Bypass Application Whitelisting using msiexec.exe (Multiple Methods)

In our previous article, we had discussed on “Windows Applocker Policy – A Beginner’s Guide” as they define the AppLocker rules for your application control policies and how to work with them. But Today you will learn how to bypass Applocker policies. In this post, we have block “cmd.exe” file using Windows applocker Policy and try to bypass this restriction to get command prompt.

Table of Content

Associated file formats where Applocker is applicable

Challenge 1: – Bypass Applocker with .msi file to get CMD

Little-Bit more about MSI file

Multiple Methods to get CMD

  • Generate a malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -1st Method
  • Generate a malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -2nd Method
  • Generate a malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -3rd Method

Challenge 2: – Make a local user member of the Administrative Group

  • Generate Malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -4th Method

Associated file formats where Applocker is Applicable

Windows applocker is a security policy that was introduced in home windows 7 and windows server 2008 r2 as a method to restrict the usage of unwanted Programs. In this an administrator can restrict the execution of the  following programs:

It depends entirely on the system admin which program or script he wants to set the applocker policy for program restriction or execution. There could a situation where Command Prompt (cmd.exe), or Powershell or dll file or batch file or rundll32.exe or regsrv.32 or regasm and many more are blocked.

Challenge 1: – Bypass Applocker with .msi file to get CMD

Let’s suppose you are in a similar situation where all the above-mentioned application is blocked and only Windows Installer file i.e. the .msi extension is allowed to run without any restrictions.

Then how will you use an MSI file to bypass these restrictions and get a full privilege shell?

Little-Bit more about MSI file

The MSI name comes from the original title of the program, Microsoft Installer. Since then the name has changed to Windows Installer. an MSI file extension file is a Windows Package Installer. An installation package contains all the information required to install or uninstall an application by Windows Installer. Each installation package contains a .msi file, which contains an installation database, a summary information stream and data streams for different parts of the installation.

The Windows Installer technology is divided into two parts that work in combination; these include a client-side installer service (Msiexec.exe) and a Microsoft Software Installation (MSI) package file. Windows Installer uses information contained in a package file to install the program.

The Msiexec.exe program is a component of Windows Installer. When it is called by Setup, Msiexec.exe uses Msi.dll to read the package (.msi) files, apply any transform (.mst) files, and incorporate command-line options supplied by Setup. The installer performs all installation-related tasks, including copying files to the hard disk, making registry modifications, creating shortcuts on the desktop, and displaying dialog boxes to prompt for user installation preferences when necessary.

When Windows Installer is installed on a computer, it changes the registered file type of .msi files so that if you double-click a .msi file, Msiexec.exe runs with that file.

Each MSI package file contains a relational-type database that stores instructions and data required to install (and remove) the program across many installation scenarios.

Multiple Methods to get CMD

Generate Malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -1st Method

Now let’s open a new terminal in Kali machine and generate a malicious MSI Package file as cmd.msi to get command prompt through it by utilizing the Windows/exec payload as follows:

Now transfer cmd.msi file in your Windows machine to obtain the command prompt shell as administrators.  Here we have used Python HTTP server for sharing the file in the network.

Once you have downloaded the.msi file on your local machine (Windows OS where cmd.exe is blocked by admin), you can use the following syntax to run the msi file with msiexec.exe inside the run prompt.

Syntax: msiexec /quiet /i

As soon as you will hit the above-mentioned command inside run prompt, you will get the Command Prompt.

 

Generate Malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -2nd  Method

Note: Even if you rename the cmd.msi file in another extension, it will bypass the rule.

Repeat above to generate an MSI file with the same payload as msfvenom and named cmd.png. Since I already have a cmd.msi file in my kali, I rename it as cmd.png and used the python server to transfer it.

Once you have downloaded the cmd.png file (which is actually an .msi file) on your local machine (Windows OS where cmd.exe is blocked by admin), you can use the following syntax to run the .msi file with msiexec.exe inside the run prompt.

Syntax: msiexec /q /i

As soon as you will hit the above-mentioned command inside run prompt, you will get the Command Prompt.

Generate Malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -3rd  Method

In the above methods, we obtain a command prompt by utilizing the Windows/exec payload but now we will use windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp payload to get full privilege command shell via meterpreter sessions.

Now again transfer shell.msi file in your Windows machine to obtain the command prompt shell as administrators and start multi/handler.  Here we have used Python HTTP server for sharing the file in the network.

Once you have downloaded the shell.msi file on your local machine (Windows OS where cmd.exe is blocked by admin), you can use the following syntax to run the .msi file with msiexec.exe inside the run prompt.

Syntax: msiexec /q /i

As soon as you will hit the above-mentioned command inside run prompt, you will get the Command Prompt via the meterpreter session using this exploit.

Challenge 2: – Make a local user member of Administrators Group

Let’s suppose you are in a similar situation where all the above-mentioned applications are blocked and only Windows Installer file i.e. the .msi extension is allowed to run without any restrictions.

Then how will you use an MSI file to bypass these restriction to make a local user member of Administrators Group where cmd.exe is block?

Note: Here aaru is a local user account which is not non-administrative user account as shown below:

As we know that due to applocker execution rule policy, cmd.exe is blocked on the local machine, therefore we cannot use the command prompt to add aaru in the administrator group.

Generate Malicious .msi file with Msfvenom -4th  Method

Generate an MSI package as admin.msi with the windows/exec payload that sends a command instructing to add local admin privileges for the user “aaru”, to the target machine.

Now transfer admin.msi file in your Windows machine to add aaru in the administrator’s group.  Here we have used Python HTTP server for sharing the file in the network.

Once you have downloaded the admin.msi file your local machine (Windows OS where cmd.exe is blocked by admin), you can use the following syntax to run the admin.msi file with msiexec.exe inside the run prompt.

Syntax: msiexec /q /i

As soon as you will hit the above-mentioned command inside run prompt, you can ensure that the aaru user has become part of the administrator’s account.

Hopefully, it becomes clear to you, that, how you can use a .msi file to compromise an operating system where cmd.exe and other applications are blocked by the administrator.

References:

//support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/310598/overview-of-the-windows-installer-technology

//oddvar.moe/2017/12/13/applocker-case-study-how-insecure-is-it-really-part-1/

Author: AArti Singh is a Researcher and Technical Writer at Hacking Articles an Information Security Consultant Social Media Lover and Gadgets. Contact here

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