We covered the concept of runtime detection using Anti-Malware Scanning Interface (AMSI). We also covered common bypass methods such as Powershell downgrade and Powershell reflection attacks. Finally we discussed automated tools to bypass AMSI such as amsi.fail. This was a lab material for demonstration as part of TryHackMe Runtime Detection Evasion which is part of red team pathway.

Reverse Shells and Red Team Scripts

The Complete Penetration Testing with BackBox Course

Learn how to bypass common runtime detection measures, such as AMSI, using modern tool-agnostic approaches.

Video Highlights

When executing code or applications, it will almost always flow through a runtime, no matter the interpreter. This is most commonly seen when using Windows API calls and interacting with .NET. The CLR (Common Language Runtime) and DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime) are the runtimes for .NET and are the most common you will encounter when working with Windows systems. In this task, we will not discuss the specifics of runtimes; instead, we will discuss how they are monitored and malicious code is detected.

A runtime detection measure will scan code before execution in the runtime and determine if it is malicious or not. Depending on the detection measure and technology behind it, this detection could be based on string signatures, heuristics, or behaviors. If code is suspected of being malicious, it will be assigned a value, and if within a specified range, it will stop execution and possibly quarantine or delete the file/code.

Runtime detection measures are different from a standard anti-virus because they will scan directly from memory and the runtime. At the same time, anti-virus products can also employ these runtime detections to give more insight into the calls and hooks originating from code. In some cases, anti-virus products may use a runtime detection stream/feed as part of their heuristics.

AMSI (Anti-Malware Scan Interface) is a PowerShell security feature that will allow any applications or services to integrate directly into anti-malware products. Defender instruments AMSI to scan payloads and scripts before execution inside the .NET runtime. From Microsoft: “The Windows Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) is a versatile interface standard that allows your applications and services to integrate with any anti-malware product that’s present on a machine. AMSI provides enhanced malware protection for your end-users and their data, applications, and workloads.”

For more information about AMSI, check out the Windows docs.

AMSI will determine its actions from a response code as a result of monitoring and scanning. Below is a list of possible response codes,


AMSI Bypass Methods

The PowerShell downgrade attack is a very low-hanging fruit that allows attackers to modify the current PowerShell version to remove security features.

Most PowerShell sessions will start with the most recent PowerShell engine, but attackers can manually change the version with a one-liner. By “downgrading” the PowerShell version to 2.0, you bypass security features since they were not implemented until version 5.0.

Powershell Reflection allows a user or administrator to access and interact with .NET assemblies. From the Microsoft docs, “Assemblies form the fundamental units of deployment, version control, reuse, activation scoping, and security permissions for .NET-based applications.” .NET assemblies may seem foreign; however, we can make them more familiar by knowing they take shape in familiar formats such as exe (executable) and dll (dynamic-link library).

PowerShell reflection can be abused to modify and identify information from valuable DLLs.

The AMSI utilities for PowerShell are stored in the AMSIUtils .NET assembly located in System.Management.Automation.AmsiUtils.

Matt Graeber published a one-liner to accomplish the goal of using Reflection to modify and bypass the AMSI utility. This one-line can be seen in the code block below.


Room Answers

What runtime detection measure is shipped natively with Windows?

What response value is assigned to 32768?

Will AMSI be instrumented if the file is only on disk? (Y/N)

Enter the flag obtained from the desktop after executing the command in cmd.exe.
Enter the flag obtained from the desktop after executing the command.
Enter the flag obtained from the desktop after executing the command.

Video Walkthrough

About the Author

I create cybersecurity notes, digital marketing notes and online courses. I also provide digital marketing consulting including but not limited to SEO, Google & Meta ads and CRM administration.

View Articles