Buffer is memory storage regions that detect objects temporarily as it is moved from one location to another. A buffer overload (or buffer overrun) happens when the amount of data increases the memory buffer’s storage space. As a result, the software trying to write data to the buffer overwrites adjoining memory locations. If the buffer is generated with the assumption that all inputs would be smaller than a certain amount, then an irregular transaction generates more data which causes it to write past the end of the buffer. If this overwrites additional data or executable code, the program can behave unsafely, resulting in memory access errors, incorrect performance, and crashes.
The memory structure of a program, or the machine as a whole, is well known on many systems. It is possible to write into places known to contain the operating system and substitute it with computer viruses, or to selectively overwrite data relating to the program’s state, resulting in actions that were not expected by the original developer, by sending in data designed to induce a buffer overflow.
For example, a buffer for login credentials can expect username and password to be entered by eight bytes, so that the programme can write the excess data over the buffer boundary if the transaction has an input of ten bytes or two (that is, 2 bytes more than expected).
Buffer overflow attack:
Attackers use overflow problems by overwriting an application’s memory. It would adjust the program’s running course, cause a reaction that destroys files or displays private information. A hacker can, for example, enter additional code by sending new instructions to the application for Technology systems access.
An attacker can take advantage of a program waiting for a user’s input using a buffer-overflow operation. The buffer overflows are two kinds: stack-oriented and heap-organized. A hard-to-run heap, and the least popular of all, is attacking an application by flooding the program’s storage capacity. Stack-based buffer overflows, popular among attackers, use the so-called Stack
Types of buffer overflow attacks
1. Stack overflow attack- are more common, and the stack memory is advantageous only during function initialization.
2. Heap overflow attack- are more difficult to conduct and require a flood of the buffer space assigned to a computer instead of the memory used for current runtime.
3. Integer overflow attack – An arithmetic operation in an integer overflow leads to an integer (full number) too high to be stored by the integer type.
4. Unicode overflow attack- causes a buffer overflow by injecting Unicode characters into an input that expects ASCII characters. (ASCII and Unicode are text encoding standards that enable computers to represent text.)
What Programming Languages are More Vulnerable?
Since they lack built-in protections against overwriting or manipulating data in memory, C and C++ are particularly vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks. C and C++ programming is used in Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
How to Prevent Buffer Overflows?
Developers can defend against buffer overflow vulnerabilities by implementing security protections in their code or by using languages with built-in protection.
Furthermore, new operating systems provide runtime security. Three general safeguards are:
1. Address space randomization – Randomly rearranges the address space positions of a process’s main data regions. Buffer overflow attacks usually depend on understanding the precise position of critical executable code, which is almost impossible due to address space randomization.
2. Data execution prevention – Marks specific memory areas as executable or non-executable, stopping an exploit from executing code contained in a non-executable region.
3. Structured exception handler overwrite security– prevents malicious code from attacking Structured Exception Handling (SEH), a built-in mechanism for manipulating hardware and software exceptions. It thus stops an attacker from using the SEH overwrite exploitation strategy.
Despite protections, developers continue to find new buffer overflow vulnerabilities, even after an effective exploitation. When new flaws are detected, developers must repair the compromised programme while still ensuring that consumers have access to the patch.
How Imperva Helps Mitigate Buffer Overflow Attacks:
The Imperva security solution is implemented as a bridge to your application and provides buffer overflow protection out of the box. It accomplishes this by stopping irregular requests that may result in a buffer overrun condition from accessing your applications.
Imperva offers multi-layered security to ensure that websites and apps are available, readily accessible, and protected, in addition to defending against buffer overflow attacks. The Imperva device protection solution contains the following components:
- DDOS protection—retain uptime under all circumstances. Prevent any scale DDOS attack from blocking connections to your website and network resources.
- Web Application Firewall- allows legitimate traffic while blocking internet attacks. With an enterprise class cloud WAF, you can protect your apps both on premises and at the edge.
- Bot Management- enables you to see and access both human, good bot, and bad bot traffic to your website and API.
- Account Takeover Security– detects and protects against attempts to take over users’ accounts for inappropriate reasons using an intent-based identification mechanism.
- API Security- protects APIs by ensuring that only desired traffic is allowed to access the API endpoint, as well as identifying and preventing vulnerability exploits.
- RASP- protect the applications from proven and zero day threats from inside. Protection that is fast and reliable, with no signature or learning mode.
- Attack Analytics- mitigate and respond to real-world security threats with actionable intelligence across all levels of protection.