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Part A. Shellcode In Literature

Students are required to answer research questions based on three academic papers:

There should be at least four additional references from recent academic (IEEE or ACM) research papers or white papers from IT companies. Students must perform their own research for additional references.

1.In the paper “The Shellcode Generation”, what is the development bottom-line for an exploit? List and give detailed explanations to the three components for a usable exploit.

2.Read the paper “Evasion Techniques”, and explain how a piece of shellcode can bypass an intrusion detection system. more information about the shellcode issues related to computer forensic investigations

3.Read the paper “English Shellcode”, explain the concept of program counter and its importance to an attacker who uses shellcodes.

4.In the paper “English Shellcode”, what are the two advantages of using alphanumeric encoding engines to generate shellcode?

Part B. Shellcode In Practice

Suppose you are working for an IT security company which is subcontracted by Deakin University to test the system security of the campus network. Your manager wants you to attempt to write shellcode which takes a user’s account name and his/her password and stores the information as plain text in a text file called user.dat in the user’s current directory.


1.You should implement a C program to ask a user to type his username and password one a command line input (i.e., from the standard input channel).

2.Your program should demand at least two user attempts of inputting the passwords. That is, your program should only terminate when the user has entered two identical passwords.

3.Your program should store the username and password pair into a text file called user.dat in the current directory.

4.You should package your C code into a shellcode by using Shellforge.

Components of an Exploit

For a start, any exploit must in the first case be able to utilize a given vulnerability in order to achieve a certain mission or goal.The exploit must also emulate the vulnerable system’s characteristics of operation which may comprise of its network topology, the hosting operating system and all the security countermeasures implemented in the system.

The three distinct components of an exploit are: The exploitation technique, exploitation payload and the attack vector.

This is the mechanism with which an exploit utilizes to make a manifest for a vulnerability. This is also defined as a number of sequential actions which must be undertaken in order to come to and trigger a portion of a program that is buggy. This is well illustrated by the Secure Socket Layer software bug.

In a point by point examination, Core Security Technologies discovered that seven diverse system administrations can reach and trigger the powerless code in numerous Windows programs utilizing an equivalent number of TCP ports. This is a single programming bug with seven known assault vectors.

So also, different analysts at the Center Security Technologies found various assault vectors for the large number of vulnerabilities in the Windows OS focused by the Blaster and Sasser worms of 2003. Like generally misuses, be that as it may, each worm utilized just a single assault vector. In light of the solidifying of working frameworks (diminishing the number of administrations presented to attack) and security instruments such as sifting firewalls and intermediaries (re-stricting availability), we ought to expect progressively refined exploit projects to utilize more than one—or even all—accessible assault vectors. Such adventures will more effectively target frameworks that work under various setups and operational conditions (Avgerinos, Cha, Rebert, Schwartz,Woo & Brumley, 2014).

An exploitation strategy is the algorithm that adventures use to change a defenseless program's execution stream and along these lines yield control to the assailant. In order to exploit a bug in a program, an assailant must not just discover and utilize a legitimate assault vector yet additionally come up with an appropriate strategy for modifying the execution stream and running the aggressor's charges on the framework (Hu, Chua, Adrian, Saxena & Liang, 2015).

A few data security researchers have refined, made improvements and even superseded these techniques since their distribution about 10 years back. The outcomes are clear in bunch explore reports and in exploits found in the wild on compromised frameworks. Progressions in misuse methods and counter measures are declaration to aggressors'. What's more, safeguards' proceeding with endeavors to weaken their enemies' weapons.

Exploitation Technique

Exploit Payload

In the event that an exploit takes control of an helpless program by activating plus also making use of a bug, it immediately performs activities to accomplish the endeavor author's objective. This now the point when the payload for the exploit comes in place. the payload is the utilitarian component that actualizes the exploit's coveted reason (Ersan, 2017).

Evasion Techniques

Shellcode mutation

Shellcode change encodes a shellcode into polymorphic structures to sidestep an IPS that distinguishes a shellcode as indicated by the marks extricated from one or a couple variations of that shellcode. A few techniques are doable for the polymorphism. For instance, an assailant can scramble or pack the shellcode, and prepend a bit of code to unscramble or on the other hand decompress the shellcode during the exploit. An assailant can additionally supplant a bit of the first code with various, but in semantically equal guidelines (Kwon, Saltaformaggio, Kim, Lee,  Zhang & Xu, 2017)). A paltry case in the last case is embedding the nop guidelines, e.g, no activity, to influence the code to appear to be unique. A direction, say mov eax, ebx, can be additionally supplanted with two guidelines push ebx and pop eax, for instance. Since the mark for the shellcode does not show up in the polymorphic frame, the IPS will neglect to distinguish it. The procedures are additionally found in vindictive projects, for example, infections and worms.

The program counter is an extraordinary device that recognizes the preceding instructions planned for execution. By picking up control of the program counter, an assailant can divert program execution and disrupt the proposed conduct of the program. With the ability to control the program counter, assailants now and again divert a casualty's machine to execute (effectively available) application or framework code in a way valuable to an attacker's aim. For example, come back to-libc assaults give a very much archived case of this sort of control. In a code-infusion assault, in any case, assailants divert the program counter to execute code conveyed by the assaulters themselves. Contingent upon the points of interest of the particular vulnerabilities that an aggressor is focusing on, infused code can take a few structures including source code for a scripting-dialect motor, byte-code that is intermediate, or even locally executable machine code.

On the off chance that an aggressor can control memory at a known store address, they may store their shellcode there, and thus utilizing its address later when over-composing an arrival address on the stack. We draw attention to this refinement on the grounds that our utilization of the term shellcode here particularly signifies the infused code irrespective of individual assaults or vulnerabilities. Regularly, shell-code appears as straightforwardly executable machine code, and therefore, a few cautious measures that endeavor to identify its quality, or keep its execution by and large, have been proposed. To be sure, computerized inspection of client input, framework memory, or system activity for content that shows up measurably or externally executable are currently normal. However, as expected, various strategies have been produced that go around these defensive measures, or make their activity far more difficult.

Attack Vector

Advantages of using alphanumeric encoding engines to generate shellcode.

To start with, alphanumeric shellcode can be kept in atypical and generally unsuspected settings for example, grammatically legitimate documents/filenames and folder names or client passwords. Second, the alphanumeric character set is altogether much smaller than the arrangement of characters accessible in Unicode and UTF-8 encodings. This implies the arrangement of instructions accessible for forming alphanumeric shellcode is generally little. To adapt to these limitations, fixing or self-alteration is frequently utilized.

This refreshes the Metasploit structure to the most recent update.

Show payloads.

When we utilize the show payloads instruction, the msfconsole will restore a rundown of good payloads for this endeavor. It will thus return many perfectly syncing payloads.

Show targets.

The show targets summon gives a rundown of working frameworks/operating systems which are defenseless against the chosen exploit. When the instruction is run, we get the accompanying yield for the adobe_flash_shader_drawing_fill misuse.

Show encoders

The show encoders instruction on the other hand showa the perfectly syncing encoders. Encoders are utilized to dodge straightforward IDS/IPS marks that are searching for specific bytes of your payload

Show nops

The show nops order will restore a rundown of NOP generators. A NOP is short for No Operation and is utilized to change the example of a NOP sled with a specific end goal to sidestep basic IDS/IPS marks of regular NOP sleds.

Show evasion command

The show avoidance instruction restores a rundown of accessible avoidance procedures.

Exit,Use and back commands.

The use instruction in Metasploit is utilized to enact a specific module and changes the setting of the msfconsole to that specific module. The endeavor name will be specified in red on the terminal line (Valentino, 2015).

In this case the setting of the charge line to the endeavor called realvnc_client will have changed. From here on we can recover data about this endeavor, set the required adventure parameters and run it against an objective.

On the off chance that we need to leave the endeavor setting and change back to the msfconsole we have to utilize the back instruction. The back order takes us back to the msfconsole in the general setting. From here on one can issue the use instruction again to change to another Metasploit module.

The exit instruction finally closes the msfconsole and takes you back to the terminal in Kali Linux (Mason, Small, Monrose & MacManus, 2009) .

The Shellcode used in the demo is known as multihandler shellcode.

Approaches for the generation of the shellcode

Shellcode can be written directly in machine code with cat. This approach can be disadvantageous to the attackers because it a bit difficult compared to shellcode approach through the assembly language. It can be written in assembly language. It is simple to generate but not strong for a system. Shellcode can be compiled and ripped from a binary executable object. Shellcode can be compiled with a binary target and an adapted linker script. Shellcode can be compiled with a custom compiler of the computer.

Polymorphic Shellcode

Polymorphic shellcode is a code generated as a result of Polymorphism. Polymorphism is a skill used in change the code in such a way that it will keep the initial function undamaged in any way. For instance, 3+3 and 18-9 both give an equal outcome as it is using various values and steps. Polymorphic shellcode is very useful in efforts to evade anti-virus and intrusion detection system (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention system (IPS).


Avgerinos, T., Cha, S. K., Rebert, A., Schwartz, E. J., Woo, M., & Brumley, D. (2014). Automatic exploit generation. Communications of the ACM, 57(2), 74-84.

Ersan, E. (2017). On the (in) security of behavioral-based dynamic anti-malware techniques (Doctoral dissertation).

Hu, H., Chua, Z. L., Adrian, S., Saxena, P., & Liang, Z. (2015, August). Automatic Generation of Data-Oriented Exploits. In USENIX Security Symposium (pp. 177-192).

Kwon, Y., Saltaformaggio, B., Kim, I. L., Lee, K. H., Zhang, X., & Xu, D. (2017). A2c: Self destructing exploit executions via input perturbation. In Proceedings of NDSS (Vol. 17).

Mason, J., Small, S., Monrose, F., & MacManus, G. (2009, November). English shellcode. In Proceedings of the 16th ACM conference on Computer and communications security(pp. 524-533). ACM.

Valentino, V. (2015). Metasploit Meterpreter File System Command You Should Know.

Cite This Work

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