The Invoke-CommandAs module allows you to execute PowerShell commands remotely as the SYSTEM account. In this article, I will show how Invoke-CommandAs works and some of the behind-the-scenes code it uses.

Dan Franciscus

Dan Franciscus is a systems engineer and VMware Certified Professional (VCP) specializing in VMware, PowerShell, and other Microsoft-based technologies. You can reach Dan at his blog or his Twitter at @dan_franciscus.

One of the great features of PowerShell is the ability to run commands and scripts remotely on machines. I often find myself either entering an interactive session with Enter-PSSession or using Invoke-Command on multiple machines at once. I am an old PSExec user, and although I do not find much use for it anymore now that PowerShell can do so many things PSExec does (and better), to me it still has had one benefit.

This would be the ability to run remote commands as the SYSTEM account by specifying the ‑s parameter like this:

PSExec.exe s \\machine whoami

I have searched in the past for solutions that let me do this in PowerShell, but recently one module has made it possible: Invoke-CommandAs. This module aims to address this very problem in PowerShell, and it does so wonderfully. Its creator is Marc Kellerman, whom I met at PowerShell Summit this year.

How it works ^

For Windows 8/2012+ systems, the command uses the ScheduledTasks module to register and run script blocks on remote systems. For Windows 7/2008, it creates a scheduled task COM object and invokes the code this way since the ScheduledJobs module is not available on these versions of Windows.

This serves two critical functions. For one, it provides a way to solve the PowerShell double-hop problem by running the code "locally" under a scheduled task. In addition, it creates and runs the task under the SYSTEM account, which can be preferable for things such as installing software.

PowerShell remotely as SYSTEM ^

To show that the remote commands are actually running under the SYSTEM account, I can do a simple test using the whoami command. Note that I specify ‑AsSystem as a parameter, which is not a parameter you can use in Invoke-Command.

whoami under the SYSTEM account

whoami under the SYSTEM account

Next, we will do something a bit more interesting. Let's use Invoke-CommandAs to install a Chocolatey package remotely as SYSTEM.

As you can see, it works like a charm, returning me the same output I would see if I ran this command locally.

Solving the double-hop issue ^

There are various ways to get around the PowerShell double-hop issues, which occur when you attempt to access a Server Message Block (SMB) share from a remote session. Invoke-CommandAs does this within the cmdlet. Not only this, but you can also run the scriptblock as a completely different user and pass your local credential object to the remote computer with the ‑As parameter.

Wrap-up ^

One of the characteristics I enjoy most about the PowerShell community is the number of quality modules created. Chances are if you are looking for a module for a specific circumstance, it is in the PowerShell Gallery. Invoke-CommandAs does exactly that by solving not only running remote commands as SYSTEM but solving the double-hop issue as well.

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6 Comments
  1. Marc R Kellerman 9 months ago

    Thanks for the shoutout!

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  2. Mike Kanakos 9 months ago

    Nice Article Dan!

    I have to download Mark's module and kick the tires; it looks super useful!

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  3. Paolo Maffezzoli 9 months ago

    Great article Dan. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. James Mathias 9 months ago

    If Invoke-CommandAs is not available, where can I get this module?

    Thanks...

    James

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    • Luc Fullenwarth 9 months ago

      @James

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  5. Luc Fullenwarth 9 months ago

    Amazing!

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