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CAPEC-23: File Content Injection

Attack Pattern ID: 23
Abstraction: Standard
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
An attack of this type exploits the host's trust in executing remote content, including binary files. The files are poisoned with a malicious payload (targeting the file systems accessible by the target software) by the adversary and may be passed through standard channels such as via email, and standard web content like PDF and multimedia files. The adversary exploits known vulnerabilities or handling routines in the target processes. Vulnerabilities of this type have been found in a wide variety of commercial applications from Microsoft Office to Adobe Acrobat and Apple Safari web browser. When the adversary knows the standard handling routines and can identify vulnerabilities and entry points, they can be exploited by otherwise seemingly normal content. Once the attack is executed, the adversary's program can access relative directories such as C:\Program Files or other standard system directories to launch further attacks. In a worst case scenario, these programs are combined with other propagation logic and work as a virus.
+ 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.242Code Injection
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.44Overflow Binary Resource File
PeerOfDetailed 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.35Leverage Executable Code in Non-Executable Files
CanAlsoBeMeta 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.165File Manipulation
+ Prerequisites
The target software must consume files.
The adversary must have access to modify files that the target software will consume.
+ Skills Required
[Level: Medium]
How to poison a file with malicious payload that will exploit a vulnerability when the file is opened. The adversary must also know how to place the file onto a system where it will be opened by an unsuspecting party, or force the file to be opened.
+ 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
Confidentiality
Integrity
Availability
Execute Unauthorized Commands
+ Mitigations
Design: Enforce principle of least privilege
Design: Validate all input for content including files. Ensure that if files and remote content must be accepted that once accepted, they are placed in a sandbox type location so that lower assurance clients cannot write up to higher assurance processes (like Web server processes for example)
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: Proxy communication to host, so that communications are terminated at the proxy, sanitizing the requests before forwarding to server host.
Implementation: Virus scanning on host
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.
+ Example Instances

PHP is a very popular language used for developing web applications. When PHP is used with global variables, a vulnerability may be opened that affects the file system. A standard HTML form that allows for remote users to upload files, may also place those files in a public directory where the adversary can directly access and execute them through a browser. This vulnerability allows remote adversaries to execute arbitrary code on the system, and can result in the adversary being able to erase intrusion evidence from system and application logs.

[R.23.2]

+ References
[REF-1] G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. 2004-02.
[REF-88] "The OWASP Guide Project". File System. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). <http://www.owasp.org/index.php/File_System>.
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-23CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2015-12-07CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2017-08-04CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Attack_Prerequisites, Description Summary, Examples-Instances, Payload_Activation_Impact
2018-07-31CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Attacker_Skills_or_Knowledge_Required
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2015-12-07File System Function Injection, Content Based

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: July 31, 2018