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CAPEC-9: Buffer Overflow in Local Command-Line Utilities

Attack Pattern ID: 9
Abstraction: Detailed
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
This attack targets command-line utilities available in a number of shells. An adversary can leverage a vulnerability found in a command-line utility to escalate privilege to root.
+ Likelihood Of Attack

High

+ Typical Severity

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.
NatureTypeIDName
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.100Overflow Buffers
CanFollowStandard 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.69Target Programs with Elevated Privileges
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
Explore
  1. Identify target system: The adversary first finds a target system that they want to gain elevated priveleges on. This could be a system they already have some level of access to or a system that they will gain unauthorized access at a lower privelege using some other means.

  2. Find injection vector: The adversary identifies command line utilities exposed by the target host that contain buffer overflow vulnerabilites. The adversary likely knows which utilities have these vulnerabilities and what the effected versions are, so they will also obtain version numbers for these utilities.

Experiment
  1. Craft overflow command: Once the adversary has found a vulnerable utility, they will use their knownledge of the vulnerabilty to create the command that will exploit the buffer overflow.

Exploit
  1. Overflow the buffer: Using the injection vector, the adversary executes the crafted command, gaining elevated priveleges on the machine.

+ Prerequisites
The target host exposes a command-line utility to the user.
The command-line utility exposed by the target host has a buffer overflow vulnerability that can be exploited.
+ Skills Required
[Level: Low]
An adversary can simply overflow a buffer by inserting a long string into an adversary-modifiable injection vector. The result can be a DoS.
[Level: High]
Exploiting a buffer overflow to inject malicious code into the stack of a software system or even the heap can require a higher skill level.
+ 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.
ScopeImpactLikelihood
Confidentiality
Access Control
Authorization
Gain Privileges
Confidentiality
Integrity
Availability
Execute Unauthorized Commands
Integrity
Modify Data
Availability
Unreliable Execution
Confidentiality
Read Data
+ Mitigations
Carefully review the service's implementation before making it available to user. For instance you can use manual or automated code review to uncover vulnerabilities such as buffer overflow.
Use a language or compiler that performs automatic bounds checking.
Use an abstraction library to abstract away risky APIs. Not a complete solution.
Compiler-based canary mechanisms such as StackGuard, ProPolice and the Microsoft Visual Studio /GS flag. Unless this provides automatic bounds checking, it is not a complete solution.
Operational: Use OS-level preventative functionality. Not a complete solution.
Apply the latest patches to your user exposed services. This may not be a complete solution, especially against a zero day attack.
Do not unnecessarily expose services.
+ Example Instances
Attack Example: HPUX passwd
A buffer overflow in the HPUX passwd command allows local users to gain root privileges via a command-line option.
Attack Example: Solaris getopt
A buffer overflow in Solaris's getopt command (found in libc) allows local users to gain root privileges via a long argv[0].
+ References
[REF-1] G. Hoglund and G. McGraw. "Exploiting Software: How to Break Code". Addison-Wesley. 2004-02.
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-23
(Version 2.6)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2017-01-09
(Version 2.9)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2018-07-31
(Version 2.12)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated References
2020-07-30
(Version 3.3)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Execution_Flow
2021-10-21
(Version 3.6)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Execution_Flow
2022-02-22
(Version 3.7)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Description, Skills_Required
2022-09-29
(Version 3.8)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Example_Instances
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: October 21, 2021