How did I find the old Windows binaries and compilers for the processor retrospective series?
I start by downloading the processor documentation from the manufacturer and reading through the entire instruction set. That teaches me about the processor architecture in general. The next step is seeing how Windows uses it.
That part usually starts with digging out the Windows NT installation CD for the relevant architecture and extracting the NOTEPAD.EXE program. I choose Notepad because it’s relatively small, or at least it was relatively small at the time. Furthermore, I have an old copy of the source code, which makes the reverse-compiling easier. The source code I have doesn’t always perfectly match the build of Windows that the CD was created from, but it’s usually close enough.
Stealing Your Private YouTube Videos, One Frame at a Time
I quickly Googled “base64 to image”, and pasted the base64 into the first decoder I found, and it displayed a thumbnail from the target Private video! It worked! I have found a working IDOR (Insecure Direct Object Reference) bug, where I could get a frame from any private video on YouTube!
Fixing a 3+ year old bug in NVIDIA GeForce Experience
So the issue is such: If you have a joystick plugged in, and the GeForce Experience overlay enabled, your display will not sleep. If you unplug the joystick, the display sleeps. If you disable the overlay, the display sleeps. You can have one or the other - but not both. People hadn’t just tracked the issue down - people tracked it down 3 years ago!
But now for the deep dive disassembly to find and fix the bug. Solid work.
The mystery of the phantom reference
Just like many other mysteries, our mystery of the phantom reference ultimately had a very simple explanation: sloppy writing and sloppy quality control. An academic incentive system that makes publication in Web of Science listed conference proceedings popular invokes the law of big numbers. Thus the actual number of mistakes rose to be high enough to be noticeable, even though the mistake was only committed by a tiny fraction of the authors.
'A Million Random Digits' Was a Number-Cruncher’s Bible. Now One Has Exposed Flaws in the Disorder.
A 1955 Rand Corp. book had a reputation as the go-to source for figures used by pollsters, analysts, researchers; engineer Gary Briggs has ruined it
I would say ruined is more than a bit strong, but good story.
Mr. Briggs hypothesized a technician dropped cards and put them back in the wrong order. He envisioned running computer simulations to re-create the error by moving a card or two out of place.
.NET Memory Performance Analysis
This document aims to help folks who develop applications in .NET with how to think about memory performance analysis and finding the right approaches to perform such analysis if they need to. In this context .NET includes .NET Framework and .NET Core. In order to get the latest memory improvements in both the garbage collector and the rest of the framework I strongly encourage you to be on .NET Core if you are not already, because that’s where the active development happens.
When I was writing this document I intended to introduce concepts like concurrent GC or pinning as needed by the explanation of the analysis. So as you read it, you’ll gradually come across them. If you already kind of knew what they are and are looking for explanation on a specific concept here are the links to them
Chromium’s impact on root DNS traffic
The root server system is, out of necessity, designed to handle very large amounts of traffic. As we have shown here, under normal operating conditions, half of the traffic originates with a single library function, on a single browser platform, whose sole purpose is to detect DNS interception. Such interception is certainly the exception rather than the norm. In almost any other scenario, this traffic would be indistinguishable from a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
Ray Tracing In Notepad.exe At 30 FPS
A few months back, there was a post on Reddit (link), which described a game that used an open source clone of Notepad to handle all its input and rendering. While reading about it, I had the thought that it would be really cool to see something similar that worked with stock Windows Notepad. Then I spent way too much of my free time doing exactly that.
I ended up making a Snake game and a small ray tracer that use stock Notepad for all input and rendering tasks, and got to learn about DLL Injection, API Hooking and Memory Scanning along the way. It seemed like writing up the stuff I learned might make for an interesting read, and give me a chance to show off the dumb stuff I built at the same time, so that’s what these next couple blog posts will be about.
The case of the missing DNS packets
Troubleshooting is both a science and an art. The first step is to make a hypothesis about why something is behaving in an unexpected way, and then prove whether or not the hypothesis is correct. But before you can formulate a hypothesis, you first need to clearly identify the problem, and express it with precision. If the issue is too vague, then you need to brainstorm in order to narrow down the problem—this is where the “artistic” part of the process comes in.
Ice Lake Store Elimination
We have found that the store elimination optimization originally uncovered on Skylake client is still present in Ice Lake and is roughly twice as effective in our fill benchmarks. Elimination of 96% L2 writebacks (to L3) and L3 writebacks (to RAM) was observed, compared to 50% to 60% on Skylake. We found speedups of up to 45% in the L3 region and speedups of about 25% in RAM, compared to improvements of less than 20% in Skylake.
But there’s a lot of investigation work to get there.
Bypass Facebook SSL Certificate Pinning for iOS
If you tried to intercept requests from the Facebook app on iOS using a proxy, you will be hitting by their message alert The operation couldn’t be completed. That’s because of their SSL Certificate Pinning protection which must be bypassed to be able to intercept requests and responses from their server. In this blog, We will go through their iOS app trying to bypass their SSL Pinning.
And the same for instagram: https://www.cyclon3.com/bypass-instagram-ssl-certificate-pinning-for-ios
Tiny transformer inside: Decapping an isolated power transfer chip
I saw an ad for a tiny chip that provides 5 volts of isolated power: You feed 5 volts in one side, and get 5 volts out the other side. What makes this remarkable is that the two sides can have up to 5000 volts between them. This chip contains a DC-DC converter and a tiny isolation transformer so there’s no direct electrical connection from one side to the other. I was amazed that they could fit all this into a package smaller than your fingernail, so I decided to take a look inside.
Why strace doesn't work in Docker
But I wasn’t interested in fixing it, I wanted to know why it happens. So why does strace not work, and why does --cap-add=SYS_PTRACE fix it?
Restoring Picroma Plasma Without Patching it
Plasma was Picroma’s first (and probably, in their eyes, their primary) product, but only one release was ever created, and it was in 2011. It used an authentication server which eventually went down, so when it stopped working, most people just got rid of the software and moved on. It wasn’t until April 20th, 2020 that the installer from 2011 resurfaced and we could get to work on making this old art tool work again.
What Outranks Thread Priority?
This investigation started, as so many of mine do, with me minding my own business, not looking for trouble. In this case all I was doing was opening my laptop lid and trying to log on. The first few times that this resulted in a twenty-second delay I ignored the problem, hoping that it would go away. The next few times I thought about investigating, but performance problems that occur before you have even logged on are trickier to solve, and I was feeling lazy. When I noticed that I was avoiding closing my laptop because I dreaded the all-too-frequent delays when opening it I realized it was time to get serious.
A lot of effort for a rather unsatisfactory conclusion, but I won’t spoil the surprise.
Monitoring And Debunking COVID-19 Panic: The “Haarlem Aldi” Hoax
Knowing how relatively calm the situation has been here in the Netherlands (especially in Haarlem, where there is one reported case), we at Bellingcat felt that the video was likely fake — and set out to prove it.
TRRespass: Exploiting the Many Sides of Target Row Refresh
Well, after two years of rigorous research, looking inside what is implemented inside CPUs and DDR4 chips using novel reverse engineering techniques, we can tell you that we do not live in a Rowhammer-free world. And we will not for the better part of this decade. Turns out while the old hammering techniques no longer work, once we understand the exact nature of these mitigations inside modern DDR4 chips, using new hammering patterns it is trivial to again trigger plenty of new bit flips. Yet again, these results show the perils of lack of transparency and security-by-obscurity. This is especially problematic since unlike software vulnerabilities, we cannot fix these hardware bit flips post-production.
The Case of the Missing Hit
A man in California is haunted by the memory of a pop song from his youth. He can remember the lyrics and the melody. But the song itself has vanished, completely scrubbed from the internet. PJ takes on the Super Tech Support case.
Gathering Intel on Intel AVX-512 Transitions
This is a post about AVX and AVX-512 related frequency scaling. Now, something more than nothing has been written about this already, including cautionary tales of performance loss and some broad guidelines, so do we really need to add to the pile?
Perhaps not, but I’m doing it anyway. My angle is a lower level look, almost microscopic really, at the specific transition behaviors. One would hope that this will lead to specific, quantitative advice about exactly when various instruction types are likely to pay off, but (spoiler) I didn’t make it there in this post.
CPU Introspection: Intel Load Port Snooping
We’re going to go into a unique technique for observing and sequencing all load port traffic on Intel processors. By using a CPU vulnerability from the MDS set of vulnerabilities, specifically multi-architectural load port data sampling (MLPDS, CVE-2018-12127), we are able to observe values which fly by on the load ports. Since (to my knowledge) all loads must end up going through load ports, regardless of requestor, origin, or caching, this means in theory, all contents of loads ever performed can be observed. By using a creative scanning technique we’re able to not only view “random” loads as they go by, but sequence loads to determine the ordering and timing of them.
We’ll go through some examples demonstrating that this technique can be used to view all loads as they are performed on a cycle-by-cycle basis. We’ll look into an interesting case of the micro-architecture updating accessed and dirty bits using a microcode assist. These are invisible loads dispatched on the CPU on behalf of the user when a page is accessed for the first time.