Active Directory Flexible Authentication Secure Tunneling (FAST)

Let’s discuss Flexible Authentication Secure Tunneling (FAST).

This new feature implemented in the Windows Server 2012 KDC, provides protection against password-based dictionary attacks. FAST is an extra level of security above password lockout policies and works at the Kerberos authentication level.

What is FAST and Kerberos Armoring?

Sometimes referred to as one in the same, FAST provides offline dictionary attack prevention, that work around Kerberos errors being spoofed. If the Kerberos authentication sequence fails, authentication falls back to NTLM authentication, a less secure method.

FAST is defined by RFC 6113 and RFC 4851, to prevent spoofing Kerberos errors. FAST is also referred to as Kerberos Armoring. FAST provides a secured and protected channel to provide a protected channel between a domain-joined client and DC and involves the LSA (Local Security Authority), the Netlogon Service, and the KDC. FAST protects Kerberos pre-authentication data for the “AS_REQ” by using the LSK (randomly generated logon session key) from the TGT (Ticket Granting Ticket during the Kerberos authentication sequence) as a shared secret to fully encrypt Kerberos messages and sign all possible Kerberos errors. The shared secret provides an additional “salt” in the Kerberos authentication process. This results in increased processing time, but it does not change the Kerberos service ticket size. The shared secret provides DCs the ability to return Kerberos authentication errors, which in turn, protects against spoofing, man-in-the middle, and other attacks.

FAST and Windows Server 2008

Although Windows Server 2012 and newer domain controllers are required to support this feature, there are no requirements for the domain or forest functional levels to be at Windows Server 2012. Therefore, you can have Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controllers, with forest functional level on Windows Server 2008.

The only exception is if you are implementing claims across a forest trust.

FAST requirements

  • Functional levels must be at least Windows Server 2008.
  • For full support, Domain and Forest Functional Levels must be at Windows Server 2012, which means that all domain controllers must be at least Windows Server 2012.
  • The Active Directory Domain must support Claims Based Access Control (CBAC) and Kerberos Armoring policy for all Windows Server 2012 domain controllers.
  • CBAC is an authorization method granting or denying access based on an arbitrary authorization decision algorithm using data in claims.

Additional Reading on CBAC:
Authorization in Claims-Aware Web Applications and Services

The domain can be configured either to require Kerberos armoring, or use it upon request. This allows backward support for legacy clients.This can be enabled by using two Group Policy settings:

  • “Support CBAC and Kerberos armoring”
  • “All DCs can support CBAC and Require Kerberos Armoring”

Additional Reading

What’s New in Kerberos Authentication?

The Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling Extensible Authentication Protocol Method (EAP-FAST)

A Generalized Framework for Kerberos Pre-Authentication



Stay tuned. This is part of a release of previously unreleased documentation.

Ace Fekay
MVP, MCT, MCSE 2012, MCITP EA & MCTS Windows 2008/R2, Exchange 2013, 2010 EA & 2007, MCSE & MCSA 2003/2000, MCSA Messaging 2003
Microsoft Certified Trainer
Microsoft MVP – Directory Services

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