Prevent Buffer Overflow Attacks with Kiuwan
Buffer overflow is one of the best-known forms of software security vulnerability. Learn how buffer overflow occurs, how it can be exploited, and strategies to prevent buffer overflow attacks in your application.
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What types of buffer overflow are there?
Here are the most well-known types of buffer overflow, beginning with the most common:
How can buffer overflow be exploited by attackers?
Buffer overflow issues are exploited by attackers by overwriting the memory of an application.
An attacker can act in various ways:
Intentionally feed input that the buffer cannot store and overwrite areas that hold executable code, replacing it with their own malicious code.
Change the execution path of a program to trigger a response that may expose private information.
Introduce extra code to gain access to IT systems.
Overwrite a pointer to gain control over the program.
Buffer overflow attacks against both legacy and newly-developed applications are still quite common, in part due to the wide variety of ways that buffer overflows can occur. Many popular apps have had buffer overflow vulnerabilities, including Whatsapp, macOs Catalina, and NVIDIA Shield TV.
Here are some of the most famous buffer overflow attacks:
The Morris Worm: In 1988, over 60,000 machines were infected by a worm planted in a buffer overflow with the ability to self-propagate. Although the creator of this bug stated that he did not mean any harm with it and only wanted to highlight security flaws, he was the first to be convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Heartbleed: This weakness exposed information that is normally protected under SSL/TLS encryption. Hackers could manipulate the heartbeat request on a website that uses OpenSSL and then receive as an answer a lot of information, including confidential information. View a video about how it works here.
SQL Slammer: the SQL Slammer was a bug implanted in 2003 in a version of Microsoft SQL that spread like wildfire: doubling in size every 8.5 seconds. This caused internet outages and loss of cell phone coverage all over the world.
How Can You Prevent Buffer Overflow Attacks?
C and C++ are programming languages prone to buffer overflow. If possible, use another language like COBOL, Java, and Python that do not allow direct memory access. Consider safety versus performance costs when deciding which language and compiler setting to use.
Avoid standard library functions that are not bounds checked, such as gets, scanf and strcpy. Bounds checking in abstract data type libraries can reduce the occurrence and impact of buffer overflows.
Make Buffer Overflow Prevention Part of your DevOps Process
- Kiuwan Code Security integrates with leading CI/CD tools so that you can take a DevOps approach to buffer overflow prevention.
- Scan your code securely on your own local server as part of your build process.
- Upload scan results to the cloud and share them with the development team.
- Generate an automatic action plan and calculate the effort required to remediate vulnerabilities.
- Apply what-if analysis and customize the plan to fit your team’s needs, then track the progress toward your goals.
On the right: Kiuwan Action Plans
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