Improper Check for Dropped Privileges

The software attempts to drop privileges but does not check or incorrectly checks to see if the drop succeeded.


If the drop fails, the software will continue to run with the raised privileges, which might provide additional access to unprivileged users.


In Windows based environments that have access control, impersonation is used so that access checks can be performed on a client identity by a server with higher privileges. By impersonating the client, the server is restricted to client-level security -- although in different threads it may have much higher privileges.


The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.

Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.

Example One

This code attempts to take on the privileges of a user before creating a file, thus avoiding performing the action with unnecessarily high privileges:

bool DoSecureStuff(HANDLE hPipe) {
  bool fDataWritten = false;
  HANDLE hFile = CreateFile(...);

The call to ImpersonateNamedPipeClient may fail, but the return value is not checked. If the call fails, the code may execute with higher privileges than intended. In this case, an attacker could exploit this behavior to write a file to a location that the attacker does not have access to.

See Also

SEI CERT C Coding Standard - Guidelines 50. POSIX (POS)

Weaknesses in this category are related to the rules and recommendations in the POSIX (POS) section of the SEI CERT C Coding Standard.

Authorize Actors

Weaknesses in this category are related to the design and architecture of a system's authorization components. Frequently these deal with enforcing that agents have th...

SFP Secondary Cluster: Unchecked Status Condition

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Unchecked Status Condition cluster (SFP4).

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

This view (slice) covers all the elements in CWE.

CWE Cross-section

This view contains a selection of weaknesses that represent the variety of weaknesses that are captured in CWE, at a level of abstraction that is likely to be useful t...

Weaknesses Introduced During Implementation

This view (slice) lists weaknesses that can be introduced during implementation.

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