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Heap spraying

(also heap spray, heapspray)

Heap spraying definition

Heap spraying is a technique used in exploits to facilitate arbitrary code execution. Attackers use heap spraying to make their attacks more likely to succeed.

Heap spraying is primarily used in software exploits that target memory corruption vulnerabilities. The idea behind heap spraying is to put a certain sequence of bytes at a predetermined location in the memory layout of a process by allocating large blocks of heap memory with this data. This increases the chances that a vulnerability in the process's code, when triggered, will result in the execution of the attacker's code.

History of Heap spraying

The concept of heap spraying was developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s when attackers began looking for more reliable ways to execute their code in software vulnerabilities.

It was first widely recognized as a technique in the early 2000s, with the emergence of various memory corruption exploits. One of the first well-known uses of heap spraying was in the exploitation of Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

With advances in software security practices and defensive measures, exploiting software using heap spraying has become more challenging. Today's modern browsers and operating systems have various security defenses that can prevent or make heap spraying much harder, such as stronger sandboxing techniques, memory randomization, and others. However, heap spraying as a technique is still relevant in some contexts, and understanding it is important for both attackers and defenders in cybersecurity.