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CAPEC-126: Path Traversal

Attack Pattern ID: 126
Abstraction: Standard
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
An adversary uses path manipulation methods to exploit insufficient input validation of a target to obtain access to data that should be not be retrievable by ordinary well-formed requests. A typical variety of this attack involves specifying a path to a desired file together with dot-dot-slash characters, resulting in the file access API or function traversing out of the intended directory structure and into the root file system. By replacing or modifying the expected path information the access function or API retrieves the file desired by the attacker. These attacks either involve the attacker providing a complete path to a targeted file or using control characters (e.g. path separators (/ or \) and/or dots (.)) to reach desired directories or files.
+ Alternate Terms

Term: Directory Traversal

+ Likelihood Of Attack

High

+ Typical Severity

Very High

+ Relationships

The table(s) below shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf, ParentOf, MemberOf and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.

+ Relevant to the view "Mechanisms of Attack" (CAPEC-1000)
NatureTypeIDName
ChildOfMeta Attack PatternMeta Attack Pattern - A meta level attack pattern in CAPEC is a decidedly abstract characterization of a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. A meta attack pattern is often void of a specific technology or implementation and is meant to provide an understanding of a high level approach. A meta level attack pattern is a generalization of related group of standard level attack patterns. Meta level attack patterns are particularly useful for architecture and design level threat modeling exercises.153Input Data Manipulation
ParentOfDetailed Attack PatternDetailed Attack Pattern - A detailed level attack pattern in CAPEC provides a low level of detail, typically leveraging a specific technique and targeting a specific technology, and expresses a complete execution flow. Detailed attack patterns are more specific than meta attack patterns and standard attack patterns and often require a specific protection mechanism to mitigate actual attacks. A detailed level attack pattern often will leverage a number of different standard level attack patterns chained together to accomplish a goal.76Manipulating Web Input to File System Calls
ParentOfDetailed Attack PatternDetailed Attack Pattern - A detailed level attack pattern in CAPEC provides a low level of detail, typically leveraging a specific technique and targeting a specific technology, and expresses a complete execution flow. Detailed attack patterns are more specific than meta attack patterns and standard attack patterns and often require a specific protection mechanism to mitigate actual attacks. A detailed level attack pattern often will leverage a number of different standard level attack patterns chained together to accomplish a goal.139Relative Path Traversal
ParentOfDetailed Attack PatternDetailed Attack Pattern - A detailed level attack pattern in CAPEC provides a low level of detail, typically leveraging a specific technique and targeting a specific technology, and expresses a complete execution flow. Detailed attack patterns are more specific than meta attack patterns and standard attack patterns and often require a specific protection mechanism to mitigate actual attacks. A detailed level attack pattern often will leverage a number of different standard level attack patterns chained together to accomplish a goal.597Absolute Path Traversal
+ Prerequisites
The attacker must be able to control the path that is requested of the target.
The target must fail to adequately sanitize incoming paths
+ Skills Required
[Level: Low]
Simple command line attacks or to inject the malicious payload in a web page.
[Level: Medium]
Customizing attacks to bypass non trivial filters in the application.
+ Resources Required
The ability to manually manipulate path information either directly through a client application relative to the service or application or via a proxy application.
+ Consequences

The table below specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.

ScopeImpactLikelihood
Integrity
Confidentiality
Availability
Execute Unauthorized Commands
Integrity
Modify Data
Confidentiality
Read Data
Availability
Unreliable Execution
+ Mitigations
Design: Configure the access control correctly.
Design: Enforce principle of least privilege.
Design: Execute programs with constrained privileges, so parent process does not open up further vulnerabilities. Ensure that all directories, temporary directories and files, and memory are executing with limited privileges to protect against remote execution.
Design: Input validation. Assume that user inputs are malicious. Utilize strict type, character, and encoding enforcement.
Design: Proxy communication to host, so that communications are terminated at the proxy, sanitizing the requests before forwarding to server host.
Design: Run server interfaces with a non-root account and/or utilize chroot jails or other configuration techniques to constrain privileges even if attacker gains some limited access to commands.
Implementation: Host integrity monitoring for critical files, directories, and processes. The goal of host integrity monitoring is to be aware when a security issue has occurred so that incident response and other forensic activities can begin.
Implementation: Perform input validation for all remote content, including remote and user-generated content.
Implementation: Perform testing such as pen-testing and vulnerability scanning to identify directories, programs, and interfaces that grant direct access to executables.
Implementation: Use indirect references rather than actual file names.
Implementation: Use possible permissions on file access when developing and deploying web applications.
Implementation: Validate user input by only accepting known good. Ensure all content that is delivered to client is sanitized against an acceptable content specification -- whitelisting approach.
+ Example Instances

An example of using path traversal to attack some set of resources on a web server is to use a standard HTTP request

http://example/../../../../../etc/passwd

From an attacker point of view, this may be sufficient to gain access to the password file on a poorly protected system. If the attacker can list directories of critical resources then read only access is not sufficient to protect the system.

+ Memberships
This MemberOf Relationships table shows additional CAPEC Categories and Views that reference this attack pattern as a member. This information is often useful in understanding where a attack pattern fits within the context of external information sources.
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - A category in CAPEC is a collection of attack patterns based on some common characteristic. More specifically, it is an aggregation of attack patterns based on effect/intent (as opposed to actions or mechanisms, such an aggregation would be a meta attack pattern). An aggregation based on effect/intent is not an actionable attack and as such is not a pattern of attack behavior. Rather, it is a grouping of patterns based on some common criteria.366WASC-33 - Path Traversal
+ References
[REF-1] G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. 2004-02.
[REF-8] "The OWASP Application Security Desk Reference". Path Traversal. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). 2009. <https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Path_Traversal>.
[REF-9] "OWASP Testing Guide". Testing for Path Traversal (OWASP-AZ-001). v3. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). 2010. <https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Testing_for_Path_Traversal_(OWASP-AZ-001)>.
[REF-10] "WASC Threat Classification 2.0". WASC-33 - Path Traversal. The Web Application Security Consortium (WASC). 2010. <http://projects.webappsec.org/w/page/13246952/Path-Traversal>.
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-23CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2017-01-09CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Activation_Zone, Alternate_Terms, Architectural_Paradigms, Attack_Motivation-Consequences, Attacker_Skills_or_Knowledge_Required, CIA_Impact, Examples-Instances, Frameworks, Injection_Vector, Languages, Payload, Payload_Activation_Impact, Platforms, Purposes, References, Related_Attack_Patterns, Related_Vulnerabilities, Related_Weaknesses, Relevant_Security_Requirements, Solutions_and_Mitigations, Technical_Context, Typical_Likelihood_of_Exploit, Typical_Severity

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: July 31, 2018