Process Injection: ListPlanting

Created the Friday 24 February 2023. Updated 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

Adversaries may abuse list-view controls to inject malicious code into hijacked processes in order to evade process-based defenses as well as possibly elevate privileges. ListPlanting is a method of executing arbitrary code in the address space of a separate live process. Code executed via ListPlanting may also evade detection from security products since the execution is masked under a legitimate process.

List-view controls are user interface windows used to display collections of items. Information about an application's list-view settings are stored within the process' memory in a SysListView32 control.

ListPlanting (a form of message-passing "shatter attack") may be performed by copying code into the virtual address space of a process that uses a list-view control then using that code as a custom callback for sorting the listed items. Adversaries must first copy code into the target process’ memory space, which can be performed various ways including by directly obtaining a handle to the SysListView32 child of the victim process window (via Windows API calls such as FindWindow and/or EnumWindows) or other Process Injection methods.

Some variations of ListPlanting may allocate memory in the target process but then use window messages to copy the payload, to avoid the use of the highly monitored WriteProcessMemory function. For example, an adversary can use the PostMessage and/or SendMessage API functions to send LVM_SETITEMPOSITION and LVM_GETITEMPOSITION messages, effectively copying a payload 2 bytes at a time to the allocated memory.

Finally, the payload is triggered by sending the LVM_SORTITEMS message to the SysListView32 child of the process window, with the payload within the newly allocated buffer passed and executed as the ListView_SortItems callback.



Additional Resources

External Links

The resources provided below are associated links that will give you even more detailed information and research on current evasion technique. It is important to note that, while these resources may be helpful, it is important to exercise caution when following external links. As always, be careful when clicking on links from unknown sources, as they may lead to malicious content.


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