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Fuzzing Image Parsing in Windows, Part Three: RAW and HEIF

November 10, 2021

Written by: Dhanesh Kizhakkinan

Automated testing of Windows Image Libraries uncovers 37 security issues, including Zero-Click Code Execution with CVSS score of 7.8. All vulnerabilities have been remediated by Microsoft following the disclosure by Mandiant.

Continuing our discussion of image parsing vulnerabilities in Windows, we take a look at two of the file types supported by Windows: RAW and High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF).

RAW files have been supported by Windows Camera Codec Pack since the Windows XP days and later Windows versions include these codecs by default. The codec file is present as WindowsCodecsRaw.dll in the system32 folder. The RAW codec is Windows Imaging Component (WIC) enabled, which means any program using WIC should be able to load and decode RAW images without any additional code. This enables Explorer to display thumbnails and previews and enables Microsoft.Photos.exe to display supported RAW images. Having WIC enabled codecs helped us avoid writing a new fuzzing harness, because the WIC and Component Object Model (COM) handles the detection of file formats and the loading of corresponding codecs. Even though this was very useful to quickly start our fuzzing, it came with a heavy performance tax (10 - 30x slowdown) due to the way COM works.

The codec supports RAW files from multiple camera manufactures, such as: Canon, Casio, Epson, Fujifilm, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Samsung, Sony and a variety of other camera models. On the surface this is a very attractive attack surface given the number of supported camera models and manufacturers; unfortunately, most of the supported file formats are TIFF or based on the TIFF file format.

For fuzzing the RAW codec, we use a generic WIC harness and use WindowsCodecsRaw.dll as the code coverage module. The corpuses were collected from various public places and sizes were minimized by sacrificing some percentage of code coverage. This is needed due to the large file size of RAW files.

In our fuzzing, we found two integer overflow vulnerabilities in the library’s parsing of Canon CR2 format RAW files, and 35 vulnerabilities in the parsing of HEIF files. We present details of the most notable findings in this blog post.


CVE-2020-16968 is an integer overflow leading to a heap overflow while parsing a specially crafted Canon CR2 file.

Crash details are shown in Figure 1.


0:000> r

rax=0000000009aee38e rbx=000000000000008e rcx=00000203b8ab0580
rdx=0000000000000d07 rsi=0000000000000d34 rdi=00000203b7998f20 

rip=00007ffcbd26c4e2 rsp=000000c6b258e370 rbp=000000c6b258e470 

 r8=000000000000008e  r9=0000000000000000 r10=00000203b7a2eff0 

r11=00000000000006c0 r12=000000000000036e r13=000000000000bbbb

r14=0000000000000658 r15=0000000000000e0c

iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na po nc

cs=0033  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00000206


00007ffc`bd26c4e2 6644890c41      mov     word ptr [rcx+rax*2],r9w ds:00000203`cc08cc9c=???
0:000> !heap -p -a @rcx
    address 00000203b8ab0580 found in

    _DPH_HEAP_ROOT @ 203a4231000

    in busy allocation (  DPH_HEAP_BLOCK:         UserAddr         UserSize -         VirtAddr         VirtSize)
                             203a4295270:      203b8ab0580         135cca80 -      203b8ab0000         135ce000

    00007ffd065c73ab ntdll!RtlDebugAllocateHeap+0x000000000000003b
    00007ffd064e9745 ntdll!RtlpAllocateHeap+0x00000000000000f5

    00007ffd064e73d4 ntdll!RtlpAllocateHeapInternal+0x00000000000006d4 

    00007ffcbd0ffb6d WindowsCodecsRaw!POBitmapImageRep::init+0x00000000000001f1
    00007ffcbd0ff926 WindowsCodecsRaw!POBitmapImageRep::POBitmapImageRep+0x00000000000000aa
    00007ffcbd269f88 WindowsCodecsRaw!CCanonSRawLoadRaw::GetBitmapImage+0x00000000000000d8 

    00007ffcbd269ea3 WindowsCodecsRaw!CCanonSRawLoadRaw::GetBitmapImage+0x0000000000000023
    00007ffcbd18e19b WindowsCodecsRaw!CCanon1DMK4ImageRep::GetBitmapImageFromFile+0x00000000000002bb 

    00007ffcbd10d635 WindowsCodecsRaw!CRawImageRep::GetBitmapImageRep+0x0000000000000055 

    00007ffcbd0fe4fe WindowsCodecsRaw!RawImageGetBitmap+0x000000000000005e

    00007ffcbd0f4b9a WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::EnsureRawBitmap+0x0000000000000076

    00007ffcbd0f4de8 WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::RunPipelineInternal+0x0000000000000068

    00007ffcbd0f4d60 WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::RunPipeline+0x0000000000000104

    00007ffcbd0f664a WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::CopyPixels+0x00000000000003ca

0:000> k

 # Child-SP          RetAddr           Call Site

00 000000c6`b258e370 00007ffc`bd26a016 WindowsCodecsRaw!CCanonSRawLoadRaw::lossless_jpeg_load_raw+0x1f2
01 000000c6`b258e4d0 00007ffc`bd269ea3 WindowsCodecsRaw!CCanonSRawLoadRaw::GetBitmapImage+0x166
02 000000c6`b258e5c0 00007ffc`bd18e19b WindowsCodecsRaw!CCanonSRawLoadRaw::GetBitmapImage+0x23
03 000000c6`b258e610 00007ffc`bd10d635 WindowsCodecsRaw!CCanon1DMK4ImageRep::GetBitmapImageFromFile+0x2bb
04 000000c6`b258e7a0 00007ffc`bd0fe4fe WindowsCodecsRaw!CRawImageRep::GetBitmapImageRep+0x55

05 000000c6`b258e7d0 00007ffc`bd0f4b9a WindowsCodecsRaw!RawImageGetBitmap+0x5e 

06 000000c6`b258e870 00007ffc`bd0f4de8 WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::EnsureRawBitmap+0x76 

07 000000c6`b258e8a0 00007ffc`bd0f4d60 WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::RunPipelineInternal+0x68 

08 000000c6`b258f030 00007ffc`bd0f664a WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::RunPipeline+0x104 

09 000000c6`b258f0d0 00007ffc`fc73ceb3 WindowsCodecsRaw!FSixFrameDecode::CopyPixels+0x3ca

Figure 1: RAW codec crash

The root cause of the bug can be found by looking at the allocation of the object at WindowsCodecsRaw!POBitmapImageRep::init in Figure 2.


void __fastcall POBitmapImageRep::init(

      POBitmapImageRep *this,

      unsigned int swidth,

      unsigned int sheight,
      unsigned int allocSize; // ebx

      HANDLE ProcessHeap; // rax

      LPVOID allocMem; // rax

      // validations
      if ( swidth > 0x10000
            || sheight > 0x10000

      swidthX2 = swidth * two_2; 
      allocSize = swidthX2 * sheight;                 // integer overflow 

      ProcessHeap = GetProcessHeap(); 

      allocMem = HeapAlloc(ProcessHeap, 0, allocSize);

      *(this + 12) = allocMem; 

Figure 2: Vulnerable function

POBitmapImageRep::init accepts multiple heights and widths associated with camera sensors and does a cursory validation of the values they accept. These values are retrieved from the image file and thus are user controllable. The vulnerability arises from the fact that even with the initial validation, a 32-bit multiplication of the sensor height and width can cause an integer overflow and trigger a smaller heap memory allocation than needed. Additionally, POBitmapImageRep::init is a generic function used to allocate memory and is used by multiple RAW file formats from different manufacturers. It is very likely that different file formats may also trigger the same vulnerability.

Sample values which cause integer overflow are provided in Figure 3.


swidth = 0xbbc0;

sheight = 0xbbbb;
swidthX2 = swidth * 2;              // 0x177c0
allocSize = swidthX2 * sheight;     // 0x177c0 * 0xbbbb => 0x(1)135cca80 

allocMem = HeapAlloc(ProcessHeap, 0, allocSize);      // 0x135cca80 allocated

Figure 3: Integer overflow calculations

The resulting heap memory allocated by POBitmapImageRep::init is used to store data from the image file. This is performed using the two nested for loops of row by columns. The underlying code in CCanonSRawLoadRaw::lossless_jpeg_load_raw is the result of a port of the function from the dcraw library to C++.

Variant Analysis

A variant of this vulnerability can be easily found by cross referencing HeapAlloc usage in other parts of the code. CCanonSRawLoadRaw::GetBitmapImage contained a similar pattern of integer overflow leading to an heap overflow. Microsoft decided to patch this as a separate vulnerability, CVE-2020-0997.


Microsoft patched both integer overflows by promoting the multiplication to 64-bit and bailing out if the result is greater than 4 GiB as shown in Figure 4.


allocSize64 = swidthx2 * (unsigned __int64)sheight;
if ( allocSize64 > 0xFFFFFFFF ) 


allocSize = allocSize64; 

ProcessHeap = GetProcessHeap(); 

allocMem = HeapAlloc(ProcessHeap, 0, allocSize);

Figure 4: CVE-2020-16968 patch


High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) is a newer and more dynamic container format for images and image sequences based on the ISO Base Media File Format (ISOBMFF). Windows 10 supports HEIF through the HEIF Image Extension Windows Store app. The HEIF Image Extension is also WIC enabled, allowing us to use the older harness to access HEIF decoders without any changes to our fuzzer.

As HEIF is a container format, it supports multiple compression formats, namely:

  1. Advanced Video Coding (AVC) in HEIF (AVCI)
  2. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) in HEIF (HEIC)
  3. AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) in HEIF (AVIF)

The HEIF Image Extension from the Windows Store supports basic HEIF containers with AVC support. To decode HEVC or AV1, additional extensions must be installed. While the AV1 extension support is based on the open source libavif, HEVC seems to be Microsoft's proprietary code base and requires a payment of $0.99 to install the extension (likely due to complex HEVC licensing terms). All of the extensions are WIC enabled and HEIF loads the corresponding extensions based on the detected file format, eliminating the need of a new harness.

For fuzzing HEIF, I decided to gather three separate corpus sets based on their file headers and fuzz them based on the likelihood of finding vulnerabilities. I spent the least amount with fuzzing AVIF, because its support is based on the libavif code which is regularly fuzzed by OSSFuzz and other researchers. Only a moderate amount of time was spent on the AVC extension, given the prevalence of AVC codec and the most of my time was spent on the new HEVC extension for being a relatively new codec.

Fuzzing these codecs ended up more fruitful than I could have imagined. After triaging hundreds of crashes, a total of 35 vulnerabilities were reported to the Microsoft Response Center (MSRC), resulting in 21 CVEs. Most of the crashes were from the HEVC extension and the least were from the AVIF extension. Let me explain to you an interesting case of heap use after free (UAF) that I found in the HEIF extension. An example crash of the aforementioned UAF vulnerability (CVE-2020-17101) is presented in Figure 5.


0:000> r

rax=0000029dec4dff60 rbx=0000029dec4dff60 rcx=0000029de5b20000
rdx=0000029de5b20000 rsi=0000029de9751e50 rdi=0000029dec4c5e80 

rip=00007ffcce89ca2e rsp=000000e19c8ff2f0 rbp=000000e19c8ff479 

 r8=0000029dec4ddf30  r9=0000000000000001 r10=0000000000000000 

r11=000000e19c8ff1f0 r12=0000000000000000 r13=00007ffcce9bd708 

r14=0000029dec4c3fd0 r15=000000e19c8ff558 

iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na po nc
cs=0033  ss=002b  ds=002b  es=002b  fs=0053  gs=002b             efl=00010206
00007ffc`ce89ca2e 488b9890000000  mov     rbx,qword ptr [rax+90h] ds:0000029d`ec4dfff0=????????????????
0:000> !heap -p -a @rax 

    address 0000029dec4dff60 found in 

    _DPH_HEAP_ROOT @ 29de5b21000 

    in free-ed allocation (  DPH_HEAP_BLOCK:         VirtAddr         VirtSize)
                                29deb61f340:      29dec4df000             2000
    00007ffd065c7db4 ntdll!RtlDebugFreeHeap+0x0000000000000038
    00007ffd0657c018 ntdll!RtlpFreeHeap+0x0000000000097bc8
    00007ffd064e95c4 ntdll!RtlpFreeHeapInternal+0x0000000000000464
    00007ffd064e5d21 ntdll!RtlFreeHeap+0x0000000000000051
    00007ffd03c2ea0b ucrtbase!_free_base+0x000000000000001b
    00007ffcce89c931 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x0000000000079bc1
    00007ffcce989beb msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x0000000000166e7b
    00007ffcce89ca55 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x0000000000079ce5
    00007ffcce8f0821 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x00000000000cdab1             CHEIFImage::FinalParseAtom

    00007ffcce8f0395 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x00000000000cd625             CHEIFImage::CreateHEIFImage 

    00007ffcce8ac562 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x00000000000897f2             CQTMovie::CreateMovieFromBuffer
    00007ffcce8ee992 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x00000000000cbc22 

    00007ffcce88afb2 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x0000000000068242             CHEIFStreamReader::ParseStream

    00007ffcce88a884 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x0000000000067b14             CHEIFStreamReader::GetHEIFImage 

    00007ffcce82f2dc msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x000000000000c56c             CHEIFParser::RuntimeClassInitialize
    00007ffcce83963c msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x00000000000168cc
    00007ffcce824f73 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x0000000000002203 

    00007ffcce824c08 msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x0000000000001e98             MFCreateHEIFReaderFromStream 

    00007ffcce86c28b msheif_store!DllGetActivationFactory+0x000000000004951b             CWICHeifDecoder::Initialize

    00007ffcfc71334c windowscodecs!CCodecFactory::HrArbitrateDecoderList+0x0000000000000408

    00007ffcfc715279 windowscodecs!CCodecFactory::HrCreateDecoderFromStreamInternalNew+0x000000000000030d

    00007ffcfc7a918f windowscodecs!CCodecFactory::CreateDecoderFromFileHandle+0x000000000000008f

0:000> u @rip-7


00007ffc`ce89ca27 488b8798000000   mov     rax,qword ptr [rdi+98h]

00007ffc`ce89ca2e 488b9890000000   mov     rbx,qword ptr [rax+90h]                        ; crash
00007ffc`ce89ca35 4883a08800000000 and     qword ptr [rax+88h],0

00007ffc`ce89ca3d 488b8f98000000   mov     rcx,qword ptr [rdi+98h]                        ; same object

00007ffc`ce89ca44 4883c118         add     rcx,18h

00007ffc`ce89ca48 488b01           mov     rax,qword ptr [rcx]                            ; vftable

00007ffc`ce89ca4b 488b4010         mov     rax,qword ptr [rax+10h]                        ; vfcall

00007ffc`ce89ca4f ff15b3d21000     call    qword ptr [msheif_store!_guard_dispatch_icall_fptr (00007ffc`ce9a9d08)]

Figure 5: HEIF crash

CVE-2020-17101’s use-after-free happens in the very early stage of the ISOBMFF header parsing. The code path can be invoked by thumbnail creation, which essentially makes this a zero-click Remote Code Execution (RCE). What helps enable this RCE is that thumbnails are turned on by default in Windows Explorer.

ISOBMFF uses boxes or atoms to encapsulate data stored in the representative file. Each box contains a length field (4 bytes), box name (fourCC byte sequence), and optional metadata and data. The data can contain other boxes and corresponding metadata.


Figure 6: HEIF PoC file

Basic box parsing starts from the bytes "ftyp" (offset 4 in Figure 6) and looks for a supported brand. Here, "mif1" is the brand and "heic" is the image collection brand. In a normal parsing scenario, "mif1" is followed by a "meta" box, which encapsulates other boxes such as "hdlr", "iloc", "iinf", "pitm" etc.

When parsing the Proof of Concept (PoC) file (Figure 6), the "meta" box is followed by an "xxxx" generic box (instead of "hdlr" and "pict"). As "pict" is missing, the parsing code assumes the following boxes "pitm" and "iloc" as generic boxes and not as a "typed box". When the parsing reaches the "hdlr" box, "hdlr" and "pict" boxes are parsed as a typed box and the "meta" object is updated to mark the found "pict" box. Now the parsing reaches the second "pitm" box and is considered as a typed box, the pointer is updated in the "meta" object. The next box "zzzz" is parsed as a generic box and attached to the new "pitm" object. All the initial parsing happens in the CQTAtom::ScanChildren function.

When parsing reaches the end and calls the CHEIFImage::FinalParseAtom function, it checks whether "iloc", "iinf", and "pitm" boxes were found. If any of those boxes are missing, destructors of the objects are called for cleanup (objects are reference counted), and parsing is restarted by calling the function CQTAtom::ScanChildren. The destructor frees the "zzzz" box which is attached to "pitm", but the stored pointer to "zzzz" object is not nulled from the "pitm" object.

When the parsing restarts, the "meta" object already has "pict", and then "xxxx" is parsed as a generic box, but "pitm" and "iloc" (offset 0x49 and 0x57 in Figure 6) are parsed as typed boxes. As we already have "pitm", its reference count is incremented (instead of full parsing) and "iloc" is parsed. This parsing fails and the code bails out with an error.

As the parsing has failed, the objects are destroyed once again. The destructor loops over the linked list and calls every object's destructor. As the "pitm" object still has a pointer reference to the freed "zzzz" object, the code tries to free the "zzzz" object a second time by accessing the freed object's virtual function table and calling the destructor as a virtual function. This causes the crash, as we have enabled page heap for the fuzzed process.


Microsoft patched the vulnerability by nulling the saved pointer reference after freeing the memory.


Part three of this blog series presents multiple vulnerabilities in Window’s built-in image parsers and introduces newer image formats supported by Windows. A list of all reported vulnerabilities can be found in the following appendix and found referenced in the Mandiant Vulnerability Disclosures.


CVE id

Submitted Date

Fixed Date

Vulnerability type




Integer overflow




Integer overflow




Heap/Stack overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Use After Free




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap overflow




Heap/Stack overflow




Heap overflow




Uninitialized memory




Heap overflow




Heap overflow

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