An adversary places a malicious version of a Dynamic-Link Library (DLL) in the Windows Side-by-Side (WinSxS) directory to trick the operating system into loading this malicious DLL instead of a legitimate DLL. Programs specify the location of the DLLs to load via the use of WinSxS manifests or DLL redirection and if they aren't used then Windows searches in a predefined set of directories to locate the file. If the applications improperly specify a required DLL or WinSxS manifests aren't explicit about the characteristics of the DLL to be loaded, they can be vulnerable to side-loading.
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.
Standard Attack Pattern - A standard level attack pattern in CAPEC is focused on a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. It is often seen as a singular piece of a fully executed attack. A standard attack pattern is meant to provide sufficient details to understand the specific technique and how it attempts to accomplish a desired goal. A standard level attack pattern is a specific type of a more abstract meta level attack pattern.
The target must fail to verify the integrity of the DLL before using them.
Trick the operating system in loading a malicious DLL instead of a legitimate DLL.
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
Prevent unknown DLLs from loading through whitelisting policy.
Patch installed applications as soon as new updates become available.
Properly restrict the location of the software being used.
Use of sxstrace.exe on Windows as well as manual inspection of the manifests.
Require code signing and avoid using relative paths for resources.
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