The software, when opening a file or directory, does not sufficiently account for when the file is a symbolic link that resolves to a target outside of the intended control sphere. This could allow an attacker to cause the software to operate on unauthorized files.
A software system that allows UNIX symbolic links (symlink) as part of paths whether in internal code or through user input can allow an attacker to spoof the symbolic link and traverse the file system to unintended locations or access arbitrary files. The symbolic link can permit an attacker to read/write/corrupt a file that they originally did not have permissions to access.
Time of Introduction
Modes of Introduction
These are typically reported for temporary files or privileged
Technical Impact: Read files or
directories; Modify files or
Symbolic link attacks often occur when a program creates a tmp
directory that stores files/links. Access to the directory should be
restricted to the program as to prevent attackers from manipulating the
Phase: Architecture and Design
Strategy: Separation of Privilege
Follow the principle of least privilege when assigning access rights
to entities in a software system.
Denying access to a file can prevent an attacker from replacing that
file with a link to a sensitive file. Ensure good compartmentalization
in the system to provide protected areas that can be trusted.
the weakness is typically related to the presence of some other
Symlink vulnerabilities are regularly found in C and shell programs, but
all programming languages can have this problem. Even shell programs are
"Second-order symlink vulnerabilities" may exist in programs that invoke
other programs that follow symlinks. They are rarely reported but are likely
to be fairly common when process invocation is used. Reference: