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Quake 3 engine, con\con and heartbeats
Date: 2003-05-28

Author : Auriemma Luigi <aluigi@pivx.com>
Download : http://www.pivx.com/luigi/poc/q3concon.zip

Well, the following problem is based on the very old con\con bug that
affects unpatched Windows95/98/98SE systems.
If you don't know it take a look here:

I have decided to show this problem to the security community ONLY for 3

- I think that it is a funny method to crash remote systems through an
original way: multiplayer games and an old famous system bug.
- Probably a great number of people don't know that exists a patch to fix
the con\con problem and, moreover, that exist this famous problem.
- I like a lot the exploit I have written and probably someone could find it
interesting for other tests on the Quake 3 engine 8-)

Quickly: some of the games based on the Quake 3 engine have a funny feature.
They display the image related to the current map played in a multiplayer
First, they get the name of the map passed from the server in the "mapname"
parameter, add a .TGA or other image extensions to this name and finally try
to load and display it on the screen.

An example in C language for Quake 3 is the following:

#define Q3 "\xff\xff\xff\xff" "infoResponse\n" "\\punkbuster\\0"
"\\pure\\1" "\\gametype\\0" "\\sv_maxclients\\8"
"\\clients\\1" ------> "\\mapname\\con/con" "\\hostname\\hostname"
"\\protocol\\68" "\\challenge\\xxx"

I have personally tested some games based on the Quake 3 engine and the
vulnerables are:
- Quake 3 Arena 1.32
- Soldier of Fortune 2 1.03 GOLD

The games that I have tested and are NOT vulnerables are:
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein 1.41
- Medal of Honor: Allied Assault 1.11

ONLY the clients are vulnerables to this problem.


I have written an exploit that emulates a Quake 3 server and sends the
con\con mapname.
It can be compiled on both Unix and Windows and it also sends a heartbeat
packet to the Quake 3 Masterserver (you can disable this feature adding a 0
after the executable name when you launch it).
The heartbeat is the method used by game servers for be included in the
pubblic servers list that is owned by ID-Software.
That mean that the exploit will receive queries from all the Quake 3 clients
in the world and it will send the con/con mapname back to them:


The official patch for the con\con problem (year 2000) can be found here:


Any use of these codes are at the user's own responsibility.


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