|Informative Information for the Uninformed
Abstract: Developing shellcode for Mac OS X is not particularly difficult, but there are a number of tips and techniques that can make the process easier and more effective. The independent data and instruction caches of the PowerPC processor can cause a variety of problems with exploit and shellcode development. The common practice of patching opcodes at run-time is much more involved when the instruction cache is in incoherent mode. NULL-free shellcode can be improved by taking advantage of index registers and the reserved bits found in many opcodes, saving space otherwise taken by standard NULL evasion techniques. The Mac OS X operating system introduces a few challenges to unsuspecting developers; system calls change their return address based on whether they succeed and oddities in the Darwin kernel can prevent standard execve() shellcode from working properly with a threaded process. The virtual memory layout on Mac OS X can be abused to overcome instruction cache obstacles and develop even smaller shellcode.
Thanks: The author would like to thank B-r00t, Dino Dai Zovi, LSD, Palante, Optyx, and the entire Uninformed Journal staff.