Articles tagged windows

  1. Finding the Base of the Windows Kernel

    Recently-ish (~2020), Microsoft changed the way the kernel image is mapped and also some implementation details of hal.dll. The kernel changes have caused existing methods of finding the base of the kernel via shellcode or a leak and arbitrary read to crash. This obviously isn't great, so I decided to figure out a way around the issue to support some code I've been writing in my free time (maybe more on that later).

    Our discussion is going to start at Windows 10 1903 and then move up through Windows 10 21H2. These changes are also still present in Windows 11.

    What's the point(er)?

    Finding the base of the kernel is important for kernel exploits and kernel shellcode. If you can find the base of the kernel you can look up functions inside of it via the export table in its PE header. Various functions inside of the kernel allow you to allocate memory, start threads, and resolve other kernel module bases via the PsLoadedModuleList. Without being able to utilize kernel routines and symbols, you're pretty limited in what you can do if you're executing in kernel. Hopefully this clarifies why this post is even necessary.


    Check out the full post for more details!
  2. Using kd.exe from VSCode Remote

    I wanted to do a small post here, just because the answer to this issue was sort of scattered on the internet. Bigger post coming soon on some kernel exploit technique stuff.

    It turns out that when running kd.exe for command line kernel debugging from VSCode remote, symbol resolution breaks completely. Why? Looks like when running from a service symsrv.dll uses WINHTTP for making requests instead of WININET. You can replicate this behavior in a normal shell by setting $env:DBGHELP_WINHTTP=1 in a powershell window and then running kd.exe. For some reason, WINHTTP tries to always use a proxy server, so you have to tell it not to via the following key in the registry:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Symbol Server -> NoInternetProxy -> DWORD = 1

    You should also set it in HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Symbol Server too, in case you are using a 32-bit debugger.

    This issue will happen with cdb.exe and kd.exe, so I hope this solution helps someone.

  3. Windows 10 KVAS and Software SMEP

    Kernel Virtual Address Shadow (KVAS) is the Windows implementation of Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI). It was introduced to mitigate the Meltdown vulnerability, which allowed an attacker that could execute code in user mode to leak out data from the kernel by abusing a side channel. While there are plenty of papers and blog posts on Meltdown and KVAS, there isn't much info on an interesting feature that KVAS enables: software SMEP. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your interest level in this post and Windows internals, understanding how software SMEP works requires knowledge of x86_64 paging, regular SMEP, and KVAS, so I'll be getting into those topics enough to give you an understanding of the underlying technology. Near the end I'll be running some experiments to show the internals of what I covered in the technical sections prior.

    x64 Paging on Windows

    First, I'm going to dive into a short introduction to x86_64 (4-level) paging, the structures involved, and WinDbg commands to interact with the page hierarchy, just so the experiments later on are more understandable; plus a lot of this information is almost never presented together, so I think collecting it in a here's what you need to know format is useful. If you want more info consult the Intel manuals or check out Connor McGarr's blog. Connor does a great job of explaining the basics, so you may want to read his post over before continuing here if you don't already have at least a vague understanding of multi-level paging.


    Check out the full post for more details!
  4. Scheduling Callbacks with WMI in C++

    I am going to be starting a series of posts on what I have learned on Windows pentesting and post exploitation. These posts will have a heavy focus on red teaming for competitions and cyber exercises. I am not a pentester, but I think some of the places to hide in Windows are cool so I want to write about them. These posts will include code snippets in powershell and C++. Much of this code I had to figure out how to write using the MSDN docs alone and feel that it is useful to put on the internet somewhere so others don't have to go through so much hassle to make it work.

    The topic of this post is scheduling persistent callbacks with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).

    WMI Explained (in brief)

    Essentially, WMI is an interface for configuration and information gathering on Windows systems. It is installed by default on Windows ME and up, which makes it a valuable resource for sysadmins and attackers. It contains information about all aspects of the system including processes, attached devices, and (I'm not kidding) games registered with Windows (wmic /namespace:\\root\cimv2\applications\games PATH game get). There is a lot of information here which will not be covered in this post. Exploration of what more WMI has to offer is left as an exercise to the reader!

    The interface consists of namespaces, classes, and instances of classes. Namespaces contain different classes and instances are instances of classes in a namespace. Think of a namespace as a database, a class as a table schema, and an instance as a row in that table. Instances can have properties and callable methods. One of the standard examples of method calling in WMI is creating a process with the WMI command line interface command wmic:

    wmic process call create calc.exe

    The above line will spawn calc.exe as the current user. ...

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