Overflow Binary Resource File
Attack Pattern ID: 44 (Detailed Attack Pattern Completeness: Complete)Typical Severity: Very HighStatus: Draft
+ Description


An attack of this type exploits a buffer overflow vulnerability in the handling of binary resources. Binary resources may includes music files like MP3, image files like JPEG files, and any other binary file. These attacks may pass unnoticed to the client machine through normal usage of files, such as a browser loading a seemingly innocent JPEG file. This can allow the attacker access to the execution stack and execute arbitrary code in the target process. This attack pattern is a variant of standard buffer overflow attacks using an unexpected vector (binary files) to wrap its attack and open up a new attack vector. The attacker is required to either directly serve the binary content to the victim, or place it in a locale like a MP3 sharing application, for the victim to download. The attacker then is notified upon the download or otherwise locates the vulnerability opened up by the buffer overflow.

+ Attack Prerequisites

Target software processes binary resource files.

Target software contains a buffer overflow vulnerability reachable through input from a user-controllable binary resource file.

+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: High

+ Methods of Attack
  • Modification of Resources
+ Examples-Instances


Binary files like music and video files are appended with additional data to cause buffer overflow on target systems. Because these files may be filled with otherwise popular content, the attacker has an excellent vector for wide distribution. There have been numerous cases, for example of malicious screen savers for sports teams that are distributed on the event of the team winning a championship.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Medium

To modify file, deceive client into downloading, locate and exploit remote stack or heap vulnerability

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Perform appropriate bounds checking on all buffers.

Design: Enforce principle of least privilege

Design: Static code analysis

Implementation: Execute program in less trusted process space environment, do not allow lower integrity processes to write to higher integrity processes

Implementation: Keep software patched to ensure that known vulnerabilities are not available for attackers to target on host.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
  • Denial of Service
  • Run Arbitrary Code
+ Related Weaknesses
CWE-IDWeakness NameWeakness Relationship Type
120Buffer Copy without Checking Size of Input ('Classic Buffer Overflow')Targeted
119Failure to Constrain Operations within the Bounds of a Memory BufferTargeted
697Insufficient ComparisonTargeted
713OWASP Top Ten 2007 Category A2 - Injection FlawsTargeted
+ Related Attack Patterns
NatureTypeIDNameDescriptionView(s) this relationship pertains toView\(s\)
PeerOfAttack PatternAttack Pattern23File System Function Injection, Content Based 
Mechanism of Attack1000
PeerOfAttack PatternAttack Pattern35Leverage Executable Code in Nonexecutable Files 
Mechanism of Attack1000
ChildOfAttack PatternAttack Pattern100Overflow Buffers 
Mechanism of Attack (primary)1000
ChildOfAttack PatternAttack Pattern165File Manipulation 
Mechanism of Attack (primary)1000
+ Purposes
  • Penetration
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: HighAvailability Impact: High
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ References
G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. February 2004.
+ Content History
G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. Exploiting Software: How to Break Code. Addison-Wesley, February 2004.Cigital, Inc2007-01-01
Gunnar PetersonCigital, Inc2007-02-28Fleshed out content to CAPEC schema from the original descriptions in "Exploiting Software"
Sean BarnumCigital, Inc2007-03-09Review and revise
Richard StruseVOXEM, Inc2007-03-26Review and feedback leading to changes in Related Attack Patterns
Sean BarnumCigital, Inc2007-04-13Modified pattern content according to review and feedback