NetSPI Blog

Evil SQL Client Console: Msbuild All the Things

Scott Sutherland
May 4th, 2020

Evil SQL Client (ESC) is an interactive .NET SQL console client that supports enhanced SQL Server discovery, access, and data exfiltration capabilities. While ESC can be a handy SQL Client for daily tasks, it was originally designed for targeting SQL Servers during penetration tests and red team engagements. The intent of the project is to provide an .exe, but also sample files for execution through mediums like msbuild and PowerShell.

This blog will provide a quick overview of the tool. For those who just want the code, it can be downloaded from

Why another SQL Server attack client?

PowerUpSQL and DAFT (A fantastic .net port of PowerUpSQL written by Alexander Leary) are great tool sets, but during red team engagements they can be a little too visible.  So to stay under the radar we initially we created a series of standalone .net functions that could be executed via alternative mediums like msbuild inline tasks.  Following that, we had a few clients request to exfiltrate data from the SQL Server using similar evasion techniques.  So we created the Evil SQL Client console to help make the testing process faster and the report screenshots easier to understand 🙂 .

Summary of Executions Options

The Evil SQL Client console and functions can be run via:

  • Esc.exe  Esc.exe is the original application created in visual studio.
  • Esc.csproj is a msbuild script that loads .net code directly through inline tasks. This technique was researched and popularized by Casey Smith (@subTee).  There is a nice article on detection worth reading by Steve Cooper (@BleepSec)  here.
  • Esc.xml is also a msbuild script that uses inline tasks, but it loads the actual esc.exe assembly through reflection.  This technique was shared by @bohops in his GhostBuild project.  It also leverages work done by @mattifestation.
  • Esc-example.ps1 PowerShell script: Loads esc.exe through reflection.  This specific script was generated using Out-CompressDll by @mattifestation.

Below is a simple screenshot of the the Evil SQL Client console executed via esc.exe:

Below is a simple screenshot of the the Evil SQL Client console being executed through MSBuild:

Summary of Features/Commands

At the moment, ESC does not have full feature parity with the PowerUpSQL or DAFT, but the most useful bits are there. Below is a summary of the features that do exist.

Discovery Access Gather Escalate Exfil
  • Discover file
  • Discover domainspn
  • Discover broadcast
  • Show discovered
  • Export discovered
  • Check access
  • Check defaultpw
  • Show access
  • Export access
  • Single instance query
  • Multi instance query
  • List serverinfo
  • List databases
  • List tables
  • List links
  • List logins
  • List rolemembers
  • List privs
  • Check loginaspw
  • Check uncinject
  • Run oscmd
  • Set File
  • Set FilePath
  • Set icmp
  • Set icmpip
  • Set http
  • Set httpurl

*All query results are
exfiltrated via all
enabled methods.

For more information on available commands visit:

Wrap Up

Hopefully, the Evil SQL Client console will prove useful on engagements and help illustrate the need for a larger time investment in detective control development surrounding MSBuild inline task execution, SQL Server attacks, and basic data exfiltration.   For more information regarding the Evil SQL Client (ESC), please visit the github project.

Below are some additional links to get you started on building detections for common malicious Msbuild and SQL Server use:

Good luck and hack responsibly!



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