Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-243: Creation of chroot Jail Without Changing Working Directory

Weakness ID: 243
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The program uses the chroot() system call to create a jail, but does not change the working directory afterward. This does not prevent access to files outside of the jail.
+ Extended Description
Improper use of chroot() may allow attackers to escape from the chroot jail. The chroot() function call does not change the process's current working directory, so relative paths may still refer to file system resources outside of the chroot jail after chroot() has been called.
+ Relationships

The table(s) below shows the weaknesses and high level categories that are related to this weakness. These relationships are defined as ChildOf, ParentOf, MemberOf and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as PeerOf and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar weaknesses that the user may want to explore.

+ Relevant to the view "Research Concepts" (CWE-1000)
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
MemberOfCategoryCategory1015Limit Access
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
MemberOfCategoryCategory265Privilege / Sandbox Issues
+ Background Details
The chroot() system call allows a process to change its perception of the root directory of the file system. After properly invoking chroot(), a process cannot access any files outside the directory tree defined by the new root directory. Such an environment is called a chroot jail and is commonly used to prevent the possibility that a processes could be subverted and used to access unauthorized files. For instance, many FTP servers run in chroot jails to prevent an attacker who discovers a new vulnerability in the server from being able to download the password file or other sensitive files on the system.
+ Modes Of Introduction

The different Modes of Introduction provide information about how and when this weakness may be introduced. The Phase identifies a point in the software life cycle at which introduction may occur, while the Note provides a typical scenario related to introduction during the given phase.

ImplementationREALIZATION: This weakness is caused during implementation of an architectural security tactic.
+ Applicable Platforms
The listings below show possible areas for which the given weakness could appear. These may be for specific named Languages, Operating Systems, Architectures, Paradigms, Technologies, or a class of such platforms. The platform is listed along with how frequently the given weakness appears for that instance.


C (Undetermined Prevalence)

C++ (Undetermined Prevalence)

Operating Systems

Class: Unix (Undetermined Prevalence)

+ Common Consequences

The table below specifies different individual consequences associated with the weakness. The Scope identifies the application security area that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in exploiting this weakness. 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 weakness will be exploited to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.


Technical Impact: Read Files or Directories

+ Likelihood Of Exploit
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

Consider the following source code from a (hypothetical) FTP server:

(bad code)
Example Language:
fgets(filename, sizeof(filename), network);
localfile = fopen(filename, "r");
while ((len = fread(buf, 1, sizeof(buf), localfile)) != EOF) {
fwrite(buf, 1, sizeof(buf), network);


This code is responsible for reading a filename from the network, opening the corresponding file on the local machine, and sending the contents over the network. This code could be used to implement the FTP GET command. The FTP server calls chroot() in its initialization routines in an attempt to prevent access to files outside of /var/ftproot. But because the server does not change the current working directory by calling chdir("/"), an attacker could request the file "../../../../../etc/passwd" and obtain a copy of the system password file.

+ Weakness Ordinalities
(where the weakness is typically related to the presence of some other weaknesses)
+ Affected Resources
  • File or Directory
+ Memberships
This MemberOf Relationships table shows additional CWE Categories and Views that reference this weakness as a member. This information is often useful in understanding where a weakness fits within the context of external information sources.
MemberOfCategoryCategory2277PK - API Abuse
MemberOfCategoryCategory979SFP Secondary Cluster: Failed Chroot Jail
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
7 Pernicious KingdomsDirectory Restriction
Software Fault PatternsSFP17Failed chroot jail
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
7 Pernicious Kingdoms
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Background_Details, Description, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings, Weakness_Ordinalities
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2009-03-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2010-12-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Name
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Affected_Resources, Causal_Nature, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-01-30Directory Restriction
2010-12-13Failure to Change Working Directory in chroot Jail

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018