Wireshark is an open-source network protocol analyzer that lets network administrators and security analysts capture and inspect network traffic. However, a recent vulnerability discovered in the Wireshark Kafka protocol dissector affects versions 4.. to 4..1 and 3.6. to 3.6.9. This vulnerability, identified as CVE-2022-4344, allows an attacker to trigger memory exhaustion, leading to a denial of service (DoS) situation. In this long read, we'll discuss the vulnerability highlights, exploit details, code snippets, and links to original references.

Impact: Denial of service (DoS) via packet injection or crafted capture file

- Original reference: Wireshark Advisory

Exploit Details

The vulnerability exists due to insufficient validations in the Kafka protocol dissector. An attacker can exploit this issue by injecting specially-crafted packets into the target network or by creating a malicious capture file with malformed packet data. When Wireshark processes these packets or the capture file, it consumes excessive memory resources, leading to memory exhaustion and a DoS situation. As a result, the Wireshark application may become unresponsive or crash.

Code Snippet

While the actual exploit code is unavailable to the public, the following pseudocode illustrates how the vulnerability may occur in the Kafka protocol dissector:

function dissect_kafka_packet(data)
  // Insufficient validation of input data, causing memory allocation issues
  data_length = get_data_length(data)

  // The processing continues, consuming excessive memory resources if data_length is maliciously large

An attacker might craft a packet or capture file with an unusually large 'data_length' value, causing the Wireshark application to allocate an excessive amount of memory and, ultimately, exhaust available resources.

Mitigation and Recommendations

Wireshark has released patches to address this issue. Users are advised to update their Wireshark installations to versions 4..2 or 3.6.10.

- Download Wireshark 4..2: https://www.wireshark.org/download.html
- Download Wireshark 3.6.10: https://www.wireshark.org/download/older.html

Additionally, users should always validate packet captures before loading them into Wireshark, and network administrators should monitor network traffic for anomalies or malicious packet injection attempts.


The CVE-2022-4344 memory exhaustion vulnerability in the Kafka protocol dissector in Wireshark 4.. to 4..1 and 3.6. to 3.6.9 poses a significant risk to network administrators and security analysts, as it allows denial of service via packet injection or crafted capture file. It is essential to update your Wireshark installations to the latest patched versions and follow best practices to minimize the risk of exploitation.

For more information, please refer to the original Wireshark security advisory: https://www.wireshark.org/security/wnpa-sec-2022-01


Published on: 01/12/2023 00:15:00 UTC
Last modified on: 02/11/2023 04:15:00 UTC