Absolute Path Traversal

The software uses external input to construct a pathname that should be within a restricted directory, but it does not properly neutralize absolute path sequences such as "/abs/path" that can resolve to a location that is outside of that directory.


This allows attackers to traverse the file system to access files or directories that are outside of the restricted directory.


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

In the example below, the path to a dictionary file is read from a system property and used to initialize a File object.

String filename = System.getProperty("com.domain.application.dictionaryFile");
File dictionaryFile = new File(filename);

However, the path is not validated or modified to prevent it from containing relative or absolute path sequences before creating the File object. This allows anyone who can control the system property to determine what file is used. Ideally, the path should be resolved relative to some kind of application or user home directory.

See Also

File Handling Issues

Weaknesses in this category are related to the handling of files within a software system. Files, directories, and folders are so central to information technology tha...

SFP Secondary Cluster: Path Traversal

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Path Traversal cluster (SFP16).

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.

Common Weakness Enumeration content on this website is copyright of The MITRE Corporation unless otherwise specified. Use of the Common Weakness Enumeration and the associated references on this website are subject to the Terms of Use as specified by The MITRE Corporation.