The process of a successful stack based BOF-Part 2

Posted: March 8, 2009 in security
Tags: , , , , ,

The previous post explained how to setup the environment so that we would be able to actually debug the crashing process. In this post I will try to explain the process of analyzing it and building a working exploit. So the first step is to identify why it crashed in the first place.

Let’s fire up the exploit again and it should land us right into the olly screen with the INT 3 we hexedited in. We already know what to do with that(replace it with PUSH ESI), let’s continue with the stack and the instruction. First of all let’s document them a little bit(only the parts I found interesting are documented). The comments are on the following line due to space issues.

00401030    81EC 58020000   SUB ESP,258
; substract size needed for variables
00401036    A0 E0684000     MOV AL,BYTE PTR DS:[4068E0]
0040103B    56              PUSH ESI
0040103C    57              PUSH EDI
0040103D    884424 08       MOV BYTE PTR SS:[ESP+8],AL
00401041    B9 95000000     MOV ECX,95
00401046    33C0            XOR EAX,EAX
00401048    8D7C24 09       LEA EDI,DWORD PTR SS:[ESP+9]
0040104C    F3:AB           REP STOS DWORD PTR ES:[EDI]
; zero the stack
0040104E    66:AB           STOS WORD PTR ES:[EDI]
00401050    8D4C24 08       LEA ECX,DWORD PTR SS:[ESP+8]
00401054    51              PUSH ECX
00401055    68 4C604000     PUSH vuln.0040604C ; ASCII "%.8X"
0040105A    AA              STOS BYTE PTR ES:[EDI]
0040105B    E8 40000000     CALL vuln.004010A0
; inline printf
00401060    8BBC24 6C020000 MOV EDI,DWORD PTR SS:[ESP+26C]
; address of our payload
00401067    83C9 FF         OR ECX,FFFFFFFF
0040106A    33C0            XOR EAX,EAX
0040106C    83C4 08         ADD ESP,8
0040106F    F2:AE           REPNE SCAS BYTE PTR ES:[EDI]
00401071    F7D1            NOT ECX 
; ECX contains size of our payload
00401073    2BF9            SUB EDI,ECX
00401075    8D5424 08       LEA EDX,DWORD PTR SS:[ESP+8]
00401079    8BC1            MOV EAX,ECX
0040107B    8BF7            MOV ESI,EDI
0040107D    8BFA            MOV EDI,EDX
0040107F    C1E9 02         SHR ECX,2
00401082    F3:A5           REP MOVS DWORD PTR ES:[EDI],DWORD PTR DS:[ESI]
;copy payload to stack address @ EDI
00401084    8BC8            MOV ECX,EAX
00401086    83E1 03         AND ECX,3
00401089    33C0            XOR EAX,EAX
0040108B    F3:A4           REP MOVS BYTE PTR ES:[EDI],BYTE PTR DS:[ESI]
0040108D    5F              POP EDI
0040108E    5E              POP ESI
0040108F    81C4 58020000   ADD ESP,258
; set ESP to the RET address
00401095    C3              RETN
; jump to the RET address

What can we see/learn from the above statements? That everything before the printf is irrelevant and almost everything after that is relevant.  So what are the next steps? We got the slightly documented asm, we got a general idea of what the function does(also cause we got the source of it) and we know our goal…excute the shellcode.

We will start by taking a look at the stack just before the function starts to copy our payload onto it, cause it’s a huge amount of space on the stack(600bytes see the SUB esp,256) I’ll just show the stack towards the end of it.


w0000t seems like we are starting to understand this…like you can see inside the red squares…the RET address on the stack matches the instruction address AFTER the call to our vulnerable function. So indeed like it’s explained on the forum and in several papers…when you fill up the buffer to much you will overwrite any saves RET addresses on the stack. Hmmm so when we first got our error and the exploit didn’t work it must have ment that the NOPS(0x90) overwrote the RET address, let’s verify that. The next screenshot shows the stack when it’s beeing filled and just before overwriting the RET address.


So the red bracket clearly shows that the RET address is almost overwritten. The dark red(brown w/e moves you) shows that ESI still points to a large amount(exact amount can be seen in ECX which holds the length to be written) of data yet to be written. So we can now confirm that indeed there are to many NOPS. Take a look at how the stack looks like after all data has been written.


The first red dot indicates where the RET address was and the second red dot indicates the end of the data that has been written. So let’s fix it that the RET address get’s overwritten correctly(in my case diminish the nops and adjust the place where the return address is written into the buffer).


Like you can see on the above screenshot we now control the RET address correctly except that it’s horribly wrong and the application still crashes. So how do we fix this? By using a tool called findjmp || findjmp2 this tool is able to search for us in the provided dll for a correct address to use. If you want to know what dll to use, just look it up in olly. Press ALT+E which should open a window displaying the currently loaded modules. KD was working with ntdll.dll so I just followed his lead(hint:try to use modules which are always loaded by the process…so that you have a more reliable exploit).

findjmp.exe ntdll.dll esp

Scanning ntdll.dll for code useable with the esp register
0x7C914663      call esp
0x7C919DB0      push esp – ret
0x7C95311B      call esp

I used the first address, 0x7c914663. If you did it all correct your olly should now look like this:


Like you prolly already noticed…we are inside NTDLL.DLL now at the CALL ESP instruction that we looked up earlier using findjmp(don’t forget to use F7 in olly instead of F8 when it hits the function RET instruction). Now press F7(step into) again and it should land you right inside the mini shellcode.


If you execute the mini shellcode, you will notice that it still will not land you inside the main NOP sled, instead it will crash. Take a look at the following screenshot to understand why.


The red arrows show the current situation, the green arrows show how it should be. Like you can see on XP SP3 it’s not ECX which points to the main NOP sled but it’s EDX. Let’s do that press the spacebar in olly and change JMP ECX to JMP EDX, make sure to write down the changed opcode cause you need to adjust that one in the source. Now if you press F7 on the changed jmp it will land you right into the main NOP sled!! The opcodes inside the red circle math the opcodes of the shellcode in the source.


Voila there you go a fixed exploit. Like the original author says in his forum post the shellcode won’t prolly work(certainly didn’t in my case) because some hardcoded addresses need to be fixed. This is a minor issues since now we understand how to debug the process we want to exploit. You can run into some difficulties when replacing shellcodes because of restricted characters for example.

Hope this last part answered a lot of questions and made the process of writing a exploit a little bit more understandable. In the future I might write about the process of selecting the correct shellcode and how to avoid bad chars. For the moment beeing this is all folks.

  1. abhijit says:

    k thanks.I ll be in touch if I face problems.Can u plz suggest me some working exploits on xp sp0,sp1 and windows 2000

  2. diablohorn says:

    I’m sorry I don’t give out my email address. Well the thread you started had responses which solved the problem. If you have a specific problem I can look into it and try to help out. The question is very broad atm.

    I recommend you start with tutorials on BOFs and practice a lot with example applications. That’s the best way to learn imo.

  3. abhijitmohantainfosec says:

    I am not getting responses now. I had started thread around 2 months back and i was not well and away from computers for a long time.I am trying the exploit on windows xp sp0.If it is convenient for you can you give me your email id
    my id

  4. diablohorn says:

    Hi sorry for the late reply but I’m a little bit busy latley. I saw the thread at governmentsecurity and it looks like Korupt is doing a pretty good job of explaining it. Let me know if you have any further problems.

  5. abhijit says:

    I am facing a similar problem while writing an exploit in windows xp sp2.
    Can u plz help me in this.I have posted my problem in government security and remote-exploit forums but did not get results

    links where i posted my problem

    Thanks in advance.
    Please mail me with your suggestions as soon as possible.

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