Simple project that demonstrates how an ETW consumer can be created just by using NTDLL
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EtwConsumerNT is a simple project that demonstrates how an ETW consumer can be created just by using NTDLL.


Because I couldn't find such thing. My goal was to understand how functions like StartTrace, OpenTrace, EnableTrace and ProcessTrace work internally.

There are some references to the NtTraceControl API, like this exploit for example, but nothing much beyond that.

Last but not least, this project can be helpful if you're thinking about fuzzing the NtTraceControl API, because as you'll see later, this function exposes quite big attack surface.

What does it do?

It starts an ETW real-time consumer in main thread and ETW producer in another thread. The producer creates 10 messages, which should be received by the consumer. After that, the consumer is disconnected and the application exits. The output might look like this:



As you've probably guessed from the previous paragraph, the core of the ETW consumer is the undocumented NtTraceControl API:

    _In_ ULONG FunctionCode,
    _In_reads_bytes_opt_(InBufferLen) PVOID InBuffer,
    _In_ ULONG InBufferLen,
    _Out_writes_bytes_opt_(OutBufferLen) PVOID OutBuffer,
    _In_ ULONG OutBufferLen,
    _Out_ PULONG ReturnLength

The prototype of this function can remind you of the NtDeviceIoControlFile function prototype - and it makes sense, since ETW (previously WMI) has been initially implemented as a device (WMIAdminDevice & WMIDataDevice).

On Windows 10 RS5, the FunctionCode parameter can be one of these values:

typedef enum _ETW_FUNCTION_CODE
  EtwFunctionStartTrace = 1,
  EtwFunctionStopTrace = 2,
  EtwFunctionQueryTrace = 3,
  EtwFunctionUpdateTrace = 4,
  EtwFunctionFlushTrace = 5,
  EtwFunctionIncrementTraceFile = 6,

  EtwFunctionRealtimeConnect = 11,
  EtwFunctionWdiDispatchControl = 13,
  EtwFunctionRealtimeDisconnectConsumerByHandle = 14,
  EtwFunctionReceiveNotification = 16,
  EtwFunctionTraceEnableGuid = 17, // EtwTraceNotifyGuid
  EtwFunctionSendReplyDataBlock = 18,
  EtwFunctionReceiveReplyDataBlock = 19,
  EtwFunctionWdiUpdateSem = 20,
  EtwFunctionGetTraceGuidList = 21,
  EtwFunctionGetTraceGuidInfo = 22,
  EtwFunctionEnumerateTraceGuids = 23,
  EtwFunctionQueryReferenceTime = 25,
  EtwFunctionTrackProviderBinary = 26,
  EtwFunctionAddNotificationEvent = 27,
  EtwFunctionUpdateDisallowList = 28,
  EtwFunctionUseDescriptorTypeUm = 31,
  EtwFunctionGetTraceGroupList = 32,
  EtwFunctionGetTraceGroupInfo = 33,
  EtwFunctionGetDisallowList = 34,
  EtwFunctionSetCompressionSettings = 35,
  EtwFunctionGetCompressionSettings = 36,
  EtwFunctionUpdatePeriodicCaptureState = 37,
  EtwFunctionGetPrivateSessionTraceHandle = 38,
  EtwFunctionRegisterPrivateSession = 39,
  EtwFunctionQuerySessionDemuxObject = 40,
  EtwFunctionSetProviderBinaryTracking = 41,

Some notes:

  • This enum isn't present in any PDB. It has been manually reconstructed by decompiling ntoskrnl!NtTraceControl function.
  • Other Windows versions can have completely different set of function codes.
  • Although this project has been developed on Windows 10 RS5, quick test revealed that it also works on Windows 7 (both x86 & x64).
    • ... but on Windows 7, printing to the console does not work for some reason.
    • If anyone figures out an easy way how to print to console just by using NTDLL on Windows 7, I'd be more than happy to accept a pull request.
  • If you're brave enough, I believe it should be possible to create ETW consumer purely in the Windows Driver.
  • For simplicity, there aren't many error checks.
  • The buffers can arrive in different order - the correct ordering of messages across buffers isn't implemented here.
    • ... neither is correct handling of timestamps.
  • This project relies on undocumented structures, so, please think twice before shipping this into production.

Points of interest

  • sechost.dll!StartTraceW
  • sechost.dll!StopTraceW
  • sechost.dll!OpenTraceW
  • sechost.dll!EnableTraceEx2
  • sechost.dll!ProcessTrace
  • sechost.dll!EtwpProcessRealTimeTraces
  • ntoskrnl!NtTraceControl


This software is open-source under the MIT license. See the LICENSE.txt file in this repository.

Dependencies are licensed by their own licenses.

If you find this project interesting, you can buy me a coffee

  BTC 12hwTTPYDbkVqsfpGjrsVa7WpShvQn24ro