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CAPEC-65: Sniff Application Code

Sniff Application Code
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 65
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

An adversary passively sniffs network communications and captures application code bound for an authorized client. Once obtained, they can use it as-is, or through reverse-engineering glean sensitive information or exploit the trust relationship between the client and server. Such code may belong to a dynamic update to the client, a patch being applied to a client component or any such interaction where the client is authorized to communicate with the server.

+ Attack Steps
  1. The attacker sets up a sniffer in the path between the server and the client and watches the traffic.

    The attacker sets up a sniffer in the path between the server and the client.

  1. Attacker knows that the computer/OS/application can request new applications to install, or it periodically checks for an available update. The attacker loads the sniffer set up during Explore phase, and extracts the application code from subsequent communication. The attacker then proceeds to reverse engineer the captured code.

    Attacker loads the sniffer to capture the application code bound during a dynamic update.

    The attacker proceeds to reverse engineer the captured code.

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The attacker must have the ability to place himself in the communication path between the client and server.

  • The targeted application must receive some application code from the server; for example, dynamic updates, patches, applets or scripts.

  • The attacker must be able to employ a sniffer on the network without being detected.

+ Typical Severity


+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: Low

+ Examples-Instances


Attacker receives notification that the computer/OS/application has an available update, loads a network sniffing tool, and extracts update data from subsequent communication. The attacker then proceeds to reverse engineer the captured stream to gain sensitive information, such as encryption keys, validation algorithms, applications patches, etc..


Plain code, such as applets or JavaScript, is also part of the executing application. If such code is transmitted unprotected, the attacker can capture the code and possibly reverse engineer it to gain sensitive information, such as encryption keys, validation algorithms and such.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Medium

The attacker needs to setup a sniffer for a sufficient period of time so as to capture meaningful quantities of code. The presence of the sniffer should not be detected on the network. Also if the attacker plans to employ a man-in-the-middle attack, the client or server must not realize this. Finally, the attacker needs to regenerate source code from binary code if the need be.

+ Resources Required

The Attacker needs the ability to capture communications between the client being updated and the server providing the update.

In the case that encryption obscures client/server communication the attacker will either need to lift key material from the client.

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Design: Encrypt all communication between the client and server.

Implementation: Use SSL, SSH, SCP.

Operation: Use "ifconfig/ipconfig" or other tools to detect the sniffer installed in the network.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Read application data
Gain privileges / assume identity
+ Relevant Security Requirements

Do not store secrets in client code

All potentially sensitive data, including code, transmitted to the client must be encrypted

+ Purposes
  • Reconnaissance
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: MediumAvailability Impact: Low
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ Content History
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2015-11-09Updated Description Summary, Related_Attack_PatternsInternal
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2015-12-07Updated Description SummaryInternal
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2017-01-09Updated Related_Attack_PatternsInternal
Previous Entry Names
DatePrevious Entry Name
2015-12-07Passively Sniff and Capture Application Code Bound for Authorized Client

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: August 04, 2017