Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (4020 mails)

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Re: [SLE] spyware
  • From: Örn Hansen <orn.hansen@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 12:24:42 +0200
  • Message-id: <200410041224.42582.orn.hansen@xxxxxxxxxx>
måndag 04 oktober 2004 03:54 skrev Paul W. Abrahams:
> Linux, with its underlying foundation of old C code, is particularly
> vulnerable to buffer-overflow attacks.

Which is not correct ...

The buffer overflow attack, is based on very old information ... let me try to

subroutine(const char *data)
char buffer[BUFSIZ];


would, depending on architecture ... become an assembly code:

allocate cost_char*_data;
push return-address.
push registers;
allocate char_buffer[BUFSIZ];

The above is the stack... the trick here, is that the stack is filled
bottom-up, while memory variables are filled top-down. So, writing over
buffer[BUFSIZ+12] variables will overwrite the return-adress ( or some saved
register). However, this is compiler and architecture specific. Some will
save the registers, AFTER they've entered the routine. And your script
kiddie, has to have detailed knowledge of the subroutine that he's going to
install his rootkit in. Because, you see ... he can't have the program just
return to anywhere ... that's impossible. He also has to have detailed
knowledge of the processor involved, in assembly code ... as the return
adress information has to include information for the memory controller, as
well ... not merely the cpu, those days are long since over.

All in all ... the script kiddie explanation, as I told someone earlier ... is
total TB ... or Tom Bluhr. I say, it's a TB because it's not merely a
deliberate lie ... it's intended to obscure the facts. In the case of closed
platforms, like Windows ... you have to be in the loop of development, to
know the exact size of the buffer variable. It's not always BUFSIZ long, you
know ... it rarely is. In the case of Open Source, this can be a problem ...
since people only have to read the source, to know. Yet, in open source, the
code changes rapidly ... so you have to know what version the other side is
running, as well. Which means, you have to be pretty competent to do it ...
and it's usually beyond the average script kiddie.

The solution, is very simple ...

subroutine(const char *data)
char *buffer;

buffer = malloc(BUFSIZ);

In the above case, the memory will be allocated on the heap and will consist
of a memory allocation block, in 4096 byte blocks which are limited to the
current process only. No program code, is within that block or near it ...
that is accessable through the memory variable. The memory controller, will
give a segmentation violation if the buffer is overrun into the next block,
which may contain program code.

I really don't think that there are many programs out there, today ... that
are mission critical, that are vulnerable to buffer attacks.

Of course, I haven't taken a look into the kernel ... but I doubt the kernel
has any loop holes, such as the old Atari ST(e) did. You see, all you had to
do with the old ST, was to put some program code in high memory somewhere and
then make it warm reboot. The memory check routine would look for a
signature on every 1024 block, and if found, would run a code that was there.
And you really don't know what windows does or doesn't ... this is the sort
of things you can do with closed architectures, but wouldn't leave lying
around in an open source core.

My 0,2€ worth.
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