I am currently playing around with simple buffer overflows in a C program and I am trying to understand the program by stepping through it in IDA Pro.

The program takes an argument and writes it into a buffer with strcpy(). I can pass a simple argument like AAAA... to the program in IDA Pro (Debugger->process options) and see how the return address gets overwritten.

What I would like to do now is pass some shellcode as a parameter and see in IDA Pro how the program writes the shellcode in the buffer and overwrites the return address.

In a shell, I would execute something like:

$ ./vuln \`perl -e 'print "\x55\x89\xe5..."'`


$ ./vuln \`cat shellcode.txt`

So my question is: how can I pass non-printable characters as an argument to a program in IDA Pro?

  • Is it Linux or Windows ? Which debugger are you using ?
    – w s
    Nov 26, 2015 at 8:55
  • Its a Linux system and i am using the built-in debugger of IDA. So my debugging process looks like this: opening the program "vuln" in IDA (File->open), Debugger->Process options enter "AAA..." in the field "Process parameters" then hit F9 to run it.
    – Jan
    Nov 26, 2015 at 9:18
  • You can try and use a shellcode encoder like code.google.com/p/alpha3 to encode it in printable characters.
    – tmr232
    Nov 27, 2015 at 10:11

1 Answer 1


Try using IDC function StartDebugger. You can pass a C-style string (e.g. "\x55\x89\xe5")for program arguments:

** Launch the debugger
        path - path to the executable file.
        args - command line arguments
        sdir - initial directory for the process
for all args: if empty, the default value from the database will be used
   returns: -1-failed, 0-cancelled by the user, 1-ok
   See the important note to the StepInto() function

long StartDebugger(string path, string args, string sdir);
  • when I start debuuger using following command idc.StartDebugger("/root/Documents/remote_debug/heapoverflow", "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA0001020304\x92\x91\x04\x08", "") IDA places hex charcters EFBDBFEF instead of that particular address
    – Infinity
    Dec 27, 2019 at 6:15
  • I am using remote debugging
    – Infinity
    Dec 27, 2019 at 13:16

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