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From: vrathod at (Vivek Rathod (Application Security, Inc.))
Subject: [SHATTER Team Security Alert] Microsoft Windows Utility Manager Vulnerability

Microsoft Windows Utility Manager Vulnerability

April 13, 2004

Risk Level: High

A local elevation of privileges vulnerability exists on the Windows Utility
Manager that allows to any user to take complete control over the operating

Versions Affected:
All products in the Windows 2000 operating system family.

Microsoft Windows 2000 contains support for Accessibility options within 
operating system. Accessibility support is a series of assistive 
within Windows that allow users with disabilities to still be able to 
access the
functions of the operating system. Accessibility support is enabled or 
through shortcuts built into the operating system, or through the 
Utility Manager. The Utility Manager is an accessibility utility that 
users to check the status of Accessibility programs (Magnifier, 
Narrator, On-
Screen Keyboard) and start or stop them. The Utility Manager can be 
invoked by
pressing Windows Key + U or executing "utilman.exe /start" from the command
line. The Utility Manager Service is enabled by default and runs in the
interactive desktop with Local System privileges.

The Utility Manager has support for context sensitive help. Users can 
this by clicking in the "?" on the title bar and then on an object or by
pressing the F1 key after selecting an object. In order to display the 
Utility Manager loads winhlp32.exe but does not drop System privileges.
Therefore, winhlp32.exe is executed under the Local System account. While
winhlp32.exe is executing it is possible to send Windows messages to it and
attack it with "Shatter" style attacks.

Winhlp32.exe is executed with its main window hidden but it is very 
trivial to
make it visible. Once the window is made visible, a typical attack would
involve using the ?File Open? dialog to execute a program such as 
Since the Help window has Local System privileges, the executed program 
have the same privileges.

Further information is available at:


Thanks to Cesar Cerrudo and Esteban Martinez Fayo of Application 
Security, Inc. ( and to
Brett Moore of (

Please find the proof-of-concept exploit code attached

AppSecInc Team SHATTER
Tel: 1-866-927-7732

Application Security, Inc.
"Securing Business by Securing Enterprise Applications"

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