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CAPEC-75: Manipulating Writeable Configuration Files

Manipulating Writeable Configuration Files
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 75
Abstraction: Standard
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

Generally these are manually edited files that are not in the preview of the system administrators, any ability on the attackers' behalf to modify these files, for example in a CVS repository, gives unauthorized access directly to the application, the same as authorized users.

+ Attack Prerequisites
  • Configuration files must be modifiable by the attacker

+ Typical Severity

Very High

+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: High

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


The BEA Weblogic server uses a config.xml file to store configuration data. If this file is not properly protected by the system access control, an attacker can write configuration information to redirect server output through system logs, database connections, malicious URLs and so on. Access to the Weblogic server may be from a so-called Custom realm which manages authentication and authorization privileges on behalf of user principals. Given write access, the attacker can insert a pointer to a custom realm jar file in the config.xml

< CustomRealm

The main issue with configuration files is that the attacker can leverage all the same functionality the server has, but for malicious means. Given the complexity of server configuration, these changes may be very hard for administrators to detect.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Medium

To identify vulnerable configuration files, and understand how to manipulate servers and erase forensic evidence

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Design: Enforce principle of least privilege

Design: Backup copies of all configuration files

Implementation: Integrity monitoring for configuration files

Implementation: Enforce audit logging on code and configuration promotion procedures.

Implementation: Load configuration from separate process and memory space, for example a separate physical device like a CD

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Gain privileges / assume identity
+ Injection Vector

Configuration files

+ Payload

Commands or configuration settings

+ Activation Zone

Configuration file processing routines

+ Payload Activation Impact

Enables attacker to execute server side code with any commands that the program owner has privileges to.

+ Purposes
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: HighAvailability Impact: Medium
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ References
[R.75.1] [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
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2015-12-07Updated Related_Attack_PatternsInternal

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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: August 04, 2017