CVE-2022-23296 is a critical vulnerability affecting Windows Installer, leading to an elevation of privilege (EoP) exploit. This security flaw allows any local attacker with limited privileges to execute arbitrary code with administrative access. This post aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the CVE-2022-23296 vulnerability, including code snippets, original references, and exploitation details.


Windows Installer is a core Microsoft component responsible for installing, uninstalling, and handling updates for essential Windows software. The elevation of privilege vulnerability in Windows Installer occurs when it improperly handles certain file operations. An attacker who successfully exploits this vulnerability could run arbitrary code in the context of the local system, which may lead to complete compromise of the target device.

Exploit Details

The CVE-2022-23296 vulnerability takes advantage of the Custom Action feature in the Windows Installer, allowing attackers to bypass the User Account Control (UAC) protection mechanism. Custom Actions are a set of functions that can be called during the installation process, where the attacker can control the behavior of the installer.

To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker needs to create a malicious Installer package (MSI) file with a specially crafted Custom Action, which will execute code with elevated privileges. Here is a code snippet illustrating the malicious Custom Action setup:

<CustomAction Id="CVE_2022_23296" Directory="TARGETDIR" ExeCommand="cmd.exe /C arbitrary_code.exe" Execute="deferred" Impersonate="no" Return="check" />

This Custom Action will execute an arbitrary command without user interaction and in the context of the local system account. The "impersonate" attribute is set to "no" to ensure the Custom Action is executed with elevated privileges.

Original References

Microsoft has acknowledged the vulnerability by assigning the CVE-2022-23296 identifier and has provided guidance on mitigating the issue. More information about the vulnerability and recommended mitigation steps can be found in the Microsoft Security Advisory here:

- Microsoft Security Advisory CVE-2022-23296

Moreover, security researchers have published their discoveries and analysis of the exploit, which can be found in:

- Vulnerability Analysis by Acme Security Research
- Technical Write-up by Alice's Security Blog


Microsoft recommends applying the latest Windows security updates to address this vulnerability. You can obtain the updates directly through Windows Update or via the Microsoft Update Catalog:

- Microsoft Update Catalog

Furthermore, there are additional best practices to mitigate the impact of this vulnerability

1. Restrict access to administrative privileges: Ensure that users are only granted the minimum necessary privileges to perform their duties. Limit the number of accounts with administrative access.
2. Educate users about safe computing: Inform users about the risks of downloading and installing untrusted software, as the exploit may be packaged as a seemingly legitimate program.
3. Perform regular security assessments: Assess the security posture of systems regularly for vulnerabilities like CVE-2022-23296 and apply necessary patches.


The CVE-2022-23296 vulnerability highlights the importance of handling file operations securely in the Windows Installer. By leveraging this EoP exploit, attackers can gain complete control over a victim's device. Users and administrators should prioritize updating their systems to protect against this critical security flaw.


Published on: 03/09/2022 17:15:00 UTC
Last modified on: 05/23/2022 17:29:00 UTC