Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-267: Leverage Alternate Encoding (Version 2.11)  

CAPEC-267: Leverage Alternate Encoding

Leverage Alternate Encoding
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 267
Abstraction: Standard
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

This attack leverages the possibility to encode potentially harmful input and submit it to applications not expecting or effective at validating this encoding standard making input filtering difficult.

+ Attack Steps
  1. Survey the application for user-controllable inputs: Using a browser, an automated tool or by inspecting the application, an attacker records all entry points to the application.

    Use a spidering tool to follow and record all links and analyze the web pages to find entry points. Make special note of any links that include parameters in the URL.

    Use a proxy tool to record all user input entry points visited during a manual traversal of the web application.

    Use a browser to manually explore the website and analyze how it is constructed. Many browsers' plugins are available to facilitate the analysis or automate the discovery.

    Manually inspect the application to find entry points.

  1. Probe entry points to locate vulnerabilities: The attacker uses the entry points gathered in the "Explore" phase as a target list and injects various payloads using a variety of different types of encodings to determine if an entry point actually represents a vulnerability with insufficient validation logic and to characterize the extent to which the vulnerability can be exploited.

    Try to use different encodings of content in order to bypass validation routines.

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The application's decoder accepts and interprets encoded characters. Data canonicalization, input filtering and validating is not done properly leaving the door open to harmful characters for the target host.

+ Typical Severity


+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: High

+ Methods of Attack
  • Injection
  • Protocol Manipulation
  • API Abuse
+ Examples-Instances


Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 SP4, 6, 6 SP1, and 7 does not properly handle unspecified "encoding strings," which allows remote attackers to bypass the Same Origin Policy and obtain sensitive information via a crafted web site, aka "Post Encoding Information Disclosure Vulnerability." Related Vulnerabilities CVE-2010-0488

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Low

An attacker can inject different representation of a filtered character in a different encoding.

Skill or Knowledge Level: Medium

An attacker may craft subtle encoding of input data by using the knowledge that he/she has gathered about the target host.

+ Probing Techniques

Attacker may try to inject dangerous characters using different encoding using (example of invalid UTF-8 characters, overlong UTF-8, Chinese characters in Big-5, etc.). The attacker hopes that the targeted system does poor input filtering for all the different possible representations of the malicious characters. Malicious inputs can be sent through an HTML form, directly encoded in the URL or as part of a database query. The attacker can use scripts or automated tools to probe for poor input filtering.

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Assume all input might use an improper representation. Use canonicalized data inside the application; all data must be converted into the representation used inside the application (UTF-8, UTF-16, etc.)

Assume all input is malicious. Create a white list that defines all valid input to the software system based on the requirements specifications. Input that does not match against the white list should not be permitted to enter into the system. Test your decoding process against malicious input.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Modify files or directories
Read files or directories
Modify application data
Read memory
Modify memory
Read application data
Execute unauthorized code or commands
Run Arbitrary Code
Gain privileges / assume identity
Bypass protection mechanism
DoS: amplification
DoS: crash / exit / restart
DoS: instability
DoS: resource consumption (CPU)
DoS: resource consumption (memory)
DoS: resource consumption (other)
Denial of Service
+ Purposes
  • Penetration
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: HighAvailability Impact: Medium
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ References
[R.267.1] [REF-1] "WASC Threat Classification 2.0". WASC-20 - Improper Input Handling. The Web Application Security Consortium (WASC). 2010. <http://projects.webappsec.org/Improper-Input-Handling>.
[R.267.2] [REF-4] "OWASP". Category: Encoding. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). <http://www.owasp.org/index.php/Category:Encoding>.
[R.267.3] [REF-4] "OWASP". Canonicalization, locale and Unicode. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). <http://www.owasp.org/index.php/Canonicalization,_locale_and_Unicode>.
[R.267.4] [REF-4] "OWASP". XSS (Cross Site Scripting) Prevention Cheat Sheet. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). <http://www.owasp.org/index.php/XSS_(Cross_Site_Scripting)_Prevention_Cheat_Sheet>.
[R.267.5] [REF-18] David Wheeler. "Secure Programming for Linux and Unix HOWTO". Chapter 5 Section 9: Character Encoding. <http://www.dwheeler.com/secure-programs/Secure-Programs-HOWTO/character-encoding.html>.
[R.267.6] [REF-6] "Wikipedia". Character encoding. The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_encoding>.
[R.267.7] [REF-19] Eric Hacker. "IDS Evasion with Unicode". January 3, 2001. <http://www.securityfocus.com/infocus/1232>.
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2017-01-09Updated Related_Attack_PatternsInternal

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: August 04, 2017