Foxit Reader

Mid last year, I blogged about how I found an exploitable use-after-free in Foxit Reader and how I was able to gain remote code execution from that vulnerability. Then, as the second installment I blogged about a command injection in Foxit Reader SDK ActiveX. In the spirit of catching foxes, I decided to look at a new component in Foxit Reader later in that same year. To my (un)surprise, I was able to discover several vulnerabilities in this component that could allow for a limited elevation of privilege, one being particularly nasty. That lead to this, third installment.

TL;DR; I walk through the attack vector, analysis and exploitation of CVE-2018-20310 which is a stack based buffer overflow in the PDF Printer when sending a specially crafted proxyDoAction request.

The Version

I tested version of Foxit Reader with SHA1 of the FoxitProxyServer_Socket_RD.exe binary being: 0e1554311ba8dc04c18e19ec144b02a22b118eb7. At the time, this was of course the latest version.

The Vector

The PDF Printer is a relatively undocumented feature within Foxit Reader and is primarily used to handle print requests to a PDF file from any application. Once Foxit Reader is installed, the Foxit PDF Printer is the default printer used for handling print jobs.

Printing a document from Chrome

This essentially means that the FoxitProxyServer_Socket_RD.exe binary will be started, at medium integrity for a brief second.

FoxitProxyServer_Socket_RD.exe is executed at Medium Integrity when printing documents from an application using the Foxit PDF Printer

That brief second is due to the server listening on localhost port 50000 by default and accepting only a single request. Once a request is made, it closes the port and terminates execution. This gives an attacker executing code in a render tab a kind of race condition window, when the user attempts to print to PDF using the Foxit PDF Printer.

After more investigation into the issue, I later found out you can make calls to CreateDC API from some sandboxed processes to get a printer device context and then later create a print job with the default printer. This means that an attacker doesn’t even need to race a request to the FoxitProxyServer_Socket_RD.exe binary at all.

The Vulnerability

After sniffing some sample requests sent to port 50000 while attempting to print a page from a browser, I found the following important function, sub_41DBA0.

sub_41DBA0 has some code flow

This function handles several different type of requests and the handlers are highlighted in blue in this function:

  • proxyDoAction
  • proxyPreviewAction
  • proxyPopupsAction
  • proxyCPDFAction
  • proxyUpdatePreview
  • proxyFinishPreview
  • proxyCollectSysFont
  • proxyGetImageSize
  • proxyCheckLicence
  • proxyGetAppEdition
  • proxyInitLocalization
  • proxyCreateDirectoryCascade
  • proxyIEMoveFileEx
  • proxySendFileAsEmailAttachment

Whilst some of these really stood out as highly exploitable functions, it wasn’t always possible to reach the vulnerable API. Let’s take proxyIEMoveFileEx for example. The function accepts three (3) arguments and is essentially a MoveFileExW call without any checks. The problem was however, I couldn’t generate a packate structure that would reach the MoveFileExW. I would always hit an out of bounds read before reaching this bug and it appeared like the function wasn’t working like the developers intended otherwise it would have been an easy to exploit logical vulnerability. Below is the location of the underlying API:

.text:00420C85 loc_420C85:                             ; CODE XREF: sub_420930+331
.text:00420C85                 push    ebx             ; dwFlags
.text:00420C86                 push    edi             ; lpNewFileName
.text:00420C87                 push    eax             ; lpExistingFileName
.text:00420C88                 call    ds:MoveFileExW

After doing some more reversing, I quickly learnt that the proxyDoAction was also an interesting function because it took an opcode that allowed an attacker to reach five (5) different additional code paths. Below is the check for the proxyDoAction string in the request packet:

sub_41DBA0 checks for a proxyDoAction request

Providing a correctly formatted request means we can eventually we can reach the handler:

Reaching the handler for proxyDoAction

Inside of the handler, we can see it accepts three 3 arguments:

sub_41E190 checks for 3 arguments

Once we dive into the function, we can see when processing the 3rd argument what is happening:

.text:0041E407                 mov     esi, [eax]               ; eax is a ptr to our buffer
.text:0041E409                 jmp     short loc_41E421         ; take jump
.text:0041E40B ; ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
.text:0041E40B loc_41E40B:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_41E190+275
.text:0041E40B                 xor     esi, esi
.text:0041E40D                 test    eax, eax
.text:0041E40F                 jnz     short loc_41E421
.text:0041E411                 call    sub_64BE4A
.text:0041E416                 mov     dword ptr [eax], 16h
.text:0041E41C                 call    sub_65015F
.text:0041E421 loc_41E421:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_41E190+279
.text:0041E421                                                  ; sub_41E190+27F
.text:0041E421                 lea     eax, [edi+4]             ; calculate offset to src ptr
.text:0041E424                 mov     [ebp+var_80_opcode], 0   ; initialize dst buffer
.text:0041E42B                 add     eax, ebx                 ; recalculate offset to src ptr
.text:0041E42D                 lea     ecx, [ebp+var_80_opcode] ; fixed buffer of size 0x4
.text:0041E430                 push    esi                      ; size, controlled from our buffer
.text:0041E431                 push    eax                      ; src ptr to copy from
.text:0041E432                 mov     edx, esi
.text:0041E434                 call    sub_41CB30               ; call sub_41CB30
.text:0041E439                 add     esp, 8
.text:0041E43C                 push    [ebp+var_80_opcode]      ; opcode
.text:0041E43F                 push    [ebp+var_84]             ; int
.text:0041E445                 push    [ebp+lpFileName]         ; lpFileName
.text:0041E44B                 call    sub_4244C0               ; proxyDoAction second handler

The call to sub_41CB30 looks suspicious since its using a size value and a source buffer as arguments. Also, we can see that the destination buffer is stored in ecx. When we investigate sub_41CB30, we can start to see what is happening:

.text:0041CB30 sub_41CB30      proc near                        ; CODE XREF: sub_41D500+185
.text:0041CB30                                                  ; sub_41D740+11A
.text:0041CB30 arg_0_src       = dword ptr  8
.text:0041CB30 arg_4_size      = dword ptr  0Ch
.text:0041CB30                 push    ebp
.text:0041CB31                 mov     ebp, esp
.text:0041CB33                 push    esi
.text:0041CB34                 mov     esi, [ebp+arg_4_size]    ; store controlled size in esi

sub_41CB30 is setting up a call to sub_645BD0 using source, destination and size. Source and size are totally attacker controlled and the destination is a local stack variable from sub_41E190.

.text:0041CB61 loc_41CB61:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_41CB30+16
.text:0041CB61                 push    ebx
.text:0041CB62                 mov     ebx, [ebp+arg_0_src]     ; set the src in ebx
.text:0041CB65                 test    ebx, ebx
.text:0041CB67                 jz      short loc_41CB7F
.text:0041CB69                 cmp     edi, esi
.text:0041CB6B                 jb      short loc_41CB7F
.text:0041CB6D                 push    esi                      ; size
.text:0041CB6E                 push    ebx                      ; src
.text:0041CB6F                 push    ecx                      ; dst
.text:0041CB70                 call    sub_645BD0               ; call sub_645BD0

sub_645BD0 is more or less an inline and custom memcpy implementation and we eventually reach the following code block:

.text:00645C14 loc_645C14:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_645BD0+2F
.text:00645C14                 bt      dword_932940, 1
.text:00645C1C                 jnb     short loc_645C27
.text:00645C1E                 rep movsb                        ; stack buffer overflow!
.text:00645C20                 mov     eax, [esp+8+arg_0]
.text:00645C24                 pop     esi
.text:00645C25                 pop     edi
.text:00645C26                 retn

Triggering the Vulnerability

Since we can run the executable outside of the sandbox, I found it easier to debug the application with the following command:

C:\>cdb -c "g;g" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Foxit Software\Foxit Reader\Plugins\Creator\FoxitProxyServer_Socket_RD.exe" 50000

By default the application uses port 50000 but you can also specify the port on the command line.

Triggering SRC-2019-0025/CVE-2018-20310 outside of a sandbox

So essentially, sending a specially crafted request with a buffer of size 0x1000 as the opcode will trigger a stack based buffer overflow.


We can’t exactly (ab)use the SEH handler here:

FoxitProxyServer_Socket_RD.exe is compiled with the SafeSEH mitigation

Also, if we dive into the proxyDoAction handler again, we can see at the end of the function there is a call to sub_43AE57.

.text:0041E510 loc_41E510:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_41E190+8E
.text:0041E510                                                  ; sub_41E190+9E
.text:0041E510                 mov     ecx, [ebp+var_C]
.text:0041E513                 mov     large fs:0, ecx
.text:0041E51A                 pop     ecx
.text:0041E51B                 pop     edi
.text:0041E51C                 pop     esi
.text:0041E51D                 pop     ebx
.text:0041E51E                 mov     ecx, [ebp+var_14]
.text:0041E521                 xor     ecx, ebp                 ; xor cookie with frame pointer
.text:0041E523                 call    sub_43AE57
.text:0041E528                 mov     esp, ebp
.text:0041E52A                 pop     ebp
.text:0041E52B                 retn    4
.text:0041E52E ; -----------------------

Which, as you guessed, does a cookie check:

.text:0043AE57 sub_43AE57      proc near                        ; CODE XREF: sub_413FA0+5D
.text:0043AE57                                                  ; sub_413FA0+7B
.text:0043AE57                 cmp     ecx, ___security_cookie  ; bummer
.text:0043AE5D                 repne jnz short loc_43AE62
.text:0043AE60                 repne retn
.text:0043AE62 ; ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
.text:0043AE62 loc_43AE62:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_43AE57+6
.text:0043AE62                 repne jmp sub_43B739
.text:0043AE62 sub_43AE57      endp

However, if we look past the vulnerable function, we can see something interesting:

.text:0041E4A2 loc_41E4A2:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_41E190+2F0
.text:0041E4A2                 mov     byte ptr [ebp+var_4], 8
.text:0041E4A6                 cmp     [ebp+var_24], 0
.text:0041E4AA                 jnz     short loc_41E4B8
.text:0041E4AC                 mov     ecx, [ebp+var_28]        ; code execution primitive 1
.text:0041E4AF                 test    ecx, ecx
.text:0041E4B1                 jz      short loc_41E52E
.text:0041E4B3                 mov     eax, [ecx]
.text:0041E4B5                 call    dword ptr [eax+8]        ; eop
.text:0041E4B8 loc_41E4B8:                                      ; CODE XREF: sub_41E190+31A
.text:0041E4B8                 mov     byte ptr [ebp+var_4], 9
.text:0041E4BC                 mov     ecx, [ebp+var_28]        ; code execution primitive 2
.text:0041E4BF                 test    ecx, ecx
.text:0041E4C1                 jz      short loc_41E4DB
.text:0041E4C3                 mov     edx, [ecx]
.text:0041E4C5                 lea     eax, [ebp+var_4C]
.text:0041E4C8                 cmp     ecx, eax
.text:0041E4CA                 setnz   al
.text:0041E4CD                 movzx   eax, al
.text:0041E4D0                 push    eax
.text:0041E4D1                 call    dword ptr [edx+10h]      ; eop

If we overwrite var_28 from our stack overflow and don’t overwrite the return address or exception handler then we can fake an object and redirect code execution via a vtable call. This works because var_28 is lower down the stack:

-00000080 var_80_opcode   dd ?                    ; pwned
-0000007C var_7C          db 36 dup(?)               |
-00000058 var_58          dd ?                       |   overflow direction
-00000054 var_54          db 8 dup(?)                |
-0000004C var_4C          db 36 dup(?)               v
-00000028 var_28          dd ?                    ; pwned also!
-00000024 var_24          db 8 dup(?)
-0000001C var_1C          dq ?
-00000014 var_14          dd 2 dup(?)
-0000000C var_C           dd 2 dup(?)
-00000004 var_4           dd ?

We can calculate the size of the var_80_opcode variable being 0x80 - 0x7c = 0x4 bytes in stack size. But it gets even easier! Let’s look at the code just before the overflow:

.text:0041E34D loc_41E34D:                                                  ; CODE XREF: sub_41E190+1A2
.text:0041E34D                                                              ; sub_41E190+1AB
.text:0041E34D                 lea     eax, [esi+1]
.text:0041E350                 add     ebx, 4
.text:0041E353                 push    eax
.text:0041E354                 call    sub_43AEAB
.text:0041E359                 mov     [ebp+var_84], eax
.text:0041E35F                 add     esp, 4
.text:0041E362                 lea     eax, [ebp+var_84]
.text:0041E368                 mov     [ebp+var_E4], offset off_8F3140
.text:0041E372                 mov     [ebp+var_E0], eax
.text:0041E378                 lea     eax, [ebp+var_E4]
.text:0041E37E                 mov     [ebp+var_C0], eax
.text:0041E384                 lea     eax, [ebp+var_4C]                    ; overflowed pointer loaded
.text:0041E387                 mov     [ebp+var_28], 0
.text:0041E38E                 mov     [ebp+var_90], eax
.text:0041E394                 push    eax
.text:0041E395                 lea     ecx, [ebp+var_E4]
.text:0041E39B                 mov     byte ptr [ebp+var_4], 5
.text:0041E39F                 call    sub_421D60
.text:0041E3A4                 mov     [ebp+var_28], eax                    ; bingo! We can fake an object!!
.text:0041E3A7                 mov     [ebp+var_24], 0
.text:0041E3AB                 mov     byte ptr [ebp+var_4], 6
.text:0041E3AF                 mov     ecx, [ebp+var_C0]
.text:0041E3B5                 test    ecx, ecx
.text:0041E3B7                 jz      short loc_41E3DA

What is happening here is that we can leverage var_4C (which will be overflowed) to fake an object because a pointer to it is later stored in var_28. This means we only have to overflow by 0x80 - 0x4c = 0x34 bytes! Now, if we update our poc, we can smash the variable on the stack and redirect execution flow:

Taking eip control

We still have the issue of ASLR which I didn’t bother to address since the impact of the vulnerability was limited anyway, but its a good example of when things can go wrong, despite all the proper mitigations.

I also used a modified version of the mayhem library by @zeroSteiner to inject my poc into a sandboxed process (along with python) to demonstrate to the Foxit developers the true impact.

If you want to test this out, you can download the poc trigger.


This was not just a vulnerability within Foxit Reader, but rather how third party applications trust installed print servers to be a safe boundary. Attacking new or unexplored components often yields highly exploitable findings but getting access to the interface can be the hardest challenge to a researcher.