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December 28, 2013

Hardcoded Pointers

Use of hardcoded pointer could enable the attacker to bypass ASLR. In this draft I'm describing potential methods to find a hardcoded pointer in your target.

When exploiting particular vulnerabilities it is fundamental to read/write or jump to predictable memory location in the process' address space. ASLR randomizes the memory locations of various key locations including addresses of libraries. Even though we see that some high profile applications still load libraries with ASLR disabled, we have high hopes they will fix the problem soon.

That wouldn't solve the problem overall though. Applying ASLR to all libraries does not mean there is not easily predictable locations in the process' address space. There are API functions that accept address to allocate memory at that address. These functions can be used to hardcode memory address, and so to assign a fixed address to a pointer (CWE-587). As a consequence, it gives an attacker a chance to read/write or jump to known address to bypass ASLR.

For these functions you can specify the desired starting address that you want to allocate. When doing security audit it's worth checking if the functions are called with hardcoded addresses.
The following functions accept address to read as parameter. These are not appear to be useful but leave them for potential future use.
UnmapViewOfFile, WriteProcessMemory, ReadProcessMemory, FlushViewOfFile, FlushInstructionCache, Toolhelp32ReadProcessMemory, GetWriteWatch, ResetWriteWatch, ReadProcessMemoryProc64, VirtualUnlock, MapUserPhysicalPages, VirtualProtect, VirtualProtectEx, VirtualQueryEx, GetFrameSourceAddress, CompareFrameDestAddress, VirtualFree, VirtualFreeEx, FindNextFrame, WSPStringToAddress, CompareAddresses, AddressToString

It's also worth checking if the application you audit uses shared memory as some application map the memory at fixed address, and even boost library supports the use of this insecure method.
The use of relative pointers is less efficient than using raw pointers, so if a user can succeed mapping the same file or shared memory object in the same address in two processes, using raw pointers can be a good idea. To map an object in a fixed address, the user can specify that address in the mapped region's constructor:
mapped_region region ( shm                         //Map shared memory
                     , read_write                  //Map it as read-write
                     , 0                           //Map from offset 0
                     , 0                           //Map until the end
                     , (void*)0x3F000000           //Map it exactly there
When auditing source code for hardcoded address it's worth looking for constant starting with 0x ending with 0000 as some might indicate hardcoded memory address. I wrote a simple batch script for that.

The another batch script I have is for binary code. I recommend to use if you don't find a bug using other methods. To use it you need to execute on the binary file to produce disassembly, and you may run the batch script on it to get the immediate values filtered.

This is interesting. Here is an example of someone asking how to allocate memory at fixed address unintentionally making his software less secure.
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