Powershell Constrained Language Mode Bypass

Understanding ConstrainedLanguageMode

Constrained Language Mode in short locks down the nice features of Powershell usually required for complex attacks to be carried out.

Powershell Inside Powershell

For fun - creating another powershell instance inside powershell without actually spawning a new powershell.exe process:

Constrained Language Mode

Enabling constrained language mode, that does not allow powershell execute complex attacks (i.e. mimikatz):

[Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable(‘__PSLockdownPolicy‘,4, ‘Machine‘)

Checking constrained language mode is enabled:

PS C:\Users\mantvydas> $ExecutionContext.SessionState.LanguageMode

With ConstrainedLanguage, trying to download a file from remote machine, we get Access Denied:

However, if you have access to the system and enough privileges to change environment variables, the lock can be lifted by removing the variable __PSLockdownPolicy and re-spawning another powershell instance.

Powershell Downgrade

If you have the ability to downgrade to Powershell 2.0, this can allow you to bypass the ConstrainedLanguagemode. Note how $ExecutionContext.SessionState.LanguageMode keeps returning ConstrainedLangue in powershell instances that were not launched with -version Powershell 2 until it does not:

System32 Bypass

Carrie Roberts discovered and wrote in her post https://www.blackhillsinfosec.com/constrained-language-mode-bypass-when-pslockdownpolicy-is-used/ that there's another way to bypass the contrained language mode and it's super easy - the path from where your script is being executed, needs to contain the string system32, meaning even if you rename the script to system32.ps1, it should work, so let's try it and confirm it works:

PS>.\test.ps1; mv .\test.ps1 system32.ps1; .\system32.ps1

PS>cat .\system32.ps1


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