How to Prevent Shellcode Injection

20.07.2020 Read
How to Prevent Shellcode Injection

When you first hear ‘shellcode,’ you might think of shell scripting. Surprisingly enough, neither shellcode nor shellcode injection have anything to do with shell scripting. Keep reading to learn more!

Let’s say the network of your organization is a big, beautiful garden surrounded with thick high walls, and has a fortified gate. In this analogy, the walls represent your security measures that keep intruders out, and the gate represents secure access points through which your employees can get in. If your walls are thick and high enough, they can keep the hackers away but unfortunately, even the safest security systems have vulnerable spots. Most hackers try to find these spots and exploit them instead of loudly banging the front door or hitting the walls with a sledgehammer.

Shellcode injection is a sophisticated way of finding a vulnerable spot on the cyber security layer of an organization and exploiting it for malicious purposes. In this article, we will explain what shellcode injection is and how you can protect your organization from it.

What is a shellcode?

In the context of hacking, a shellcode refers to a small piece of code that is used for exploiting a vulnerability of a software. The name is a node to shellcode’s ability to start a command shell through which the hacker gains the control of the compromised device. In time, the definition of the ‘shellcode’ expanded to encompass any piece of code that can carry out a similar task.

Often written in machine code, a shellcode can be local or remote. A local shellcode is often opted for by a hacker who has little to no access to the machine but can successfully exploit a vulnerability like a buffer overflow. On the other hand, a remote shellcode is preferred by a hacker who desires to attack the target machine through a local network, remote network or intranet. A vast majority of remote shellcodes employ TCP/IP socket connections.

What is shellcode injection?

Simply put, shellcode injection is a hacking technique where the hacker exploits vulnerable programs. The hacker infiltrates into the vulnerable programs and makes it execute their own code.

The shellcode injection process consists of three steps:

  1. Crafting the shellcode
  2. Injecting the shellcode
  3. Modifying the execution flow and/or running the shellcode

To craft the shellcode, the hacker needs to craft a compiled machine code through writing and assembling the code, and extracting bytes from the machine code. For injecting the shellcode, the program is manipulated to take the input and read the external files.

How can I protect my organization from shellcode injection?

Often, hackers try to reverse engineer programs to find their vulnerable spots. You can start by making sure that all the vulnerabilities of the software you use are alleviated. In addition, you can also address buffer overflows to make sure that your organization is safe from shellcode injection.

If you want to make sure that your organization is protected 24/7 and all the vulnerabilities on your security posture are addressed properly, you should take a closer look at our SIEM and SOAR products. They offer tailor made solutions for your cyber security needs and make sure your team's efforts and actions on security is automated against possible attacks.

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