Shortcuts as entry points for Malware part 3

In this last research on Windows shortcuts, we will demonstrate another sneaky technique to inject any kind of file without any limits on file size. 

The goal, again, is to demonstrate the real dangers of .LNK files (Microsoft Shortcuts), which are wrongly considered to be safe by common users.

A little reminder: a Windows shortcut is a binary file with the extension .LNK (Link File). Shortcuts are generally used to redirect one file to another, such as launching a program from your Desktop that is installed elsewhere on your system.

Less frequently, as we discussed in one of our previous papers, you can also execute shell commands through the shortcut, a good feature for users to create little automated tasks - but also an opportunity for hackers.

For whatever reason, Microsoft has also made any icons you can find on your system easy to usurp, so you can make the ...


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Shortcuts as entry points for malware part 2

It was only yesterday that we reported about a way of infecting Microsoft Windows users by using a simple shortcut trick with the BITSAdmin Tool to download and execute a remote application.

If you haven’t already read the article, please click here.

The main issue with the first example is that your firewall could potentially block the download attempt since it requires a remote http/https connection to download the file before its execution.

We found another sneaky way of exploiting the Windows shortcut with a new 0day by embedding any files (such as application files) directly inside the shortcut itself.

Yes! the application is inside the windows shortcut

This makes the malicious application fully undetectable by any antivirus software before it will be dropped and executed.

Note: An an example, in the PoC mentioned below, we decided to use this vulnerability as a file dropper, but we could ...

Shortcuts as entry point of Malware Part 1

We came across a way of installing malware threats in a Microsoft Windows Operating System using the well-known Shortcut System that nearly everybody uses and blindly trusts.

Because of it's very nature, it is quite hard to detect. Removal might even be more difficult.


A shortcut isn’t a binary executable file. At least not directly, as it mostly points to another location folder or file. However, it can also execute Windows shell commands (which is potentially a very dangerous feature, but often used for programming tasks such as system shutdown/logoff/restart directly via a regular shortcut).

Since a shortcut isn’t a binary executable, an antivirus program will not detect such a shortcut as a possible malicious shortcut.

Shortcuts can be shared through archive files without losing its properties.

Finally you can easily change the icon and disguise the malicious shortcut with a folder icon or ...