BugTraq
gcc 4.1 bug miscompiles pointer range checks, may place you at risk Apr 17 2006 08:03PM
Felix von Leitner (felix-bugtraq fefe de) (6 replies)
Re: gcc 4.1 bug miscompiles pointer range checks, may place you at risk Apr 18 2006 07:16PM
Florian Weimer (fw deneb enyo de)
Re: gcc 4.1 bug miscompiles pointer range checks, may place you at risk Apr 18 2006 09:21AM
Gabor Gombas (gombasg sztaki hu)
Re: gcc 4.1 bug miscompiles pointer range checks, may place you at risk Apr 18 2006 07:45AM
Alexander Klimov (alserkli inbox ru)
Re: gcc 4.1 bug miscompiles pointer range checks, may place you at risk Apr 18 2006 12:15AM
Nate Eldredge (nge cs hmc edu)
On Mon, 17 Apr 2006, Felix von Leitner wrote:

> I wrote a small library of functions to do typical range checks as they
> are needed in code that handles incoming packets or messages from
> untrusted sources. My impetus was SMB code, in case you want to know.
>
> Here is one of my functions:
>
> static inline int range_ptrinbuf(const void* buf,unsigned long len,const void* ptr) {
> register const char* c=(const char*)buf; /* no pointer arithmetic on void* */
> return (c && c+len>c && (const char*)ptr-c<len);
> }
>
> Of course, when developing security critical code like this, you also
> write a good test suite for it, that exercises all the cases. Here is
> part of my test suite:
>
> assert(range_ptrinbuf(buf,(unsigned long)-1,buf+1)==0);
>
> Imagine my surprise when this assertion failed. I had compiled the
> code with gcc 4.1 and compiled it without optimizing (I mention this
> because for most gcc bugs, a workaround is disabling the optimizer).
>
> gcc 3 compiles this code correctly. I tested this on x86 and amd64.
> I mention this here because "c+len>c" is the code with which you would
> typically check for integer overflows, which is a check that for example
> an IP stack would do, or Samba. So, if you compiled your kernel with
> gcc 4.1, or your Samba, or some other packet handling code in a security
> relevant context, you might want to recompile with gcc 3.

Hi,

This is interesting. But I am not sure that it is really a compiler bug.
Rules for pointer arithmetic in C are rather restrictive, and stepping
outside of them results in "undefined behavior". I don't have the current
ANSI C standard available, but even my old copy of K&R I says that you
shouldn't compare pointers which point to different arrays, or you may get
nonsense. So I have a suspicion that this code may be illegal, and the
different compiler versions just happen to have chosen different
interpretations.

In fact, in some sense the new result is correct. What if buf is an array
of size 2^32? Then buf + 0xffffffffU does in fact point to an element of
buf beyond the 0th, so 'buf + 0xffffffffU > buf' is in that sense a true
statement. Of course, no existing x86 operating system is set up to work
like that, but the compiler doesn't know that.

I guess a more general question is "if q is a pointer, and buf is an array
of size n, how to tell if q points to an element of buf?" You would like
to be able to do

q >= buf && q < buf+n

but I think maybe this is not right. In fact, on a machine with very
crazy memory management, it might be very difficult or impossible to
answer that question.

I guess the correct test is not to try to apply the test to the pointer
but to the index. E.g. if given an untrusted index i, rather than letting
q=buf+i and then trying to validate q, just remember the value for i and
check whether i >= 0 && i <= n. That seems foolproof to me.

You might want to bring this up on a forum like comp.lang.c where people
know a lot about the C language. Alternatively, if you've already
reported this as a bug to the gcc maintainers (which of course you would
do before posting to bugtraq, right? :), they will probably be able to
explain what's going on.

In any case, it's useful to know about this, if nothing else so that
people know to avoid code like that. Thanks for bringing it up.

--
Nate Eldredge
nge (at) cs.hmc (dot) edu [email concealed]

[ reply ]
Re: gcc 4.1 bug miscompiles pointer range checks, may place you at risk Apr 17 2006 11:57PM
Michael Chamberlain (michael chamberlain net au)
Re: gcc 4.1 bug miscompiles pointer range checks, may place you at risk Apr 17 2006 10:26PM
Forrest J. Cavalier III (mibsoft mibsoftware com)


 

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