Friday, September 19, 2014

CoreGraphics Memory Corruption - CVE-2014-4377

Apple CoreGraphics library fails to validate the input when parsing the colorspace specification of a PDF XObject resulting in a heap overflow condition. A small heap memory allocation can be overflowed with controlled data from the input in any application linked with the affected framework. Using a crafted PDF file as an HTML image and combined with a information leakage vulnerability this issue leads to arbitrary code execution. A complete 100% reliable and portable exploit for MobileSafari on IOS7.1.x. can be downloaded from github
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  • Title: Apple CoreGraphics Memory Corruption
  • CVE Name: CVE-2014-4377
  • Permalink:
  • Date published: 2014-09-18
  • Date of last update: 2014-09-19
  • Class: Client side / Integer Overflow / Memory Corruption
  • Advisory: HT6441 HT6443

Vulnerability Details

Safari accepts PDF files as native image format for the < image > html tag. Thus browsing an html page in Safari can transparently load multiple pdf files without any further user interaction. CoreGraphics is the responsible of parsing the PDF files.
Apple Core Graphics framework fails to validate the input when parsing the colorspace specification of a PDF XObject. A small heap memory allocation can be overflowed with controlled data from the input enabling arbitrary code execution in the context of Mobile Safari (A memory layout information leak is needed).
The Core Graphics framework is a C-based API that is based on the Quartz advanced drawing engine. It provides low-level, lightweight 2D rendering. This is used in a wide range of applications to handle path-based drawing, transformations, color management, offscreen rendering, patterns, gradients and shadings, image data management, image creation, masking, and PDF document creation, display, and parsing.
CoreGraphics library implements the functionality to load and save several graphic formats such as PDFs and it is used by most common applications that deal with images, including Safari, Preview, Skype, etc. The 32 bit version of the framework also implements the x_alloc heap, a set of low level procedures to manage an internal heap memory structure used when processing images of different types (including PDF files). The functions x_calloc and x_free are used very frequently to allocate and de-allocate memory fast.
The x_calloc function behaves as a normal calloc except it allocates a bit extra memory for metadata. It actually allocates an extra 2*sizeof(void*) bytes and pad the resulting size to the next 16 byte border. When the chunk is in use (allocated) this extra space is used to hold the size of the chunk, thus making it super fast to free. On the other hand when the chunk is free the metadata space is used to form a free-list linked list, the first metadata value in a free chunk points to the next free chunk. This is its pseudocode. Think x_mem_alloc0_size as a plain malloc.

void* __cdecl x_calloc(size_t nmemb, size_t size)
  void * buffer = x_mem_alloc0_size((nmemb * size + 31) & -16);
  *(size_t *)buffer = (nmemb * size + 31) & -16;
  return buffer + 16;
This function is prone to integer overflow because it doesn’t check for (nmemb * size) to be less than MAXUINT-16. Then if a programmer tries to allocate a size in the range [-16,-1] x_alloc will allocate 0(zero) or 16 bytes (instead of the immense value required) without triggering any exception.

An x_calloc bug

There is a x_calloc related bug in how PDF handles the colorspace for embedded XObjects. Forms and images of different types can be embedded in a PDF file using an XObject pdf stream. As described in the pdf specification, an XObject can specify the colorspace in which the intended image is described. The CoreGraphics library fails to validate the input when parsing the /Indexed colorspace definition of an XObject pdf stream and enables an attacker to reach x_calloc with a size in the [16,-1] range.
The indexed colorspace definition is table based and relies on a base colorspace. For example, the following definition defines an indexed colorspace of 200 colors based on a RGB base colorspace with the table defined in the indirect object 8 0 R. For more info on indexed colorspaces see section of the pdf specification.
    /ColorSpace [/Indexed /DeviceRGB 200 8 0 R]
The following is an excerpt of the function _cg_build_colorspace. It was taken from the dyld_shared_cache_armv7 of the iPhone3,1 (iPhone4) iOS version 7.1.1. The function can be disassembled at address 0x2D59F260 considering that the dyld_shared_cache is loaded at 0x2C000000.

/* cs_index_array should represent something like this:
    [/Indexed /DeviceRGB 200 8 0 R]

/* Sanity check, array must have 4 elements */
if ( CGPDFArrayGetCount(cs_index_array) != 4 ) {
    message = "invalid `Indexed' color space: incorrect number of entries in color space array.";
    goto EXIT;

/* Sanity check, 2nd element should be an object */
if ( !CGPDFArrayGetObject(cs_index_array, 1, &base_cs_obj) ) {
    message = "invalid `Indexed' color space: second color space array entry is not an object.";
    goto EXIT;

/* build the base colorspace */
base_cs = cg_build_colorspace(base_cs_obj);
if ( !base_cs ) {
    message = "invalid `Indexed' color space: invalid base color space.";
    goto EXIT;

/* get the 3rd element. N, the number of indexed colors in the table */
if ( CGPDFArrayGetInteger(cs_index_array, 2, &N) ) {
    message = "invalid `Indexed' color space: high value entry is not an integer.";
    goto RELEASE_EXIT;

/* Sanity check. N should be positive */
if ( N <= -1 ) {
    message = "invalid `Indexed' color space: high value entry is negative.";
    goto RELEASE_EXIT;

/* cs is the resultant colorspace, init to NULL */
cs = 0;

/* if 4th element is a pdf stream get it and do stuff ...*/
if ( CGPDFArrayGetStream(cs_index_array, 3, &lookup_stream) == 1 ) {

    lookup_buffer = CGPDFStreamCopyData(lookup_stream);
    if ( lookup_buffer ) {
        /* N is a fully controled _positive_ integer and the number of components
           of the base colorspace is up to 32. Thus lookup_size is almost arbitrary.*/
        lookup_size = (N + 1) * CGColorSpaceGetNumberOfComponents(base_cs);

        /* Unsigned check. This will not hold with a lookup_size big enough (e.x. -10)*/
        if ( CFDataGetLength(lookup_buffer) >= lookup_size ) {
            data = CFDataGetBytePtr(lookup_buffer);
            cs = CGColorSpaceCreateIndexed(base_cs, N_, data);
        else {
            /* HERE is the interesting bit. A lookup_size in the [-16,-1] range
               will silently allocate a very small buffer */
            overflow_buffer = x_calloc_2D5143B4(1, lookup_size);
            _data = CFDataGetBytePtr(lookup_buffer);
            _size = CFDataGetLength(lookup_buffer);
            /* But memove will copy all the available data in the stream 
            memmove(overflow_buffer, _data, _size);

            /* CGColorSpaceCreateIndexed is a nop when N is greater than 256 */
            cs = CGColorSpaceCreateIndexed(base_cs, N_, overflow_buffer);
            if ( overflow_buffer )


/* else if 4th element is a pdf string get it and do stuff ...*/
if ( CGPDFArrayGetString(cs_index_array, 3, &lookup_str) == 1 ) {
    lookup_size_ = (N + 1) * CGColorSpaceGetNumberOfComponents(base_cs);
    if ( lookup_size_ != CGPDFStringGetLength(lookup_str) ) {
        message = "invalid `Indexed' color space: invalid lookup entry.";
        goto RELEASEANDEXIT;
    buffer = CGPDFStringGetBytePtr(lookup_str);
    cs = CGColorSpaceCreateIndexed(base_cs, N__, buffer);


/* at this point cs is NULL */
message = "invalid `Indexed' color space: lookup entry is not a stream or a string.";

/* result in cs */
CGPDFArrayGetInteger gets an object from an arbitrary position in a pdf array, starting at 0. The number of indexed colors is read from the third array position (index 2), multiplied by the number of color components of the base colorspace and then (if using pdf stream) allocated with a x_calloc. We basically control the size passed to x_calloc. If the resultant value is for instance -10, x_calloc will allocate a small amount of memory and return a valid pointer. If the inner colorspace is /DeviceRGB with 3 color components, passing a value of 0x55555555 will do the trick.
Then the memmove will potentially overflow the small buffer with an arbitrary number of arbitrary bytes. The function CGColorSpaceCreateIndexed can be considered as a no-op as it will use this buffer only if our controlled size is a positive less than 0xff, not the interesting case.


A 100% reliable PoC exploit can be downloaded from the github project. This exploit needs a companion information leakage vulnerability to bypass ASLR, DEP and Code signing iOS exploit mitigations. The exploit is presented as a cgi script that expects to get the dyld_shared_cache address, the shellcode address and the iOS version as GET parameters. It executes arbitrary code in the context of SafariMobile.


There is an live online demo for iPhone4 and iPhone5 with IOS7.1.2 here

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