Chapter 10. Exploiting Path Traversal

Many kinds of functionality oblige a web application to read from or write to a file system on the basis of parameters supplied within user requests. If these operations are carried out in an unsafe manner, an attacker can submit crafted input which causes the application to access files that the application designer did not intend it to access. Known as path traversal vulnerabilities, such defects may enable the attacker to read sensitive data including passwords and application logs, or to overwrite security-critical items such as configuration files and software binaries. In the most serious cases, the vulnerability may enable an attacker to completely compromise both the application and the underlying operating system.

Path traversal flaws are sometimes subtle to detect, and many web applications implement defenses against them that may be vulnerable to bypasses. We will describe all of the various techniques you will need, from identifying potential targets, to probing for vulnerable behavior, to circumventing the application's defenses.

Common Vulnerabilities

Path traversal vulnerabilities arise when user-controllable data is used by the application to access files and directories on the application server or other back-end file system in an unsafe way. By submitting crafted input, an attacker may be able to cause arbitrary content to be read from, or written to, anywhere on the file system being accessed. This often enables an attacker to ...

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