Talos Vulnerability Report


Simple DirectMedia Layer SDL_image XCF Property Handling Code Execution Vulnerability

October 10, 2017
CVE Number



An exploitable buffer overflow vulnerability exists in the XCF property handling functionality of SDL_image 2.0.1. A specially crafted xcf file can cause a stack-based buffer overflow resulting in potential code execution. An attacker can provide a specially crafted XCF file to trigger this vulnerability.

Tested Versions

Simple DirectMedia Layer SDL_image 2.0.1

Product URLs


CVSSv3 Score

8.8 - CVSS:3.0/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:R/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H


CWE-121: Stack-based Buffer Overflow


SDL_image is a library that handles image loading for the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library. SDL is a cross-platform library that is designed to provide low-level access to various hardware using OpenGL and Direct3D. The various users of the library include games, video playback software (including VLC), and emulators.

A vulnerability exits in the SDL_image library's handling of XCF images. When an XCF image is read, its properties will be read from the file and used directly in a read operation, potentially resulting in a stack-based buffer overflow. This problem occurs in the read_xcf_property function of the IMG_xcf.c file:

253   static void xcf_read_property (SDL_RWops * src, xcf_prop * prop) {
254     prop->id = SDL_ReadBE32 (src);
255     prop->length = SDL_ReadBE32 (src);


261     switch (prop->id) {
275     case PROP_COMPRESSION:
276     case PROP_COLOR:
277         SDL_RWread (src, &prop->data, prop->length, 1);
278         break;


At line 254, it will read the id of the property from the file and then at line 255, it will read the length of the property. This length will then be used at line 277 to copy data from src into prop->data which is 24 bytes in length, causing a buffer overflow if the length provided in the file is larger than 24.


Adding a check to ensure that prop->length <= sizeof(prop->data) would fix the issue:

--- IMG_xcf.c.orig  2017-07-28 10:39:49.983264935 -0700
+++ IMG_xcf.c   2017-07-28 10:43:42.664540348 -0700
@@ -251,6 +251,7 @@

 static void xcf_read_property (SDL_RWops * src, xcf_prop * prop) {
+  unsigned int len;
prop->id = SDL_ReadBE32 (src);
prop->length = SDL_ReadBE32 (src);  

@@ -274,7 +275,11 @@
-    SDL_RWread (src, &prop->data, prop->length, 1);
+    if (prop->length>sizeof(prop->data))
+   len = sizeof(prop->data);
+    else
+   len = prop->length;
+    SDL_RWread (src, &prop->data, len, 1);
 prop->data.visible = SDL_ReadBE32 (src);


2017-10-06 - Vendor Disclosure
2017-10-10 - Public Release


Discovered by Yves Younan of Cisco Talos