Monday, June 12, 2017

Attacking the CLR - AppDomainManager Injection

I have been interested in attacking CLR to be able to manipulate .NET apps, like PowerShell.
For example using .NET profilers here:

Recently I was reading this article about the CLR and execution events:

One of the interesting things I stumbled on was this reference to CLR tuning:

Of particular interest I saw these environment variables that can be set. You can also set these in an app.config file.

AppDomain Managers are interesting in that they setup the environment, before your .NET app runs.

I'll keep this short.  You can manipulate the runtime, by getting your code to execute prior to the application.

Here's some code.

This also can work against PowerShell.exe too.  ;-)

I leave it to you to explore whats possible here.

Have fun, keep asking questions!



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Do you really need quantum mechanics to solve RSA?

Suppose for example you could calculate the square root of an arbitrary number modulo the product of two primes. What would the implications be?

There is an algorithm to compute the square root modulo a prime number.  Daniel Shanks was a brilliant mathematician who came up with really interesting equations...

One of them being Shanks-Tonelli.  Or Tonelli-Shanks... ;-)

So who the really cares.  Well, in some circles, Daniel Shank's work is considered very important...  I leave it to the reader to determine that.

Here is some math.

Suppose you need to calculate the square root of 18 mod 23.

How would you do this?  You need to find a such that a^2 == 18 mod 23

Take a minute to work that out.

The answer is of course 15.  or 8 since 8 + 15 == 23 or 0 mod 23

But what if you could compute a square root modulo the product of two primes?

Lets take 17 x 23 = 391

Now, you need to calculate the square root of 179 modulo 391...

Pretty easy since 391 is small.  Check this out

So who cares?

Well... the square root is 54 or 337
or maybe 31 or 360

Ah Ha....  so 54^2 == 179 modulo 391
So does 31^2 == 179 modulo 391

HOLY SHIT, maybe lol

so wtf if you take gcd(54 -31,391)  ???

suddenly you see that 54-31 == 23 which is a factor of 391.

Well that sucks right?

Cause your RSA  crypto depends on people not knowing the factors...  And your crypto probably depends on the human spirit giving up and not trying to solve this equation...

I hope you didn't choose a weak prime.  Such that square roots can be computed by a^(p+1)/4...

If you think that RSA has not been solved...  Well, it probably has been (Pure speculation lol)  But some agencies hire the best and brightest Mathematical minds)  Check out this for reading (

Ok so if a generalized version of Shanks-Tonelli is known... Then RSA and other crypto systems fall...

Thats all for now.

Heavily influence by "The Truth" IPA



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Subvert CLR Process Listing With .NET Profilers

I recently stumbled onto an interesting capability of the CLR.

"A profiler is a tool that monitors the execution of another application. A common language runtime (CLR) profiler is a dynamic link library (DLL) that consists of functions that receive messages from, and send messages to, the CLR by using the profiling API. The profiler DLL is loaded by the CLR at run time."

So. whats the big deal, really?

Turns out in .NET 4 allows for Registry-Free Profiler Startup and Attach.  This can lead to some unintended consequences.

In order for this work, you need to set 3 environment variables.

Again from MSDN:

Startup-Load Profilers

A startup-load profiler is loaded when the application to be profiled starts. The profiler is registered through the value of the following environment variable:
Starting with the .NET Framework 4, you use either the COR_PROFILER or the COR_PROFILER_PATH environment variable to specify the location of the profiler. (Only COR_PROFILER is available in earlier versions of the .NET Framework.)
  • COR_PROFILER={CLSID of profiler}
  • COR_PROFILER_PATH=full path of the profiler DLL
If COR_PROFILER_PATH is not present, the common language runtime (CLR) uses the CLSID from COR_PROFILER to locate the profiler in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT of the registry. If COR_PROFILER_PATH is present, the CLR uses its value to locate the profiler and skips registry lookup. (However, you still have to set COR_PROFILER, as discussed in the following list of rules.)
So, if our objective is to hijack a .NET process, like say PowerShell, we don't really want a Profiler to load, we just want to be able to manipulate the process.  It turns out you can get a dll to load into the .NET process that is not even a Profiler.  This was interesting to me.  The CLSID is just random for this purpose.

So, I had this idea, I could write quick POC DLL that hides a process from PowerShell.  Well, short story is this.  If you load a Profiler, and don't properly setup the Profiler structures, then the .NET CLR will promptly eject your dll.

For details of how we hook and hide see this article.

Thats ok.  ;-)  So what I did was create a DLL that loads another DLL from memory, and then when my profiler gets evicted, my hooking dll will stay resident.  So the Profiler just becomes a bootstrap.

The result seen in this clip below.  We enumerate processes with Get-Process in a "non-profiled" PowerShell process.  We get the details just fine.  Then we set our environment variables, load our PowerShell process, and now, the processes are not seen.


Why does this matter.  As PowerShell become the window through which many sysadmins poll and interrogate the operating system.  By using attaching a malicious profiler, we can mold the output so to speak to be what we want.

This was just a very basic example.  I leave it up to you to explore further capabilities of tampering with the CLR/.NET applications through profilers.

Hope that was helpful.

Thats all for today.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Using Application Compatibility Shims


There have been number of blog posts and presentations on Application Compatibility Shims in the past [See References at End].  Application Compatibility is a framework to resolve issues with older applications; however, it has additional use cases that are interesting. For example, EMET is implemented using shims[1,2]. Please see the Reference section below for additional reading and resources.  In short, this document will focus on the following tactics: injecting shellcode via In-Memory patches and injecting a DLL into a 32bit process, and lastly, detection and shim artifacts will be discussed.  An In-Memory patch has this advantage over backdooring an executable: it this preserves the signature and integrity checks.  This technique can also bypass some Application Whitelisting deployments.  AppLocker, for example, would allow the startup of a trusted application, and then an In-Memory patch could be applied to alter the application.

Shim Installation:
The shim infrastructure is built into Windows PE loader. Shims can be applied to a process during startup. There is a two-step process that I will refer to as “Match and Patch”.  The Match process checks the registry on process create and looks for a relevant entry. If an entry is found, the Match process further checks the associated .sdb file for additional attributes, version number for example.  Based on my understanding, the sdb does need to be present on disk. I have not encountered any tactics to load an sdb file from memory or remotely. When the Shim Databases are installed they are registered in the registry at the following two locations:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Custom
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\InstalledSDB

These entries can be created manually, using sdb-explorer.exe, or using the built-in tool sdbinst.exe. If you use sdbinst.exe there will also be an entry created in the Add/Remove Programs section. In order to install a shim, you need local administrator privileges.

An example of a shim entry would look like this:

Once the shim has been installed, it will be triggered upon each execution of that application. Remember, there is further validation of the executable inside of the sdb file. For example, matching a specific version or binary pattern. I have not found a way to apply a shim when a DLL is loaded, or apply a shim to an already running process.  These registry keys plus the actual sdb file are the indicators for the Blue Team that a shim is present.  

Shim Creation and Detonation:
There are two tools we can use to create shims. First, the Microsoft provided Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT).  Second, the tool created by Jon Erickson, sdb-explorer.exe.  ACT will allow us to inject a DLL into a 32-bit process, while sdb-explorer allows us to create an In-Memory binary patch to inject shellcode. The ACT has no ability to parse or create an In-Memory patch. This can only be done via sdb-explorer.

There is an excellent walk-through here on creating an InjectDLL Demo.

For the remainder of this document, we will focus on using sdb-explorer to create and install an In-Memory patch.

My testing seems to indicate this will not work on Windows 10.  This tactic will only work on Windows versions <= 8.1.  I could be wrong about this, so please share any insight if you have it.

There are two approaches you can take with sdb-explorer.  First, you can simply Replace or write arbitrary bytes to a region in memory. Second, you can match a block of bytes and overwrite. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. It is worth noting that this method of persistence will be highly specialized to the environment you are operating in. For example, you will need to know specific offsets in the binary   

For this to work, we need an offset to write out shellcode to. I like to use CFF Explorer.

Here we are going to target the AddressOfEntryPoint. There are other approaches as well.  The drawback to this approach is the application doesn’t actually execute. In order to do that you would need to execute your patch and then return control to the application.  I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Once we have the offset, we can use the syntax provided by sdb-explorer to write our shellcode into the process at load time.

If we break down the syntax, it is pretty easy to understand.

Line 7. 0x39741 matches the PE Checksum. This is in the PE Header.

Line 8. 0x3689 is the offset of our AddressOfEntryPoint.  What follows is just stock shellcode to execute calc.

Once our configuration file is created, we “compile” or create the sdb.
sdb-explorer.exe –C notepad.conf –o notepad.sdb.

Then install it:

sdb-explorer.exe –r notepad.sdb –a notepad.exe

You can also use:

sdbinst –p notepad.sdb.

In either case it requires local administrative rights to install a shim.

Notepad.exe is nice. But more likely shim targets would be explorer.exe, lsass.exe, dllhost.exe, svchost.exe. Things that give you long term persistence. Of course your shellcode would need to return control to the application, instead of just hijacking AddressOfEntryPoint.

Shim Detection:
There are two primary indicators that a shim is being used. First, the registry keys mentioned above.  Second, the presence of the .sdb file. The presence of the .sdb file is not necessarily bad, it would be wise to build a baseline to understand which shims your organization uses and which would be an indicator. There was a good example of detecting shim databases given here:  Hunting Memory, on slide 27.  Also, some shim registration activity can be recorded in the Microsoft-Windows-Application-Experience-Program-Telemetry.evtx.




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Consider Application Whitelisting with Device Guard

I realize that Twitter is a difficult medium to articulate full discussions, so I wanted to engage the topic with a blog post. Over the last couple years, I have focused a fair amount of time drawing attention to the use/misuse of trusted binaries to circumvent Application Whitelisting (AW) controls.  What I have not often discussed, is the actual effectiveness that I have seen of using AW. I would like to take the time to describe what I see are the strengths of AW, and encourage organizations to consider if it might work for their environments.
The genesis of this discussion came from my colleague, Matt Graeber (@mattifestation).  We’ve spent a fair amount of time looking at this technology as it applies to Microsoft’s Device Guard. And while we agree there are bypasses, we also believe that a tool like Device Guard can dramatically reduce the attack surface and tools available to an adversary.
One question you must ask yourself and your organization is this… How long will you allow the adversary to use EXE/DLL tradecraft to persist and operate in your environment? I have heard a great deal of discussion and resistance to deploying AW. However, I personally have not heard anyone who has deployed the technology say that they regret whitelisting.
When the organization I used to work for deployed AW in 2013, it freed up our team from several tasks.  It gave us time to hunt and prepare for the more sophisticated adversary.  There are many commodity attacks and targeted attacks that take various forms.  However, one commonality they all often share is to drop an EXE or DLL to disk and execute. It is this form of attack that you can mitigate with AW.  With whitelisting, you force the adversary to retool and find new tradecraft, because unapproved, unknown binaries will not execute…
How long will you continue to perform IR and hunt C2 that is emitted from an unapproved PE file?
Here are some of the common reasons I have heard for NOT implementing AW. There are probably others, but this summarizes many.

1.     Aren’t there trivial bypasses? It doesn’t stop all attacks.
2.     Too much effort.
3.     It doesn’t scale.
I’ll take each of these and express my opinion. I’m open to dialogue on this and if I’m wrong, I would like to hear it and correct course…
1.     Aren’t there trivial bypasses to AW?  It doesn’t stop all attacks.
There are indeed ways to bypass AW.  I have found a few.  However, most of the bypasses I have demonstrated require that you have already obtained access to, and have the ability to execute commands on the target system. How does the attacker gain that privilege in the first place if you deny them arbitrary PE’s?  Most likely it will be from a memory corruption exploit in the browser or other application.  How many exploit kits, macros, or tools lead to dropping a binary and executing it?  Many do…
Most of the bypasses I have used are rooted in misplaced trust.  Often administrators of AW follow a pattern of “Scan A Gold Image & Approve Everything There”.  As Matt Graeber has pointed out to me several times, this is not the best approach.  There are far too many binaries that are included by default that can be abused. A better approach here is to explicitly trust binaries or publishers of code.  I can’t think of a single bypass that I have discovered that can’t be mitigated by the whitelist itself.  For example, use the whitelist to block regsvr32.exe or InstallUtil.exe.
Don’t fall victim to the Perfect Solution Fallacy.  The fact that AW doesn’t stop all attacks, or the fact that there are bypasses, is no reason to dismiss this as a valid defense.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” –Edmund Burke
AW, in my opinion, can help you get control of software executing in your environment. It actually gives teeth to those Software Installation Policies. For example, it only takes that one person trying to find the Putty ssh client, and downloading a version with a backdoor to cause problems in your network.  For an example of how to backdoor putty see this recent post. Or use The Backdoor Factory (BDF). The thing is, it doesn’t matter that putty has a backdoor.  The original file has been altered, and will not pass the approval process for the whitelist, and the file will be denied execution. Only the approved version of putty would be able to execute in your environment.
2.     Too much effort.
Well… I’ve heard this, or some variation of it.  I understand that deploying and maintaining AW takes tremendous effort if you want to be successful.  It actually will take training multiple people to know how to make approvals and help with new deployments.
You will actually have to work very closely with your client teams, those in IT that manage the endpoints.  These partnerships can only strengthen the security team’s ability to respond to incidents. You can leverage tools like SCCM to assist with AW approvals and deployments.
The level of effort decreases over time.  Yes, there will be long hours on the front end, deploying configurations, reviewing audit logs, updating configs, etc… Some admins are so worried they will block something inadvertently; they are paralyzed to even try.  I think you’ll find out, Yes, you will block something legitimate.  Accept that this will happen, it’s a learning process, take it in steps.  Use that as an opportunity to get better.
I’ll say it again; I haven’t met anyone who has made the effort to deploy AW say that they regret the decision…
If you think it’s too hard, why not try 10% of the organization and see what you learn?
Stop telling me you aren’t doing this because it’s too hard… Anything worth doing well is going to require some effort and determination.
3.     It doesn’t scale.
Nope, it may not in your environment.  I never said it would… You must decide how far to go.  You may not get AW everywhere, but you can still win with it deployed in critical locations.  The image below describes how I think about how AW applies to different parts of your organization.  It is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  There are approaches and patterns that affect how you will deploy and configure whitelists. I think you should start with the bottom, and work your way up the stack.
Start to think of your environment in terms of how dynamic the systems are.  At the low end of the are those fixed function systems.  Think about systems similar to Automated Teller Machines.  These often only need to be able to apply patches.  New software rarely ever lands here.  Next, you have various department templates, each department will be unique, but likely fits a pattern.  Then IT Admins, who often need to install software to test or have more dynamic requirements.  At the top of the environment, are Developer workstations.  These are systems that are emitting code and testing.  I’m not saying you can’t whitelist here.  You can, I’ve done it.  But it will require some changes to build processes, code signing etc…

Yes, this is an overly simplified analogy, but I hope it helps you see where you can begin to prioritize AW deployments.
So, begin to reorient how you think about your systems to how dynamic they are.  You will have your quickest wins and earliest wins by starting at the bottom and moving your way up the hierarchy.


I am curious for open debate here.  If AW sucks, then let me hear why.  Tell me what your experience has been.  What would have made it work?  I’m interested in solutions that make a long term actual difference in your environment.  It is my opinion that AW works, despite some flaws.  It can dramatically reduce the attack patterns used by an adversary and increase the noise they generate.  I also believe that by implementing AW, your security teams can gain efficiencies how they operate. I am open to learn here.
If you are tasked with defending your organization, I’m asking you, as you begin to roll out Windows 10, to consider using Device Guard.

Ok, that’s all I have today.  Sincere feedback welcome.  If you think I’m wrong, I’d like to hear why...



Bypassing Application Whitelisting using MSBuild.exe - Device Guard Example and Mitigations

I’ve said it before, but when you start down the road of Application Whitelisting, you need to take the extra steps to look at the functionality of the applications you are trusting, and see if they come with “extra features”.
By using signed Microsoft binaries, and injecting code into them, we effectively cloak our binaries so that they can execute, even under the watchful eye of Device Guard. 

It is important to realize; this is a misplaced trust bypass.  The product works fine, in fact, you can even use Device Guard to mitigate against this bypass. See details below.

Device Guard is a new addition and is very effective at mitigating untrusted code. Please don’t mistake this bypass as a reason to dismiss this defense.  I highly recommend Device Guard to organizations.  For additional information, you can watch this talk:

In May of this year, I started looking into a way to bypass Device Guard. I like to start with default utilities that may be able to execute code as they are often implicitly trusted.  None of my previous AppLocker bypasses would work against Device Guard, so it was time to try something new.
I built up a base Windows 10 Enterprise Workstation.  An example Device Guard configuration can be found here by Matt Graeber (@mattifestation):

I found a Microsoft signed tool called MSBuild.exe. This is a default .NET utility that ships with Windows. I usually start with the question; ‘HOW could I get MSbuild to execute code for me?’.

Turns out, MSBuild.exe has a built in capability called “Inline Tasks”.  These are snippets of C# code that can be used to enrich the C# build process.  Essentially, what this does, is take an XML file, compile and execute in memory on the target, so it is not a traditional image/module execution event.

If you trust MSbuild on your system, or if it gets picked up in a “Gold” Image for Device Guard, it can be used to execute arbitrary binaries. 

Inline Task Reference:

So, I wrote a quick POC to make sure I could get my code to execute on the system, before going too far down the road.

Once I knew the code would execute via MSbuild.exe, I set out to wrap Mimikatz into a file to allow it to execute inside of MSBuild.exe. This wasn’t too hard, since I had done something like this for InstallUtil.exe last year.  I also wrote a utility to remove PowerShell Constrained Language mode, if needed.

Examples:  Tested on Windows 10 x64 Only - 
1.)   Hello World!
2.)   Remove Constrained Language Mode in PowerShell
3.)   Mimikatz Execute -
b.)   Note: This simply executes Mimikatz, it does NOT bypass Credential Guard.

You will need to monitor execution of this tool in your environment. It is my belief, that you will likely not need this tool on devices that run Device Guard, but it will be up to you to monitor execution events to determine that.  Tools like Sysmon or even Device Guard in Audit Mode.
Also monitoring 4688 events

One documented mitigation solution using Device Guard is to follow the guidance in Matt’s blog reference below to be certain that untrustworthy binaries don’t execute.

Matt has also created a sample configuration to block these types of binaries.  This can be found here:

Here is what I have been trying to say for some time…"If you authorize things to run that that can then be used to run arbitrary code, then it can bypass many whitelisting applications. This means for a real lockdown administrators need to block these types of binaries.  MsBuild.exe being the latest in a growing list of default tools that behave this way."

If you find these types of files, help us catalog how they work and we can deploy proper mitigations. I will be posting these only when I have the vetted mitigation details ready for defenders.

Proof of Concept Video:  With Music ;-)

That’s all I have for today.