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RCE Exploit Found On Microsoft Exchange Server


Access Write Violation
Nov 1, 2019
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Initially, Microsoft stated this bug was due to a memory corruption vulnerability and could be exploited by a specially crafted email sent to a vulnerable Exchange server. They have since revised their write-up to (correctly) indicate that the vulnerability results from Exchange Server failing to properly create unique cryptographic keys at the time of installation.
Specifically, the bug is found in the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) component. The nature of the bug is quite simple. Instead of having randomly-generated keys on a per-installation basis, all installations of Microsoft Exchange Server have the same validationKey and decryptionKey values in web.config. These keys are used to provide security for ViewState. ViewState is server-side data that ASP.NET web applications store in serialized format on the client. The client provides this data back to the server via the __VIEWSTATE request parameter.

Due to the use of static keys, an authenticated attacker can trick the server into deserializing maliciously crafted ViewState data. With the help of YSoSerial.net, an attacker can execute arbitrary .NET code on the server in the context of the Exchange Control Panel web application, which runs as SYSTEM.

-Excerpt from ZeroDayInitiative

Finding a vulnerability like this is a holy grail for most hackers. If you want to read more about how the exploit works, visit this link to find out more.