CWE-472: External Control of Assumed-Immutable Web Parameter
Weakness ID: 472
Abstraction: Base Structure: Simple
The web application does not sufficiently verify inputs that are assumed to be immutable but are actually externally controllable, such as hidden form fields.
If a web product does not properly protect assumed-immutable values from modification in hidden form fields, parameters, cookies, or URLs, this can lead to modification of critical data. Web applications often mistakenly make the assumption that data passed to the client in hidden fields or cookies is not susceptible to tampering. Improper validation of data that are user-controllable can lead to the application processing incorrect, and often malicious, input.
For example, custom cookies commonly store session data or persistent data across sessions. This kind of session data is normally involved in security related decisions on the server side, such as user authentication and access control. Thus, the cookies might contain sensitive data such as user credentials and privileges. This is a dangerous practice, as it can often lead to improper reliance on the value of the client-provided cookie by the server side application.
Assumed-Immutable Parameter Tampering
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)
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.
OMISSION: This weakness is caused by missing a security tactic during the architecture and design phase.
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.
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: Modify Application Data
Without appropriate protection mechanisms, the client can easily tamper with cookies and similar web data. Reliance on the cookies without detailed validation can lead to problems such as SQL injection. If you use cookie values for security related decisions on the server side, manipulating the cookies might lead to violations of security policies such as authentication bypassing, user impersonation and privilege escalation. In addition, storing sensitive data in the cookie without appropriate protection can also lead to disclosure of sensitive user data, especially data stored in persistent cookies.
In this example, a web application uses the value of a hidden form field (accountID) without having done any input validation because it was assumed to be immutable.
Example Language: Java
String accountID = request.getParameter("accountID"); User user = getUserFromID(Long.parseLong(accountID));
Hidden fields should not be trusted as secure parameters.
An attacker can intercept and alter hidden fields in a post to the server as easily as user input fields. An attacker can simply parse the HTML for the substring:
Example Language: HTML
or even just "hidden". Hidden field values displayed later in the session, such as on the following page, can open a site up to cross-site scripting attacks.
Modification of message number parameter allows attackers to read other people's messages.
Strategy: Input Validation
Assume all input is malicious. Use an "accept known good" input validation strategy, i.e., use a whitelist of acceptable inputs that strictly conform to specifications. Reject any input that does not strictly conform to specifications, or transform it into something that does.
When performing input validation, consider all potentially relevant properties, including length, type of input, the full range of acceptable values, missing or extra inputs, syntax, consistency across related fields, and conformance to business rules. As an example of business rule logic, "boat" may be syntactically valid because it only contains alphanumeric characters, but it is not valid if the input is only expected to contain colors such as "red" or "blue."
Do not rely exclusively on looking for malicious or malformed inputs (i.e., do not rely on a blacklist). A blacklist is likely to miss at least one undesirable input, especially if the code's environment changes. This can give attackers enough room to bypass the intended validation. However, blacklists can be useful for detecting potential attacks or determining which inputs are so malformed that they should be rejected outright.
Strategy: Input Validation
Inputs should be decoded and canonicalized to the application's current internal representation before being validated (CWE-180). Make sure that the application does not decode the same input twice (CWE-174). Such errors could be used to bypass whitelist validation schemes by introducing dangerous inputs after they have been checked.
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.