Saturday, November 13, 2004

Data Execution Prevention in XP Service Pack 2

Data execution prevention (DEP) is a set of hardware and software technologies that perform additional checks on memory to help protect against malicious code exploits. In Windows XP SP2, DEP is enforced by both hardware and software.

Hardware-enforced DEP marks all memory locations in a process as non-executable unless the location explicitly contains executable code. DEP helps prevent these attacks by intercepting them and raising an exception.

Software-enforced DEP is designed to mitigate exploits of exception handling mechanisms in Windows. By default, software-enforced DEP only protects limited system binaries, regardless of the hardware-enforced DEP capabilities of the processor.

Some application behaviors are expected to be incompatible with data execution prevention. Applications which perform dynamic code generation (such as Just-In-Time code generation) and that do not explicitly mark generated code with Execute permission might have compatibility issues with data execution prevention. Applications which are not built with SafeSEH must have their exception handlers located in executable memory regions.

Applications that attempt to violate DEP will receive an exception with status code STATUS_ACCESS_VIOLATION (0xC0000005). If an application requires executable memory, it must explicitly set this attribute on the appropriate memory by specifying PAGE_EXECUTE, PAGE_EXECUTE_READ, PAGE_EXECUTE_READWRITE or PAGE_EXECUTE_WRITECOPY in the memory protection argument of the Virtual* memory allocation functions. Heap allocations using the malloc() and HeapAlloc() functions are non-executable.

Check the following page for detail.

Changes to Functionality in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2

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