CVE-2019-19248: Local Privilege Escalation in EA’s Origin Client

Version: Origin Client version (
Operating System tested on: Windows 10 1709 (x64)
EA’s Blog:

Vulnerability: Origin Client Service DACL Overwrite Elevation of Privilege

Brief Description: When Origin is installed, it comes with a few different services, such as the “Origin Client Service”. This service can be stopped and started by low privileged users. When the Origin Client service starts, it checks for the existence of “C:\ProgramData\Origin\local.xml”. If this file doesn’t exist, it creates it and grants the “Everyone” group “FullControl” over the file. Since a low privileged user has rights to this file, it is possible to create a hardlink on “C:\ProgramData\Origin\local.xml” and point it to another file, resulting in the target file having “FullControl” rights granted to the “Everyone” group.

A low privileged user can use this to overwrite the DACL on privileged files, resulting in elevation of privilege to “NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM”.

Vulnerability Explanation 
When Origin is installed, it comes with a few different services. One such service is the “Origin Client Service”. This service can be stopped and started by low privileged users:

When restarting the Origin Client Service, it checks to see if “C:\ProgramData\Origin\local.xml” exists. If it doesn’t, it will create it and then set the file’s security descriptor to grant Everyone GENERIC_ALL over the file:

Since a low privileged user has control of that file, its possible to delete it and replace it with a hardlink that points to a privileged file. In this case, we are creating a hardlink that points to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin\OriginWebHelperService.exe” (using James Forshaw’s Symbolic Link Testing Tools)

After creating the hardlink, restarting the “Origin Client Service” service will cause it to try and set the DACL on “C:\ProgramData\Origin\local.xml” to grant “FullControl” rights to the “AuthenticatedUsers” group. Since a hardlink is in place, it will follow it and end up setting the DACL on “C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin\OriginWebHelperService.exe” instead:

With the DACL on “C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin\OriginWebHelperService.exe” overwritten, all that needs done to elevate privileges is to stop the Origin Web Helper Service, replace “C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin\OriginWebHelperService.exe” and then start the service again:

The service will fail to start since “Payload.exe” is not a service executable, but the service will start it and cmd.exe will be running as “NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM”, resulting in elevation of privilege.

This vulnerability has been fixed in The Origin team re-wrote the Origin client to include a “Restricted” mode that places restrictive ACLs on all of the Origin files.


  • March 13th, 2019: Vulnerability sent to the EA security team
  • March 14th,  2019: EA acknowledged the vulnerability and assigned a case number
  • March 28th, 2019: Followed up with EA to see if there is anything they need
  • April 4th, 2019: EA classified the report as a high severity issue and notified me that they are working on a fix and have found other variants via additional hunting
  • May 2nd, 2019: Reached out to EA to inform them of the approaching 60 day window
  • May 23rd, 2019: EA responded with a note that they are still working on a fix and have ran into some issues with fixing the root cause
  • June 17th, 2019: Reached out to EA to inform them that the 90 day period has lapsed. Asked for an update and if additional time was needed
  • June 25th, 2019: EA informed me they are still having issues with implementing a fix that doesn’t break older game titles. Stated they have a way forward, but will need some time to dev it out. EA asked to schedule a phone call.
  • June 25th, 2019: Responded to EA’s request to schedule a phone call
  • July 8th, 2019: Had a phone call with EA’s security and engineering teams, agreed on periodical 30 day extensions due to the complexity of the issue being fixed
  • August 12th, 2019: Sent EA an additional variant of the issue
  • August 13th, 2019: EA informed me they have preliminary builds of the new Origin client in Alpha, stated they are tracking late September – early October for a fix
  • September 6th, 2019: Reached out to EA to get an estimated timeline on the fix
  • September 12th, 2019: EA responds with a note that they will have a beta build for me to test within the next week and are working on addressing the Mac client
  • September 25th, 2019: EA provides a link to the beta build to test with a well written explanation of the design decisions behind the fix and next steps (released to beta channel eventually). Also provided me an advisory to review.
  • September 26th, 2019: Replied to EA acknowledging receipt of the beta build and a thumbs up on the advisory draft
  • September 26th, 2019: Sent EA a few notes on the beta build, fix seemed sufficient
  • October 28th, 2019: Reached out to EA for a shipping ETA
  • October 28th, 2019: EA responded noting they have a request out to the Origin team for an update, and will provide an update when they can. Noted they are finishing up the Mac rewrite.
  • November 13th, 2019: Reached out to EA for a status update
  • November 13th, 2019: EA replied with dates the new builds will hit the public beta channels. Provided a newly updated Windows build for me to look at
  • November 14th, 2019: Replied to EA noting the beta looked good with restricted mode enabled
  • December 9th, 2019: EA informed me they are on track to publish the Origin update to the public and release the advisory on the 10th
  • December 10th, 2019: Advisory published, issue opened.

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