There exists a bug in the pooling instance allocator in Wasmtime’s runtime where a failure to instantiate an instance for a module that defines an
externref global will result in an invalid drop of a
VMExternRef via an uninitialized pointer.
As instance slots may be reused between consecutive instantiations, the value of the uninitialized pointer may be from a previous instantiation and therefore under the control of an attacker via a module’s initial values for its globals. If the attacker can somehow determine an address under their control inside the mapped memory representing the instance pool, it is possible to trick the runtime to call
drop_in_place on a trait object under the attacker’s control and therefore cause remote code execution.
Exploiting the bug to cause remote code execution would be very difficult as attackers cannot determine the addresses of globals from code executing within the WebAssembly VM and the memory space for the instance pool cannot be statically determined. Operating system mitigations, such as address space layout randomization, would additionally increase the difficulty for attackers to determine useful executable code to target with an exploit. It is also very unlikely that attackers will be able to directly influence the conditions that trigger the bug as described below.
When the conditions to trigger the bug are met, however, it is much easier to exploit this bug to cause a denial of service by crashing the host with an invalid memory read.
The following engine configuration (via Config) is required to be impacted by this bug:
- support for the reference types proposal must be enabled (this is the default for
- a pooling allocation strategy must be configured via Config::allocation_strategy, which is not the default allocation strategy.
A module must be instantiated with all the following characteristics:
- The module defines at least one table or memory.
- The module defines at least one
During instantiation, one of the following must occur to cause the instantiation to fail:
- a call to
VirtualAllocfails (e.g. out-of-memory conditions).
- a resource limiter was configured in the associated
Store(via Store::limiter or Store::limiter_async) and the limiter returns
falsefrom the initial call to
table_growing. Stores do not have a resource limiter set by default.
This results in a partially-initialized instance being dropped and that attempts to drop the uninitialized
VMExternRef representing the defined
We have reason to believe that the effective impact of this bug is relatively small because the usage of
externref is still uncommon and without a resource limiter configured on the
Store, which is not the default configuration, it is only possible to trigger the bug from an error returned by
Note that on Linux with the
uffd feature enabled, it is only possible to trigger the bug from a resource limiter as the call to
mprotect is skipped; if no resource limiter is used, then this configuration is not vulnerable.
The bug has been fixed in 0.34.1 and 0.33.1; users are encouraged to upgrade as soon as possible.
If it is not possible to upgrade to 0.34.1 or 0.33.1 of the
wasmtime crate, it is recommend that support for the reference types proposal be disabled by passing
false to Config::wasm_reference_types.
Doing so will prevent modules that use
externref from being loaded entirely.
For more information
If you have any questions or comments about this advisory:
- Reach out to us on the Bytecode Alliance Zulip chat
- Open an issue in the bytecodealliance/wasmtime repository