A VBA implementation of the RunPE technique or how to bypass application whitelisting.
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RunPE.vba Add concat functions to the macro Oct 14, 2018
pe2vba.py Improved the PE embedding method Oct 14, 2018




A simple yet effective implementation of the RunPE technique in VBA. This code can be used to run executables from the memory of Word or Excel. It is compatible with both 32 bits and 64 bits versions of Microsoft Office 2010 and above.


Usage 1 - PE file on disk

  1. In the Exploit procedure at the end of the code, set the path of the file you want to execute.
strSrcFile = "C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe"

/!\ If you're using a 32 bits version of Microsoft Office on a 64 bits OS, you must specify 32 bits binaries.

strSrcFile = "C:\Windows\SysWOW64\cmd.exe"
strSrcFile = "C:\Windows\SysWOW64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe"
  1. Specify the command line arguments (optional).
strArguments = "-exec Bypass"

This will be used to form a command line equivalent to:

C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -exec Bypass
  1. (Optional) Enable View > Immediate Window (Ctrl+G) to check execution and error logs.
  2. Run the Exploit macro!

Usage 2 - Embedded PE

  1. Use pe2vba.py to convert a PE file to VBA. This way, it can be directly embedded into the macro.
user@host:~$ python pe2vba.py meterpreter.exe 
[+] Created file 'meterpreter.exe.vba'.
  1. Replace the following code in RunPE.vba with the the content of the .vba file which was generated in the previous step.
' ================================================================================
'                                ~~~ EMBEDDED PE ~~~
' ================================================================================

Private Function PE() As String
    Dim strPE As String
    strPE = ""
    PE = strPE
End Function
  1. (Optional) Enable View > Immediate Window (Ctrl+G) to check execution and error logs.
  2. Run the Exploit macro!

/!\ When using an embedded PE, the macro will automatically switch to this mode because the PE() method will return a non-empty string.


This code is mainly a VBA adaptation of the C++ implementation published by @Zer0Mem0ry (32 bits only). https://github.com/Zer0Mem0ry/RunPE

The PE embedding method was inspired by @DidierStevens' work. https://blog.didierstevens.com/



This code was tested on the following platforms:

  • Windows 7 Pro 32 bits + Office 2010 32 bits
  • Windows 7 Pro 64 bits + Office 2016 32 bits
  • Windows 2008 R2 64 bits + Office 2010 64 bits
  • Windows 10 Pro 64 bits + Office 2016 64 bits

Currently, this doesn't work with all Windows binaries. For example, it can't be used to run regedit.exe. I guess I need to do some manual imports of missing DLLs.

Side notes

Here is a table of correspondence between some Win32 and VBA types:

C++ VBA Arch
BYTE Byte 32 & 64
WORD Integer 32 & 64
DWORD, ULONG, LONG Long 32 & 64
DWORD64 LongLong 64
HANDLE LongPtr(*) 32 & 64
LPSTR String 32 & 64
LPBYTE LongPtr(*) 32 & 64

(*) LongPtr is a "dynamic" type, it is 4 Bytes long in Office 32 bits and 8 Bytes long in Office 64 bits. https://msdn.microsoft.com/fr-fr/library/office/ee691831(v=office.14).aspx

What about older versions of Microsoft Office (<=2007)?

As mentionned in the description, this code only works with Office 2010 and above. The reason for this is that the LongPtr type is extensively used. It was first introduced in Office 2010 to help developers make architecture independant code. Indeed, as described above, its size will be automatically adapted depending on the architecture of the Office process (32-bits / 64-bits).

So, if you try to run this code in Office 2007, you will get a User-defined type not defined error message for each variable using the LongPtr type. To work around this issue, you can replace all the LongPtr occurences with Long (32-bits) or LongLong (64-bits). Use Ctrl+H in your favorite text editor! ;)

Note: the code could be updated to take this compatibility issue into account but it would require too much effort for relatively little gain.