and patching, to ensure that the synchronization process remains secure. It also supports conditional access policies to control access to synchronized data.

According to a technical report published by researchers at Tier Zero Security, both sync methods contain flaws that could be exploited if not properly configured and secured.

The vulnerabilities could allow attackers to intercept data in transit, tamper with synchronization processes, and potentially gain access to critical systems and data.

Two Potential Attack Vectors

Researchers discovered a possible attack method in this situation, which involved the exfiltration of passwords. As the provisioning agent sends user password hashes, it likely converts the NTLM hash into the Microsoft Entra ID password hash format.

The gMSA service account present on all hosts running the provisioning agent service is vulnerable to a potential attack vector. If local administrative access to one of these hosts is obtained, there is a possibility of impersonating the service account.

The detailed analysis by Tier Zero Security highlights the importance of robust security measures in the synchronization processes of Microsoft Entra Connect Sync and Cloud Sync.

Organizations leveraging these tools must remain vigilant, ensuring that their synchronization configurations are secure and that they are aware of potential vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

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Guru Baran

Gurubaran is a co-founder of Cyber Security News and GBHackers On Security. He has 10+ years of experience as a Security Consultant, Editor, and Analyst in cybersecurity, technology, and communications.

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