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Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, 2nd Edition by Jon Erickson

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The Path to Shellcode

Shellcode is literally injected into a running program, where it takes over like a biological virus inside a cell. Since shellcode isn't really an executable program, we don't have the luxury of declaring the layout of data in memory or even using other memory segments. Our instructions must be self-contained and ready to take over control of the processor regardless of its current state. This is commonly referred to as position-independent code.

In shellcode, the bytes for the string "Hello, world!" must be mixed together with the bytes for the assembly instructions, since there aren't definable or predictable memory segments. This is fine as long as EIP doesn't try to interpret the string as instructions. However, to access ...

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