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Definition: CrackMapExec, commonly abbreviated as CME, is a post-exploitation tool and Swiss Army knife for pentesters, red teamers, and cyber security professionals. It is designed to facilitate the assessment of large Active Directory networks by automating the exploitation of vulnerabilities and offering a variety of modules for credential gathering, lateral movement, and reconnaissance.

CME leverages SMB (Server Message Block) and other protocols to authenticate across networks, execute commands, propagate malware, and extract useful information from networked machines. This open-source toolkit, typically used in conjunction with other tools such as Metasploit, is valued for its efficiency in automating various tasks that, when done manually, would be time-consuming and repetitive.

The tool also aids in identifying systems that may be susceptible to known exploits or configurations prone to abuse. While CME is a powerful asset for legitimate security tasks, it can also be misused by attackers, underscoring the need for robust network security measures.

Key Characteristics:

  • Network Efficiency: Streamlines various network penetration tasks, allowing for quick identification and exploitation of target systems.
  • Modular Design: Comes with a suite of versatile modules that extend CME’s functionality for different tasks.
  • Automation: Can simultaneously target multiple systems within a network, automating credential testing and exploiting known vulnerabilities.
  • Multiprotocol Support: Works not just with SMB, but also other protocols like WinRM, MSSQL, and more.


  • Real-World Example: During an internal penetration test, a security consultant uses CME to test network resilience against lateral movement by attempting to spread across nodes using a list of known compromised credentials.
  • Hypothetical Scenario: After gaining initial foothold in a corporate network, a red team member uses CME to enumerate local admin credentials and exploit misconfigurations to access higher-privileged accounts.

Related Terms:

  • Penetration Testing: The practice of simulating a cyber attack against computer systems to identify exploitable vulnerabilities.
  • Lateral Movement: The techniques that cyber attackers use to move deeper into a network in search of sensitive data and assets.
  • Active Directory: A directory service developed by Microsoft that provides a variety of network services, commonly a target of tools like CME during security assessments.

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