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TUCoPS :: Security App Flaws :: hack1893.htm

Symantec Multiple Firewall NBNS Response Processing Stack Overflow

EEYE: Symantec Multiple Firewall NBNS Response Processing Stack Overflow

Symantec Multiple Firewall NBNS Response Processing Stack Overflow

Release Date:
May 12, 2004

Date Reported:
April 19, 2004

High (Remote Kernel Code Execution)


Systems Affected:
Symantec Norton Internet Security 2002
Symantec Norton Internet Security 2003
Symantec Norton Internet Security 2004
Symantec Norton Internet Security Professional 2002
Symantec Norton Internet Security Professional 2003
Symantec Norton Internet Security Professional 2004
Symantec Norton Personal Firewall 2002
Symantec Norton Personal Firewall 2003
Symantec Norton Personal Firewall 2004 
Symantec Client Firewall 5.01, 5.1.1 
Symantec Client Security 1.0, 1.1, 2.0(SCF 7.1)
Symantec Norton AntiSpam 2004

eEye Digital Security has discovered a critical vulnerability in the
Symantec firewall product line that would allow a remote, anonymous
attacker to execute arbitrary code on a system running an affected
version of the product. By sending a single specially-crafted NetBIOS
Name Service (UDP port 137) packet to a vulnerable host, an attacker
could cause an arbitrary memory location to be overwritten with data he
or she controls, leading to the execution of attacker-supplied code with
kernel privileges and the absolute compromise of the target.

The vulnerability exists due to a flaw in the way these products process
incoming UDP packets with a source port of 137 (NetBIOS Name Service).
If such a packet is received, it is validated as a proper NBNS packet
and certain information from the packet is stored. A specifically
crafted packet can cause the code that copies information out of the
packet to instead write packet data to an arbitrary memory location, a
flaw that can be leveraged in order to malicious execute on an affected
system. In order for this vulnerability to be exploitable, the firewall
must be configured to allow incoming UDP/137 packets, a setting which is
not present by default, but may be enabled by the user or network
administrator in order to facilitate Windows file sharing.

Technical Description:
The SYMDNS.SYS driver included in the Symantec firewall product line
validates DNS and NetBIOS Name Service responses before allowing them
through the firewall. As it turns out, the handlers for both types of
packets have grave security issues, but this advisory focuses on NBNS
packets and leaves DNS up to Barns and Karl. The intended protocol is
determined by the source port of the UDP packet -- 53 for DNS, 137 for
NBNS -- and after verifying that the incoming packet is marked as a
response according to the header, it is passed off to the appropriate
analysis routine, both of which perform similar but protocol-specific
processing on the answer data contained therein (although no further
validation takes place).

In the case of the NBNS routine, the questions in the packet are
skipped, and the answers are only examined if they have Class 01h (INET)
and Type 01h (A) or 20h (NB). For answers meeting these criteria, the
name is first-level decoded, the IP addresses are stored in a list, and
both are later recorded internally in a global array. (As a refresher:
first level encoding represents each byte of a name as two letters from
'A' to 'P', which correspond to the high and low hexadecimal digits of
the byte's value -- 'A' is 0, 'B' is 1, 'C' is 2, and so on. For
example, "eEye" is represented in hexadecimal as 65h 45h 79h 65h, and is
therefore encoded as "GFEFHJGF". See RFC 1001, Section 14.1, for more

The first of many problems that make this vulnerability possible is that
the first-level decoding routine will decode an amount of data
corresponding to the length byte preceding the encoded name, making it
possible to store up to 127 arbitrary bytes (plus a null terminator)
into a 32-byte stack buffer provided by the main NBNS processing
routine. Although this condition is insufficient to overwrite the return
address directly (the buffer begins at EBP-118h, but only an 80h-byte
write is possible), there is an index variable that can be overwritten
in order to manipulate the IP address copying loop later in the
function. The NBNS processing routine's stack frame can be represented
as follows:

PBYTE var_11C;
char var_118[0x20];
DWORD var_F8;
DWORD var_F4;
DWORD var_F0;
DWORD var_E8[0x18];
char var_88[0x80];
PBYTE var_8;
PBYTE var_4;
(saved EBP at EBP+0)
(saved EIP at EBP+4)

var_118 is the destination buffer passed to the first-level decode
routine, and just about everything after it is initialized after the
decoding overwrite occurs, or is otherwise useless: var_E8/var_88 is
memset to 0; var_EC and var_F0 get wiped out; var_F4 is just an outer
loop counter (infinite loop: DoS); and var_8 and var_4 aren't even
reachable. The exception here is var_F8, which is initialized to 0 at
the beginning of the function, used to index into a stack array
(var_E8), and is not checked for any out-of-bounds values other than the
exact size of the array in elements (18h). The fact that the variable is
located immediately after the overflowable buffer just adds to the

Once the answer name has been decoded, the NBNS processing routine
enters another loop to copy IP addresses from the response into var_E8.
Since the contents of the list are supposed to be accumulated from
across all answers in the packet, var_F8 is not reinitialized when the
loop begins, and furthermore, the terminating condition of the loop is
only that var_F8 equals 18h (no greater-than). As a result, once the
variable has been overwritten with a sufficiently high value, "IP
addresses" within the packet will be written onto the stack at
[EBP-E8h+(var_F8*4)] until the answer's data length has been exhausted
(up to roughly 64KB).

Because the length of the first-level encoded name must be at least 40h
in order to touch var_F8, the routine that skips a length-prefixed name
component will mistake the length byte for a compressed name pointer,
and will only advance by two bytes instead of (length of name + 1). This
means the data that normally follows the encoded name actually begins
"inside" the name, but this doesn't matter because the first-level
decoding routine does not validate that the name consists only of
characters from 'A' to 'P'. Additionally, it does not check for
compressed name pointers and will happily accept any value for the
length byte. The result of this stack buffer overflow / consistent lack
of validation combo is another UDP remote kernel vulnerability.

Retina Network Security Scanner has been updated to identify this

Vendor Status:
Symantec has released a patch for this vulnerability. The patch is
available via the Symantec LiveUpdate service. For more information
please refer to the Symantec security advisory. 05.1

Discovery: Derek Soeder

Related Links:
Retina Network Security Scanner - Free 15 Day Trial 

damodadudewn; CMC, BG, Jenna, Lan, BP, JKP, Daryl, RLS, KT, NV; Brett
Moore; Riley; and Colleen R. (thanks anyways for the offers!)

Copyright (c) 1998-2004 eEye Digital Security
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