September 17, 2014

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Kernel Patch Protection Analysis & Attack Vectors

Authors: Mark Ermolov, Artem Shishkin // Positive Research

PDF version: link

Kernel Patch Protection (also known as "patchguard") is a Windows mechanism designed to
control the integrity of vital code and data structures used by the operating system. It was
introduced in Windows 2003 x64 and has been constantly improved in further Windows
versions. In this article we present a descriptive analysis of the patchguard for the latest
Windows 8.1 x64 OS, and primarily focus on patchguard initialization and attack vectors related
to it.

It is natural that kernel patch protection is being developed incrementally, so the initialization
process is common for all versions of Windows that have patchguard. There are a lot of papers
published about kernel patch protection on Windows, which describe the process of its
initialization, so you may use references at the end of this article to obtain details.