Friday, 11 June 2021

A Little More on the Task Scheduler's Service Account Usage

Recently I was playing around with a service which was running under a full virtual service account rather than LOCAL SERVICE or NETWORK SERVICE, but it had SeImpersonatePrivilege removed. Looking for a solution I recalled that Andrea Pierini had posted a blog about using virtual service accounts, so I thought I'd look there for inspiration. One thing which was interesting is that he mentioned that a technique abusing the task scheduler found by Clément Labro, which worked for LS or NS, didn't work when using virtual service accounts. I thought I should investigate it further, out of curiosity, and in the process I found an sneaky technique you can use for other purposes.

I've already blogged about the task scheduler's use of service accounts. Specifically in a previous blog post I discussed how you could get the TrustedInstaller group by running a scheduled task using the service SID. As the service SID is the same name as used when you are using a virtual service account it's clear that the problem lies in the way in this functionality is implemented and that it's likely distinct from how LS or NS token's are created.

The core process creation code for the task scheduler in Windows 10 is actually in the Unified Background Process Manager (UBPM) DLL, rather than in the task scheduler itself. A quick look at that DLL we find the following code:

HANDLE UbpmpTokenGetNonInteractiveToken(PSID PrincipalSid) {

  // ...

  if (UbpmUtilsIsServiceSid(PrinicpalSid)) {

    return UbpmpTokenGetServiceAccountToken(PrinicpalSid);


  if (EqualSid(PrinicpalSid, kNetworkService)) {

    Domain = L"NT AUTHORITY";

    User = L"NetworkService";

  } else if (EqualSid(PrinicpalSid, kLocalService)) {

    Domain = L"NT AUTHORITY";

    User = L"LocalService";


  HANDLE Token;

  if (LogonUserExExW(User, Domain, Password, 



    return Token;


  // ...


This UbpmpTokenGetNonInteractiveToken function is taking the principal SID from the task registration or passed to RunEx and determining what it represents to get back the token. It checks if the SID is a service SID, by which is means the NT SERVICE\NAME SID we used in the previous blog post. If it is it calls a separate function, UbpmpTokenGetServiceAccountToken to get the service token.

Otherwise if the SID is NS or LS then it specifies the well know names for those SIDs and called LogonUserExEx with the LOGON32_LOGON_SERVICE type. The UbpmpTokenGetServiceAccountToken function does the following:

TOKEN UbpmpTokenGetServiceAccountToken(PSID PrincipalSid) {

  LPCWSTR Name = UbpmUtilsGetAccountNamesFromSid(PrincipalSid);


  SC_HANDLE service = OpenService(scm, Name, SERVICE_ALL_ACCESS);

  HANDLE Token;

  GetServiceProcessToken(g_ScheduleServiceHandle, service, &Token);

  return Token;


This function gets the name from the service SID, which is the name of the service itself and opens it for all access rights (SERVICE_ALL_ACCESS). If that succeeds then it passes the service handle to an undocumented SCM API, GetServiceProcessToken, which returns the token for the service. Looking at the implementation in SCM this basically uses the exact same code as it would use for creating the token for starting the service. 

This is why there's a distinction between LS/NS and a virtual service account using Clément's technique. If you use LS/NS the task scheduler gets a fresh token from the LSA with no regards to how the service is configured. Therefore the new token has SeImpersonatePrivilege (or what ever else is allowed). However for a virtual service account the service asks the SCM for the service's token, as the SCM knows about what restrictions are in place it honours things like privileges or the SID type. Therefore the returned token will be stripped of SeImpersonatePrivilege again even though it'll technically be a different token to the currently running service.

Why does the task scheduler need some undocumented function to get the service token? As I mentioned in a previous blog post about virtual accounts only the SCM (well technically the first process to claim it's the SCM) is allowed to authenticate a token with a virtual service account. This seems kind of pointless if you ask me as you already need SeTcbPrivilege to create the service token, but it is what it is.

Okay, so now we know why Clément's technique doesn't get you back any privileges. You might now be asking, so what? Well one interesting behavior came from looking at how the task scheduler determines if you're allowed to specify a service SID as a principal. In my blog post of creating a task running as TrustedInstaller I implied it needed administrator access, which is sort of true and sort of not. Let's see the function the task scheduler uses to determine if the caller's allowed to run a task as a specified principal.

BOOL IsPrincipalAllowed(User& principal) {


  User caller;



  if (tsched::IsUserAdmin(caller) || 

      caller.IsLocalSystem(caller)) {

    return TRUE;



  if (principal == caller) {

    return TRUE;


  if (principal.IsServiceSid()) {

    LPCWSTR Name = principal.GetAccount();



    SC_HANDLE service = OpenService(scm, Name, SERVICE_ALL_ACCESS);


    if (service) {

      return TRUE;



  return FALSE;


The IsPrincipalAllowed function first checks if the caller is an administrator or SYSTEM. If it is then any principal is allowed (again not completely true, but good enough). Next it checks if the principal's user SID matches the one we're setting. This is what would allow NS/LS or a virtual service account to specify a task running as their own user account. 

Finally, if the principal is a service SID, then it tries to open the service for full access while impersonating the caller. If that succeeds it allows the service SID to be used as a principal. This behaviour is interesting as it allows for a sneaky way to abuse badly configured services. 

It's a well known check for privilege escalation that you enumerate all local services and see if any of them grant a normal user privileged access rights, mainly SERVICE_CHANGE_CONFIG. This is enough to hijack the service and get arbitrary code running as the service account. A common trick is to change the executable path and restart the service, but this isn't great for a few different reasons.

  1. Changing the executable path could easily be noticed.
  2. You probably want to fix the path back again afterwards, which is just a pain.
  3. If the service is currently running you'll need stop the service, then restart the modified service to get the code execution.
However, as long as your account is granted full access to the service you can use the task scheduler even without being an administrator to get code running as the service's user account, such as SYSTEM, without ever needing to modify the service's configuration directly or stop/start the service. Much more sneaky. Of course this does mean that the token the task runs under might have privileges stripped etc, but that's something which is easy enough to deal with (as long as it's not write restricted).

This is a good lesson on how to never take things on face value. I just assumed the caller would need administrator privileges to set the service account as the principal for a task. But it seems that's not actually required if you dig into the code. Hopefully someone will find it useful.

Footnote: If you read this far, you might also ask, can you get back SeImpersonatePrivilege from a virtual service account or not? Of course, you just use the named pipe trick I described in a previous blog post. Because of the way that the token is created the token stored in the logon session will still have all the assigned privileges. You can extract the token by using the named pipe to your own service, and use that to create a new process and get back all the missing privileges.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

The Much Misunderstood SeRelabelPrivilege

Based on my previous blog post I recently had a conversation with a friend and well-known Windows security researcher about token privileges. Specifically, I was musing on how SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege is not a "God" privilege. After some back and forth it seemed we were talking at cross purposes. My concept of a "God" privilege is one which the kernel considers to make a token elevated (see Reading Your Way Around UAC (Part 3)) and so doesn't make it available to any token with an integrity level less than High. They on the other hand consider such a privilege to be one where you can directly compromise a resource or the OS as a whole by having the privilege enabled, this might include privileges which aren't strictly a "God" from the kernel's perspective but can still allow system compromise.

After realizing the misunderstanding I was still surprised that one of the privileges in their list wasn't considering a "God", specifically SeRelabelPrivilege. It seems that there's perhaps some confusion as to what this privilege actually allows you to do, so I thought it'd be worth clearing it up.

Point of pedantry: I don't believe it's correct to say that a resource has an integrity level. It instead has a mandatory label, which is stored in an ACE in the SACL. That ACE contains a SID which maps to an integrity level and an mandatory policy which is stored in the access mask. The combination of integrity level and policy is what determines what access is granted (although you can't grant write up through the policy). The token on the other hand does have an integrity level and a separate mandatory policy, which isn't the same as the one in the ACE. Oddly you specify the value when calling SetTokenInformation using a TOKEN_MANDATORY_LABEL structure, confusing I know.

As with a lot of privileges which don't get used very often the official documentation is not great. You can find the MSDN documentation here. The page is worse than usual as it seems to have been written at a time in the Vista/Longhorn development when the Mandatory Integrity Control (MIC) (or as it calls it Windows Integrity Control (WIC)) feature was still in flux. For example, it mentions an integrity level above System, called Installer. Presumably Installer was the initial idea to block administrators modifying system files, which was replaced by the TrustedInstaller SID as the owner (see previous blog posts). There is a level above System in Vista, called Protected Process, which is not usable as protected processes was implementing using a different mechanism. 

Distilling what the documentation says the privilege does, it allows for two operations. First it allows you to set the integrity level in a mandatory label ACE to be above the caller's token integrity level. Normally as long as you've been granted WRITE_OWNER access to a resource you can set the label's integrity level to any value less than or equal to the caller's integrity level.

For example, if you try to set the resource's label to System, but the caller is only at High then the operation fails with the STATUS_INVALID_LABEL error. If you enable SeRelabelPrivilege then you can set this operation will succeed. 

Note, the privilege doesn't allow you to raise the integrity level of a token, you need SeTcbPrivilege for that. You can't even raise the integrity level to be less than or equal to the caller's integrity level, the operation can only decrease the level in the token without SeTcbPrivilege.

The second operation is that you can decrease the label. In general you can always decrease the label without the privilege, unless the resource's label is above the callers. For example you can set the label to Low without any special privilege, as long as you have WRITE_OWNER access on the handle and the current label is less than or equal to the caller's. However, if the label is System and the caller is High then they can't decrease the label and the privilege is required.

The documentation has this to say (emphasis mine):

"If malicious software is set with an elevated integrity level such as Trusted Installer or System, administrator accounts do not have sufficient integrity levels to delete the program from the system. In that case, use of the Modify an object label right is mandated so that the object can be relabeled. However, the relabeling must occur by using a process that is at the same or a higher level of integrity than the object that you are attempting to relabel."

This is a very confused paragraph. First it indicates that an administrator can't delete resource with Trusted Installer or System integrity labels and so requires the privilege to relabel. And then it says that the process doing the relabeling must be at a greater or equal integrity level to do the relabeling. Which if that is the case you don't need the privilege. Perhaps the original design on mandatory labels was more sticky, as in maybe you always needed SeRelabelPrivilege to reduce the label regardless of its current value?

At any rate the only user that gets SeRelabelPrivilege by default is SYSTEM, which defaults to the System integrity level which is already the maximum allowed level so this behavior of the privilege seems pretty much moot. At any rate as it's a "God" privilege it will be disabled if the token has an integrity level less than High, so this lowering operation is going to be rarely useful.

This leads in to the most misunderstood part which if you squint you might be able to grasp from the privilege's documentation. The ability to lower the label of a resource is mostly dependent on whether the caller can get WRITE_OWNER access to the resource. However, the WRITE_OWNER access right is typically part of GENERIC_ALL in the generic mapping, which means it will never be granted to a caller with a lower integrity level regardless of the DACL or whether they're the owner. 

This is the interesting thing the privilege brings to the lowering operation, it allows the caller to circumvent the MIC check for WRITE_OWNER. This then allows the caller to open for WRITE_OWNER a higher labeled resource and then change the label to any level it likes. This works the same way as SeTakeOwnershipPrivilege, in that it grants WRITE_OWNER without ever checking the DACL. However, if you use SeTakeOwnershipPrivilege it'll still be subject to the MIC check and will not grant access if the label is above the caller's integrity level.

The problem with this privilege is down to the design of MIC, specifically that WRITE_OWNER is overloaded to allow setting the resource's mandatory label but also its traditional use of setting the owner. There's no way for the kernel to distinguish between the two operations once the access has been granted (or at least it doesn't try to distinguish). 

Surely, there is some limitation on what type of resource can be granted WRITE_OWNER access? Nope, it seems that even if the caller does not have any access rights to the resource it will still be granted WRITE_OWNER access. This makes the SeRelabelPrivilege exactly like SeTakeOwnershipPrivilege but with the adding feature of circumventing the MIC check. Summarizing, a token with SeRelabelPrivilege enabled can take ownership of any resource it likes, even one which has a higher label than the caller.

You can of course verify this yourself, here's some PowerShell script using NtObjectManager which you should run as an administrator. The script creates a security descriptor which doesn't grant SYSTEM any access, then tries to request WRITE_OWNER without and with SeRelabelPrivilege.

PS> $sd = New-NtSecurityDescriptor "O:ANG:AND:(A;;GA;;;AN)" -Type Directory
PS> Invoke-NtToken -System {
   Get-NtGrantedAccess -SecurityDescriptor $sd -Access WriteOwner -PassResult
Status               Granted Access Privileges
------               -------------- ----------

PS> Invoke-NtToken -System {
   Enable-NtTokenPrivilege SeRelabelPrivilege
   Get-NtGrantedAccess -SecurityDescriptor $sd -Access WriteOwner -PassResult
Status         Granted Access Privileges
------         -------------- ----------
STATUS_SUCCESS WriteOwner     SeRelabelPrivilege

The fact that this behavior is never made explicit is probably why my friend didn't realize its behavior before. This coupled with the privilege's rare usage, only being granted by default to SYSTEM means it's not really a problem in any meaningful sense. It would be interesting to know the design choices which led to the privilege being created, it seems like its role was significantly more important at some point and became almost vestigial during the Vista development process. 

If you've read this far is there any actual useful scenario for this privilege? The only resources which typically have elevated labels are processes and threads. You can already circumvent the MIC check using SeDebugPrivilege. Of course usage of that privilege is probably watched like a hawk, so you could abuse this privilege to get full access to an elevated process, by accessing changing the owner to the caller and lowering the label. Once you're the owner with a low label you can then modify the DACL to grant full access directly without SeDebugPrivilege.

However, as only SYSTEM gets the privilege by default you'd need to impersonate the token, which would probably just allow you to access the process anyway. So mostly it's mostly a useless quirk unless the system you're looking at has granted it to the service accounts which might then open the door slightly to escaping to SYSTEM.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Dumping Stored Credentials with SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege

I've been going through the various token privileges on Windows trying to find where they're used. One which looked interesting is SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege which is documented as "Access Credential Manager as a trusted caller". The Credential Manager allows a user to store credentials, such as web or domain accounts in a central location that only they can access. It's protected using DPAPI so in theory it's only accessible when the user has authenticated to the system. The question is, what does having SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege grant? I couldn't immediately find anyone who'd bothered to document it, so I guess I'll have to do it myself.

The Credential Manager is one of those features that probably sounded great in the design stage, but does introduce security risks, especially if it's used to store privileged domain credentials, such as for remote desktop access. An application, such as the remote desktop client, can store domain credential using the CredWrite API and specifying the username and password in the CREDENTIAL structure. The type of credentials should be set to CRED_TYPE_DOMAIN_PASSWORD.

An application can then access the stored credentials for the current user using APIs such as CredRead or CredEnumerate. However, if the type of credential is CRED_TYPE_DOMAIN_PASSWORD the CredentialBlob field which should contain the password is always empty. This is an artificial restriction put in place by LSASS which implements the credential manager RPC service. If a domain credentials type is being read then it will never return the password.

How does the domain credentials get used if you can't read the password? Security packages such as NTLM/Kerberos/TSSSP which are running within the LSASS process can use an internal API which doesn't restrict the reading of the domain password. Therefore, when you authenticate to the remote desktop service the target name is used to lookup available credentials, if they exist the user will be automatically authenticated.

The credentials are stored in files in the user's profile encrypted with the user's DPAPI key. Why can we not just decrypt the file directly to get the password? When writing the file LSASS sets a system flag in the encrypted blob which makes the DPAPI refuse to decrypt the blob even though it's still under a user's key. Only code running in LSASS can call the DPAPI to decrypt the blob.

If we have administrator privileges getting access the password is trivial. Read the Mimikatz wiki page to understand the various ways that you can use the tool to get access to the credentials. However, it boils down to one of the following approaches:

  1. Patch out the checks in LSASS to not blank the password when read from a normal user.
  2. Inject code into LSASS to decrypt the file or read the credentials.
  3. Just read them from LSASS's memory.
  4. Reimplement DPAPI with knowledge of the user's password to ignore the system flag.
  5. Play games with the domain key backup protocol.
For example, Nirsoft's CredentialsFileView seems to use the injection into LSASS technique to decrypt the DPAPI protected credential files. (Caveat, I've only looked at v1.07 as v1.10 seems to not be available for download anymore, so maybe it's now different. UPDATE: it seems available for download again but Defender thinks it's malware, plus ça change).

At this point you can probably guess that SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege allows a caller to get access to a user's credentials. But how exactly? Looking at LSASRV.DLL which contains the implementation of the Credential Manager the privilege is checked in the function CredpIsRpcClientTrusted. This is only called by two APIs, CredrReadByTokenHandle and CredrBackupCredentials which are exported through the CredReadByTokenHandle and CredBackupCredentials APIs.

The CredReadByTokenHandle API isn't that interesting, it's basically CredRead but allows the user to read from to be specified by providing the user's token. As far as I can tell reading a domain credential still returns a blank password. CredBackupCredentials on the other hand is interesting. It's the API used by CREDWIZ.EXE to backup a user's credentials, which can then be restored at a later time. This backup includes all credentials including domain credentials. The prototype for the API is as follows:

BOOL WINAPI CredBackupCredentials(HANDLE Token, 
                                  LPCWSTR Path, 
                                  PVOID Password, 
                                  DWORD PasswordSize, 
                                  DWORD Flags);

The backup process is slightly convoluted, first you run CREDWIZ on your desktop and select backup and specify the file you want to write the backup to. When you continue with the backup the process makes an RPC call to your WinLogon process with the credentials path which spawns a new copy of CREDWIZ on the secure desktop. At this point you're instructed to use CTRL+ALT+DEL to switch to the secure desktop. Here you type the password, which is used to encrypt the file to protect it at rest, and is needed when the credentials are restored. CREDWIZ will even ensure it meets your system's password policy for complexity, how generous.

CREDWIZ first stores the file to a temporary file, as LSASS encrypts the encrypted contents with the system DPAPI key. The file can be decrypted then written to the final destination, with appropriate impersonation etc.

The only requirement for calling this API is having the SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege privilege enabled. Assuming we're an administrator getting this privilege is easy as we can just borrow a token from another process. For example, checking for what processes have the privilege shows obviously WinLogon but also LSASS itself even though it arguably doesn't need it.

PS> $ts = Get-AccessibleToken
PS> $ts | ? { 
   "SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege" -in $_.ProcessTokenInfo.Privileges.Name 
TokenId Access                                  Name
------- ------                                  ----
1A41253 GenericExecute|GenericRead    LsaIso.exe:124
1A41253 GenericExecute|GenericRead     lsass.exe:672
1A41253 GenericExecute|GenericRead winlogon.exe:1052
1A41253 GenericExecute|GenericRead atieclxx.exe:4364

I've literally no idea what the ATIECLXX.EXE process is doing with SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege, it's probably best not to ask ;-)

To use this API to backup a user's credentials as an administrator you do the following. 
  1. Open a WinLogon process for PROCESS_QUERY_LIMITED_INFORMATION access and get a handle to its token with TOKEN_DUPLICATE access.
  2. Duplicate token into an impersonation token, then enable SeTrustedCredmanAccessPrivilege.
  3. Open a token to the target user, who must already be authenticated.
  4. Call CredBackupCredentials while impersonating the WinLogon token passing a path to write to and a NULL password to disable the user encryption (just to make life easier). It's CREDWIZ which enforces the password policy not the API.
  5. While still impersonating open the file and decrypt it using the CryptUnprotectData API, write back out the decrypted data.
If it all goes well you'll have all the of the user's credentials in a packed binary format. I couldn't immediately find anyone documenting it, but people obviously have done before. I'll leave doing all this yourself as a exercise for the reader. I don't feel like providing an implementation.

Why would you do this when there already exists plenty of other options? The main advantage, if you can call it that, it you never touch LSASS and definitely never inject any code into it. This wouldn't be possible anyway if LSASS is running as PPL. You also don't need to access the SECURITY hive to extract DPAPI credentials or know the user's password (assuming they're authenticated of course). About the only slightly suspicious thing is opening WinLogon to get a token, though there might be alternative approaches to get a suitable token.