[tor-bugs] #18162 [- Select a component]: Potential heap corruption in smartlist_add(), smartlist_insert()

Tor Bug Tracker & Wiki blackhole at torproject.org
Wed Jan 27 15:15:30 UTC 2016

#18162: Potential heap corruption in smartlist_add(), smartlist_insert()
     Reporter:  asn                   |      Owner:
         Type:  defect                |     Status:  new
     Priority:  Medium                |  Milestone:
    Component:  - Select a component  |    Version:
     Severity:  Normal                |   Keywords:
Actual Points:                        |  Parent ID:
       Points:                        |    Sponsor:
 Here follows vulnerability report by `Guido Vranken`.
 The attack requires minimum 16GB of available memory on the victim's host,
 so it's quite hard to be exploited.

 == Walkthrough of the vulnerability ==

 `smartlist_add` and `smartlist_insert` both invoke
 `smartlist_ensure_capacity` prior adding an element to the list in order
 to ensure that sufficient memory is available, to `exit()` if not enough
 memory is available and to detect requests for an invalid size:

 static INLINE void
 smartlist_ensure_capacity(smartlist_t *sl, int size)
 #define MAX_CAPACITY (int)((SIZE_MAX / (sizeof(void*))))
   if (size > sl->capacity) {
     int higher = sl->capacity;
       /* We don't include this assertion when MAX_CAPACITY == INT_MAX,
        * since int size; (size <= INT_MAX) makes analysis tools think
        * doing something stupid. */
       tor_assert(size <= MAX_CAPACITY);
       higher = MAX_CAPACITY;
     } else {
       while (size > higher)
         higher *= 2;
     sl->capacity = higher;
     sl->list = tor_reallocarray(sl->list, sizeof(void*),

 On a typical 64-bit system, `SIZEOF_INT` is 4 and `SIZEOF_SIZE_T` is 8.
 Consequently, `MAX_CAPACITY` is `INT_MAX`, which is 0x7FFFFFFF as can be
 seen in torint.h:

 #ifndef INT_MAX
 #if (SIZEOF_INT == 4)
 #define INT_MAX 0x7fffffffL
 #elif (SIZEOF_INT == 8)
 #define INT_MAX 0x7fffffffffffffffL
 #error "Can't define INT_MAX"

 So `MAX_CAPACITY` is 0x7FFFFFFF. Now assume that that many (0x7FFFFFFF)
 items have already been added to a smartlist via smartlist_add(sl, value).

 smartlist_add() is:

 smartlist_add(smartlist_t *sl, void *element)
   smartlist_ensure_capacity(sl, sl->num_used+1);
   sl->list[sl->num_used++] = element;

 If `sl->num_used` is 0x7FFFFFFF prior to invoking `smartlist_add`, then
 the next `smartlist_add` is effectively:

 smartlist_add(smartlist_t *sl, void *element)
   smartlist_ensure_capacity(sl, -2147483648);
   sl->list[2147483647] = element;
   sl->num_used = -2147483648

 This is the case since we are dealing with a signed 32 bit integer, and
 2147483647 + 1 equals -2147483647.

 All of the code in `smartlist_ensure_capacity` is wrapped inside the
 following `if` block:

   if (size > sl->capacity) {

 The expression -2147483648 > 2147483647 equals false, thus the code inside
 the block is not executed.

 What actually causes the segmentation fault is that a negative 32 bit
 integer is used to compute a the location of array index on a 64 bit
 memory layout, ie., the next call to smartlist_add is effectively:

 smartlist_add(smartlist_t *sl, void *element)
   smartlist_ensure_capacity(sl, -2147483647); // Note that this is
 effective do-nothing code, as explained above
   sl->list[-2147483648] = element;
   sl->num_used = -2147483647

 == Discussion ==

 The requirement for 16 gigabytes of memory is considerable.

 Triggering the vulnerability obviously also requires some code path which
 will invoke `smartlist_add` or `smartlist_insert` upon the same smartlist
 at the attacker's behest. Moreover, such a code path may have the side
 effect that it requires a separate allocation for each object that is
 added to the list; `smartlist_add` takes a pointer argument after all --
 usually, but not always, this pointer refers to freshly allocated memory.
 Exceptions to this rule are static strings and pointers to a place in a
 large string or buffer that was already extant.
 Once a vulnerable code path has been discovered, then it ultimately boils
 down to how much memory a user's machine is able to allocate in order to
 corrupt the heap.

 Despite these constraints, smartlists form a considerable portion of the
 infrastructure of your code (I count some 380+ occurrences of
 `smartlist_add`/`smartlist_insert` in the .c files using grep, that is
 excluding the test/ directory) and as such it's probably wise to revise
 the checks in `smartlist_ensure_capacity`.

Ticket URL: <https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/18162>
Tor Bug Tracker & Wiki <https://trac.torproject.org/>
The Tor Project: anonymity online

More information about the tor-bugs mailing list