CAPEC Details
Name Exploiting Incorrectly Configured Access Control Security Levels
Likelyhood of attack Typical severity
High Medium
Summary An attacker exploits a weakness in the configuration of access controls and is able to bypass the intended protection that these measures guard against and thereby obtain unauthorized access to the system or network. Sensitive functionality should always be protected with access controls. However configuring all but the most trivial access control systems can be very complicated and there are many opportunities for mistakes. If an attacker can learn of incorrectly configured access security settings, they may be able to exploit this in an attack. Most commonly, attackers would take advantage of controls that provided too little protection for sensitive activities in order to perform actions that should be denied to them. In some circumstances, an attacker may be able to take advantage of overly restrictive access control policies, initiating denial of services (if an application locks because it unexpectedly failed to be granted access) or causing other legitimate actions to fail due to security. The latter class of attacks, however, is usually less severe and easier to detect than attacks based on inadequate security restrictions. This attack pattern differs from CAPEC 1, "Accessing Functionality Not Properly Constrained by ACLs" in that the latter describes attacks where sensitive functionality lacks access controls, where, in this pattern, the access control is present, but incorrectly configured.
Prerequisites The target must apply access controls, but incorrectly configure them. However, not all incorrect configurations can be exploited by an attacker. If the incorrect configuration applies too little security to some functionality, then the attacker may be able to exploit it if the access control would be the only thing preventing an attacker's access and it no longer does so. If the incorrect configuration applies too much security, it must prevent legitimate activity and the attacker must be able to force others to require this activity..
Execution Flow
Step Phase Description Techniques
1 Explore [Survey] The attacker surveys the target application, possibly as a valid and authenticated user.
  • Spider the web site for all available links.
  • Brute force to guess all function names/action with different privileges.
2 Experiment [Identify weak points in access control configurations] The attacker probes the access control for functions and data identified in the Explore phase to identify potential weaknesses in how the access controls are configured.
  • The attacker attempts authenticated access to targeted functions and data.
  • The attacker attempts unauthenticated access to targeted functions and data.
  • The attacker attempts indirect and side channel access to targeted functions and data.
3 Exploit [Access the function or data bypassing the access control] The attacker executes the function or accesses the data identified in the Explore phase bypassing the access control.
  • The attacker executes the function or accesses the data not authorized to them.
Solutions Design: Configure the access control correctly.
Related Weaknesses
CWE ID Description
CWE-732 Incorrect Permission Assignment for Critical Resource
CWE-1190 DMA Device Enabled Too Early in Boot Phase
CWE-1191 Exposed Chip Debug and Test Interface With Insufficient or Missing Authorization
CWE-1193 Power-On of Untrusted Execution Core Before Enabling Fabric Access Control
CWE-1220 Insufficient Granularity of Access Control
CWE-1222 Insufficient Granularity of Address Regions Protected by Register Locks
CWE-1224 Improper Restriction of Write-Once Bit Fields
CWE-1231 Improper Implementation of Lock Protection Registers
CWE-1233 Improper Hardware Lock Protection for Security Sensitive Controls
CWE-1234 Hardware Internal or Debug Modes Allow Override of Locks
CWE-1244 Improper Access to Sensitive Information Using Debug and Test Interfaces
CWE-1252 CPU Hardware Not Configured to Support Exclusivity of Write and Execute Operations
CWE-1257 Improper Access Control Applied to Mirrored or Aliased Memory Regions
CWE-1259 Improper Restriction of Security Token Assignment
CWE-1260 Improper Handling of Overlap Between Protected Memory Ranges
CWE-1262 Register Interface Allows Software Access to Sensitive Data or Security Settings
CWE-1274 Insufficient Protections on the Volatile Memory Containing Boot Code
CWE-1280 Access Control Check Implemented After Asset is Accessed
CWE-1311 Improper Translation of Security Attributes by Fabric Bridge
CWE-1313 Hardware Allows Activation of Test or Debug Logic at Runtime
CWE-1315 Improper Setting of Bus Controlling Capability in Fabric End-point
CWE-1316 Fabric-Address Map Allows Programming of Unwarranted Overlaps of Protected and Unprotected Ranges
CWE-1318 Missing Support for Security Features in On-chip Fabrics or Buses
CWE-1320 Improper Protection for Out of Bounds Signal Level Alerts
CWE-1321 Improperly Controlled Modification of Object Prototype Attributes ('Prototype Pollution')
CWE-1326 Missing Immutable Root of Trust in Hardware
Related CAPECS
CAPEC ID Description
CAPEC-17 An attack of this type exploits a system's configuration that allows an attacker to either directly access an executable file, for example through shell access; or in a possible worst case allows an attacker to upload a file and then execute it. Web servers, ftp servers, and message oriented middleware systems which have many integration points are particularly vulnerable, because both the programmers and the administrators must be in synch regarding the interfaces and the correct privileges for each interface.
CAPEC-122 An adversary is able to exploit features of the target that should be reserved for privileged users or administrators but are exposed to use by lower or non-privileged accounts. Access to sensitive information and functionality must be controlled to ensure that only authorized users are able to access these resources. If access control mechanisms are absent or misconfigured, a user may be able to access resources that are intended only for higher level users. An adversary may be able to exploit this to utilize a less trusted account to gain information and perform activities reserved for more trusted accounts. This attack differs from privilege escalation and other privilege stealing attacks in that the adversary never actually escalates their privileges but instead is able to use a lesser degree of privilege to access resources that should be (but are not) reserved for higher privilege accounts. Likewise, the adversary does not exploit trust or subvert systems - all control functionality is working as configured but the configuration does not adequately protect sensitive resources at an appropriate level.