Talos Vulnerability Report


uClibC and uClibC-ng libpthread linuxthreads memory corruption vulnerabilities

September 22, 2022
CVE Number



A memory corruption vulnerability exists in the libpthread linuxthreads functionality of uClibC and uClibC-ng 1.0.40. Thread allocation can lead to memory corruption. An attacker can create threads to trigger this vulnerability.


The versions below were either tested or verified to be vulnerable by Talos or confirmed to be vulnerable by the vendor.

uClibC-ng 1.0.40
Anker Eufy Homebase 2


uClibC-ng - https://uclibc-ng.org Eufy Homebase 2 - https://us.eufylife.com/products/t88411d1 uClibC - https://www.uclibc.org/


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


CWE-119 - Improper Restriction of Operations within the Bounds of a Memory Buffer


uClibC and uClibC-ng are both standalone replacements for glibc. uClibC and uClibC-ng are significantly smaller and easily portable to various architectures and embedded environments.

Libpthread is an extremely common library in a very large subset of unix-based devices, providing lightweight threading for processes. Libpthread built with uClibC using the linuxthreads.old implementation, or with uClibC-ng using the linuxthreads implementation, are both vulnerable to a memory corruption that occurs when a large number of threads are created. Both of these libraries have been used extensively in the Buildroot project with the uClibC option of linuxthreads(stable/old) and the uClibC-ng option of linuxthreads for threading implementation within the Buildroot menuconfig.

When a call to pthread_create occurs, pthread_handle_create is called during the initialization of the thread.

static int pthread_handle_create(pthread_t *thread, const pthread_attr_t *attr,
                 void * (*start_routine)(void *), void *arg,
                 sigset_t * mask, int father_pid,
                 int report_events,
                 td_thr_events_t *event_maskp)
  size_t sseg;
  int pid;
  pthread_descr new_thread;
  char * new_thread_bottom;
  char * new_thread_top;
  pthread_t new_thread_id;
  char *guardaddr = NULL;
  size_t guardsize = 0;
  int pagesize = getpagesize();
  int saved_errno = 0;

  /* First check whether we have to change the policy and if yes, whether
     we can  do this.  Normally this should be done by examining the
     return value of the sched_setscheduler call in pthread_start_thread
     but this is hard to implement.  FIXME  */
  if (attr != NULL && attr->__schedpolicy != SCHED_OTHER && geteuid () != 0)
    return EPERM;
  /* Find a free segment for the thread, and allocate a stack if needed */
  for (sseg = 2; ; sseg++)                                                         [1]
      if (sseg >= PTHREAD_THREADS_MAX)
    return EAGAIN;
      if (__pthread_handles[sseg].h_descr != NULL)
      if (pthread_allocate_stack(attr, thread_segment(sseg), pagesize,               [2]
                                 &new_thread, &new_thread_bottom,
                                 &guardaddr, &guardsize) == 0)     

At [1] the segments incremented as threads are created. Threads can be created up to the PTHREAD_THREADS_MAX limit, and for each thread being created the stack will be allocated using pthread_allocate_stack at [2]. thread_segment is an inlined function that is responsible for decrementing the starting address of the stack

static __inline__ pthread_descr thread_segment(int seg)
  return (pthread_descr)(THREAD_STACK_START_ADDRESS - (seg - 1) * STACK_SIZE)
         - 1;

In both of these code bases THREAD_STACK_START_ADDRESS is 0x40000000000m, but is a machine specific variable, and STACK_SIZE is 2 MB by default for all machines. This means that this condition is far more likely to be seen in 32-bit memory spaces. Once the pointer has been calculated it is passed on to pthread_allocate_stack.

  static int pthread_allocate_stack(const pthread_attr_t *attr,
                                  pthread_descr default_new_thread,
                                  int pagesize,
                                  pthread_descr * out_new_thread,
                                  char ** out_new_thread_bottom,
                                  char ** out_guardaddr,
                                  size_t * out_guardsize)
  pthread_descr new_thread;
  char * new_thread_bottom;
  char * guardaddr;
  size_t stacksize, guardsize;

    else {
      stacksize = STACK_SIZE - pagesize;
      if (attr != NULL)
        stacksize = MIN(stacksize, roundup(attr->__stacksize, pagesize));
      /* Allocate space for stack and thread descriptor at default address */
      new_thread = default_new_thread;
      new_thread_bottom = (char *) (new_thread + 1) - stacksize;
      if (mmap((caddr_t)((char *)(new_thread + 1) - INITIAL_STACK_SIZE),               [3]
               -1, 0) == MAP_FAILED)     
        return -1;

Within pthread_allocate_stack as long as a stack hasn’t been provided (already allocated), new allocations occur using the mmap call at [3]. This call includes the flag MAP_FIXED which forces mmap to take the address provided as the required address of the allocation, instead of as a hint. As sseg is incremented, the allocation moves to lower memory addresses for each allocation, eventually overwriting loaded libraries or even the code of the application itself.

Both vulnerabilities center around an issue while creating thread stacks using mmap with the MAP_FIXED flag. The manual page of mmap has the following information on MAP_FIXED

              Don't interpret addr as a hint: place the mapping at
              exactly that address.  addr must be suitably aligned: for
              most architectures a multiple of the page size is
              sufficient; however, some architectures may impose
              additional restrictions.  If the memory region specified
              by addr and length overlaps pages of any existing
              mapping(s), then the overlapped part of the existing
              mapping(s) will be discarded.  If the specified address
              cannot be used, mmap() will fail.

By using MAP_FIXED, creating a large number of threads will remap any memory for use by the thread. This generally will first remap libraries loaded into the memory space of an application.

The vulnerable code within the latest version of uClibC is based on the linuxthreads.old implementation. A newer implementation based on linuxthreads is also present, and aptly named linuxthreads. The linuxthreads.old implementation is present in older versions of Buildroot and presented as linuxthreads (stable/old), compared to just linuxthreads. All images built based on the stable/old implementation are vulnerable. Since uClibC-ng is a fork of the original uClibC code, it stands that the vulnerability was present at the time of the code fork,. Since that time, the code has diverged into unique codebases.uClibC-ng only has a single linuxthreads implementation within the codebase, and as such, any linuxthreads-based implementation of libpthread is vulnerable. All new versions of Buildroot that rely upon uClibC-ng will present this vulnerable implementation as a possible option for the threading implementation in the image.


2022-05-04 - Vendor Disclosure
2022-05-17 - Vendor Disclosure
2022-05-17 - Initial Vendor Contact
2022-09-22 - Public Release


Discovered by Lilith >_> of Cisco Talos.