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3DS System Flaws

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Exploits are used to execute unofficial code (homebrew) on the Nintendo 3DS. This page is a list of publicly known system flaws, for userland applications/applets flaws see here.

Contents

[edit] Stale / Rejected Efforts

  • Neimod has been working on a RAM dumping setup for a little while now. He's de-soldered the 3DS's RAM chip and hooked it and the RAM pinouts on the 3DS' PCB up to a custom RAM dumping setup. A while ago he published photos showing his setup to be working quite well, with the 3DS successfully booting up. However, his flickr stream is now private along with most of his work.
  • Someone (who will remain unnamed) has released CFW and CIA installers, all of which is copied from the work of others, or copyrighted material.

[edit] Tips and info

The 3DS uses the XN feature of the ARM11 processor. There's no official way from applications to enable executable permission for memory containing arbitrary unsigned code(there's a SVC for this, but only RO-module has access to it). An usable userland exploit would still be useful: you could only do return-oriented-programming with it initially. From ROP one could then exploit system flaw(s), see below.

SD card extdata and SD savegames can be attacked, for consoles where the console-unique movable.sed was dumped(accessing SD data is far easier by running code on the target 3DS however).

Note that the publicly-available <v5.0 total-control exploits are Process9 exploits, not "kernel exploits".

[edit] System flaws

[edit] Hardware

Summary Description Timeframe this was discovered Discovered by
Missing AES key clearing The hardware AES engine does not clear keys when doing a hard reset/reboot.

This applies for New3DS too.

August 2014 Mathieulh/Others
No clearing on RAM on reboots On an MCU-triggered reboot all RAM including FCRAM/ARM9 memory/AXIWRAM keeps its contents. March 2014 derrek
DSi / 3DS-TWL key-generator After using the key generator to generate the normal-key, you could overwrite parts of the normal-key with your own data and then recover the key-generator output by comparing the new crypto output with the original crypto output. From the normal-key outputs, you could deduce the TWL key-generator function.

This applies to the keyX/keyY too.

This attack does not work for the 3DS key-generator because keyslots 0-3 are only for TWL keys.

2011 Yellows8

[edit] ARM9 software

[edit] arm9loader

Summary Description Successful exploitation result Fixed in FIRM system version Last FIRM system version this flaw was checked for Timeframe this was discovered Discovered by
Missing verification-block for the 9.6 keys Starting with 9.6.0-X a new set of NAND-based keys were introduced. However, they forgot to add a verification block to verify that the new key read from NAND is correct. This was an issue from the very beginning with the original sector+0 keydata, however the below is only possible with the sector+0x10 keydata.

Thus, by writing an incorrect key to NAND you can make arm9loader decrypt ARM9 kernel as garbage and then jump to it.

This allows an hardware-based NAND-attack where you can boot into an older exploited firmware, fill all memory with NOP sleds/jump-instructions, and then reboot into executing garbage. By automating this process eventually you'll find some garbage that jumps to your code.

This should give you very early ARM9 code execution (pre-ARM9 kernel). For example, you can dump RSA keyslots with this and calculate the 6.x save, and 7.x NCCH keys.

Recovery of 6.x save key/7.x NCCH key None 9.6.0-X March, 2015 plutoo
Uncleared New3DS keyslot 0x11 Originally the New3DS FIRM arm9bin loader only cleared keyslot 0x11 when it gets executed at firmlaunch. This was fixed with 9.5.0-X by completely clearing keyslot 0x11 immediately after the loader finishes using keyslot 0x11.

This means that any ARM9 code that can execute before the loader clears the keyslot at firmlaunch(including firmlaunch-hax) can get access to the uncleared keyslot 0x11, which then allows one to generate all <=v9.5 New3DS keyXs which are generated by keyslot 0x11.

Therefore, to completely fix this the loader would have to generate more keys using different keyslot 0x11 keydata. This was done with 9.6.0-X.

New3DS keyXs generation Mostly fixed with 9.5.0-X, completely fixed with new keys with 9.6.0-X. February 3, 2015 (one day after 9.5.0-X release) Yellows8

[edit] Process9

Summary Description Successful exploitation result Fixed in FIRM system version Last FIRM system version this flaw was checked for Timeframe this was discovered Discovered by
RSA signature padding checks The TWL_FIRM RSA sig padding check code used for all TWL RSA sig-checks has issues, see here.

The main 3DS RSA padding check code(non-certificate) uses the function used with the above to extract PKCS padding + the actual hash from the message. This is not a problem here however.

None 9.5.0-X March 2015 Yellows8
firmlaunch-hax: FIRM header ToCToU This can't be exploited from ARM11 userland.

During FIRM launch, the only FIRM header the ARM9 uses at all is stored in FCRAM, this is 0x200-bytes(the actual used FIRM RSA signature is read to the Process9 stack however). The ARM9 doesn't expect "anything" besides the ARM9 to access this data. With 9.5.0-22 the address of this FIRM header was changed from a FCRAM address, to ARM9-only address 0x01fffc00.

ARM9 code execution 9.5.0-22 2012, 3 days after Yellows8 started Process9 code RE. Yellows8
Uninitialized data output for PXI command replies PXI commands for various services(including some here and many others) can write uninitialized data (like from ARM registers) to the command reply. This happens with stubbed commands, but this can also occur with certain commands when returning an error. None 9.3.0-X  ? Yellows8
FSPXI OpenArchive SD permissions Process9 does not use the exheader ARM9 access-mount permission flag for SD at all.

This would mean ARM11-kernelmode code / fs-module itself could directly use FSPXI to access SD card without ARM9 checking for SD access, but this is rather useless since a process is usually running with SD access(Home Menu for example) anyway.

None 9.3.0-X 2012 Yellows8
AMPXI:ExportDSiWare export path Process9 allocates memory on Process9 heap for the export path then verifies that the actual allocated size matches the input size. Then Process9 copies the input path from FCRAM to this buffer, and uses it with the Process9 FS openfile code, which use paths in the form of "<mountpoint>:/<path>".

Process9 does not check the contents of this path at all before passing it to the FS code, besides writing a NUL-terminator to the end of the buffer.

Exporting of DSiWare to arbitrary Process9 file-paths, such as "nand:/<path>" etc. This isn't really useful since the data which gets written can't be controlled. None 9.5.0-22 April 2013 Yellows8
DSiWare_Exports CTCert verification Just like DSi originally did, 3DS verifies the APCert for DSiWare on SD with the CTCert also in the DSiWare .bin. On DSi this was fixed with with system-version 1.4.2 by verifying with the actual console-unique cert instead(stored in NAND), while on 3DS it's still not(?) fixed.

On 3DS however this is rather useless, due to the entire DSiWare .bin being encrypted with the console-unique movable.sed keyY.

When the movable.sed keyY for the target 3DS is known and the target 3DS CTCert private-key is unknown, importing of modified DSiWare SD .bin files. Unknown, probably none.  ? April 2013 Yellows8
Gamecard_Services_PXI unchecked REG_CTRCARDCNT transfer-size The u8 REG_CTRCARDCNT transfer-size parameter for the Gamecard_Services_PXI read/write CTRCARD commands is used as an index for an array of u16 values. Before 5.0.0-X this u8 value wasn't checked, thus out-of-bounds reads could be triggered(which is rather useless in this case). Out-of-bounds read for a value which gets written to a register. 5.0.0-X 2013? Yellows8
PXI cmdbuf buffer overrun The Process9 code responsible PXI communications didn't verify the size of the incoming command before writing it to a C++ member variable. Probably ARM9 code execution 5.0.0-11 March 2015, original timeframe if any unknown plutoo/Yellows8/maybe others(?)
PXIAM command 0x003D0108(See also this) When handling this command, Process9 allocates a 0x2800-byte heap buffer, then copies the 4 FCRAM input buffers to this heap buffer without checking the sizes at all(only the buffers with non-zero sizes are copied). Starting with 5.0.0-X, the total combined size of the input data must be <=0x2800. ARM9 code execution 5.0.0-X May 2013 Yellows8
PS RSA commands buffer overflows pxips9 cmd1(not accessible via ps:ps) and VerifyRsaSha256: unchecked copy to a buffer in Process9's .bss, from the input FCRAM buffer. The buffer is located before the pxi cmdhandler threads' stacks. SignRsaSha256 also has a buf overflow, but this isn't exploitable.

The buffer for this is the buffer for the signature data. With v5.0, the signature buffer was moved to stack, with a check for the signature data size. When the signature data size is too large, Process9 uses svcBreak.

ARM9 code execution 5.0.0-X 2012 Yellows8
PXI pxi_id bad check The Process9 code responsible for PXI communications read pxi_id as a signed char. There were two flaws:
  • They used it as index to a lookup-table without checking the value at all.
  • Another function verified that pxi_id < 7, allowing negative values to pass the check. This would also cause an out-of-range table-lookup.
Maybe ARM9 code execution 3.0.0-5 March 2015, originally 2012 for the first issue at least plutoo, Yellows8, maybe others(?)
CFG_SYSPROT9 bit1 not set by Process9 Old versions of Process9 never set bit1 of CFG_SYSPROT9. This leaves the 0x10012000-region unprotected (this region should be locked early during boot!). Since it's never locked, you can dump it once you get ARM9 code execution. It is unknown what this region contains, but most likely per-console keys.

From 3.0.0-5 this was fixed by setting the bit in Process9 after poking some registers in that region. On New3DS arm9loader sets this bit instead of Process9.

Dumping of per-console keys, probably 3.0.0-5 February 2015 plutoo, Normmatt independently

[edit] ARM11 software

[edit] Kernel11

Summary Description Successful exploitation result Fixed in FIRM system version Last FIRM system version this flaw was checked for Timeframe this was discovered Discovered by
SVC table too small The table of function pointers for SVC's only contains entries up to 0x7D, but the biggest allowed SVC for the table is 0x7F. Thus, executing SVC7E or SVC7F would make the SVC-handler read after the buffer, and interpret some ARM instructions as function pointers.

However, this would require patching the kernel .text or modifying SVC-access-control. Even if you could get these to execute, they would still jump to memory that isn't mapped as executable.

None 9.6.0-X 2012 Everyone
svcBackdoor (0x7B) This backdoor allows executing SVC-mode code at the user-specified code-address. This is used by Process9, using this on the ARM11(with NATIVE_FIRM) requires patching the kernel .text or modifying SVC-access-control. See description None 9.6.0-X Everyone
0xEFF00000 / 0xDFF00000 ARM11 kernel virtual-memory The ARM11 kernel-mode 0xEFF00000/0xDFF00000 virtual-memory(size 0x100000) is mapped to phys-mem 0x1FF00000(entire DSP-mem + entire AXIWRAM), with permissions RW-. This is used during ARM11 kernel startup, this never seems to be used after that, however. None 9.6.0-X
memchunkhax The kernel originally did not validate the data stored in the FCRAM kernel heap memchunk-headers for free-memory at all. Exploiting this requires raw R/W access to these memchunk-headers, like physical-memory access with gspwn.

There are multiple ways to exploit this, but the end-result for most of these is the same: overwrite code in AXIWRAM via the 0xEFF00000/0xDFF00000 kernel virtual-memory mapping.

This was fixed in 9.3.0-X by checking that the memchunk(including size, next, and prev ptrs) is located within the currently used heap memory. The kernel may also check that the next/prev ptrs are valid compared to other memchunk-headers basically. When any of these checks fail, kernelpanic() is called.

When combined with other flaws: ARM11-kernelmode code execution 9.3.0-21 February 2014 Yellows8
PXI Command input/output buffer permissions Originally the ARM11-kernel didn't check permissions for PXI input/output buffers for commands. Starting with 6.0.0 PXI input/output buffers must have RW permissions, otherwise kernelpanic is triggered. 6.0.0-11 2012 Yellows8
svcStartInterProcessDma For svcStartInterProcessDma, the kernel code had the following flaws:
  • Originally the ARM11-kernel read the input DmaConfig structure directly in kernel-mode(ldr(b/h) instructions), without checking whether the DmaConfig address is readable under userland. This was fixed by copying that structure to the SVC-mode stack, using the ldrbt instruction.
  • Integer overflows for srcaddr+size and dstaddr+size are now checked(with 6.0.0-11), which were not checked before.
  • The kernel now also checks whether the srcaddr/dstaddr (+size) is within userland memory (0x20000000), the kernel now (with 6.0.0-11) returns an error when the address is beyond userland memory. Using an address >=0x20000000 would result in the kernel reading from the process L1 MMU table, beyond the memory allocated for that MMU table(for vaddr->physaddr conversion).
6.0.0-11 DmaConfig issue: unknown. The rest: 2014 plutoo, Yellows8 independently
svcControlMemory Parameter checks For svcControlMemory the parameter check had these two flaws:
  • The allowed range for addr0, addr1, size parameters depends on which MemoryOperation is being specified. The limitation for GSP heap was only checked if op=(u32)0x10003. By setting a random bit in op that has no meaning (like bit17?), op would instead be (u32)0x30003, and the range-check would be less strict and not accurate. However, the kernel doesn't actually use the input address for LINEAR memory-mapping at all besides the range-checks, so this isn't actually useful. This was fixed in the kernel by just checking for the LINEAR bit, instead of comparing the entire MemoryOperation value with 0x10003.
  • Integer overflows on (addr0+size) are now checked that previously weren't (this also applies to most other address checks elsewhere in the kernel).
5.0.0-11 plutoo
Command request/response buffer overflow Originally the kernel did not check the word-values from the command-header. Starting with 5.0.0-11, the kernel will trigger a kernelpanic() when the total word-size of the entire command(including the cmd-header) is larger than 0x40-words (0x100-bytes). This allows overwriting threadlocalstorage+0x180 in the destination thread. However, since the data written there would be translate parameters (such as header-words + buffer addresses), exploiting this would likely be very difficult, if possible at all.

If the two words at threadlocalstorage+0x180 could be overwritten with controlled data this way, one could then use a command with a buffer-header of ((size<<14) | 2) to write arbitrary memory to any RW userland memory in the destination process.

5.0.0-11 v4.1 FIRM -> v5.0 code diff Yellows8
SVC stack allocation overflows
  • Syscalls that allocate a variable-length array on stack, only checked bit31 before multiplying by 4/16 (when calculating how much memory to allocate). If a large integer was passed as input to one of these syscalls, an integer overflow would occur, and too little memory would have been allocated on stack resulting in a buffer overrun.
  • The alignment (size+7)&~7 calculation before allocation was not checked for integer overflow.

This might allow for ARM11 kernel code-execution.

(Applies to svcSetResourceLimitValues, svcGetThreadList, svcGetProcessList, svcReplyAndReceive, svcWaitSynchronizationN.)

5.0.0-11 v4.1 FIRM -> v5.0 code diff plutoo, Yellows8 complementary
svcControlMemory MemoryOperation MAP memory-permissions svcControlMemory with MemoryOperation=MAP allows mapping the already-mapped process virtual-mem at addr1, to addr0. The lowest address permitted for addr1 is 0x00100000. Originally the ARM11 kernel didn't check memory permissions for addr1. Therefore .text as addr1 could be mapped elsewhere as RW- memory, which allowed ARM11 userland code-execution. 4.1.0-8 2012 Yellows8
Command input/output buffer permissions Originally the ARM11 kernel didn't check memory permissions for the input/output buffers for commands. Starting with 4.0.0-7 the ARM11 kernel will trigger a kernelpanic() if the input/output buffers don't have the required memory permissions. For example, this allowed a FSUSER file-read to .text, which therefore allowed ARM11-userland code execution. 4.0.0-7 2012 Yellows8
svcReadProcessMemory/svcWriteProcessMemory memory permissions Originally the kernel only checked the first page(0x1000-bytes) of the src/dst buffers, for svcReadProcessMemory and svcWriteProcessMemory. There is no known retail processes which have access to these SVCs. 4.0.0-7 2012? Yellows8

[edit] FIRM Sysmodules

Summary Description Successful exploitation result Fixed in FIRM system version Last FIRM system version this flaw was checked for Timeframe this was discovered Discovered by
"srv:pm" process registration Originally any process had access to the port "srv:pm". The PID's used for the (un)registration commands are not checked either. This allowed any process to re-register itself with "srv:pm", and therefore allowed the process to give itself access to any service, bypassing the exheader service-access-control list.

This was fixed in 7.0.0-13: starting with 7.0.0-13 "srv:pm" is now a service instead of a globally accessible port. Only processes with PID's less than 6 (in other words: fs, ldr, sm, pm, pxi modules) have access to it. With 7.0.0-13 there can only be one session for "srv:pm" open at a time(this is used by pm module), svcBreak will be executed if more sessions are opened by the processes which can access this.

This flaw was needed for exploiting the <=v4.x Process9 PXI vulnerabilities from ARM11 userland ROP, since most applications don't have access to those service(s).

Access to arbitrary services 7.0.0-13 2012 Yellows8

[edit] Standalone Sysmodules

Summary Description Successful exploitation result Fixed in system-module system-version Last system-module system-version this flaw was checked for Timeframe this was discovered Discovered by
SPI service out-of-bounds write cmd1 has out-of-bounds write allowing overwrite of some static variables in .data. None 9.5.0-22 March 2015 plutoo
NFC module service command buf-overflows NFC module copies data with certain commands, from command input buffers to stack without checking the size. These commands include the following, it's unknown if there's more commands with similar issues: "nfc:dev" <0x000C....> and "nfc:s" <0x0037....>.

Since both of these commands are stubbed in the Old3DS NFC module from the very first version(those just return an error), these issues only affect the New3DS NFC module.

There's no known retail titles which have access to either of these services.

ROP under NFC module. New3DS: None New3DS: 9.5.0-22 December 2014? Yellows8
NEWSS service command notificationID validation failure This module does not validate the input notificationID for "news:s" service commands. This is an out-of-bounds array index bug. For example, NEWSS:SetNotificationHeader could be used to exploit news module: this copies the input data(size is properly checked) to: out = newsdb_savedata+0x10 + (someu32array[notificationID]*0x70). ROP under news module. None 9.0.0-20 December 2014 Yellows8
HID module shared-mem HID module does not validate the index values in sharedmem(just changes index to 0 when index == maxval when updating), therefore large values will result in HID module writing HID data to arbitrary addresses. ROP under HID module, but this is *very* unlikely to be exploitable since the data written is HID data. None 9.3.0-21 2014? Yellows8
gspwn GSP module does not validate addresses given to the GPU. This allows a user-mode application/applet to read/write to a large part of physical FCRAM using GPU DMA. From this, you can overwrite the .text segment of the application you're running under, and gain real code-execution from a ROP-chain. Normally applets' .text(Home Menu, Internet Browser, etc) is located beyond the area accessible by the GPU, except for CROs used by applets(Internet Browser for example). User-mode code execution. None 9.6.0-X Early 2014 smea, Yellows8/others before then
rohax Using gspwn, it is possible to overwrite a loaded CRO0/CRR0 after its RSA-signature has been validated. Badly validated CRO0 header leads to arbitrary read/write of memory in the ro-process. This gives code-execution in the ro module, who has access to syscalls 0x70-0x72, 0x7D.

This was fixed after ninjhax release by adding checks on CRO0-based pointers before writing to them.

Memory-mapping syscalls. 9.3.0-21 9.4.0-21 smea, plutoo joint effort
Region free Only Home Menu itself checks gamecards' region when launching them. Therefore, any application launch that is done directly with NS without signaling Home Menu to launch the app, will result in region checks being bypassed.

This essentially means launching the gamecard with the "ns:s" service. The main way to exploit this is to trigger a FIRM launch with an application specified, either with a normal FIRM launch or a hardware reboot.

Launching gamecards from any region + bypassing Home Menu gamecard-sysupdate installation None 9.5.0-22 June(?) 2014 Yellows8
NWM service-cmd state null-ptr deref The NWMUDS service command code loads a ptr from .data, adds an offset to that, then passes that as the state address for the actual command-handler function. The value of the ptr loaded from .data is not checked, therefore this will cause crashes due to that being 0x0 when NWMUDS was not properly initialized.

It's unknown whether any NWM services besides NWMUDS have this issue.

This is rather useless since it's only a crash caused by a state ptr based at 0x0. None 9.0.0-20 2013? Yellows8

[edit] General/CTRSDK

Summary Description Successful exploitation result Fixed in version Last version this flaw was checked for Timeframe this was discovered Discovered by
UDS beacon additional-data buffer overflow Originally CTRSDK did not validate the UDS additional-data size before using that size to copy the additional-data to a networkstruct. This was eventually fixed.

This was discovered while doing code RE with an old dlp-module version. It's unknown in what specific CTRSDK version this was fixed, or even what system-version updated titles with a fixed version.

It's unknown if there's any titles using a vulnerable CTRSDK version which are also exploitable with this(dlp module can't be exploited with this).

The maximum number of bytes that can be written beyond the end of the outbuf is 0x37-bytes, with additionaldata_size=0xFF.

Perhaps ROP, very difficult if possible with anything at all  ? September(?) 2014 Yellows8