Public Vulnerability Reports

Multiple Vendor xpdf DCTStream Baseline Heap Overflow Vulnerability



Xpdf is an open-source viewer for Portable Document Format (PDF) files.


Local exploitation of a heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability in
xpdf, as included in various vendors' operating system distributions,
could allow attackers to cause a denial of service condition,
potentially resulting in arbitrary code execution.

The vulnerability specifically exists due to insufficient input
validation in the DCT stream parsing code. The
DCTStream::readBaselineSOF function from xpdf/ takes the value
of numComps from user-controllable data from within the PDF file. The
numComps value is used in a loop to copy data from the file into a pre-
allocated buffer in the heap, shown as follows:

GBool DCTStream::readBaselineSOF() {
  numComps = str->getChar();
  for (i = 0; i < numComps; ++i) {
    compInfo[i].id = str->getChar();
    c = str->getChar();
    compInfo[i].hSample = (c >> 4) & 0x0f;
    compInfo[i].vSample = c & 0x0f;
    compInfo[i].quantTable = str->getChar();

Overly large values supplied to numComps will result in corruption of
heap memory resulting in a DoS condition, potentially resulting in
arbitrary code execution.


Successful exploitation of this vulnerability can result in arbitrary
code execution with privileges of the xpdf process. Currently,
exploitation resulting in code execution is theoretical and dependant
on the process memory layout. A typical exploitation attempt would
require an attacker to supply a malicious .pdf to the victim. The
victim would need to open the corrupt .pdf file in xpdf, triggering the


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in xpdf
3.01. All earlier versions of xpdf are suspected vulnerable.

The following vendors include susceptible xpdf packages within their
operating system distributions:

    The Debian Project: Linux 3.0 and 3.1


iDefense is currently unaware of any effective workarounds for this


A patch for this vulnerability is available at:

Updated binaries (version 3.01pl1) are available at:


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the
name CAN-2005-3191 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in
the CVE list (, which standardizes names for
security problems.


10/13/2005   Initial vendor notification
10/19/2005   Initial vendor response
12/05/2005   Coordinated public disclosure


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Copyright © 2005 Verisign, Inc.

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