Upcoming Presentation at Victorian .Net User Group

I am excited to announce that I will be presenting PowerShell Shenanigans – Lateral Movement with PowerShell, to the Victorian .Net User Group.

This presentation will be an updated version of the one from CrikeyCon 2014, BIG and OWASP Brisbane.

Information about the session is listed below, and you can register here at Eventbrite.

PowerShell Shenanigans (Lateral Movement with PowerShell)

PowerShell, the must have tool and the long overlooked security challenge. Learn how PowerShell’s deep integration with the Microsoft platform can be utilized as a powerful attack platform within the enterprise space. Watch as a malicious actor moves from a compromised end user PC to the domain controllers and learn how we can begin to defend these types of attacks

About the Speaker

Specialising the automation of Windows Server environments, and with 10 years’ experience in the managed services and financial services sectors, Kieran Jacobson recently moved from sunny Brisbane to Melbourne to pursue a role as a Technical Lead with Readify. Kieran has always been a passionate member of the technical community, beginning as a Microsoft Student Ambassador and then as a presenter at a number of conferences including Infrastructure Saturday, CrikeyCon and Risky Business. Kieran maintains the Posh Security website, http://poshsecurity.com, with content ranging from automation, architecture, troubleshooting and software development.

Event Details

Automating Office 365 deployments in CloudFlare

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Posh-CloudFlare, a PowerShell module I created for managing CloudFlare hosted domains. Since then, I was working on extending an Office 365 deployment, and realized that what was needed was a script which could automate the configuration of new domains. With that in mind, I developed a new PowerShell script,  Posh-Office365CloudFlare.

Let's understand the process for the addition and configuration of a new domain for Office 365.

The process starts with the Office 365 Portal. We navigate to the Domains section, click the "Add Domain" button, and after ignoring the introduction, we proceed to step 1. This step starts with us entering our domain name, let's use our old favorite contoso.com. Now we will be asked to verify that we own this domain, either through the creation of a TXT record or an MX record. The typical method is to use is that of a TXT record, created at the root of our desired domain with a value something like "MS=mx********".

After we create the domain, and the wizard successfully sees the appropriate record, we will be allowed to proceed to the next step. Step 2 isn't one that I usually make use of. I typically don't want to modify my users email domains, nor do I want to add new users at this time. I skip this step and move straight on to step 3.

Step 3 starts with another quick introduction screen, and then we will be asked if we would like the DNS for this domain to be managed by Microsoft. Obviously, we are going to answer no and move on. Finally, we reach an important step, we are asked what we want to do with this domain. First, "Outlook for email, calendar, and contacts", or in other words, email; the second, "Lync for instant messaging and online meetings", which is kind of obvious.

If you select “Outlook for email, calendar, and contacts”, then we will be told to create the following records in contoso.com:

  • MX - @.contoso.com - which points to contoso-com.mail.protection.outlook.com (priority 0)
  • CNAME – autodiscover.contoso.com – which points to autodiscover.outlook.com
  • CNAME – msoid.contoso.com – which points to clientconfig.microsoftonline-p.net
  • TXT – @.contoso.com – which contains a SPF record

If you select “Lync for instant messaging and online meetings”, then we will need to create the following records for contoso.com:

  • CNAME - sip.contoso.com - which points to sipdir.online.lync.com
  • CNAME - lyncdiscover.contoso.com - which points to webdir.online.lync.com
  • CNAME – msoid.contoso.com – which points to clientconfig.microsoftonline-p.net
  • SRV - _sip._tls.contoso.com - with its appropriate port, weight, priority and target
  • SRV - _sipfederationtls._tcp.contoso.com - with its appropriate port, weight, priority and target

Reviewing this list of records, we will notice that the only record that changes for each domain is the MX record. The record consists of the domain name we want to add, with dashes replacing the original dots in the domain name. As you can see in the above example, cotoso.com's MX record points to contoso-com.mail.protection.outlook.com, where as awesomecompany.net would point to awesomecompany-net.mail.protection.com. 

What about some records that could actually help our users? What if I said we could redirect sub domains of our own to the Outlook Web Access page? Wouldn't it be awesome if a user entered https://mail.contoso.com into their browser, and ended up with the Outlook Web Access? This can be achieved by creating a CNAME record that points to mail.office.com. Let's have our script create entries for mail and webmail perform this redirection.

Now back to the script.

This was a simple script, it doesn't have any complex logic, it will need the following information:

  • CloudFlare API Token and email address; this is obvious as we need to talk to the CloudFlare Client API.
  • The domain name.
  • Do we want to create mail records? Lync records or both?

This is a very, very simple script, we just need to have a set of New-CFDNSRecord calls, with various controls depending on what we require.

For example, creating the MX record is as simple as:

This script only took an hour or so for testing and development time, however there was quite a bit of effort directed to changes in the Posh-CloudFlare and the New-CFDNSRecord CMDLet. If you look at the diff's between the last few versions, you will notice the following changes:

  • The CMDLet now accepts input from the pipeline (in this case via property name).
  • Restructure the CMDLet into Begin/Process/End (required for proper handling of pipeline input).
  • Implementation of parameter sets.
  • Cleanup of the validation of parameters.

I added parameter sets to New-CFDNSRecord with the aim to remove the somewhat faulty validation that I had previously. Whilst this sounded, and looked like it was simple, it actually took a few tried to ensure that the CMDLet would function appropriately. This was really interesting and deserves its own post in the future.

Parameter validation was updated in all of the CMDLets to improve email address validation. Previously, validation consisted of testing for an "@" character. Now I am using a regular expression.

Finally, I have spent some time cleaning up the code, not just within New-CFDNSRecord, but across all of the CMDLets. I have been trying, where possible to use ISE Steroids to ensure that everything I right is neat and presentable; it is a fantastic resource.

My final thought on all of this journey is, why couldn't Microsoft have implemented something like this? Microsoft has integrated the process with a bunch of other DNS providers, including the likes of GoDaddy, Network Solutions, 1 and 1 and even Yahoo Small Business. Why can't it also look at CloudFlare?

You can find the finished script over at GitHub, at Posh-Office365CloudFlare, the script is called Register-Office365.ps1. I have included comment based help with examples.

Kieran Jacobsen

Crossing the PowerShell streams

I was recently working with the PowerCat code which was capturing the Pipeline and Error output of code, and wondered, could I also capture the other messages being displayed? Why couldn’t I also redirect the warnings or the verbose output as well?

Let’s revisit how the redirection of the streams works in PowerShell, and hopefully learn about how PowerShell does things under the covers. 

To explore the output streams, I am going to use the CMDLet I have below, which is a varation of the one June Blender used in her post on this topic.

It should also be noted that redirection to a variable is similar as to a file. In my examples I am redirecting to a variable.

So what happens if we run this CMDLet normally? We should see four distinct messages, first is out the text we are displaying by just returning a string, next we will have our write-output, then we have write-warning, and finally we will have the wrote-error message (and its associated trace).

What happens if we decide to assign the output to a variable called $output? Let’s take a look.

As you can see, after running the function, we still saw the warning and error messages. What was stored in the variable? Well if we look at that we can see that the text return and the write-output were successfully assigned to the variable $output.

Ok, so how about we apply the old redirection rules that have existed in every shell since the 80s?

Well this is much as we expected, but wait, the warning was displayed and not captured in the variable. The variable has our two output strings and it also has the write-error message as well. As a side note I love how the when calling $output PowerShell still displays the error in red.

If you are running PowerShell 2.0 (or less), this is the end of the line for you. There is no help for you.

If you are running PowerShell 3.0 (or greater), then how do we capture that warning message? What about the verbose?

With the introduction of PowerShell 3.0, Microsoft included support for capturing the other streams, and they did so in a method which is simple, clean and logical. Microsoft simply extended the stream redirection along the well-known and practiced methods.

Let’s take a look at the streams in PowerShell 3.0:

Stream NumberStream DescriptionRedirection

Let’s take a look at the previous example again, however this time we will redirect the output of stream 3, warning, to stream 1. 

As you can see, we captured this information just as expected.

Let’s try verbose output now.

We can see that simply using 4>&1 captures the output. We can also capture all output using the wildcard, *>&1.

I can hear one person asking, “But what about write-host?”

There are many reasons why you should not use write-host, firstly, Jeffrey Snover, the creator of PowerShell says not to, Don Jones, a PowerShell MVP says “Write-host kills puppies” <link>, however both agree, as does the PowerShell community, that there are some times when it might be handy to use Write-Host. Write-Host is black PowerShell magic, it’s the dark side of PowerShell. It is not something you should do without very thoroughly thinking about what you are about to do.

The only legitimate time to use Write-Host, is when you do not want to interrupt or pollute your stream. If you have a situation where you wish to display text to the user in such a way that it will not be caught up in the pipeline. 

I only use Write-Host in one piece of code. I use it as part of my modular alerting framework, where I know that the message needs to be seen by the actual user of the code. I also didn’t want event/alert messages contaminating any of my other pieces of code. When I wrote the code, I knew it was a risky piece of code, however it has a clear cut function and purpose. 

So what happens to Write-Host and redirected streams? To show you, I have added a Write-Host line to our previous CMDLet as show below:

Let’s run the code, redirecting all input (*>&1) into $output.

As you can see, the write-host was still displayed, everything else was captured in $output.
So what information is around on stream redirection? There are three good resources, firstly, check out June’s post on Hey Scripting Guy, secondly, PS> Get-Help about_Redirection and finally, there is the Microsoft Connect entry where the functionality was requested.


PS. No streams were crossed during the creation of this post.

Hacking with a rubber duck

On the weekend I had the pleasure to present at CrikeyCon 2015. I want to thank everyone involved including the organizers; the other speakers; our wonderful MC, Patrick Gray from Risky Business; and of course the attendees!

This year I chose something a bit different to present on, the Hak5 Rubber Ducky. I started with two (and one failed,) demonstrations in the morning before setting up in the events area to show off some more advanced demonstrations.

As promised, I am posting up my content for everyone to make use of it.

Firstly, the PowerPoint slides can be downloaded here, or viewed on SlideShare here (and below).

I have setup a separate page on this side, Rubber Ducky, where you can find the scripts/payloads and a description with each.

There are a number of links which I found to be extremely useful.

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback please feel free to leave a comment, contact me via this site or send a message to me on Twitter.


Revisiting Syslog in PowerShell

I often wonder, as I am sure most developers do, if people ever actually read and use the code that I post online. Was it helpful to them or was it useless? Did they use it for something interesting? One piece of code which I know people do use, is my PowerShell SYSLOG code.

A few weeks ago, a user opened my very first GitHub issue! This issue appeared at first to be simple, but as the user and I started to delve into the complexities of the various SYSLOG RFCs, I realized it was far from it.

Before we get into the issue, the code and the resolution, it is worth highlighting that there quite a few IETF RFCs that relate to SYSLOG messages. The two primary ones being:

  • RFC 3164 - BSD SYSLOG. This actually wasn't an IETF standard.
  • RFC 5424 - IETF SYSLOG. This is a IETF standard. This obsoletes RFC 3164.

There are also RFCs:

  • RFC 3195 - Reliable Delivery for SYSLOG
  • RFC 5425 - TLS Transport Mapping for 
  • RFC 5426 - Transmission of SYSLOG Messages over UDP
  • RFC 5427 - Textual Conventions for Syslog Management
  • RFC 5848 - Signed Syslog Messages
  • RFC 6012 - Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) Transport Mapping for SYSLOG
  • RFC 6587 - Transmission of SYSLOG Messages over TCP

I want to send a very big thanks out to the user, DFCH for reporting the issue, helping me understand the RFCs in question and also testing the resulting code.

The Issue

So what was the issue? As DFCH stated:

The Cmdlet send-syslog.ps1 states in its description to send a syslog message as defined in RFC 5424. However the generated timestamp in the Cmdlet incorrectly formats a timestamp when none is specified by the caller, nor does it validate or convert the timestamp if specified by the caller.
— https://github.com/kjacobsen/PowerShellSyslog/issues/1

I will admit that I hadn't ready RFC 5424 or RFC 3164 in a huge amount of detail. As soon as I did it was very obvious that the code was not producing an appropriate timestamp, it also become evident that the overall message I was sending did not meet the RFC specification.

From my analysis, it appeared that I had crossed parts of both RFC 5424 and RFC 3164, ending up with code that wasn't fully complaint to either, and in the long run, not entirely useful.

As DFCH reported, the code didn't not generate the appropriate timestamp, with issues in how it was formatted as well as the precision. Resolving these issues was quite simple, the timestamp could be formatted as recommended by DFCH, this not only resolved the format issue but also increased the precision. Validation of the caller specified timestamp was also easy to implement. I simply changed the parameter to take an object of type DateTime instead of a String. 

But this was just the start of the fixes, as I continued to read and understand the RFCs, I realized my messages were incorrectly formatted as well.

Message Formats

There are two valid SYSLOG message structures as defined in RFC 3164 and 5424. 

Firstly, RFC 3164 specifies the message structure to be the following:



  • PRI - Value based on severity and facility
  • TIMESTAMP - What date and time with format MMM dd HH:mm:ss
  • HOSTNAME - Who is sending the message
  • TAG - Name of the process or program generating the message
  • CONTENT - Obviously the message being sent

Next, RFC 5424 specifies the message structure as:



  • PRI - Value based on severity and facility
  • VERSION - Version of the SYSLOG message (typically 1)
  • TIMESTAMP - What date and time with format: yyyy-MM-ddtHH:mm:ss.ffffffzzz
  • HOSTNAME Who is sending the message
  • APPNAME Name of the process or program generating the message
  • PROCID - Process ID of the application or script
  • MSGID - An Identifier to assist in troubleshooting
  • STRUCTUREDDATA - RFC 5424 specifies a method of sending key/value pairs
  • CONTENT - Obviously the content of the message

One thing to note with RFC 5424 is that the majority of the fields are optional, you still need to send something to ensure the correct layout however, so the nil value "-" is sent. I should also point out that the RFC states that the CONTENT section at the end is completely optional. If nothing is sent, you don't need to even send the nil value. 

My original code on the other hands, was sending messages with the structure of:



  • PRI - Value based on severity and facility
  • TIMESTAMP - What date and time with format: yyyy:MM:dd:-HH:mm:ss zzz
  • HOSTNAME - Who is sending the message
  • CONTENT - Obviously the message being sent

How did this happen? 

Well, there are a few reasons why this occurred, in no particular order.

  1. I borrowed some of the logic and ideas from other .Net and PowerShell code samples
  2. I didn't read either RFC
  3. The SYSLOG servers I tested against were not stringent in their rendering of messages received.
  4. I referred to Wikipedia when I was checking that my messages were correctly formatted.

In hindsight, the biggest mistakes were using Wikipedia as my guide, and not testing against a more RFC compliant server.

Using Wikipedia as a source for developing compliant code is probably a bad idea, on this occasion it was a great learning experience. Previously the SYSLOG Wikipedia article did not correctly describe the layout and formatting of the full message, crucially missing out the information about the TAG field. The article has been updated since then with corrections ensuring that it is more understandable. It should be noted however that overall, the Wikipedia article is still focused on RFC 3164 and not 5424.

Let’s look at how we clean-up the code.

Additional Parameters

To ensure that we have enough information to support RFC 5424, I needed to add some additional Parameters (which are not mandatory). These include ApplicationName, ProcessID, MessageID, StructuredData and a switch RFC 3164.

The switch RFC 3164 will simply tell the code to send a message in the RFC 3164 format, instead of sending it via RFC 5424 which is its default.

Hostname Generation

Previously, if the hostname parameter was not specified in my code, I simply used the hostname.exe. Whilst there isn't any problems with this, however RFC 5424 actually specifies in some detail how the hostname field should be determined:

  1. The FQDN of the server
  2. A static IP address
  3. The hostname of the server (Windows will always have on of these)
  4. Dynamic IP address
  5. A NILVALUE (-)

I have updated my code to generate the hostname component of the SYSLOG message via the first 3 steps.

Application Name

The Application name can be a little difficult. Typically from within a function we can determine the name of the script which is calling the function via 2 properties of the $myInvocation variable: ScriptName and PSCommandPath. I have used ScriptName with success in the past, and hence decided to use it again. There is one thing to note, if I am sitting at a console and call send-syslogmessage, then ScriptName will be null, and if that is the case, we will simply use “PowerShell”.

Process ID 

The Process ID is new requirement to ensure RFC 5424. We get this simply from the $PID global variable.

Message ID and Structured Data

These two will always be user specified, if the user doesn't specify them, then send the default RFC 5424 nil value of "-".

Message Generation

Now that we have all of the information required for either RFC, we can now look at message generation. When it comes time, I simply have an ‘if’ statement that controls which format we want to use. The script will then format the timestamp and message accordingly.

Message generation looks like the following:

For RFC 3164, I fixed up the timestamp, and also added in the application name. For RFC 5424 there are some significant changes. I now correctly include the SYSLOG version (1), and then included the corrected timestamp, application name, process ID, message ID and structured data.

The Future

If there was a demand, I would be interested in extending the CMDLet to support the transmission of messages via TCP, as well as sending signed messages. Right now, I don't have a need for such things.


Now that all of those changes have been completed and tested, I have pushed the changes up to the PowerShellSyslog GitHub repository.

I want to thank DFCH again for raising the issue and helping me through the development of the fixes.

Kieran Jacobsen