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CAPEC-5: Blue Boxing

Attack Pattern ID: 5
Abstraction: Detailed
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+ Description

This type of attack against older telephone switches and trunks has been around for decades. A tone is sent by an adversary to impersonate a supervisor signal which has the effect of rerouting or usurping command of the line. While the US infrastructure proper may not contain widespread vulnerabilities to this type of attack, many companies are connected globally through call centers and business process outsourcing. These international systems may be operated in countries which have not upgraded Telco infrastructure and so are vulnerable to Blue boxing. Blue boxing is a result of failure on the part of the system to enforce strong authorization for administrative functions. While the infrastructure is different than standard current applications like web applications, there are historical lessons to be learned to upgrade the access control for administrative functions.

This attack pattern is included in CAPEC for historical purposes.

+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ Typical Severity

Very High

+ 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.220Client-Server Protocol Manipulation
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Prerequisites
System must use weak authentication mechanisms for administrative functions.
+ Skills Required
[Level: Low]
Given a vulnerable phone system, the attackers' technical vector relies on attacks that are well documented in cracker 'zines and have been around for decades.
+ Resources Required
CCITT-5 or other vulnerable lines, with the ability to send tones such as combined 2,400 Hz and 2,600 Hz tones to the switch
+ 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.
Resource Consumption
Access Control
Gain Privileges
+ Mitigations
Implementation: Upgrade phone lines. Note this may be prohibitively expensive
Use strong access control such as two factor access control for administrative access to the switch
+ Example Instances
An adversary identifies a vulnerable CCITT-5 phone line, and sends a combination tone to the switch in order to request administrative access. Based on tone and timing parameters the request is verified for access to the switch. Once the adversary has gained control of the switch launching calls, routing calls, and a whole host of opportunities are available.
+ References
[REF-1] G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. 2004-02.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
(Version 2.6)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
(Version 3.1)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Weaknesses
(Version 3.9)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated @Status, Description
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: July 31, 2018