In an iFrame overlay attack the victim is tricked into unknowingly initiating some action in one system while interacting with the UI from seemingly completely different system. While being logged in to some target system, the victim visits the attackers' malicious site which displays a UI that the victim wishes to interact with. In reality, the iFrame overlay page has a transparent layer above the visible UI with action controls that the attacker wishes the victim to execute. The victim clicks on buttons or other UI elements they see on the page which actually triggers the action controls in the transparent overlaying layer. Depending on what that action control is, the attacker may have just tricked the victim into executing some potentially privileged (and most undesired) functionality in the target system to which the victim is authenticated. The basic problem here is that there is a dichotomy between what the victim thinks he or she is clicking on versus what he or she is actually clicking on.
Likelihood Of Attack
The table below 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.
Standard 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.
Craft an iFrame Overlay page: The attacker crafts a malicious iFrame overlay page.
The attacker leverages iFrame overlay capabilities to craft a malicious iFrame overlay page.
Attacker tricks victim to load the iFrame overlay page: Attacker utilizes some form of temptation, misdirection or coercion to trick the victim to loading and interacting with the iFrame overlay page in a way that increases the chances that the victim will visit the malicious page.
Trick the victim to the malicious site by sending the victim an e-mail with a URL to the site.
Trick the victim to the malicious site by manipulating URLs on a site trusted by the victim.
Trick the victim to the malicious site through a cross-site scripting attack.
Trick victim into interacting with the iFrame overlay page in the desired manner: The attacker tricks the victim into clicking on the areas of the UI which contain the hidden action controls and thereby interacts with the target system maliciously with the victim's level of privilege.
Hide action controls over very commonly used functionality.
Hide action controls over very psychologically tempting content.
The victim is communicating with the target application via a web based UI and not a thick client. The victim's browser security policies allow iFrames. The victim uses a modern browser that supports UI elements like clickable buttons (i.e. not using an old text only browser). The victim has an active session with the target system. The target system's interaction window is open in the victim's browser and supports the ability for initiating sensitive actions on behalf of the user in the target system.
Crafting the proper malicious site and luring the victim to this site is not a trivial task.
None: No specialized resources are required to execute this type of attack.
The table below 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.
Execute Unauthorized Commands
Bypass Protection Mechanism
Configuration: Disable iFrames in the Web browser.
Operation: When maintaining an authenticated session with a privileged target system, do not use the same browser to navigate to unfamiliar sites to perform other activities. Finish working with the target system and logout first before proceeding to other tasks.
Operation: If using the Firefox browser, use the NoScript plug-in that will help forbid iFrames.
The following example is a real-world iFrame overlay attack . In this attack, the malicious page embeds Twitter.com on a transparent IFRAME. The status-message field is initialized with the URL of the malicious page itself. To provoke the click, which is necessary to publish the entry, the malicious page displays a button labeled "Don't Click." This button is aligned with the invisible "Update" button of Twitter. Once the user performs the click, the status message (i.e., a link to the malicious page itself) is posted to his/ her Twitter profile.
A Related Weakness relationship associates a weakness with this attack pattern. Each association implies a weakness that must exist for a given attack to be successful. If multiple weaknesses are associated with the attack pattern, then any of the weaknesses (but not necessarily all) may be present for the attack to be successful. Each related weakness is identified by a CWE identifier.
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed:
September 30, 2019