An attacker employs forceful browsing to access portions of a website that are otherwise unreachable through direct URL entry. Usually, a front controller or similar design pattern is employed to protect access to portions of a web application. Forceful browsing enables an attacker to access information, perform privileged operations and otherwise reach sections of the web application that have been improperly protected.
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.
Meta 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.
Spider: Using an automated tool, an attacker follows all public links on a web site. He records all the links he finds.
Use a spidering tool to follow and record all links.
Use a proxy tool to record all links visited during a manual traversal of the web application.
Attempt well-known or guessable resource locations: Using an automated tool, an attacker requests a variety of well-known URLs that correspond to administrative, debugging, or other useful internal actions. He records all the positive responses from the server.
Use a spidering tool to follow and record attempts on well-known URLs.
Use a proxy tool to record all links visited during a manual traversal of attempts on well-known URLs.
Use unauthorized resources: By visiting the unprotected resource, the attacker makes use of unauthorized functionality.
Access unprotected functions and execute them.
View unauthorized data: The attacker discovers and views unprotected sensitive data.
Direct request of protected pages that directly access database back-ends. (e.g., list.jsp, accounts.jsp, status.jsp, etc.)
The forcibly browseable pages or accessible resources must be discoverable and improperly protected.
Forcibly browseable pages can be discovered by using a number of automated tools. Doing the same manually is tedious but by no means difficult.
None: No specialized resources are required to execute this type of attack. A directory listing is helpful, but not a requirement.
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.
Bypass Protection Mechanism
Authenticate request to every resource. In addition, every page or resource must ensure that the request it is handling has been made in an authorized context.
Forceful browsing can also be made difficult to a large extent by not hard-coding names of application pages or resources. This way, the attacker cannot figure out, from the application alone, the resources available from the present context.
A bulletin board application provides an administrative interface at admin.aspx when the user logging in belongs to the administrators group.
An attacker can access the admin.aspx interface by making a direct request to the page. Not having access to the interface appropriately protected allows the attacker to perform administrative functions without having to authenticate himself in that role.
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