Breaking Code

April 12, 2014

Heartbleed and ASLR misconceptions

TL;DR: Someone was wrong on the Internet and I just couldn’t help myself. If you already know how memory allocation works you’ll find this post boring and you can skip it. But if you don’t, read on… :)


I was just reading an article called “A look at Heartbleed and why it really isn’t that bad” and, while I usually tend to agree with anyone who tries to fight against FUD, in this case it happens to be dangerously wrong. I’d write this as a blog comment rather than an entry on my own, but Tumblr seems firmly stuck in the 90’s and won’t even give me that option :/ so here it goes…

In a nutshell, the article downplays the severity of the Heartbleed attack based on the Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) feature of most modern operating systems, that causes memory allocations to be randomized as a mitigation for buffer overflows. The reasoning goes: since memory allocations are random, and the Heartbleed bug allows you to read memory at random as well, the odds of reading important data are pretty much close to zero – therefore the Heartbleed attack is useless and you shouldn’t change your passwords.

Ouch.

(more…)

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