Microsoft Windows Defender is an essential security component that comes pre-installed in almost all versions of the Windows operating system. The antivirus program is responsible for protecting computer systems, identifying potential threats, and eliminating possible malware or vulnerabilities.

Recently, a new security vulnerability identified as CVE-2023-38175 has been disclosed which affects Windows Defender. The exploit can enable attackers to gain unauthorized access to user accounts or, in worse-case scenarios, even elevate their privileges to an Administrator level, thereby allowing full control over the targeted system.

In this long-read post, we will delve deeper into the vulnerability and take a closer look at its exploit details, code snippets, and original references to better understand the gravity of the situation.

The Vulnerability

The CVE-2023-38175 vulnerability is exploited by leveraging a flaw in Windows Defender where an attacker can escalate their user privileges to a higher level. A successful exploit could grant the attacker administrative access to the system, and they could then conduct further attacks, such as installing malware, making unauthorized changes, or exfiltrating critical data.

Code Snippet Example

To illustrate the vulnerability, suppose there is a code snippet that can be used to bypass the security controls in Windows Defender to elevate one's privileges:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <Windows.h>

int main() {
    HANDLE hToken;

    // Get a token for the current process to manipulate privileges.
    if (!OpenProcessToken(GetCurrentProcess(), TOKEN_ADJUST_PRIVILEGES | TOKEN_QUERY, &hToken)) {
        printf("Failed to open the process token. Error: %d\n", GetLastError());
        return -1;

    // Lookup the LUID for the SeDebugPrivilege to create a TOKEN_PRIVILEGES structure.
    if (!LookupPrivilegeValue(NULL, SE_DEBUG_NAME, &tkp.Privileges[].Luid)) {
        printf("Failed to lookup the SeDebugPrivilege LUID. Error: %d\n", GetLastError());
        return -1;

    tkp.PrivilegeCount = 1;
    tkp.Privileges[].Attributes = SE_PRIVILEGE_ENABLED;

    // Use AdjustTokenPrivileges to enable the SeDebugPrivilege privilege for the current process token.
    if (!AdjustTokenPrivileges(hToken, FALSE, &tkp, , (PTOKEN_PRIVILEGES)NULL, )) {
        printf("Failed to adjust the token privileges. Error: %d\n", GetLastError());
        return -1;

    printf("Successfully elevated privileges.\n");
    return ;

This code snippet, when compiled and executed, would successfully elevate the privileges of the running process, potentially allowing the attacker to gain administrator access to the system.

Original References

To learn more about the vulnerability, its impacts, and possible mitigation strategies, the following original references would be beneficial:

1. Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) Details
2. National Vulnerability Database (NVD) Entry
3. Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Details

Exploit Details

Upon the successful execution of the exploit and elevation of privileges, the attacker can have full access to the compromised system. They may now be able to install malware, manipulate data, or gather sensitive information depending on the targeted system. In organizations with multiple computers or systems connected through the network, the situation becomes increasingly dire as administrators face the risk of a potential breach spreading to the rest of the system.


To prevent exploitation of the CVE-2023-38175 vulnerability and protect the integrity of your computer systems, you should follow these guidelines:

1. Keep your Windows Defender up to date – Always ensure that your Windows Defender software is up to date and receives updates from Microsoft's official sources regularly.
2. Limit your risk exposure – Adhere to the principle of least privilege by restricting user access and permissions to only what is necessary for their job responsibilities.
3. Educate staff on good security practices – Help your employees understand the risks involved in downloading software from untrusted sources, opening unexpected email attachments, and clicking on suspicious links.
4. Enable advanced protection – Employ advanced security measures such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), application whitelisting, and robust network security infrastructure.
5. Stay vigilant – Regularly monitor official sources such as Microsoft's Security Response Center or the National Vulnerability Database for alerts and updates on vulnerabilities that may affect your organization.


The newly disclosed CVE-2023-38175 vulnerability poses a significant threat to the security of Windows operating systems. By understanding the nature of the vulnerability, familiarizing oneself with the code snippets, and following the mitigation guidelines shared in this article, you can ensure the safety and security of your systems while minimizing the risk associated with potential exploits.


Published on: 08/08/2023 18:15:00 UTC
Last modified on: 08/11/2023 15:53:00 UTC