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T1606.002 SAML Tokens

An adversary may forge SAML tokens with any permissions claims and lifetimes if they possess a valid SAML token-signing certificate.1 The default lifetime of a SAML token is one hour, but the validity period can be specified in the NotOnOrAfter value of the conditions … element in a token. This value can be changed using the AccessTokenLifetime in a LifetimeTokenPolicy.2 Forged SAML tokens enable adversaries to authenticate across services that use SAML 2.0 as an SSO (single sign-on) mechanism.3

An adversary may utilize Private Keys to compromise an organization’s token-signing certificate to create forged SAML tokens. If the adversary has sufficient permissions to establish a new federation trust with their own Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) server, they may instead generate their own trusted token-signing certificate.4 This differs from Steal Application Access Token and other similar behaviors in that the tokens are new and forged by the adversary, rather than stolen or intercepted from legitimate users.

An adversary may gain administrative Azure AD privileges if a SAML token is forged which claims to represent a highly privileged account. This may lead to Use Alternate Authentication Material, which may bypass multi-factor and other authentication protection mechanisms.4

Item Value
ID T1606.002
Sub-techniques T1606.001, T1606.002
Tactics TA0006
Platforms Azure AD, Google Workspace, IaaS, Office 365, SaaS, Windows
Permissions required Administrator
Version 1.2
Created 17 December 2020
Last Modified 20 September 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0677 AADInternals AADInternals can be used to create SAML tokens using the AD Federated Services token signing certificate.8
C0024 SolarWinds Compromise During the SolarWinds Compromise, APT29 created tokens using compromised SAML signing certificates.910


ID Mitigation Description
M1015 Active Directory Configuration For containing the impact of a previously forged SAML token, rotate the token-signing AD FS certificate in rapid succession twice, which will invalidate any tokens generated using the previous certificate.6
M1047 Audit Enable advanced auditing on AD FS. Check the success and failure audit options in the AD FS Management snap-in. Enable Audit Application Generated events on the AD FS farm via Group Policy Object.7
M1026 Privileged Account Management Restrict permissions and access to the AD FS server to only originate from privileged access workstations.7
M1018 User Account Management Ensure that user accounts with administrative rights follow best practices, including use of privileged access workstations, Just in Time/Just Enough Administration (JIT/JEA), and strong authentication. Reduce the number of users that are members of highly privileged Directory Roles.4


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0028 Logon Session Logon Session Creation
DS0002 User Account User Account Authentication
DS0006 Web Credential Web Credential Creation