Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-90: Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an LDAP Query ('LDAP Injection')

Weakness ID: 90
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The software constructs all or part of an LDAP query using externally-influenced input from an upstream component, but it does not neutralize or incorrectly neutralizes special elements that could modify the intended LDAP query when it is sent to a downstream component.
+ 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)
+ Relevant to the view "Weaknesses for Simplified Mapping of Published Vulnerabilities" (CWE-1003)
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
MemberOfCategoryCategory1019Validate Inputs
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
+ 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.

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


Class: Language-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Database Server (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.


Technical Impact: Execute Unauthorized Code or Commands; Read Application Data; Modify Application Data

An attacker could include input that changes the LDAP query which allows unintended commands or code to be executed, allows sensitive data to be read or modified or causes other unintended behavior.
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The code below constructs an LDAP query using user input address data:

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
context = new InitialDirContext(env);
String searchFilter = "StreetAddress=" + address;
NamingEnumeration answer =, searchFilter, searchCtls);

Because the code fails to neutralize the address string used to construct the query, an attacker can supply an address that includes additional LDAP queries.

+ Observed Examples
Server does not properly escape LDAP queries, which allows remote attackers to cause a DoS and possibly conduct an LDAP injection attack.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Implementation

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.

+ 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.
+ Notes


Factors: resultant to special character mismanagement, MAID, or blacklist/whitelist problems. Can be primary to authentication and verification errors.

Research Gap

Under-reported. This is likely found very frequently by third party code auditors, but there are very few publicly reported examples.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERLDAP injection
OWASP Top Ten 2007A2CWE More SpecificInjection Flaws
WASC29LDAP Injection
Software Fault PatternsSFP24Tainted input to command
+ References
[REF-879] SPI Dynamics. "Web Applications and LDAP Injection".
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Sean EidemillerCigital
added/updated demonstrative examples
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Name
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Other_Notes, Relationship_Notes
2010-02-16CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2010-06-21CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Name, Potential_Mitigations, Relationships
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Observed_Examples, Related_Attack_Patterns, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Potential_Mitigations
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2015-12-07CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11LDAP Injection
2009-05-27Failure to Sanitize Data into LDAP Queries (aka 'LDAP Injection')
2010-06-21Failure to Sanitize Data into LDAP Queries ('LDAP Injection')

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018