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Windows Kernel Exploitation - Part 0x0 [WKE P0]

Hello Readers,

It's been so long since I have written any blog post but now, the time has come :p Firstly I thought of writing a series of tutorials on Active Directory Pentesting but setting up a good AD lab will take some time so we can learn it once the AD lab is ready ;) :)

If you hate theories then you may not like this post because I have to include this in order to start it from scratch. I assume that you have some experience in binary exploitation because I won't be covering the user-land exploitation.


I thought of learning the basics of kernel exploitation on Win7 as a virtual environment. This blog post is a 0th part of this series on Windows Kernel Exploitation. Please feel free to point out mistakes, send suggestions and also criticize wherever you feel like ;) 

Let us start ! 

Kernel -

According to Wikipedia - a kernel is a central part of an operating system which manages the operations of the computer and hardware - most notably memory and CPU time. 

* it schedules activities that is performed by CPU
* you can call it as the heart of an operating system

Basic outline - 

CPU spend time in two very distinct modules - a) kernel mode & b) user mode 

a) Kernel Mode -

* the executing code has complete and unrestricted access to the underlying hardware
* can execute CPU instructions and reference any memory address
* generally reserved for low-level, most trusted functions on the operating system
* any crash in kernel mode will halt the entire PC

b) User Mode - 

* executing code has no ability to directly access hardware or reference memory
* code running in user-mode must delegate to system APIs to access hardware or memory
* crashes in user-mode is always recoverable
* most of the code running in your computer will execute in user mode

x86 CPU Protection rings - 

Ring 0 -

Ring 0 is the level with the most privileges and interacts most directly with the physical hardware such as the CPU and memory. 
Ring 0 is for kernel code and device drivers.

Ring 3 -

Ring 3 is the level with least privileges which runs all user programs.

Ring 1 and Ring 2 are rarely used, but could be configured with different levels of access.

Kernel-Mode Architecture of Windows 

Hardware Abstraction Layer - 
* layer between physical hardware of computer and rest of the operating system
* designed to hide differences in hardware and provide consistent platform on which the kernel is run
*  it includes hardware specific code that controls I/O interfaces, Interrupt controller and multiple processors

Bored with the theories ?? :p Expect some exploitation in next part of the tutorial. :) :D

References -


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