CWE-472: External Control of Assumed-Immutable Web Parameter
Weakness ID: 472
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 improperreliance on the value of the client-provided cookie by the server side application.
Assumed-Immutable Parameter Tampering
Time of Introduction
Technical Impact: Modify application
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.
Here, 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.
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
< input type "hidden"
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
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
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.