Malicious actors look for accounts that are springboards to other systems, according to nearly 300 attendees of Black Hat USA.

While black hat hackers and IT security professionals operate on different sides of the fence, a survey conducted at Black Hat USA in Las Vegas last month indicates that they concur on one important point: domain administrator and service accounts make tempting targets for attack.

The survey, conducted by Thycotic, included 300 individuals, of which the majority — 80% — identified themselves as security professionals or white hat hackers. The rest self-identified as black hats, grey hats, or “other.” Overall, 59% of all of the respondents see domain admin accounts as a highly desirable target while 44% say that service accounts are juicy bullseyes.

White hats and security pros cited service accounts (24%) and domain admin accounts (26%) as the most vulnerable targets, and black- and grey hat hackers preferred domain admin accounts (33%), root accounts (30%), and service accounts (20%).

Service accounts, which are used to perform maintenance functions or allow processes to communicate among themselves, are targeted because it’s easy to elevate privileges and then spread malicious activity to other accounts, according to the survey. These accounts also tend to have static user names and passwords associated with them. More than half (53%) of IT pros say they rotate those passwords no more than once a month.

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