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Hijack Execution Flow: Path Interception by Unquoted Path

Description from ATT&CK

Adversaries may execute their own malicious payloads by hijacking vulnerable file path references. Adversaries can take advantage of paths that lack surrounding quotations by placing an executable in a higher level directory within the path, so that Windows will choose the adversary's executable to launch.

Service paths (Citation: Microsoft CurrentControlSet Services) and shortcut paths may also be vulnerable to path interception if the path has one or more spaces and is not surrounded by quotation marks (e.g., C:\unsafe path with space\program.exe vs. "C:\safe path with space\program.exe"). (Citation: Help eliminate unquoted path) (stored in Windows Registry keys) An adversary can place an executable in a higher level directory of the path, and Windows will resolve that executable instead of the intended executable. For example, if the path in a shortcut is C:\program files\myapp.exe, an adversary may create a program at C:\program.exe that will be run instead of the intended program. (Citation: Windows Unquoted Services) (Citation: Windows Privilege Escalation Guide)

This technique can be used for persistence if executables are called on a regular basis, as well as privilege escalation if intercepted executables are started by a higher privileged process.

Atomic Tests

Atomic Test #1 - Execution of program.exe as service with unquoted service path

When a service is created whose executable path contains spaces and isn’t enclosed within quotes, leads to a vulnerability known as Unquoted Service Path which allows a user to gain SYSTEM privileges. In this case, if an executable program.exe in C:\ exists, C:\program.exe will be executed instead of test.exe in C:\Program Files\subfolder\test.exe.

Supported Platforms: windows

auto_generated_guid: 2770dea7-c50f-457b-84c4-c40a47460d9f


Name Description Type Default Value
service_executable Path of the executable used for the service and as the hijacked program.exe Path PathToAtomicsFolder\T1574.009\bin\WindowsServiceExample.exe

Attack Commands: Run with command_prompt! Elevation Required (e.g. root or admin)

copy #{service_executable} "C:\Program Files\windows_service.exe"
copy #{service_executable} "C:\program.exe"
sc create "Example Service" binpath= "C:\Program Files\windows_service.exe" Displayname= "Example Service" start= auto
sc start "Example Service"

Cleanup Commands:

sc stop "Example Service" >nul 2>&1
sc delete "Example Service" >nul 2>&1
del "C:\Program Files\windows_service.exe" >nul 2>&1
del "C:\program.exe" >nul 2>&1
del "C:\Time.log" >nul 2>&1