Buffer Overflows and Weak Input Validation

Buffer overflow and input validation attacks occur essentially because the application does not verify the size and type of data, respectively. As such, data input into the application can be crafted to overflow the intended boundaries and functions of the system and manipulate it in various predictable ways.

In the case of buffer overflows, data that is larger than the buffer is written somewhere else in memory. Through experimentation, attackers can specify exactly where that extra data is written and this usually results in arbitrary code execution, thus constituting a critical vulnerability. Buffer overflows can be executed locally or remotely, depending upon the nature of the application or module they are exploiting.

Input validation attacks exist where input strings are not validated to ensure they contain only expected datatypes. They generally involve passing special characters into text or number strings that comment out of the buffer and begin executing shell commands on the underlying service, have access to all of the resources that the service has (by default), and are often a vector for launching a privilege escalation.

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