Google's trap for Chrome exploit writers leads to crashes for users

Flash exploit mitigation recently built into Chrome caused more problems than it solved

A limitation built recently into Google Chrome to detect and block Flash Player exploits ended up breaking certain Flash-based applications and games for some users.

Suspecting that someone would try to hack Chrome via a Flash exploit at this year's Pwn2Own contest, the browser's developers decided to restrict the maximum allowed size of Flash JIT (just-in-time) pages to a value that such exploits would likely exceed.

The restriction was written in such a way that when the new limit would be reached the browser would throw an "access violation" exception that referenced memory address "0xABAD1DEA," a hexadecimal value spelling out "a bad idea."

According to Chrome's development tracker, the limit was introduced on Feb. 23 and was first tested out in the browser's Canary (nightly build) version. The limit was later tweaked because of a considerable number of crash reports and landed in Chrome stable version 17.0.963.66 on Mar. 6.

Some of the Pwn2Own contestants did stumble over the Flash JIT page restriction. Nicolas Joly, a member of the VUPEN Security team, which eventually won the hacking contest, said on Twitter that he encountered 0xABAD1DEA exceptions during his tests.

Google Chrome security engineer Justin Schuh revealed that he was the one who put it there in order to detect Flash exploits. "0xABAD1DEA was a breadcrumb I added that's unique to Flash," he said on Twitter.

Schuh later clarified that it wasn't just a trap, but also a mitigation, although he admitted that it was a weak one. The VUPEN Team eventually managed to work their way around the restriction and hacked Chrome during the contest.

However, Google's half-mitigation, half-trap code caused more problems than it solved, because it ended up interfering with the normal operation of some legitimate Flash-based applications and games, like Sims Social, Audiotool and Paychex Online.

According to reports on the Google Chrome support forum, users started experiencing Flash Player crashes referencing 0xABAD1DEA after they upgraded to Chrome version 17.0.963.66.

Changes aimed at addressing the problem were made in Chrome version 17.0.963.79, which was released on Saturday, a Google employee said in response to the reports. However, some users still experienced 0xABAD1DEA-related crashes after upgrading to it.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?