Externally Controlled Reference to a Resource in Another Sphere

The product uses an externally controlled name or reference that resolves to a resource that is outside of the intended control sphere.


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

The following code is a Java servlet that will receive a GET request with a url parameter in the request to redirect the browser to the address specified in the url parameter. The servlet will retrieve the url parameter value from the request and send a response to redirect the browser to the url address.

public class RedirectServlet extends HttpServlet {

  protected void doGet(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response) throws ServletException, IOException {
    String query = request.getQueryString();
    if (query.contains("url")) {
      String url = request.getParameter("url");


The problem with this Java servlet code is that an attacker could use the RedirectServlet as part of an e-mail phishing scam to redirect users to a malicious site. An attacker could send an HTML formatted e-mail directing the user to log into their account by including in the e-mail the following link:

<a href="http://bank.example.com/redirect?url=http://attacker.example.net">Click here to log in</a>

The user may assume that the link is safe since the URL starts with their trusted bank, bank.example.com. However, the user will then be redirected to the attacker's web site (attacker.example.net) which the attacker may have made to appear very similar to bank.example.com. The user may then unwittingly enter credentials into the attacker's web page and compromise their bank account. A Java servlet should never redirect a user to a URL without verifying that the redirect address is a trusted site.

See Also

Comprehensive Categorization: Resource Lifecycle Management

Weaknesses in this category are related to resource lifecycle management.

ICS Dependencies (& Architecture): External Digital Systems

Weaknesses in this category are related to the "External Digital Systems" category from the SEI ETF "Categories of Security Vulnerabilities in ICS" as published in Mar...

OWASP Top Ten 2021 Category A03:2021 - Injection

Weaknesses in this category are related to the A03 category "Injection" in the OWASP Top Ten 2021.

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

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

Entries with Maintenance Notes

CWE entries in this view have maintenance notes. Maintenance notes are an indicator that an entry might change significantly in future versions. This view was created...

Weaknesses for Simplified Mapping of Published Vulnerabilities

CWE entries in this view (graph) may be used to categorize potential weaknesses within sources that handle public, third-party vulnerability information, such as the N...

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.