Advisory 03/2006: KisMAC Cisco Vendor Tag Encapsulated SSID Overflow

Hash: SHA1

Happy PPC Hacking Project

-= Security Advisory =-

Advisory: KisMAC Cisco Vendor Tag Encapsulated SSID Overflow
Release Date: 2006/03/23
Last Modified: 2006/03/23
Author: Stefan Esser []

Application: KisMAC < dev version 113
KisMAC < 73p
Severity: Special crafted 80211 management frames may cause
a stackoverflow that eventually leads to remote
code execution
Risk: Critical
Vendor Status: Vendor has a released an updated version


Quote from
"KisMAC is a free stumbler application for MacOS X, that puts
your card into the monitor mode. Unlike most other applications
for OS X it has the ability to run completely invisible and
send no probe requests."

While playing around with wifi, raw packets, MacOS X, ppc and
KisMAC a quick audit revealed a remotely triggerable buffer
overflow in KisMAC's parser for tagged data in 80211 management
frames, that can lead to execution of arbitrary code.

To exploit this vulnerability an attacker must either trick the
victim in opening a pcap file containing the special crafted
management frames OR the attacker must send such raw frames
while the victim is performing a passive network scan.


When KisMAC receives a 80211 management frame (or finds one in
a imported pcap file) it parses the attached tagged data with
the function WavePacket:parseTaggedData. With the help of this
method the SSID, the channel and the rates get extracted from
the management packet.

The function in question also supports a special Cisco vendor tag,
which is scanned by KisMAC for additional SSIDs. Unfortunately it
then copies the SSIDs found into a 33 bytes big stackbuffer
without any kind of size check.

slen = (*(ssidl + 5)); // <-- reading SSID length (UINT8)
ssidl += 6;

if ((len -= slen) < 0) break;

@try {
memcpy(ssid, ssidl, slen); // <-- copying without check into 33
// bytes big stackbuffer
[_SSIDs addObject:[NSString stringWithUTF8String:ssid]];
@catch (NSException *exception) {
[_SSIDs addObject:[NSString stringWithCString:(char*)(ssidl) length:slen]];

Due to the try/catch block around the memcpy() the stacklayout
allows to overwrite the jump_buf for setjmp/longjump which are
used for the exception handling. This actually means it is not
only possible to control the execution flow by manipulating the
program counter (pc) but also to have control over the content
of all registers once the execution flow has been manipulated.

It should be obvious that this eventually leads to the execution
of arbitrary code.

Proof of Concept:

The Happy PPC Hacking Project is not going to release exploits
for this vulnerability to the public.

Disclosure Timeline:

22. March 2006 - Contacted KisMAC developers by email
22. March 2006 - Vendor releases KisMAC update
23. March 2006 - Public Disclosure


It is strongly recommended to upgrade to the newest version of
KisMAC which you can download at:


pub 1024D/0A864AA1 2004-04-17 Hardened-PHP Signature Key
Key fingerprint = 066F A6D0 E57E 9936 9082 7E52 4439 14CC 0A86 4AA1

Copyright 2006 Stefan Esser. All rights reserved.

Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: For info see

© Hardened PHP Project