Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-38: Leveraging/Manipulating Configuration File Search Paths (Version 2.9)  

CAPEC-38: Leveraging/Manipulating Configuration File Search Paths

Leveraging/Manipulating Configuration File Search Paths
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 38
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

This attack loads a malicious resource into a program's standard path used to bootstrap and/or provide contextual information for a program like a path variable or classpath. J2EE applications and other component based applications that are built from multiple binaries can have very long list of dependencies to execute. If one of these libraries and/or references is controllable by the attacker then application controls can be circumvented by the attacker.

A standard UNIX path looks similar to this


If the attacker modifies the path variable to point to a locale that includes malicious resources then the user unwittingly can execute commands on the attackers' behalf:


This is a form of usurping control of the program and the attack can be done on the classpath, database resources, or any other resources built from compound parts. At runtime detection and blocking of this attack is nearly impossible, because the configuration allows execution.

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The attacker must be able to write to redirect search paths on the victim host.

+ Typical Severity

Very High

+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: High

+ Methods of Attack
  • Modification of Resources
+ Examples-Instances


This attack can be accomplished in two ways. An attacker can insert a malicious program into the path or classpath so that when a known command is executed then the system instead executes the trojans. Another method is to redirect commands by aliasing one legitimate command to another to create unexpected results. the Unix command "rm" could be aliased to "mv" and move all files the victim thinks they are deleting to a directory the attacker controls. In a Unix shell .profile setting

alias rm=mv /usr/home/attacker

In this case the attacker retains a copy of all the files the victim attempts to remove.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Low

To identify and execute against an over-privileged system interface

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Design: Enforce principle of least privilege

Design: Ensure that the program's compound parts, including all system dependencies, classpath, path, and so on, are secured to the same or higher level assurance as the program

Implementation: Host integrity monitoring

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Execute unauthorized code or commands
Run Arbitrary Code
Gain privileges / assume identity
+ Purposes
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: MediumIntegrity Impact: MediumAvailability Impact: Medium
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ References
[R.38.1] [REF-2] G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. February 2004.
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: December 07, 2015