Older blog entries for argp (starting at number 41)

Black Hat Europe 2011 update

Black Hat Europe 2011 is now over and we are very happy to have participated once again in the best European IT security conference!

Continuing from our last year’s presentation, our talk this year focused on operating system kernel protections. Specifically, our researchers Patroklos Argyroudis and Dimitris Glynos collected their experiences from kernel exploit development and presented the ways in which modern operating systems protect their kernels from memory corruption attacks.

The first part of our talk touched on the importance of kernel security. Operating system kernel security has become very important lately, mainly for two reasons. The first one is that in userland most generic exploitation approaches have been defeated by countermeasure technologies. This means that it is becoming increasingly harder to successfully penetrate target systems through memory corruption bugs in applications and therefore penetration testers and security researchers have started looking more at kernel vulnerabilities. The second reason for the importance of kernel security is that operating system kernels are large and complex code bases, increasing the possibility of security-related bugs. This has led to the wide adoption of proactive kernel defense mechanisms.

The second part of our talk gave an overview of kernel vulnerability classes and programming bugs that lead to such vulnerabilities.

In order to allow the attendants to compare userland mitigations to kernel ones, the third part of the talk briefly presented the currently available userland exploitation defenses.

The fourth and main part of our talk presented a detailed technical analysis of the kernel exploitation mitigations found on Linux (version 2.6.37), Windows 7, Mac OS X Snow Leopard (version 10.6.6) and FreeBSD (version 8.1). Our talk also covered the kernel defenses available on popular mobile phone platforms, such as Apple’s iOS (the iPhone operating system) and Google’s Android.

As an example success story of a kernel exploitation mitigation one may consider the MS10-009/CVE-2010-0239 ICMPv6 router advertisement vulnerability. This is a Windows 7 remote code execution vulnerability due to unbounded memory copying when processing ICMPv6 router advertisement packets. When the vulnerability is triggered, the Windows 7 kernel detects the corrupted kernel stack and the operating system halts. This is indeed preferable to the alternative which is remote code execution and subsequent full compromise of the system.

Where possible, the fourth part of our talk also presented the available techniques for bypassing some of the examined mitigation technologies, along with the appropriate references to enable all interested parties to get a head start in this area of research.

The fifth and final part of our presentation provided generic hints and tips on bypassing proactive kernel defense mechanisms.

Presentation Material

All material from our presentation are provided below in the hope that they will be useful to security researchers, developers and users of the above operating systems.


We would like to thank Matt Miller and Maarten Van Horenbeeck of Microsoft for providing us with helpful comments regarding Windows 7.

Legal Notice

Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft, Windows 7 and the Windows logo are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Mac OS X Snow Leopard, iPhone and the Apple logo are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. FreeBSD and the FreeBSD logo are registered trademarks of The FreeBSD Foundation. Android is a trademark of Google Inc. Finally, the Android Robot logo is reproduced from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

Syndicated 2011-03-22 10:55:03 (Updated 2011-04-26 14:52:18) from www.census-labs.com blog posts by author

27 May 2010 (updated 28 May 2010 at 15:15 UTC) »

FreeBSD kernel NFS client local vulnerabilities

census ID: census-2010-0001
CVE ID: CVE-2010-2020
Affected Products: FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE, 7.3-RELEASE, 7.2-RELEASE
Class: Improper Input Validation (CWE-20)
Remote: No
Discovered by: Patroklos Argyroudis

We have discovered two improper input validation vulnerabilities in the FreeBSD kernel’s NFS client-side implementation (FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE, 7.3-RELEASE and 7.2-RELEASE) that allow local unprivileged users to escalate their privileges, or to crash the system by performing a denial of service attack.


FreeBSD is an advanced operating system which focuses on reliability and performance. More information about its features can be found here.

FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE, 7.3-RELEASE and 7.2-RELEASE employ an improper input validation method in the kernel’s NFS client-side implementation. Specifically, the first vulnerability is in function nfs_mount() (file src/sys/nfsclient/nfs_vfsops.c) which is reachable from the mount(2) and nmount(2) system calls. In order for them to be enabled for unprivileged users the sysctl(8) variable vfs.usermount must be set to a non-zero value.

The function nfs_mount() employs an insufficient input validation method for copying data passed in a structure of type nfs_args from userspace to kernel. Specifically, the file handle buffer to be mounted (args.fh) and its size (args.fhsize) are completely user-controllable. The unbounded copy operation is in file src/sys/nfsclient/nfs_vfsops.c (the excerpts are from 8.0-RELEASE):

  1094:      if (!has_fh_opt) {
1095:            error = copyin((caddr_t)args.fh, (caddr_t)nfh,
1096:                 args.fhsize);
1097:          if (error) {
1098:               goto out;
1099:            }

The declaration of the variables args and nfh is at:

  786: static int
787: nfs_mount(struct mount *mp)
788: {
789:         struct nfs_args args = {
790:             .version = NFS_ARGSVERSION,
791:             .addr = NULL,
792:             .addrlen = sizeof (struct sockaddr_in),
793:             .sotype = SOCK_STREAM,
794:             .proto = 0,
795:             .fh = NULL,
796:             .fhsize = 0,
797:             .flags = NFSMNT_RESVPORT,
798:             .wsize = NFS_WSIZE,
799:             .rsize = NFS_RSIZE,
800:             .readdirsize = NFS_READDIRSIZE,
801:             .timeo = 10,
802:             .retrans = NFS_RETRANS,
803:             .maxgrouplist = NFS_MAXGRPS,
804:             .readahead = NFS_DEFRAHEAD,
805:             .wcommitsize = 0,                   /* was: NQ_DEFLEASE */
806:             .deadthresh = NFS_MAXDEADTHRESH,    /* was: NQ_DEADTHRESH */
807:             .hostname = NULL,
808:             /* args version 4 */
809:             .acregmin = NFS_MINATTRTIMO,
810:             .acregmax = NFS_MAXATTRTIMO,
811:             .acdirmin = NFS_MINDIRATTRTIMO,
812:             .acdirmax = NFS_MAXDIRATTRTIMO,
813:         };
814:         int error, ret, has_nfs_args_opt;
815:         int has_addr_opt, has_fh_opt, has_hostname_opt;
816:         struct sockaddr *nam;
817:         struct vnode *vp;
818:         char hst[MNAMELEN];
819:         size_t len;
820:         u_char nfh[NFSX_V3FHMAX];

This vulnerability can cause a kernel stack overflow which leads to privilege escalation on FreeBSD 7.3-RELEASE and 7.2-RELEASE. On FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE the result is a kernel crash/denial of service due to the SSP/ProPolice kernel stack-smashing protection which is enabled by default. Versions 7.1-RELEASE and earlier do not appear to be vulnerable since the bug was introduced in 7.2-RELEASE. In order to demonstrate the impact of the vulnerability we have developed a proof-of-concept privilege escalation exploit. A sample run of the exploit follows:

  [argp@julius ~]$ uname -rsi
[argp@julius ~]$ sysctl vfs.usermount
vfs.usermount: 1
[argp@julius ~]$ id
uid=1001(argp) gid=1001(argp) groups=1001(argp)
[argp@julius ~]$ gcc -Wall nfs_mount_ex.c -o nfs_mount_ex
[argp@julius ~]$ ./nfs_mount_ex
[*] calling nmount()
[!] nmount error: -1030740736
nmount: Unknown error: -1030740736
[argp@julius ~]$ id
uid=0(root) gid=0(wheel) egid=1001(argp) groups=1001(argp)

The second vulnerability exists in the function mountnfs() that is called from function nfs_mount():

  1119: error = mountnfs(&args, mp, nam, args.hostname, &vp,
1120:     curthread->td_ucred);

The function mountnfs() is reachable from the mount(2) and nmount(2) system calls by unprivileged users. As with the nfs_mount() case above, this requires the sysctl(8) variable vfs.usermount to be set to a non-zero value.

The file handle to be mounted (argp->fh) and its size (argp->fhsize) are passed to function mountnfs() from function nfs_mount() and are user-controllable. These are subsequently used in an unbounded bcopy() call (file src/sys/nfsclient/nfs_vfsops.c):

  1219: bcopy((caddr_t)argp->fh, (caddr_t)nmp->nm_fh, argp->fhsize);

The above can cause a kernel heap overflow when argp->fh is bigger than 128 bytes (the size of nmp->nm_fh) since nmp is an allocated item on the Universal Memory Allocator (UMA, the FreeBSD kernel’s heap allocator) zone nfsmount_zone (again from src/sys/nfsclient/nfs_vfsops.c):

  1160: static int
1161: mountnfs(struct nfs_args *argp, struct mount *mp, struct sockaddr *nam,
1162:     char *hst, struct vnode **vpp, struct ucred *cred)
1163: {
1164:         struct nfsmount *nmp;
1165:         struct nfsnode *np;
1166:         int error;
1167:         struct vattr attrs;
1169:         if (mp->mnt_flag &MNT_UPDATE) {
1170:                 nmp = VFSTONFS(mp);
1171:                 printf("%s: MNT_UPDATE is no longer handled here\n", 
1172:                 free(nam, M_SONAME);
1173:                 return (0);
1174:         } else {
1175:                 nmp = uma_zalloc(nfsmount_zone, M_WAITOK);

This kernel heap overflow can lead on FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE, 7.3-RELEASE and 7.2-RELEASE to privilege escalation and/or a kernel crash/denial of service attack. Similarly to the first vulnerability, FreeBSD 7.1-RELEASE and earlier versions do not appear to be vulnerable. We have developed a proof-of-concept DoS exploit to demonstrate the vulnerability. Furthermore, we have also developed a privilege escalation exploit for this second vulnerability which will not be released at this point.

FreeBSD has released an official advisory and a patch to address both vulnerabilities. All affected parties are advised to follow the upgrade instructions included in the advisory and patch their systems.

Syndicated 2010-05-23 20:18:51 (Updated 2010-05-28 17:16:17) from www.census-labs.com blog posts by author

26 Apr 2010 (updated 22 Feb 2011 at 16:18 UTC) »

FreeBSD kernel exploitation mitigations

In my recent Black Hat Europe 2010 talk I gave an overview of the kernel exploitation prevention mechanisms that exist on FreeBSD. A few people at the conference have subsequently asked me to elaborate on the subject. In this post I will collect all the information from my talk and the various discussions I had in the Black Hat conference hallways.

Userland memory corruption protections (also known as exploitation mitigations) have made most of the generic exploitation approaches obsolete. This is true both on Windows and Unix-like operating systems. In order to successfully achieve arbitrary code execution from a vulnerable application nowadays a researcher needs to look to the memory layout and the code structure of the particular application.

On the other hand, exploitation mitigation mechanisms for kernel code have not seen the same level of adoption mostly due to the performance penalty they introduce. This has increased the interest in viewing the operating system kernel as part of the attack surface targeted in a penetration test. Therefore, many operating systems have started to introduce kernel exploitation mitigations. The recent CanSecWest talk by Tavis Ormandy and Julien Tinnes titled “There’s a party at Ring0, and you’re invited” presented an overview of such mitigations on Windows and Linux.

FreeBSD also has a number of memory corruption protections for kernel code. Not all of these were developed with the goal of undermining attacks, but primarily as debugging mechanisms. Some are enabled by default in the latest stable version (8.0-RELEASE) and some are not.


Kernel stack-smashing protection for FreeBSD was introduced in version 8.0 via ProPolice/SSP. Specifically, the file src/sys/kern/stack_protector.c is compiled with gcc’s -fstack-protector option and registers an event handler called __stack_chk_init that generates a random canary value (the “guard” variable in SSP terminology) placed between the local variables and the saved frame pointer of a kernel process’s stack during a function’s prologue. Below is the relevant part of the stack_protector.c file:

  10: __stack_chk_guard[8] = {};
20: #define __arraycount(__x)       (sizeof(__x) / sizeof(__x[0]))
21: static void
22: __stack_chk_init(void *dummy __unused)
23: {
24:         size_t i;
25:         long guard[__arraycount(__stack_chk_guard)];
27:         arc4rand(guard, sizeof(guard), 0);
28:         for (i = 0; i 

During the protected function’s epilogue the canary is checked against its original value. If it has been altered the kernel calls panic(9) bringing down the whole system, but also stopping any execution flow redirection caused by manipulation of the function’s saved frame pointer or saved return address (again from the stack_protector.c file):

  13: void
14: __stack_chk_fail(void)
15: {
17:         panic("stack overflow detected; backtrace may be corrupted");
18: }

ProPolice/SSP also performs local variable and pointer reordering in order to protect against the corruption of variables and pointers due to stack buffer overflow vulnerabilities.

NULL page mappings

Also in version 8.0, FreeBSD has introduced a protection against user mappings at address 0 (NULL). This exploitation mitigation mechanism is exposed through the sysctl(8) variable security.bsd.map_at_zero and is enabled by default (i.e. the variable has the value 0). When a user request is made for the NULL page and the feature is enabled an error occurs and the mapping fails. Obviously this protection is ineffective in vulnerabilities which the attacker can (directly or indirectly) control the kernel dereference offset. For an applicable example see the exploit for vulnerability CVE-2008-3531 I have previously published.


FreeBSD has introduced kernel heap-smashing detection in 8.0-RELEASE via an implementation called RedZone. RedZone is oriented more towards debugging the kernel memory allocator rather than detecting and stopping deliberate attacks against it. If enabled (it is disabled by default) RedZone places a static canary value of 16 bytes above and below each buffer allocated on the heap. The canary value consists of the hexadecimal value 0x42 repeated in these 16 bytes.

During a heap buffer's deallocation the canary value is checked and if it has been corrupted the details of the corruption (address of the offending buffer and stack traces of the buffer's allocation and deallocation) are logged. The code that performs the check for a heap overflow is the following (from file src/sys/vm/redzone.c):

  166: ncorruptions = 0;
167: for (i = 0; i 

This protection mechanism can obviously be easily bypassed.


MemGuard is a replacement kernel memory allocator introduced in FreeBSD version 6.0 and is designed to detect use-after-free bugs in kernel code. Similarly to RedZone, MemGuard mainly targets debugging scenarios and does not constitute a mechanism to mitigate deliberate attacks. However, MemGuard is not compatible and cannot replace the Universal Memory Allocator's (UMA — which is the default kernel allocator in FreeBSD) calls. Therefore (and also due to the overhead it introduced even before UMA was developed), it is not enabled by default.

Syndicated 2010-04-26 10:38:23 (Updated 2011-02-22 17:55:00) from www.census-labs.com blog posts by author

Black Hat Europe 2010 update

Black Hat Europe 2010 is now over and after a brief ash cloud caused delay I am back in Greece. It has been a great conference, flawlessly organised and with many outstanding presentations. I would like to thank everyone that attended my presentation but also all the kind people that spoke to me before and afterwards. I hope to meet all of you again at a future event.

My presentation, titled “Binding the Daemon: FreeBSD Kernel Stack and Heap Exploitation”, was divided into four parts. In the first part I gave an overview of the published work on the subject of kernel exploitation for Unix-like operating systems. The second and third parts were the main body of the presentation. Specifically, in the second part I explained how a kernel stack overflow vulnerability on FreeBSD can be leveraged to achieve arbitrary code execution. The third part focused on a detailed security analysis of the Universal Memory Allocator (UMA), the FreeBSD kernel’s memory allocator. I explored how UMA overflows can lead to arbitrary code execution in the context of the latest stable FreeBSD kernel (8.0-RELEASE), and I developed an exploitation methodology for privilege escalation and kernel continuation.

In the fourth and final part I gave a demo of a FreeBSD kernel local 0day vulnerability that I have discovered. However, I have not released the details of the vulnerability in my Black Hat presentation. The details of this vulnerability (plus the proof-of-concept exploit) will be released shortly, once the relevant code is patched and the official advisory is out.

Below you may find all the material of my presentation, updated with some extra information and minor corrections:

Syndicated 2010-04-22 08:39:53 (Updated 2010-04-22 08:39:45) from www.census-labs.com blog posts by author

Binding the Daemon - Black Hat Europe 2010

census will be presenting “Binding the Daemon”, an in-depth analysis of FreeBSD kernel stack and kernel heap exploitation methodologies at Black Hat Europe 2010. This year the European Black Hat Briefings conference will be held in Barcelona, Spain. We hope to see you there!

Syndicated 2010-03-19 09:15:16 (Updated 2010-03-19 09:40:15) from www.census-labs.com blog posts by author


I have moved my blog to http://argp.gr/blog/. Please update your RSS reader's entry since I will no longer be directly updating my Advogato diary. The new feed is here.

exploit for CVE-2010-0453

While playing today with kmdb on OpenSolaris I wrote a denial of service (kernel panic) PoC exploit for the UCODE_GET_VERSION ioctl NULL pointer dereference vulnerability. The vulnerability was discovered by Tobias Klein who always publishes very detailed advisories:


You can get my exploit from:


first 2010 0day

md5: e8d5dd9d6cdf8602f12c8baef53f6550
sha1: 1322d45eed25260a0d5f85284011e1b205328807
sha256: eb4f95ec1b62d57e022c6945bdcb3f747f94f3ad7ddedc4bfde7dee23d4362ef

xmas 2009 0day

md5: a145ed9d7e1c33124daab40447cc5b56
sha1: c888985f209c26243206f8864783500b0c9353bb
sha256: 27cbcd01cf0e1b6a2ba82d4c0209a791957a3c1c29c131b0208f77981a1a81aa

14 Dec 2009 (updated 8 Mar 2010 at 17:09 UTC) »

Monkey HTTPd improper input validation vulnerability

census ID: census-2009-0004
Affected Products: Monkey web server versions ≤ 0.9.2.
Class: Improper Input Validation (CWE-20), Incorrect Calculation (CWE-682)
Remote: Yes
Discovered by: Patroklos Argyroudis

We have discovered a remotely exploitable “improper input validation” vulnerability in the Monkey web server that allows an attacker to perform denial of service attacks by repeatedly crashing worker threads that process HTTP requests.


Monkey is a fast, efficient, small and easy to configure HTTP/1.1 compliant web server. It has been designed to be scalable with low memory and CPU consumption. More information about its features can be found here.

Monkey (up to and including version 0.9.2) employs an insufficient input validation method for handling HTTP requests with invalid connection headers. Specifically, the vulnerability is in the calculation for the end of the request body buffer related to newline characters in function Request_Find_Variable() in the file src/request.c:

  364: char *Request_Find_Variable(char *request_body,  char *string)
365: {
366:   int pos_init_var=0, pos_end_var=0;
367:   char *var_value = 0;
369:   /* Existe *string en request_body ??? */        
370:   if (strstr2(request_body, string) == NULL)
371:       return NULL;
373:   pos_init_var = str_search(request_body, string, strlen(string));
374:   pos_end_var = str_search(request_body+pos_init_var, "\n", 1) — 1;
376:   if(pos_init_var

With a specially crafted request body the pos_init_var integer can take the value 0x1c (28 in decimal) and the pos_end_var integer can take the value 0x1a (26 in decimal). Then in the m_copy_string() function, the calculation for the unsigned integer size in line 428 (file src/utils.c) leads to a signedness bug and m_copy_string() returns NULL (line 438, file src/utils.c):

  423: char *m_copy_string(const char *string, int pos_init, int pos_end)
424: {
425:   unsigned int size, bytes;
426:   char *buffer=0;
428:   size = (unsigned int) (pos_end — pos_init ) + 1;
429:   if(sizestrlen(string) || (pos_init > pos_end)){
438:       return NULL;
439:   }

This causes Request_Find_Variable() to return NULL (line 344, file src/request.c) and this to be used in the strstr2() call at line 345 of file src/request.c:

  344:   sr->connection = Request_Find_Variable(request_body, RH_CONNECTION);
345:   if((strstr2(sr->connection,"Keep-Alive"))!=NULL){
346:       sr->keep_alive=VAR_ON;
347:   }

This vulnerability can allow an attacker to perform denial of service attacks by repeatedly crashing Monkey worker threads that process HTTP requests. We have developed a proof-of-concept exploit to demonstrate the vulnerability.

The maintainer of Monkey has been contacted and a new version of the web server (0.9.3) has been released that addresses this issue. All affected parties are advised to upgrade to the latest version available.

Syndicated 2009-12-14 12:04:04 (Updated 2010-03-08 18:27:38) from www.census-labs.com blog posts by author

32 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!