The software, when opening a file or directory, does not sufficiently handle when the file is a Windows shortcut (.LNK) whose target is outside of the intended control sphere. This could allow an attacker to cause the software to operate on unauthorized files.
The shortcut (file with the .lnk extension) can permit an attacker to read/write a file that they originally did not have permissions to access.
Windows symbolic link following
Time of Introduction
Technical Impact: Read files or
directories; Modify files or
Browser allows remote malicious web sites to
overwrite arbitrary files by tricking the user into downloading a .LNK
(link) file twice, which overwrites the file that was referenced in the
first .LNK file.
Rootkits can bypass file access restrictions to
Windows kernel directories using NtCreateSymbolicLinkObject function to
create symbolic link
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
Under-studied. Windows .LNK files are more "portable" than Unix symlinks
and have been used in remote exploits. Some Windows API's will access LNK's
as if they are regular files, so one would expect that they would be
reported more frequently.