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  • varedit finds virtual memory addresses of variables in running processes

  • varedit edits these variables

this section is devoted to varedit usage. vmem_access and vmem_parser library documentation begin here

usage: ./v {[-p [filter]] [-r ] [-w ] [-i] [-S] [-H] [-B] [-A] [-E] [-U] [-C] [-b ] [-V] [-pr] [-pl ]}

    -p  : prints values in specified memory region with optional filter

    -r  : read single value from virtual memory address

    -w  : write single value to virtual memory address

    -i  : interactive mode (default)

    -S  : use stack (default)

    -H  : use heap

    -B  : use both heap and stack

    -A  : look for additional memory regions

    -E  : use all available memory regions

    -U  : use unmarked additional regions (very slow)

    -C  : use char/string mode

    -b  : set number of bytes to read at a time in integer mode

    -V  : verbose (enables print region and ignores result_print_limit)

    -p  : print region that memory addresses are found in

    -pl : set print limit for search results (only affects interactive mode, can be useful for small screens)

notes on varedit interactive mode behavior

  • '?' can be entered at any time for mode specific help
  • the delimeter '\' can be used to search for '?', 'q', 'u', 'r', 'w' and '$' in string mode
  • a '^' in a search string acts as it would in a regular expression. it marks the beginning of a target string of our search, it will only accept exact matches to the start of a string
  • '$' marks the end of a target string of our search, it will only accept exact matches to the end of a string
  • because of the behavior of '^' and '$' in search strings, the two can be used together to search for strings whose exact values are known, ^string$, for example, can be used to find strings that exactly match "string". this search would be equivalent to the search foo^string$bar
  • a "\0" in any write string will be replaced with a NUL character unless escaped with a ''. this can be used to shorten strings

some examples of common usage

find the virtual memory address of a string containing "hello" in process with pid 487, searching in all available memory locations:
sudo ./v 487 -p hello -E -C
write the integer 236 to memory location 0x7ff82 of process with pid 12692
sudo ./v 12692 -w 0x7ff82 236
enter interactive mode on process with pid 139 looking for strings in all available memory
sudo ./v 139 -i -E -C

or just

sudo ./v 139 -E -C


vmem_access is a library created to make programs like varedit easier to write

vmem_access relies on linux specific system calls and will not work on any other platform. all code using this library must be compiled with the flag -D_GNU_SOURCE

vmem_access.h contains the following functions for reading and writing to virtual memory

  • bool read_bytes_from_pid_mem_dir(void* dest, pid_t pid, int bytes, void* vm_s, void* vm_e)
  • BYTE* read_bytes_from_pid_mem(pid_t pid, int bytes, void* vm_s, void* vm_e) // BYTE* is unsigned char
  • int read_single_val_from_pid_mem(pid_t pid, int bytes, void* vm)
  • char* read_str_from_mem_range(pid_t pid, void* mb_start, int len)
  • char* read_str_from_mem_range_slow_dir(char* dest, pid_t pid, void* mb_start, int min_strlen, void* last_avail)
  • char* read_str_from_mem_range_slow(pid_t pid, void* mb_start, void* mb_end)
  • bool pid_memcpy(pid_t dest_pid, pid_t src_pid, void* dest, void* src, int n_bytes)
  • bool write_bytes_to_pid_mem(pid_t pid, int bytes, void* vm, int value)
  • bool write_int_to_pid_mem(pid_t pid, void* vm, int value)
  • bool write_str_to_pid_mem(pid_t pid, void* vm, const char* str)
the following is a simple program written using vmem_access.h that will print the value stored in the specified virtual memory location of the specified process id
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include "vmem_access.h"

int main(int argc, char* argv[]){
    pid_t pid = atoi(argv[1]);
    // memory addresses must be cast to void* to work with read_bytes_from_pid_mem
    void* mem_addr = (void*)strtoul(argv[2], 0, 16);
    // the final parameter of read_bytes_from_pid_mem is NULL when reading a single value
    // read_bytes_from_pid_mem returns a pointer to a BYTE array obtained with malloc()
    // this memory should be freed using free()
    BYTE* bytes = read_bytes_from_pid_mem(pid, sizeof(int), mem_addr, NULL);
    int value = *((int*)bytes);
    // the below would also work
    // memcpy(&value, bytes, 4);
    printf("value: %i\n", value);
    // memory allocated by read_bytes_from_pid_mem should be freed
    return 0;

this can also be done using read_bytes_from_pid_mem_dir

#include <stdio.h>
#include "vmem_access.h"

int main(int argc, char* argv[]){
      pid_t pid = atoi(argv[1]);
      void* mem_addr = (void*)strtoul(argv[2], 0, 16);
      int value = 0;
      read_bytes_from_pid_mem_dir(&value, pid, sizeof(int), mem_addr, NULL);
      printf("value: %i\n", value);
      return 0;

or with read_single_val_from_pid_mem

#include <stdio.h>
#include "vmem_access.h"

int main(int argc, char* argv[]){
      pid_t pid = atoi(argv[1]);
      void* mem_addr = (void*)strtoul(argv[2], 0, 16);
      int value = read_single_val_from_pid_mem(pid, sizeof(int), mem_addr);
      printf("value: %i\n", value);
      return 0;
some examples of pid_memcpy usage are below
// assuming pid_t src_pid = some valid process id

// assumptions for double array example:
//    void* addr_double_array = a memory location in src_pid pointing to an array of doubles
//    int n_doubles = the number of elements in the double array in src_pid
double arr[n_doubles];
// copying an array of doubles from src_pid:addr_double_array to arr
pid_memcpy(getpid(), src_pid, arr, addr_double_array, n_doubles*sizeof(double));

// assumption for struct mem_rgn example:
//    void* addr_mem_rgn = a memory location in src_pid pointing to a mem_rgn struct

struct mem_rgn rgn;
// copying a mem_rgn struct from src_pid:addr_mem_rgn to rgn
pid_memcpy(getpid(), src_pid, &rgn, addr_mem_rgn, sizeof(struct mem_rgn));

the following functions defined in vmem_access.h are used for creating and manipulating mem_map structs defined in vmem_access.h

  • void populate_mem_map(struct mem_map* mmap, int d_rgn, bool use_additional_rgns, bool integers, int bytes)
  • void update_mem_map(struct mem_map* mem, bool integers)
  • struct mem_map* mem_map_init(struct mem_map* mem, pid_t pid, bool unmarked_additional)
  • void narrow_mem_map_int(struct mem_map* mem, int match)
  • void narrow_mem_map_str(struct mem_map* mem, const char* match, bool exact_s, bool exact_e)

in order to use these functions, an initial mem_map struct must be created and initialized using mem_map_init. mem_map_init sets mem_map.size to 0, populates mem_map.mapped_rgn, sets mem_map.low_mem to false and, mem_map.force_block_str to true.

mem_map.low_mem and mem_map.force_block_str can be adjusted manually

low_mem and force_block_str change the behavior of functions that interact with mem_maps


force_block_str should be set to false only if you are using a computer with very little memory

the block string representation of strings is much faster than individually allocated strings but sacrifices memory

if force_block_str is enabled:

  • strings are never individually allocated, instead, they are kept in large blocks by memory region and freed when possible
  • force_block_str takes precedence over low_mem. even if low_mem is enabled, strings will never be individually allocated


low_mem should be set to true only if you are using a computer with very little memory

if low_mem is enabled:

  • memory intensive integer mem_map optimizations are disabled
  • if force_block_str is not enabled, strings are individually allocated
  • otherwise, unused memory blocks containing strings are freed as soon as possible, sacrificing speed

if mem_map_init's mem parameter is NULL, a new malloc'd mem_map struct will be returned. otherwise mem_map_init will return a pointer to mem.

mem_map.mapped_rgn is of type mem_rgn, which is defined in vmem_parser.h and contains the virtual memory address ranges of each section of process memory.

the initialization and population of a mem_map struct is demonstrated below, populating it with integers from both the stack and heap, as well as any additional memory regions that are found

NOTE: a mem_map can be populated with both integers and strings simultaneously. it is up to the user to do this responsibly by keeping track of the size of the original mem_map before populating with a different setting and by ensuring that mem_map.size is correct before using any function that operates on the mem_map

// assuming pid_t pid = some valid process id 
struct mem_map vmem;
mem_map_init(&vmem, pid, true);
// BOTH is a macro that indicates we will be searching both the stack and heap
populate_mem_map(&vmem, BOTH, true, true, sizeof(int));
free_mem_map(&vmem, true);

the same can be achieved with the following code

// assuming pid_t pid = some valid process id 
struct mem_map* vmem = mem_map_init(NULL, pid, true);
// BOTH is a macro that indicates we will be searching both the stack and heap
populate_mem_map(vmem, BOTH, true, true, sizeof(int));
free_mem_map(vmem, true);

memory locking

the remaining functions defined in vmem_access.h are used for creating, removing, and keeping track of locks

  • bool print_locks(struct lock_container* lc, bool integers)
  • long remove_lock(struct lock_container* lc, int rm_s, bool keep_first)
  • int free_locks(struct lock_container* lc)
  • struct lock_container* lock_container_init(struct lock_container* lc, unsigned char initial_sz)
  • pid_t create_lock(struct lock_container* lc, pid_t pid, void** addr, int* i_val, char** s_val, unsigned int n_addr, bool mul_val, bool integers)

to use these, an initial lock_container struct must be created and initialized using lock_container_init. if lock_container_init's lc parameter is NULL, a new malloc'd lock_container struct will be returned. otherwise lock_container_init will return a pointer to lc.

notes on create_lock behavior

to lock a list of addresses at once, create_lock's addr parameter should be a void* array of size n_addr if the mul_val parameter is true, then an array of write values of size n_addr is expected in i_val or s_val

the initialization of a lock_container struct and the creation of a lock on address 0xffff17 of process 2819 to the value 62 is demonstrated below

pid_t pid = 2819;
void* addr = (void*)0xffff17;
// i_val can also be an array of integers
int i_val = 62;
struct lock_container lc;
lock_container_init(&lc, 1);
// to lock a string value, the s_val parameter is set to a char**, and i_val to NULL
create_lock(&lc, pid, &addr, &i_val, NULL, 1, false, true);
/* indices of items in the lock_container struct are adjusted so that
   remove_lock with 0 as its rm_s parameter will always be valid for a non empty lock_container */
// to remove this lock
remove_lock(&lc, 0, false);
// to free any memory malloc'd by locking process
// free_locks will not only free any malloc'd memory, but will remove any locks still in place