Plugin: MenuOrder

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Posted by Corey Harrell
A new RegRipper plugin archive was released during the RegRipper Consolidation. The archive contains some new plug-ins; one of them is the plug-in. Before discussing the plug-in I thought it would be helpful to first explain the importance of the registry key it parses. I was working a malware case when actions were taken in an attempt to remove the malware. Not only was malware deleted from the system but artifacts associated with the malware were deleted as well. Despite these actions taken, there was still evidence present in the MenuOrder registry key. This plug-in’s importance is not limited to malware cases; it’s important for any case where it’s important to know what programs or favorites were deleted from a system.

The MenuOrder registry key contains Start Menu and IE Favorites artifacts. The article Start Menu and IE Favorites Artifacts in the MenuOrder Registry Key explains in-depth how these artifacts get populated in this key. The article states:

“In most versions of Windows, a user can manually organize the order in which applications and application groups are displayed in the Start Menu. A user might, for example, drag a frequently-used application group to the top of the Start Menu and leave the remainder of the items in alphabetical order.”

“Similarly, a user can manually rearrange items in the Favorites menu”

In essence, when a user changes the display for either the Start Menu or IE Favorites these settings are stored in the registry. The information that gets stored includes the directory structure and file names for the program shortcuts in the Start Menu and favorites in IE. This means we are able to see how the Start Menu or IE favorites looked at a certain point in time even if actions were taken to delete the program shortcuts or favorites. The registry keys storing the information are:

- HCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MenuOrder\Start Menu2\Programs

- HCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MenuOrder\Favorites

This by itself makes the MenuOrder key a useful artifact to examine. However, Harlan discovered something even cooler. In his post DOSDate Time Stamps in Shell Items he mentions how the MenuOrder key contains shell items. This means there are timestamps accompanying the file and directory names stored in the registry key. It’s another source to get the creation dates for items.

I ran the plug-in against a Windows XP NTUSER.DAT hive I had laying around and here are a few snippets from its output (command was –p menuorder –r ntuser.dat)

menuorder v.20121005

\Start Menu2
LastWrite: Wed Apr 9 13:15:39 2008 Z

\Start Menu2\Programs
LastWrite: Wed Oct 13 14:32:52 2010 Z
Microsoft Office 2003
Set Program Access and Defaults.lnk
Adobe Reader 9.lnk
Internet Explorer.lnk (@xpsp1res.dll,-11001)
Microsoft Access 2003.lnk
Microsoft Excel 2003.lnk
Microsoft PowerPoint 2003.lnk
Microsoft Word 2003.lnk

\Start Menu2\Programs\Accessories
LastWrite: Wed Jun 9 19:26:37 2010 Z
Accessibility (@shell32.dll,-21760)
Communications (@shell32.dll,-21768)
Entertainment (@shell32.dll,-21772)
System Tools
Address Book.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22017)
Calculator.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22019)
Command Prompt.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22022)
Notepad.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22051)
Paint.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22054)
Program Compatibility Wizard.lnk (@C:\WINDOWS\system32\compatUI.dll,-115)
Remote Desktop Connection.lnk
Synchronize.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22062)
Tour Windows XP.lnk (@C:\WINDOWS\system32\tourstart.exe,-1)
Windows Explorer.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22067)
WordPad.lnk (@shell32.dll,-22069)


LastWrite: Mon Oct 4 18:31:22 2010 Z
Customize Links.url
Free Hotmail.url
Windows Marketplace.url
Windows Media.url

\Favorites\Microsoft Websites
LastWrite: Tue Sep 7 15:34:21 2010 Z
IE Add-on site.url
IE site on
Microsoft At Home.url
Microsoft At Work.url
Welcome to IE7.url
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  1. Great stuff, Corey! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anonymous

    Nice work! Thanks for sharing.

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