January 18, 2015

Even Calculator Has Bugs

Windows Calculator (calc.exe) has a functional bug that is associated with the clipboard and the integers below.

INT8_MIN  -128
INT16_MIN -32768
INT32_MIN -2147483648
INT64_MIN -9223372036854775808


In Programmer mode (View -> Programmer) when Dec and Byte are selected the minimum value the calculator can accept is -128. It's tricky to enter that value but you can do by the following four key-presses: (1) (+/-) (2) (8). I said it's tricky as you can't type (1) (2) (8) (+/-) because 128 is greater than the maximum value of INT8 that is 127. While it's a bit inconvenience it can be worked around.

To reproduce the bug select Dec and Byte and type -128. Copy it to the clipboard via Edit -> Copy or Ctrl+C. Then paste it via Edit->Paste or Ctrl+V. What happens is -12 is pasted rather than -128, discarding the last digit.
Last digit is discarded when -128 (INT8_MIN) is pasted.

The effect is the same if you copy -128 in Notepad then paste it in Calculator.

While a beeping sound may be heard when pasting, nothing else warns you about the error. Those who muted the speaker may not notice the error. This is especially possible when the value is long in digits (INT64_MIN) and can be easily overlooked.

It's plausible that programmers use INT_MIN values in their calculations as these are commonly used when developing software.

Windows 8.1 is affected by this issue. Other versions are not verified but likely affected.

While this issue is most likely the limitation of the design some may find it embarrassing as a calculator has nothing else to do than to work with numbers without failure.

The issue found when I was recently working on my own calculator for Windows Phone. I realized I had to deal with many corner cases and I checked how these corner cases affect Windows Calculator.

January 11, 2015

Arrangement Of The Variables In Data Structures

Let's assume that an extensive code review had identified the direct security issues and the developers eliminated all. Now the code is free from bugs. How nice to write that. :-)

That would not be the reason to stop code review though. There may be still things to be done to reduce the severity of potential future bugs.

Newly added code can introduce and/or expose issues. The idea is to make changes in the existing code that make the exploitation of a future bug more challenging. This is good to do without introducing new issues like performance degradation, etc.

Given a heap based buffer overflow, one of the common attack scenario is to overwrite a function pointer in any structure. If, however, the function pointer is at the end of the structure, the overflow may:
  • Not be long enough to overwrite the function pointer
  • Overwrite the variables preceding the function pointer and so destroy the internal state of the application. This could lead the application to bail out early before the function gets called.
So putting the function pointer as a last item in the structure can make exploitation more challenging.

A more generic suggestion in security point of view is like this. If possible, arrange the variables to have
  • the sensitive ones at the end of the structure
  • the ones that can bail the execution out early at the beginning of the structure

January 6, 2015

EMET Can Interfere With Pin

Sometimes no matter how simple your pintool is when it's run against the target it crashes. Recently I investigated such crash. One of my pintool was randomly crashed/hung/terminated as well as displayed memory errors.

My target was added to EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit). Also, EMET was running at the time of experiment. I was thinking... what if I stop EMET? I disabled all the mitigations in EMET and stopped its service. Re-launched my pintool and checked if EMET.dll and EMET64.dll are not loaded in the target's process. This time my pintool was running without any obstacle.

Third party programs can make a pintool to crash. Of course, it's not a surprise but it's something to be aware of when working with a pintool.

If your pintool is still crashing you may want to take look at one of my earlier post.
  This blog is written and maintained by Attila Suszter. Read in Feed Reader.