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CWE-267: Privilege Defined With Unsafe Actions

Weakness ID: 267
Abstraction: Base
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description

Description Summary

A particular privilege, role, capability, or right can be used to perform unsafe actions that were not intended, even when it is assigned to the correct entity.
+ Time of Introduction
  • Architecture and Design
  • Implementation
  • Operation
+ Applicable Platforms



+ Common Consequences
Access Control

Technical Impact: Gain privileges / assume identity

A user can access restricted functionality and/or sensitive information that may include administrative functionality and user accounts.

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

This code intends to allow only Administrators to print debug information about a system.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: Java 
public enum Roles {

public void printDebugInfo(User requestingUser){
case GUEST:
System.out.println("You are not authorized to perform this command");
System.out.println("You must be logged in to perform this command");

While the intention was to only allow Administrators to print the debug information, the code as written only excludes those the with the role of "GUEST". Someone with the role of "ADMIN" or "USER" will be allowed access, which goes against the original intent. An attacker may be able to use this debug information to craft an attack on the system.

+ Observed Examples
Roles have access to dangerous procedures (Accessible entities).
Untrusted object/method gets access to clipboard (Accessible entities).
Gain privileges using functions/tags that should be restricted (Accessible entities).
Traceroute program allows unprivileged users to modify source address of packet (Accessible entities).
Bypass domain restrictions using a particular file that references unsafe URI schemes (Accessible entities).
Script does not restrict access to an update command, leading to resultant disk consumption and filled error logs (Accessible entities).
"public" database user can use stored procedure to modify data controlled by the database owner (Unsafe privileged actions).
User with capability can prevent setuid program from dropping privileges (Unsafe privileged actions).
Allows attachment to and modification of privileged processes (Unsafe privileged actions).
User with privilege can edit raw underlying object using unprotected method (Unsafe privileged actions).
Inappropriate actions allowed by a particular role(Unsafe privileged actions).
Untrusted entity allowed to access the system clipboard (Unsafe privileged actions).
Extra Linux capability allows bypass of system-specified restriction (Unsafe privileged actions).
User with debugging rights can read entire process (Unsafe privileged actions).
Non-root admins can add themselves or others to the root admin group (Unsafe privileged actions).
Users can change certain properties of objects to perform otherwise unauthorized actions (Unsafe privileged actions).
Certain debugging commands not restricted to just the administrator, allowing registry modification and infoleak (Unsafe privileged actions).
+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Architecture and Design; Operation

Very carefully manage the setting, management, and handling of privileges. Explicitly manage trust zones in the software.

Phases: Architecture and Design; Operation

Strategy: Environment Hardening

Run your code using the lowest privileges that are required to accomplish the necessary tasks [R.267.1]. If possible, create isolated accounts with limited privileges that are only used for a single task. That way, a successful attack will not immediately give the attacker access to the rest of the software or its environment. For example, database applications rarely need to run as the database administrator, especially in day-to-day operations.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfCategoryCategory265Privilege / Sandbox Issues
Development Concepts (primary)699
ChildOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base269Improper Privilege Management
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory901SFP Primary Cluster: Privilege
Software Fault Pattern (SFP) Clusters (primary)888
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant623Unsafe ActiveX Control Marked Safe For Scripting
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
MemberOfViewView884CWE Cross-section
CWE Cross-section (primary)884
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERUnsafe Privilege
+ References
[R.267.1] [31] Sean Barnum and Michael Gegick. "Least Privilege". 2005-09-14. <>.
+ Maintenance Notes

This overlaps authorization and access control problems.

Note: there are 2 separate sub-categories here:

- privilege incorrectly allows entities to perform certain actions

- object is incorrectly accessible to entities with a given privilege

+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
PLOVERExternally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigitalExternal
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Description, Maintenance_Notes, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2009-12-28CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Potential_Mitigations
2010-06-21CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Potential_Mitigations
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences, Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Potential_Mitigations, References
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Unsafe Privilege

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Page Last Updated: May 05, 2017