Beyond good ol’ Run key, Part 24

Ability to load a DLL of your choice anytime someone is connecting to the internet is something that definitely deserves some attention. This is why I will describe here yet another obscure mechanism that can be abused for malicious purposes. Courtesy of Winsock 2 library (ws2_32.dll).

When Winsock library connects to the internet it ‘talks’ to various service providers and probes them for connectivity services. It’s actually pretty complex and I won’t pretend that I fully understand what’s going on there yet there is one thing which this library does that I do understand 🙂

At some stage it attempts to load a DLL as specified by the following Registry key:


This key is quite obscure and Microsoft only describes it in a context of a very old vulnerability MS06-041.

Turns out that the AutodialDLL entry points to a DLL that WinSock will load anytime it connects to the internet.

The DLL needs to export 3 functions:

  • WSAttemptAutodialAddr
  • WSAttemptAutodialName
  • WSNoteSuccessfulHostentLookup

The result of loading the following registry key:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinSock2\Parameters] "AutodialDLL"="c:\\temp\\foo.dll"

and dropping the file


(the DLL exports the aforementioned APIs) can be seen below:


The screenshot was taken from a Windows XP system – I simply opened and closed Internet Explorer.

Of course, it works on Windows 10 too – just access to HKLM is slightly more difficult 🙂