CAPEC-38: Leveraging/Manipulating Configuration File Search Paths

This pattern of attack sees an adversary load a malicious resource into a program's standard path so that when a known command is executed then the system instead executes the malicious component. The adversary can either modify the search path a program uses, like a PATH variable or classpath, or they can manipulate resources on the path to point to their malicious components. J2EE applications and other component based applications that are built from multiple binaries can have very long list of dependencies to execute. If one of these libraries and/or references is controllable by the attacker then application controls can be circumvented by the attacker.
Extended Description

Malicious user input is injected into various standard and/or user defined HTTP headers within a HTTP Response through use of Carriage Return (CR), Line Feed (LF), Horizontal Tab (HT), Space (SP) characters as well as other valid/RFC compliant special characters, and unique character encoding.

A single HTTP response ends up being split as two or more HTTP responses by the targeted client HTTP agent parsing the original maliciously manipulated HTTP response. This allows malicious HTTP responses to bypass security controls in order to implement malicious actions and provide malicious content that allows access to sensitive data and to compromise applications and users. This is performed by the abuse of interpretation and parsing discrepancies in different intermediary HTTP agents (load balancer, reverse proxy, web caching proxies, application firewalls, etc.) or client HTTP agents (e.g., web browser) in the path of the malicious HTTP responses.

This attack is usually the result of the usage of outdated or incompatible HTTP protocol versions as well as lack of syntax checking and filtering of user input in the HTTP agents receiving HTTP messages in the path.

This differs from CAPEC-105 HTTP Request Splitting, which is usually an attempt to compromise a back-end HTTP agent via HTTP Request messages. HTTP Response Splitting is an attempt to compromise aclient agent (e.g., web browser)by sending malicious content in HTTP responses from back-end HTTP infrastructure.

HTTP Smuggling (CAPEC-33 and CAPEC-273) is different from HTTP Splitting due to the fact it relies upon discrepancies in the interpretation of various HTTP Headers and message sizes and not solely user input of special characters and character encoding. HTTP Smuggling was established to circumvent mitigations against HTTP Request Splitting techniques.

Severity :

Very High

Possibility :


Type :

Relationships with other CAPECs

This table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern.


This table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern.

  • The attacker must be able to write to redirect search paths on the victim host.
Skills required

This table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern.

  • Low To identify and execute against an over-privileged system interface
Related CWE

A Related Weakness relationship associates a weakness with this attack pattern. Each association implies a weakness that must exist for a given attack to be successful.

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Latest DB Update: Jul. 16, 2024 8:48