CAPEC-180: Exploiting Incorrectly Configured Access Control Security Levels
Attack Pattern ID: 180
An attacker exploits a weakness in the configuration of access controls and is able to bypass the intended protection that these measures guard against and thereby obtain unauthorized access to the system or network. Sensitive functionality should always be protected with access controls. However configuring all but the most trivial access control systems can be very complicated and there are many opportunities for mistakes. If an attacker can learn of incorrectly configured access security settings, they may be able to exploit this in an attack. Most commonly, attackers would take advantage of controls that provided too little protection for sensitive activities in order to perform actions that should be denied to them. In some circumstances, an attacker may be able to take advantage of overly restrictive access control policies, initiating denial of services (if an application locks because it unexpectedly failed to be granted access) or causing other legitimate actions to fail due to security. The latter class of attacks, however, is usually less severe and easier to detect than attacks based on inadequate security restrictions. This attack pattern differs from CAPEC 1, "Accessing Functionality Not Properly Constrained by ACLs" in that the latter describes attacks where sensitive functionality lacks access controls, where, in this pattern, the access control is present, but incorrectly configured.
Likelihood Of Attack
The table below shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, 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.
Meta 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.
Survey: The attacker surveys the target application, possibly as a valid and authenticated user.
Spider the web site for all available links.
Brute force to guess all function names/action with different privileges.
Identify weak points in access control configurations: The attacker probes the access control for functions and data identified in the Explore phase to identify potential weaknesses in how the access controls are configured.
The attacker attempts authenticated access to targeted functions and data.
The attacker attempts unauthenticated access to targeted functions and data.
The attacker attempts indirect and side channel access to targeted functions and data.
Access the function or data bypassing the access control: The attacker executes the function or accesses the data identified in the Explore phase bypassing the access control.
The attacker executes the function or accesses the data not authorized to him.
The target must apply access controls, but incorrectly configure them. However, not all incorrect configurations can be exploited by an attacker. If the incorrect configuration applies too little security to some functionality, then the attacker may be able to exploit it if the access control would be the only thing preventing an attacker's access and it no longer does so. If the incorrect configuration applies too much security, it must prevent legitimate activity and the attacker must be able to force others to require this activity..
In order to discover unrestricted resources, the attacker does not need special tools or skills. He only has to observe the resources or access mechanisms invoked as each action is performed and then try and access those access mechanisms directly.
None: No specialized resources are required to execute this type of attack.
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.
Execute Unauthorized Commands
Bypass Protection Mechanism
Design: Configure the access control correctly.
For example, an incorrectly configured Web server, may allow unauthorized access to it, thus threaten the security of the Web application.
A Related Weakness relationship associates a weakness with this attack pattern. Each association implies a weakness that must exist for a given attack to be successful. If multiple weaknesses are associated with the attack pattern, then any of the weaknesses (but not necessarily all) may be present for the attack to be successful. Each related weakness is identified by a CWE identifier.
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed:
September 30, 2019