Talos Vulnerability Report


Videolabs libmicrodns 0.1.0 resource allocation denial-of-service vulnerabilities

March 23, 2020
CVE Number

CVE-2020-6079, CVE-2020-6080


Multiple exploitable denial-of-service vulnerabilities exist in the resource allocation handling of Videolabs libmicrodns 0.1.0. When encountering errors while parsing mDNS messages, some allocated data is not freed, possibly leading to a denial-of-service condition via resource exhaustion. An attacker can send one mDNS message repeatedly to trigger these vulnerabilities.

Tested Versions

Videolabs libmicrodns 0.1.0

Product URLs


CVSSv3 Score

7.5 - CVSS:3.1/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:N/I:N/A:H


CWE-400: Uncontrolled Resource Consumption (‘Resource Exhaustion’)


The libmicrodns library is an mDNS resolver that aims to be simple and compatible cross-platform.

The function mdns_recv reads and parses an mDNS message:

static int
mdns_recv(const struct mdns_conn* conn, struct mdns_hdr *hdr, struct rr_entry **entries)
        uint8_t buf[MDNS_PKT_MAXSZ];
        size_t num_entry, n;
        ssize_t length;
        struct rr_entry *entry;

        *entries = NULL;
        if ((length = recv(conn->sock, (char *) buf, sizeof(buf), 0)) < 0)       // [1]
                return (MDNS_NETERR);

        const uint8_t *ptr = mdns_read_header(buf, length, hdr);                 // [2]
        n = length;

        num_entry = hdr->num_qn + hdr->num_ans_rr + hdr->num_add_rr;
        for (size_t i = 0; i < num_entry; ++i) {
                entry = calloc(1, sizeof(struct rr_entry));
                if (!entry)
                        goto err;
                ptr = rr_read(ptr, &n, buf, entry, i >= hdr->num_qn);            // [3]
                if (!ptr) {
                        free(entry);                                             // [4]
                        errno = ENOSPC;
                        goto err;
                entry->next = *entries;
                *entries = entry;

At [1], a message is read from the network. The 12-bytes mDNS header is then parsed at [2]. Based on the header info, the loop parses each resource record (“RR”) using the function rr_read [3].

const uint8_t *
rr_read(const uint8_t *ptr, size_t *n, const uint8_t *root, struct rr_entry *entry, int8_t ans)
        size_t skip;
        const uint8_t *p;

        p = ptr = rr_read_RR(ptr, n, root, entry, ans);               // [5]
        if (ans == 0) return ptr;

        for (size_t i = 0; i < rr_num; ++i) {
                if (rrs[i].type == entry->type) {
                        ptr = (*rrs[i].read)(ptr, n, root, entry);    // [6]
                        if (!ptr)
                                return (NULL);                        // [7]

CVE-2020-6079 - rr_decode

The function rr_read, in turn calls rr_read_RR [5]:

static const uint8_t *
rr_read_RR(const uint8_t *ptr, size_t *n, const uint8_t *root, struct rr_entry *entry, int8_t ans)
        uint16_t tmp;

        ptr = rr_decode(ptr, n, root, &entry->name);
        if (!ptr || *n < 4)
                return (NULL);                                        // [8]

        ptr = read_u16(ptr, n, &entry->type);
        ptr = read_u16(ptr, n, &tmp);
        entry->rr_class = (tmp & ~0x8000);
        entry->msbit = ((tmp & 0x8000) == 0x8000);
        if (ans) {
                if (*n < 6)
                        return (NULL);                                // [9]
                ptr = read_u32(ptr, n, &entry->ttl);
                ptr = read_u16(ptr, n, &entry->data_len);
        return ptr;

The actual decoding of the domain name is performed by rr_decode:

#define advance(x) ptr += x; *n -= x

 * Decodes a DN compressed format (RFC 1035)
 * e.g "\x03foo\x03bar\x00" gives "foo.bar"
static const uint8_t *
rr_decode(const uint8_t *ptr, size_t *n, const uint8_t *root, char **ss)
        char *s;

        s = *ss = malloc(MDNS_DN_MAXSZ);                              // [10]
        if (!s)
                return (NULL);

        if (*ptr == 0) {
                *s = '\0';
                return (ptr);
        return (ptr);
err:                                                                  // [11]
        return (NULL);

The function rr_decode allocates the ss buffer [10], which is only freed upon error [11]. This means that the caller of this function is responsible for free-ing this buffer.

We can see that, if the conditions at [8] or [9] are hit, the code would return NULL without free-ing the entry->name buffer (called ss in rr_decode). Eventually, mdns_recv will free the structure entry [4], but will not try to free anything inside it. Note however, that due to a bug discussed in TALOS-2020-1000, these conditions are not reachable.

However, there is another opportunity to trigger this bug later, at [7]. Inside that loop, for each RR type, a different function is called. So, to trigger the return NULL at [7] an attacker could specify a message with an invalid SRV, PTR, TXT, AAAA, A structure, in order to make any of those functions to fail and return NULL.

CVE-2020-6080 - rr_read_TXT

The function rr_read_RR [5] reads the current resource record, except for the RDATA section. This is read by the loop at in rr_read. For each RR type, a different function is called. When the RR type is 0x10, the function rr_read_TXT is called at [6].

#define advance(x) ptr += x; *n -= x

static const uint8_t *
rr_read_TXT(const uint8_t *ptr, size_t *n, const uint8_t *root, struct rr_entry *entry)
        union rr_data *data = &entry->data;
        uint16_t len = entry->data_len;                         // [15]
        uint8_t l;

        if (*n == 0 || *n < len)
                return (NULL);

        for (; len > 0; len -= l + 1) {
                struct rr_data_txt *text;

                memcpy(&l, ptr, sizeof(l));                     // [12]
                if (*n < l)                                     // [16]
                        return (NULL);
                text = malloc(sizeof(struct rr_data_txt));      // [14]
                if (!text)
                        return (NULL);
                text->next = data->TXT;
                data->TXT = text;
                if (l > 0)
                        memcpy(text->txt, ptr, l);              // [13]
                text->txt[l] = '\0';
        return (ptr);

This function expects 4 parameters:

  • ptr: the pointer to the start of the label to parse
  • n: the number of remaining bytes in the message, starting from ptr
  • root: the pointer to the start of the mDNS message
  • entry: the entry struct, containing the parsed resource record

The function is supposed to extract each variable-length string from the RDATA section. In this case, it extracts a length in position 0 [12], and copies the data found in text->txt [13], after allocating space for it at [14]. During this parsing, *n and len are decremented accordingly. In this loop, len tracks the number of characters left to read in the same RDATA section, as previously declared in the data_len field [15].

Note that, because of the loop, the code would parse multiple strings in the same RDATA section. However, if the condition at [16] is met, the function returns NULL (which suggests the caller function to discard the record altogether) without first free-ing the allocated text structures.

Thus, any TXT answer with more than one string in the RDATA section, when also containing an invalid string length at the end, would trigger the condition at [16], causing a resource leak.
An attacker can exploit this behavior by sending multiple TXT answers, exhausting the process memory and crashing the service.


2020-01-30 - Vendor Disclosure
2020-03-20 - Vendor Patched

2020-03-23 - Public Release


Discovered by Claudio Bozzato of Cisco Talos.