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Exploit: Quake 3 engine, con\con and heartbeats (just for fun)
From: Auriemma Luigi <aluigi () pivx com>
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 19:43:16 +0000

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" \

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:



PivX Bug Researcher

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  • Exploit: Quake 3 engine, con\con and heartbeats (just for fun) Auriemma Luigi (May 28)
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