CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors
Home > CWE List > CWE- Individual Dictionary Definition (3.1)  
ID

CWE-268: Privilege Chaining

Weakness ID: 268
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
Two distinct privileges, roles, capabilities, or rights can be combined in a way that allows an entity to perform unsafe actions that would not be allowed without that combination.
+ 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)
NatureTypeIDName
ChildOfClassClass - a weakness that is described in a very abstract fashion, typically independent of any specific language or technology. More general than a Base weakness.269Improper Privilege Management
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1011Authorize Actors
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.265Privilege / Sandbox Issues
+ 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.

PhaseNote
Architecture and Design
ImplementationREALIZATION: This weakness is caused during implementation of an architectural security tactic.
Operation
+ 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.

Languages

Class: Language-Independent (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.

ScopeImpactLikelihood
Access Control

Technical Impact: Gain Privileges or Assume Identity

A user can be given or gain access rights of another user. This can give the user unauthorized access to sensitive information including the access information of another user.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
High
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

This code allows someone with the role of "ADMIN" or "OPERATOR" to reset a user's password. The role of "OPERATOR" is intended to have less privileges than an "ADMIN", but still be able to help users with small issues such as forgotten passwords.

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
public enum Roles {
ADMIN,OPERATOR,USER,GUEST
}

public void resetPassword(User requestingUser, User user, String password ){
if(isAuthenticated(requestingUser)){
switch(requestingUser.role){
case GUEST:
System.out.println("You are not authorized to perform this command");
break;

case USER:
System.out.println("You are not authorized to perform this command");
break;

default:
setPassword(user,password);
break;
}
}

else{
System.out.println("You must be logged in to perform this command");
}
}

This code does not check the role of the user whose password is being reset. It is possible for an Operator to gain Admin privileges by resetting the password of an Admin account and taking control of that account.

+ Observed Examples
ReferenceDescription
Chaining of user rights.
Gain certain rights via privilege chaining in alternate channel.
Application is allowed to assign extra permissions to itself.
"operator" user can overwrite usernames and passwords to gain admin privileges.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Strategy: Separation of Privilege

Consider following the principle of separation of privilege. Require multiple conditions to be met before permitting access to a system resource.

Phases: Architecture and Design; Operation

Very carefully manage the setting, management, and handling of privileges. Explicitly manage trust zones in the software.

Phases: Architecture and Design; Operation

Strategy: Environment Hardening

Run your code using the lowest privileges that are required to accomplish the necessary tasks [REF-76]. If possible, create isolated accounts with limited privileges that are only used for a single task. That way, a successful attack will not immediately give the attacker access to the rest of the software or its environment. For example, database applications rarely need to run as the database administrator, especially in day-to-day operations.
+ Weakness Ordinalities
OrdinalityDescription
Primary
(where the weakness exists independent of other weaknesses)
+ 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.
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.723OWASP Top Ten 2004 Category A2 - Broken Access Control
MemberOfViewView - a subset of CWE entries that provides a way of examining CWE content. The two main view structures are Slices (flat lists) and Graphs (containing relationships between entries).884CWE Cross-section
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.901SFP Primary Cluster: Privilege
+ Notes

Relationship

There is some conceptual overlap with Unsafe Privilege.

Research Gap

It is difficult to find good examples for this weakness.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERPrivilege Chaining
+ References
[REF-76] Sean Barnum and Michael Gegick. "Least Privilege". 2005-09-14. <https://buildsecurityin.us-cert.gov/daisy/bsi/articles/knowledge/principles/351.html>.
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
PLOVER
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Other_Notes, Relationship_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings, Weakness_Ordinalities
2009-03-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2009-12-28CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Other_Notes, Potential_Mitigations, Research_Gaps
2010-06-21CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations, References
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Causal_Nature, Modes_of_Introduction, References, Relationships

More information is available — Please select a different filter.
Page Last Updated: March 29, 2018