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CAPEC-222: iFrame Overlay

iFrame Overlay
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 222
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

In an iFrame overlay attack the victim is tricked into unknowingly initiating some action in one system while interacting with the UI from seemingly completely different system. While being logged in to some target system, the victim visits the attackers' malicious site which displays a UI that the victim wishes to interact with. In reality, the iFrame overlay page has a transparent layer above the visible UI with action controls that the attacker wishes the victim to execute. The victim clicks on buttons or other UI elements they see on the page which actually triggers the action controls in the transparent overlaying layer. Depending on what that action control is, the attacker may have just tricked the victim into executing some potentially privileged (and most undesired) functionality in the target system to which the victim is authenticated. The basic problem here is that there is a dichotomy between what the victim thinks he or she is clicking on versus what he or she is actually clicking on.

+ Attack Steps
  1. Craft an iFrame Overlay page: The attacker crafts a malicious iFrame overlay page.

    The attacker leverages iFrame overlay capabilities to craft a malicious iFrame overlay page.

  1. Attacker tricks victim to load the iFrame overlay page: Attacker utilizes some form of temptation, misdirection or coercion to trick the victim to loading and interacting with the iFrame overlay page in a way that increases the chances that the victim will visit the malicious page.

    Trick the victim to the malicious site by sending the victim an e-mail with a URL to the site.

    Trick the victim to the malicious site by manipulating URLs on a site trusted by the victim.

    Trick the victim to the malicious site through a cross-site scripting attack.

  2. Trick victim into interacting with the iFrame overlay page in the desired manner: The attacker tricks the victim into clicking on the areas of the UI which contain the hidden action controls and thereby interacts with the target system maliciously with the victim's level of privilege.

    Hide action controls over very commonly used functionality.

    Hide action controls over very psychologically tempting content.

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The victim is communicating with the target application via a web based UI and not a thick client. The victim's browser security policies allow iFrames. The victim uses a modern browser that supports UI elements like clickable buttons (i.e. not using an old text only browser). The victim has an active session with the target system. The target system's interaction window is open in the victim's browser and supports the ability for initiating sensitive actions on behalf of the user in the target system.

+ Typical Severity


+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: Medium

+ Methods of Attack
  • Spoofing
  • Social Engineering
+ Examples-Instances


The following example is a real-world iFrame overlay attack [2]. In this attack, the malicious page embeds Twitter.com on a transparent IFRAME. The status-message field is initialized with the URL of the malicious page itself. To provoke the click, which is necessary to publish the entry, the malicious page displays a button labeled "Don't Click." This button is aligned with the invisible "Update" button of Twitter. Once the user performs the click, the status message (i.e., a link to the malicious page itself) is posted to his/ her Twitter profile.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: High

Crafting the proper malicious site and luring the victim to this site is not a trivial task.

+ Resources Required

None: No specialized resources are required to execute this type of attack.

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Configuration: Disable iFrames in the Web browser.

Operation: When maintaining an authenticated session with a privileged target system, do not use the same browser to navigate to unfamiliar sites to perform other activities. Finish working with the target system and logout first before proceeding to other tasks.

Operation: If using the Firefox browser, use the NoScript plug-in that will help forbid iFrames.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Modify application data
Read application data
Execute unauthorized code or commands
Run Arbitrary Code
Gain privileges / assume identity
Bypass protection mechanism
+ Purposes
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: HighAvailability Impact: Low
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ References
[R.222.1] Michal Zalewski. "Browser Security Handbook". Google Inc.. 2008. <http://code.google.com/p/browsersec/wiki/Main>.
[R.222.2] M. Mahemoff. "Explaining the "Don't Click" Clickjacking Tweetbomb". Software As She's Developed. February 12, 2009. <http://softwareas.com/explaining-the-dont-click-clickjacking-tweetbomb>.
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2017-08-04Updated Resources_RequiredInternal

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: August 04, 2017