Erlend D. Erlend D. - 26 days ago 13
C# Question

How to start a new process without administrator privileges from a process with administrator privileges?

I am creating an automatic updater for an application. The application is started by the user, and runs without administrator privileges. The autoupdater is started with administrator privileges, and kills the application before it downloads the new files.

The problem comes when I want to start the updated application after the autoupdater is finished. If I use regular System.Diagnostics.Process.Start(file), the application starts with administrator privileges too, and it has to run on the current user to work as intended.

So, how can I make the autoupdater start the application as the current user instead of the administrator?

I have tried using the following:

var pSI = new ProcessStartInfo() {
UseShellExecute = false,
UserName = Environment.UserName,
FileName = file
};
System.Diagnostics.Process.Start(pSI);


But this throws the error "Invalid user name or password". I have checked that the username is correct, and I understand that the password probably is invalid, as I have not included it. But it is not an option to ask the user to input his/her password, since the entire reason to start the application automatically is to make it easier for the user.

Any suggestions?

Answer

What you are trying to achieve cannot be done very easily and is not supported. However, it is possible using a modicum of hacking. Aaron Margosis wrote an article describing one technique.

To quote the pertinent section, you will need to carry out these steps:

  1. Enable the SeIncreaseQuotaPrivilege in your current token
  2. Get an HWND representing the desktop shell (GetShellWindow)
  3. Get the Process ID (PID) of the process associated with that window (GetWindowThreadProcessId)
  4. Open that process (OpenProcess)
  5. Get the access token from that process (OpenProcessToken)
  6. Make a primary token with that token (DuplicateTokenEx)
  7. Start the new process with that primary token (CreateProcessWithTokenW)

The article contains a download link for some demo C++ source from which it should be simple enough to translate to C#.

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