iDEFENSE Security Advisory 12.21.04: libtiff Directory Entry Count Integer Overflow Vulnerability

Type securityvulns
Reporter Securityvulns
Modified 2004-12-22T00:00:00


libtiff Directory Entry Count Integer Overflow Vulnerability

iDEFENSE Security Advisory 12.21.04 December 21, 2004


This software provides support for the Tag Image File Format (TIFF), a widely used format for storing image data. Included in this software distribution is a library, libtiff, for reading and writing TIFF, a small collection of tools for doing simple manipulations of TIFF images on UNIX systems, and documentation on the library and tools. A small assortment of TIFF-related software for UNIX that has been contributed by others is also included.

More information is available at the following site:


Remote exploitation of a heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability within the LibTIFF package could allow attackers to execute arbitrary code.

The vulnerability specifically exists due to insufficient validation of user-supplied data when calculating the size of a directory entry. A TIFF file includes a number of directory entry header fields that describe the data in the file. Included in these entries is an entry count and offset value that are calculated to determine the size and location of the data for that entry. If the directory entry type is TIFF_ASCII or TIFF_UNDEFINED, the a call to CheckMalloc is made in order to allocate space for the entry contents as shown below from tif_dirread.c:

cp = CheckMalloc(tif, dp->tdir_count+1, 1, mesg); if( (ok = (cp && TIFFFetchString(tif, dp, cp))) != 0 ) cp[dp->tdir_count] = '\0'; / XXX /

If the tdir_count is set to 0xffffffff, the increment will cause the function call to allocate 0 bytes of memory and later memcpy calls will cause the buffer to overflow. An attacker may generate a malicious TIFF file which takes advantage of this unchecked calculation to execute arbitrary code with permissions of the user opening the TIFF file.


Remote attackers may be able to execute arbitrary code with permissions of the user opening the malformed TIFF file. The exposure to this vulnerability is mitigated by the fact that user interaction is required and that the user must view the malicious TIFF file in an application that is linked to a vulnerable version of libtiff.


iDEFENSE has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in LibTIFF 3.5.7 and 3.7.0.

The following vendors distribute susceptible TIFF packages within their respective operating system distributions:

- Debian Linux
- Gentoo Linux
- RedHat Linux
- SuSE Linux


Only open TIFF files from trusted users or in an application not linked against vulnerable versions of libtiff.


The following patch will address this vulnerability:

--- tif_dirread.c.bak 2004-12-19 21:04:00.000000000 +0300 +++ tif_dirread.c 2004-12-19 21:04:03.000000000 +0300 @@ -71,7 +71,7 @@ / * XXX: Check for integer overflow. / - if (elem_size && bytes / elem_size == nmemb) + if (nmemb && elem_size && bytes / elem_size == nmemb) cp = (char*)_TIFFmalloc(bytes);

    if (cp == NULL)

(the same applies for tif_fax3.c)

This patch has been incorporated into libtiff 3.7.1.


A Mitre Corp. Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) number has not been assigned yet.


12/17/2004 Initial vendor notification 12/17/2004 iDEFENSE clients notified 12/21/2004 Coordinated public disclosure


infamous41md[at] is credited with this discovery.

Get paid for vulnerability research


Copyright (c) 2004 iDEFENSE, Inc.

Permission is granted for the redistribution of this alert electronically. It may not be edited in any way without the express written consent of iDEFENSE. If you wish to reprint the whole or any part of this alert in any other medium other than electronically, please email for permission.

Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.