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CAPEC-68: Subvert Code-signing Facilities

Attack Pattern ID: 68
Abstraction: Standard
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
Many languages use code signing facilities to vouch for code's identity and to thus tie code to its assigned privileges within an environment. Subverting this mechanism can be instrumental in an attacker escalating privilege. Any means of subverting the way that a virtual machine enforces code signing classifies for this style of attack.
+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ Typical Severity

Very High

+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table 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.
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.233Privilege Escalation
CanFollowDetailed 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.661Root/Jailbreak Detection Evasion via Debugging
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Prerequisites
A framework-based language that supports code signing (such as, and most commonly, Java or .NET)
Deployed code that has been signed by its authoring vendor, or a partner.
The attacker will, for most circumstances, also need to be able to place code in the victim container. This does not necessarily mean that they will have to subvert host-level security, except when explicitly indicated.
+ Skills Required
[Level: High]
Subverting code signing is not a trivial activity. Most code signing and verification schemes are based on use of cryptography and the attacker needs to have an understanding of these cryptographic operations in good detail. Additionally the attacker also needs to be aware of the way memory is assigned and accessed by the container since, often, the only way to subvert code signing would be to patch the code in memory. Finally, a knowledge of the platform specific mechanisms of signing and verifying code is a must.
+ Resources Required
The Attacker needs no special resources beyond the listed prerequisites in order to conduct this style of attack.
+ Consequences
Section HelpThis table 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.
Access Control
Gain Privileges
+ Mitigations
A given code signing scheme may be fallible due to improper use of cryptography. Developers must never roll out their own cryptography, nor should existing primitives be modified or ignored.
If an attacker cannot attack the scheme directly, they might try to alter the environment that affects the signing and verification processes. A possible mitigation is to avoid reliance on flags or environment variables that are user-controllable.
+ Example Instances
In old versions (prior to 3.0b4) of the Netscape web browser Attackers able to foist a malicious Applet into a client's browser could execute the "Magic Coat" attack. In this attack, the offending Applet would implement its own getSigners() method. This implementation would use the containing VM's APIs to acquire other Applet's signatures (by calling _their_ getSigners() method) and if any running Applet had privileged-enough signature, the malicious Applet would have inherited that privilege just be (metaphorically) donning the others' coats.
Some (older) web browsers allowed scripting languages, such as JavaScript, to call signed Java code. In these circumstances, the browser's VM implementation would choose not to conduct stack inspection across language boundaries (from called signed Java to calling JavaScript) and would short-circuit "true" at the language boundary. Doing so meant that the VM would allow any (unprivileged) script to call privileged functions within signed code with impunity, causing them to fall prey to luring attacks.
The ability to load unsigned code into the kernel of earlier versions of Vista and bypass integrity checking is an example of such subversion. In the proof-of-concept, it is possible to bypass the signature-checking mechanism Vista uses to load device drivers.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-23CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2017-01-09CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2018-07-31CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Attacker_Skills_or_Knowledge_Required, Description Summary
2020-07-30CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Mitigations
2020-12-17CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Weaknesses
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: October 21, 2021