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CAPEC-75: Manipulating Writeable Configuration Files

Attack Pattern ID: 75
Abstraction: Standard
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+ Description
Generally these are manually edited files that are not in the preview of the system administrators, any ability on the attackers' behalf to modify these files, for example in a CVS repository, gives unauthorized access directly to the application, the same as authorized users.
+ 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.
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.176Configuration/Environment Manipulation
PeerOfDetailed 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.35Leverage Executable Code in Non-Executable Files
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Prerequisites
Configuration files must be modifiable by the attacker
+ Skills Required
[Level: Medium]
To identify vulnerable configuration files, and understand how to manipulate servers and erase forensic evidence
+ 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.
Access Control
Gain Privileges
+ Mitigations
Design: Enforce principle of least privilege
Design: Backup copies of all configuration files
Implementation: Integrity monitoring for configuration files
Implementation: Enforce audit logging on code and configuration promotion procedures.
Implementation: Load configuration from separate process and memory space, for example a separate physical device like a CD
+ Example Instances

The BEA Weblogic server uses a config.xml file to store configuration data. If this file is not properly protected by the system access control, an attacker can write configuration information to redirect server output through system logs, database connections, malicious URLs and so on. Access to the Weblogic server may be from a so-called Custom realm which manages authentication and authorization privileges on behalf of user principals. Given write access, the attacker can insert a pointer to a custom realm jar file in the config.xml

< CustomRealm

The main issue with configuration files is that the attacker can leverage all the same functionality the server has, but for malicious means. Given the complexity of server configuration, these changes may be very hard for administrators to detect.

+ 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 2.8)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
(Version 3.2)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
(Version 3.3)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
(Version 3.5)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Weaknesses
(Version 3.8)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Example_Instances
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: July 31, 2018