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Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-14: Client-side Injection-induced Buffer Overflow (Version 3.5)  

CAPEC-14: Client-side Injection-induced Buffer Overflow

Attack Pattern ID: 14
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
This type of attack exploits a buffer overflow vulnerability in targeted client software through injection of malicious content from a custom-built hostile service.
+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ Typical Severity


+ 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.
ChildOfStandard Attack PatternStandard 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.100Overflow Buffers
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.13Subverting Environment Variable Values
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
  1. The attacker creates a custom hostile service
  2. The attacker acquires information about the kind of client attaching to their hostile service to determine if it contains an exploitable buffer overflow vulnerability.
  1. The attacker intentionally feeds malicious data to the client to exploit the buffer overflow vulnerability that they have uncovered.
  2. The attacker leverages the exploit to execute arbitrary code or to cause a denial of service.
+ Prerequisites
The targeted client software communicates with an external server.
The targeted client software has a buffer overflow vulnerability.
+ Skills Required
[Level: Low]
To achieve a denial of service, an attacker can simply overflow a buffer by inserting a long string into an attacker-modifiable injection vector.
[Level: High]
Exploiting a buffer overflow to inject malicious code into the stack of a software system or even the heap requires a more in-depth knowledge and higher skill level.
+ Indicators
An example of indicator is when the client software crashes after executing code downloaded from a hostile server.
+ 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.
Read Data
Modify Data
Resource Consumption
Execute Unauthorized Commands
+ Mitigations
The client software should not install untrusted code from a non-authenticated server.
The client software should have the latest patches and should be audited for vulnerabilities before being used to communicate with potentially hostile servers.
Perform input validation for length of buffer inputs.
Use a language or compiler that performs automatic bounds checking.
Use an abstraction library to abstract away risky APIs. Not a complete solution.
Compiler-based canary mechanisms such as StackGuard, ProPolice and the Microsoft Visual Studio /GS flag. Unless this provides automatic bounds checking, it is not a complete solution.
Ensure all buffer uses are consistently bounds-checked.
Use OS-level preventative functionality. Not a complete solution.
+ Example Instances
Attack Example: Buffer Overflow in Internet Explorer 4.0 Via EMBED Tag

Authors often use <EMBED> tags in HTML documents. For example

<EMBED TYPE="audio/midi" SRC="/path/file.mid" AUTOSTART="true">

If an attacker supplies an overly long path in the SRC= directive, the mshtml.dll component will suffer a buffer overflow. This is a standard example of content in a Web page being directed to exploit a faulty module in the system. There are potentially thousands of different ways data can propagate into a given system, thus these kinds of attacks will continue to be found in the wild.

+ References
[REF-1] G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. 2004-02.
+ 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 References
2020-07-30CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Execution_Flow
2021-06-24CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Weaknesses
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: December 17, 2020