Ethical Hacking Lessons — Building Free Active Directory Lab in Azure

Kamran Bilgrami
21 min readJan 6, 2020


The majority of IT experts concur that Active Directory is the dominant approach for managing the Windows domain networks. This is why adversaries get attracted to discover and exploit vulnerabilities within the Active Directory echo system. In order to defend against those types of attacks, there is a need for practice grounds where Pen Testers, Security Researchers and Ethical hackers can practice offensive and defensive methodologies.

This article is inspired by TheCyberMentor’s How to Build an Active Directory Hacking Lab video where he builds a local Active Directory lab for ethical hacking purposes. My personal preference is to use a cloud-based infrastructure wherever possible. I, therefore, decided to look into building a similar low-cost lab (free in this case) in Azure while following his videos. This article basically follows steps from How to Build an Active Directory Hacking Lab video but in a Windows Azure environment.

First Things First

It is important to note that some of the practices used during the creation of this lab are intentionally weak to better just to describe the possible attack vectors. You should do the necessary research before using any practices described here into your production or any other network(s).

Microsoft Azure

Its highly unlikely that you have not heard about the Microsoft Cloud platform — Azure. This article by no means is an intro to Azure. There are plenty of resources available if you want to learn it.

Microsoft offers a free Azure trial that includes free access to popular Azure products for 12 months, $200 credit to spend for the first 30 days of sign up, and access to more than 25 products that are always free.

Let’s set up an account to take advantage of these free services and create this Active Directory lab.

Account Creation

Let’s click on the Start Free button. If you have an existing Microsoft account, you…