Users login

Create an account »


Users login

Home » Hacking News » Macromedia Shockwave Flash Malformed Header Overflow

Macromedia Shockwave Flash Malformed Header Overflow

by Nikola Strahija on August 9th, 2002 While working on some pre-release eEye Retina CHAM tools, an exploitable condition was discovered within the Shockwave Flash file format called SWF (pronounced "SWIF").

Since this is a browser based bug, it makes it trivial to bypass firewalls
and attack the user at his desktop. Also, application browser bugs allow you
to target users based on the websites they visit, the newsgroups they read,
or the mailing lists they frequent. It is a "one button" push attack, and
using anonymous remailers or proxies for these attacks is possible.

This vulnerability has been proven to work with all versions of Macromedia
Flash on Windows and Unix, through IE and Netscape. It may be run wherever
Shockwave files may be displayed or attached, including: websites, email,
news postings, forums, Instant Messengers, and within applications utilizing
web-browsing functionality.

Technical Description:
The data header is roughly made out to:

[Flash signature][version (1)][File Length(A number of bytes too
short)][frame size (malformed)][Frame Rate (malformed)][Frame Count

By creating a malformed header we can supply more frame data than the
decoder is expecting. By supplying enough data we can overwrite a function
pointer address and redirect the flow of control to a specified location as
soon as this address is used. At the moment the overwritten address takes
control flow, an address pointing to a portion of our data is 8 bytes back
from the stack pointer. By using a relative jump we redirect flow into a
"call dword ptr [esp+N]", where N is the number of bytes from the stack
pointer. These "jump points" can be located in multiple loaded dll's. By
creating a simple tool using the debugging API and ReadMemory, you can
examine a process's virtual address space for useful data to help you with
your exploitation.

This is not to say other potentially vulnerable situations have not been
found in Macromedia's Flash. We discovered about seventeen others before we
ended our testing. We are working with Macromedia on these issues.

Retina(R) Network Security Scanner already scans for this latest version of
Flash on users' systems. Ensure all users within your control upgrade their

Vendor Status:
Macromedia has released a patch for this vulnerability, available at:

Discovery: Drew Copley
Exploitation: Riley Hassell

Newsletter signup

Signup to our monthly newsletter and stay in touch with IT news!

Free E-books

We've got ebooks! But they're not online. :( Please give us a few days to bring downloads back.


Have something to say or just wanna drop us a line? Please keep this in mind: to spam, we reply with spam.

Contact us »