Microsoft has for the past years done a great job at hardening the Windows lockscreen, but after Jonas published CVE-2020-1398, I put effort into weaponizing an old bug I had found in Windows Touch devices.
These exploits rely on the fundamental design of the Windows Lockscreen, where the instance that prompts the user for password runs with SYSTEM privileges. This means that even though most of the UI is blocked, you can always find a way to do some damage when there are options like “Reset password”
Clicking this button will result in a new user being created with the name of defaultuser1, defaultuser100000, defaultuser100001 (et cetera), and a new instance of WWAHost asking for user account credentials will be spawned. If everything is in order, it will ask you for a new pin, otherwise you will be stuck in this instance.
- Connect a physical keyboard
- Enable the narrator
- Select “I have forgotten my password.” and “Text <phonenumber>”
- Change the size of the on-screen keyboard and open keyboard settings
- Interact with the hidden settings window to execute our payload
To exploit this vulnerability, you will need:
- A surface touchscreen device. I used a surface book 2 15’ (Running up-to-date Windows 10 20H2 with BitLocker enabled)
- A external keyboard
- A flash drive containing your payload.
By connecting a external keyboard to our Surface device, we have the capability using both the on-screen and the physical keyboard. This is necessary to abuse certain functionality that allows us to bypass the lockscreen.
Windows includes various accessibility features such as narration. This functionality allows us to operate on hidden UI elements, as the narrator will read any selected element out loud, visible or not. Turn it on by clicking Windows+U and selecting “Enable narrator”
A Forgotten password is one of the few cases you would ever do anything but login on the Windows lockscreen. The first part of our bypass requires you to select “I have forgotten my password.” on the login screen. This will open up a Microsoft Account login form, where you can choose to recover your password by texting a certain phone number. Selecting this opens up a text bar where you would normally type in the full recovery phone number, but in our case that is not the point. By opening this text bar, we can make the touch device display an on screen keyboard, which was the goal all along. With this software keyboard, you can change the size of the keyboard by hitting the options button in the top left, choose the largest keyboard available.
Now you should have a large software keyboard where you can open the settings menu:
After initialising the launch of keyboard settings, there is a small time frame where you can double click on this grey area here:
If you did this successfully, the narrator should explicitly say “Settings window”
You wouldn’t think you could much with a hidden settings window on a locked Windows device, but you can actually navigate said window with a external keyboard. While holding down the Caps Lock key, the arrow keys and the tab key can be used to navigate UI elements.
One weaponization of this is going to
Removable drives ->
Open folder to view files. This launches File Explorer, where you can execute windows binaries from a usb thumb-drive.
I reported the issue to MSRC, but they ignored the bug report citing a need of PoC, which I had already provided, they had also expressed disbelief towards the exploitability of this bug.
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