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Bug Security Games

Vulnerability Found In Skyrim, Fallout, Other Bethesda Games 179

An anonymous reader writes "The author of this article goes over a format string vulnerability he found in The Elder Scrolls series starting with Morrowind and going all the way up to Skyrim. It's not something that will likely be exploited, but it's interesting that the vulnerability has lasted through a decade of games. 'Functions like printf() and its variants allow us to view and manipulate the program’s running stack frame by specifying certain format string characters. By passing %08x.%08x.%08x.%08x.%08x, we get 5 parameters from the stack and display them in an 8-digit padded hex format. The format string specifier ‘%s’ displays memory from an address that is supplied on the stack. Then there’s the %n format string specifier – the one that crashes applications because it writes addresses to the stack. Powerful stuff.'"
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Vulnerability Found In Skyrim, Fallout, Other Bethesda Games

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  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Sunday May 12, 2013 @01:03PM (#43702661)

    The reason C++ does not implement format strings is that C libraries work just fine in it.

    There are no prizes for most pure usage of <iostream> or any rule saying C++ programmers must use it at all, it is simply a nifty library that exists that you may use when it suits you. If the code you're writing will be simpler, faster and or more comprehensible to later maintainers if you use <cstdio>, then you should use it. If it can be written better with <iostream> then use that.

    If you get a chance to do some hardcore IO in C++, you will find two functions at the core of your code: select (or epoll on Linux) and mmap. Neither are in either of those two headers and both work on integer file descriptors, rather than FILE or ostream/istream objects. They are about as un-c++ as you can get, they are kernel syscalls, but you can build some truly excellent C++ around them which looks simple, does a lot and runs more efficiently than <fstream> allows.

    C++ is not about purity, Bjarne Stroustrup designed it to allow multiple unrelated paradigms to be used together to allow programmers maximum efficiency and flexibility to write great code, it was never meant to be deconstructivist. Good C++ is not just knowing when to pass by reference, what to declare const, which members to make pure virtual, which STL type to use, which functions and classes should be templates and which shouldn't, etc. Good C++ is also knowing when to use stringstream and when to use strnprintf. And good friend malloc is still there, believe it or not, great C++ programmers know how to use it well in C++ too.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.