Buffer Overrun in JPEG Processing

Whether it's a website, video or a word processor, every application that runs on a computer is allocated real-time memory space on the processor. When an application uses more than its allotted processor memory it is said to have overrun or overflown from its buffer allocation. In other words, when the program writes more information into the memory than it is allowed to, it is said to have caused buffer overrun. Such buffer overrun can also occur when executing the program that processes JPEG formats.

  1. Program Execution

    • Many software applications are developed using C and C++ programming languages. When a C program is executed, the instructions or the program codes are sent to the CPU in a sequential order. The processor controls the execution procedure and allocates the memory for each function in the program accordingly. The status values are returned back to the program once the instructions are executed. The processor constantly expels the executed instructions from the assembly line and accommodates for the new incoming stack of code. This allows the processor to optimally readjust its memory space and run efficiently.

    Overrun Attacks

    • While C and C++ are powerful language tools, they're also prone to security breaches. Inexperienced programmers are likely to focus more on the functionality of their code rather than on the program security. Poor programming allows for bugs in the software and enhances the risk of hackers and software attackers to infiltrate undesired external code into the program. If an attacker manages to overwrite undesired code into the program during execution, this will potentially allow for a buffer overrun. Such buffer overflow can also occur while executing a program which involves processing a JPEG application.

    Affected Programs

    • Buffer overruns, at the very least, will severely slow down the speed of the processor. An external infiltration or overwriting a program can result in data and system security breaches. The attack on software can also cause fatal damages to the system and even to the network. According to Microsoft, 2002 and 2003 versions of several MS office software programs are susceptible to buffer overruns during JPEG processing. Software at risk include Outlook, Word, Excel, Power Point, Front Page, Publisher, Access and OneNote. Internet Explorer 6 and Windows Journal Viewer are also at risk of overrun attacks.

    Overrun Fixes

    • The Microsoft website offers downloadable security patches that help system users guard against buffer overruns in JPEG processing. The link for the website is featured in the reference section below. Windows operating system users can also download Systems Management Server Pack which automatically installs security patches onto the system on a periodic basis to continuously guard against new and known overrun risks and threats.

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