Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-141: Cache Poisoning (Version 3.4)  

CAPEC-141: Cache Poisoning

Attack Pattern ID: 141
Abstraction: Standard
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
An attacker exploits the functionality of cache technologies to cause specific data to be cached that aids the attackers' objectives. This describes any attack whereby an attacker places incorrect or harmful material in cache. The targeted cache can be an application's cache (e.g. a web browser cache) or a public cache (e.g. a DNS or ARP cache). Until the cache is refreshed, most applications or clients will treat the corrupted cache value as valid. This can lead to a wide range of exploits including redirecting web browsers towards sites that install malware and repeatedly incorrect calculations based on the incorrect value.
+ 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.
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.161Infrastructure Manipulation
ParentOfDetailed 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.142DNS Cache Poisoning
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
  1. Identify and explore caches: Use tools to sniff traffic and scan a network in order to locate application's cache (e.g. a web browser cache) or a public cache (e.g. a DNS or ARP cache) that may have vulnerabilities. Look for poisoning point in cache table entries.

    Run tools that check available entries in the cache.
  1. Cause specific data to be cached: An attacker sends bogus request to the target, and then floods responses that trick a cache to remember malicious responses, which are wrong answers of queries.

    Intercept or modify a query, or send a bogus query with known credentials (such as transaction ID).
  1. Redirect users to malicious website: As the attacker succeeds in exploiting the vulnerability, they are able to manipulate and interpose malicious response data to targeted victim queries.

    Intercept or modify a query, or send a bogus query with known credentials (such as transaction ID).
    Man-in-the-Middle intercepts secure communication between two parties.
+ Prerequisites
The attacker must be able to modify the value stored in a cache to match a desired value.
The targeted application must not be able to detect the illicit modification of the cache and must trust the cache value in its calculations.
+ Skills Required
[Level: Medium]
To overwrite/modify targeted cache
+ Mitigations
Configuration: Disable client side caching.
Implementation: Listens for query replies on a network, and sends a notification via email when an entry changes.
+ Example Instances
DNS cache poisoning example

In this example, an attacker sends request to a local DNS server to look up www.example .com. The associated IP address of www.example.com is

Local DNS usually caches IP addresses and do not go to remote DNS every time. Since the local record is not found, DNS server tries to connect to remote DNS for queries. However, before the remote DNS returns the right IP address, the attacker floods local DNS with crafted responses with IP address The result is that is stored in DNS cache. Meanwhile, is associated with a malicious website www.maliciousexampsle.com

When users connect to www.example.com, the local DNS will direct it to www.maliciousexample.com, this works as part of a Pharming attack.

+ Taxonomy Mappings
Relevant to the OWASP taxonomy mapping
Entry Name
Cache Poisoning
+ References
[REF-22] "Wikipedia". DNS Cache Poisoning. The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNS_cache_poisoning>.
[REF-23] "DNS Threats and DNS Weaknesses". DNS Threats & Weaknesses of the Domain Name System. DNSSEC. <http://www.dnssec.net/dns-threats.php>.
[REF-24] "Wikipedia". Arp Spoofing. The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARP_spoofing>.
[REF-599] "OWASP Web Security Testing Guide". Testing for Browser Cache Weaknesses. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). <https://owasp.org/www-project-web-security-testing-guide/latest/4-Web_Application_Security_Testing/04-Authentication_Testing/06-Testing_for_Browser_Cache_Weaknesses.html>.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-23CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2015-12-07CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2017-01-09CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2019-09-30CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2020-07-30CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Execution_Flow, Related_Attack_Patterns
2020-12-17CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated References, Taxonomy_Mappings
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: December 17, 2020