File Polyglottery

or, This Proof of Concept is Also a Picture of Cats

Tagged: Security Research PoC||GTFO Presentations

Over the past few years I’ve been a frequent contributor to and editor of the journal PoC or GTFO. Part of my contributions have been to help create several of the recent file polyglots for the electronic releases. I just presented a talk on this topic at BSides Philly, 2017.

A polyglot is a file that can be interpreted as multiple different filetypes depending on how it is parsed. While polyglots serve the noble purpose of being a nifty parlor trick, they also have much more nefarious uses, e.g., hiding malicious printer firmware inside a document that subverts a printer when printed, or a document that displays completely different content depending on which viewer opens it. This talk does a deep dive into the technical details of how to create such special files, using examples from some of the recent issues of the International Journal of PoC||GTFO. Learn how we made a PDF that is also a valid NES ROM that, when emulated, displays the MD5 sum of the PDF. Learn how we created a PDF that is also a valid PostScript document that, when printed to a PostScript printer, produces a completely different document. Oh, and the PostScript also prints your /etc/passwd file, for good measure. Learn how to create a PDF that is also a valid Git repository containing its own LaTeX source code and a copy of itself. And many more!

Here is a recording of the talk,

as well as my slide deck:

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