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CAPEC-217: Exploiting Incorrectly Configured SSL/TLS

Attack Pattern ID: 217
Abstraction: Standard
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+ Description
An adversary takes advantage of incorrectly configured SSL/TLS communications that enables access to data intended to be encrypted. The adversary may also use this type of attack to inject commands or other traffic into the encrypted stream to cause compromise of either the client or server.
+ Extended Description
SSL/TLS communications become vulnerable to this attack when they use outdated versions and insecure ciphers. Currently, all SSL versions are deprecated and TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1 are also deprecated due to being insecure. It is still possible for later versions of TLS to be insecure if they are configured with insecure ciphers such as 3DES or RC4.
+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ 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.216Communication Channel Manipulation
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
  1. Determine SSL/TLS Configuration: Determine the SSL/TLS configuration of either the server or client being targeted, preferably both. This is not a hard requirement, as the adversary can simply assume commonly exploitable configuration settings and indiscriminately attempt them.

    If the target is a webpage, some of the SSL/TLS configuration can be viewed through the browser's security information, such as the key sizes and cipher being used.
  1. Intercept Communication: Provide controlled access to the server by the client, by either providing a link for the client to click on, or by positioning one's self at a place on the network to intercept and control the flow of data between client and server, e.g. AiTM (adversary in the middle - CAPEC-94).

    Create a malicious webpage that looks identical to the target webpage, but routes client traffic to the server such that the adversary can observe the traffic and perform an adverary in the middle attack.
    If the adversary has access to the network that either the client or server is on, the can attempt to use a packet sniffer to perform an adversary in the middle attack.
    Install a packet sniffer through malware directly to a client device that can intercept SSL/TLS traffic and perform an adversary in the middle attack.
  1. Capture or Manipulate Sensitive Data: Once the adversary has the ability to intercept the secure communication, they exploit the incorrectly configured SSL to view the encrypted communication. The adversary can choose to just record the secure communication or manipulate the data to achieve a desired effect.

    Use known exploits for old SSL and TLS versions.
    Use known exploits for weak ciphers such as DES and RC4.
+ Prerequisites
Access to the client/server stream.
+ Skills Required
[Level: High]
The adversary needs real-time access to network traffic in such a manner that the adversary can grab needed information from the SSL stream, possibly influence the decided-upon encryption method and options, and perform automated analysis to decipher encrypted material recovered. Tools exist to automate part of the tasks, but to successfully use these tools in an attack scenario requires detailed understanding of the underlying principles.
+ Resources Required
The adversary needs the ability to sniff traffic, and optionally be able to route said traffic to a system where the sniffing of traffic can take place, and act upon the recovered traffic in real time.
+ 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
Access Control
Gain Privileges
+ Mitigations
Do not use SSL, as all SSL versions have been broken and should not be used. If TLS is not an option for the client or server, consider setting timeouts on SSL sessions to extremely low values to lessen the potential impact.
Only use TLS version 1.2+, as versions 1.0 and 1.1 are insecure.
Configure TLS to use secure algorithms. The current recommendation is to use ECDH, ECDSA, AES256-GCM, and SHA384 for the most security.
+ Example Instances
Using MITM techniques, an adversary launches a blockwise chosen-boundary attack to obtain plaintext HTTP headers by taking advantage of an SSL session using an encryption protocol in CBC mode with chained initialization vectors (IV). This allows the adversary to recover session IDs, authentication cookies, and possibly other valuable data that can be used for further exploitation. Additionally this could allow for the insertion of data into the stream, allowing for additional attacks (CSRF, SQL inject, etc) to occur.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
(Version 2.6)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
(Version 2.8)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Description Summary
(Version 3.5)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Execution_Flow
(Version 3.7)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated @Name, Description, Example_Instances, Execution_Flow, Extended_Description, Mitigations, Resources_Required, Skills_Required
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
(Version 2.8)
Exploiting Incorrectly Configured SSL Security Levels
(Version 3.7)
Exploiting Incorrectly Configured SSL
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: February 22, 2022