Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Year of Windows Kernel Font Fuzzing

Mateusz Jurczyk:

To most readers of this blog, the fact that fonts are a very significant attack vector does not have to be reiterated. There are a number of different file formats in active use. These formats are extremely complex, both structurally and semantically. As a result, they are correspondingly difficult to implement correctly, which is further amplified by the fact that a majority of currently used font rasterizers date back to (early) 90’s, and were written in native languages such as C or C++. Controlled font files are also deliverable through a variety of remote channels – documents, websites, spool files etc. Last but not least, the two powerful virtual machines executing programs describing glyph outlines in the TrueType and OpenType formats have proven vastly useful for creating reliable exploitation chains, thanks to the ability to perform arbitrary arithmetic, bitwise and other operations on data in memory. For all of these reasons, fonts have been an attractive source of memory corruption bugs.


If nothing else, the effort and its results are evidence that fuzzing, if done correctly, is still a very effective approach to vulnerability hunting, even with theoretically “mature” and heavily tested code bases. Furthermore, the two bug collisions prove that Windows kernel font bugs are still alive and kicking, or at least were actively used in the wild in 2015. In the second post of the series, we will discuss the meaty parts of the research: how we prepared the input corpus, mutated and generated interesting font samples, fuzzed the Windows kernel at scale, reproduced the crashes and minimized them.

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