Code Injection

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This is an Attack. To view all attacks, please see the Attack Category page.

ASDR Table of Contents


Code Injection is the general name for a lot of types of attacks which depend on inserting code, which is interprated by the application. Such an attack may be be performed by adding strings of characters into a cookie or argument values in the URI. This attack makes use of lack of accurate input/output data validation, for example:

- class of allowed charachters (standard regular expressions classes or custom)
- data format
- amount of expected data
- for numerical input its values

Code Injection and Command Injection are measures used to achive simmilar goals. The concept of Code Injection is to add malicious code into an application, which then will be executed. Added code is a part of the application itself. It's not external code which is executed, like it would be in Command Injection.


Example 1

If site uses include() fucntion, which operates on variables sent with GET method, and there is no validation on them performed, then the attacker may try to execute different code than author of the code had on mind.

The URL below should display information about how to contact with the testsite company.

Below the altered code will include another code from The script "evilcode.php" may contain e.g. phpinfo() function, which is usefull for gaining information about configuration of the environment in which the web service runs.

One condition must be satisfied for this example to be successful, namely the web server configuration must allow for including files in the "http://" notation.

Example 2

When programmer uses eval() function and operates on data inside it, and these data may be altered by the attacker, then it's only one step closer to Code Injection.

Mentioned below example shows how to use the eval() function:

$myvar = "varname";
$x = $_GET['arg'];
eval("\$myvar = \$x;");

The code above which smells like a rose may be used to perform a Code Injection attack.

E.g. passing in the URI /index.php?arg=1; phpinfo()

Exploiting bugs like these the attacker doesn't have to limit himself only to Code Injection attack. The attacker may tempt himself to use Command Injection technique e.g.

/index.pho?arg=1; system('id')

Related Threats

Related Attacks

Related Vulnerabilities

Related Countermeasures

  • validation of the format / expected classes of charachetrs / input/output data size