Researcher writes codeless exploit that bypasses Linux security measures

best linux distros
If you’re a Linux administrator, then you’re likely aware that even being fully up to date on all of the patches for your Linux distribution of choice is no guarantee that you’re free from vulnerabilities. Linux is made up of numerous components, any of which can open up an installation to one exploit or another.

Such is the case with an exploit that was recently released by security researcher Chis Evans. Although the exploit is quite well-written and uses some unusual methods to exploit a memory corruption vulnerability in GStreamer, it is of primarily academic interest, Ars Technica reports.

The exploit attacks two security protections built into Linux, address space layout randomization (ASLR) and data execution protection (DEP). DEP is meant to block an exploit’s ability to load into memory and is otherwise known as NX or No-Execute, while ASLR is meant to randomize where code loads into memory and thus limit then exploit’s impact on a system to a crash rather than compromise.

The exploit, which is written specifically for Linux distribution Fedora, does not use actual code to exploit the Gstreamer framework. Rather, it bypasses the protections with carefully written code that is arranged in such a way as to essentially disable ASLR and DEP. As Evans said about his code in a blog post, “This was a fairly ridiculous exploit. But it was worth doing because it’s proof that scriptless exploits are possible, even within the context of decent 64-bit ASLR. It was possible to commandeer memory reads, writes and even additions within the decoder loop to slowly but surely advance the exploit and gain control.”

The following screenshot demonstrates how Fedora can be commandeered using the exploit:

Chris Evans
Chris Evans

Evans released his code as a FLAC media file supported by Fedora version 24, and exploits the GStreamer vulnerability and also attacks Rhythmbox and Totem media players. Because it’s written specifically for Fedora and would specifically only threaten the relatively small number of Linux users who play media on the platform, it doesn’t pose a threat to any other Linux distributions or to the community at large.

Researchers create these kinds exploits to help move the state of Linux security forward. By demonstrating how an exploit can be written to work around just about any vulnerability, exploits like this one highlight the need for Linux vendors to actively improve Linux security rather than merely reacting to threats as they arise.


Internet Explorer zero-day exploit makes files vulnerable to hacks on Windows PCs

Evidence of an Internet Explorer zero-day exploit capable of letting hackers steal files from Windows PCs was published online by a security researcher who also claims Microsoft knew of the vulnerability and opted not to patch it.

Cuphead bosses ranked from easiest to hardest to wallop

Cuphead is notorious for being an exceedingly tough boss rush game. Now that the gorgeous action game has arrived on Nintendo Switch, we decided to rank all 19 of its bosses from easiest to hardest.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

The Dell G5587 gaming laptop is on sale for one of the lowest prices we’ve seen

Even diehard desktop PC gamers have to admit that gaming laptops have come a long way in recent years, and the beefy Dell G5587 – now on sale from Walmart for $300 off – is a solid sub-$1,000 machine for work and play.

HP’s new Zbook, EliteBook 800 workstations go 4K with 8th-gen Intel CPUs

HP's new line of workstation laptops includes some seriously durable EliteBook and ZBook designs, with options for high-end, eighth-generation Intel CPUs, 2TB of storage, and discrete AMD Radeon graphics chips.
Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.

Light up your external GPU with Razer’s new Core X Chroma enclosure

The Razer Core X Chroma external graphics card enclosure is big enough for three-slot graphics cards, with enough space for a 700w PSU and it brings back the RGB lighting of the Core V2 — all for the same price as its predecessor.

Microsoft accelerates carbon reduction plans in new sustainability push

Microsoft wants to accelerate its sustainability goal of becoming a zero-carbon company. To reach those goals, Microsoft is doubling its self-imposed carbon tax to incentivize business divisions in making sustainable choices.

MacOS update may include external display support for iPads

Apple's upcoming MacOS is rumored to include a new native external display support feature. Code-named "Sidecar" the new feature is expected to allow MacOS computers to send app windows to external displays like iPads.

Apple’s MacBook laptop is on sale for just $800 for a limited time

If you have your heart set on a MacOS-powered laptop, B&H has a sale on Apple's MacBook that takes the price down to $800. Only select models are on sale right now, but you can score up to a $600 savings if you act quickly.

AMD could offer ray tracing with next-gen Navi graphics cards

Navi is the next-generation graphics card line from AMD and it's coming in just a couple of months time. When it does arrive, one of its major features may be ray tracing, which has to date been an Nvidia-exclusive feature.

Exclusive: The Surface Hub 2S will revolutionize work. Here’s how it was made

Exclusive interviews with the designers, futurists, and visionaries behind the Surface Hub 2 paint a dramatic picture of how Microsoft thinks collaboration will change your office.

Meet the mastermind behind Microsoft's massive new Surface Hub

Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay gives us an exclusive peek at the 85-inch Surface Hub 2, and explains how innovation and collaboration will transform your workplace.