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Windows Hard Link

ID: 65Date: (C)2012-05-14   (M)2012-11-08
Type: weaknessStatus: INCOMPLETE
Abstraction Type: Variant


The software, when opening a file or directory, does not sufficiently handle when the name is associated with a hard link to a target that is outside of the intended control sphere. This could allow an attacker to cause the software to operate on unauthorized files.

Extended Description

Failure for a system to check for hard links can result in vulnerability to different types of attacks. For example, an attacker can escalate their privileges if a file used by a privileged program is replaced with a hard link to a sensitive file (e.g. AUTOEXEC.BAT). When the process opens the file, the attacker can assume the privileges of that process, or prevent the program from accurately processing data.

Applicable Platforms
Language Class: All
Operating System Class: Windows

Time Of Introduction

  • Implementation
  • Operation

Common Consequences

ScopeTechnical ImpactNotes
Read files or directories
Modify files or directories

Detection Methods

Potential Mitigations

Architecture and Design
Separation of Privilege
Follow the principle of least privilege when assigning access rights to entities in a software system.
Denying access to a file can prevent an attacker from replacing that file with a link to a sensitive file. Ensure good compartmentalization in the system to provide protected areas that can be trusted.


Related CWETypeViewChain
CWE-65 ChildOf CWE-893 Category CWE-888  

Demonstrative Examples

Observed Examples

  1. CVE-2002-0725 : File system allows local attackers to hide file usage activities via a hard link to the target file, which causes the link to be recorded in the audit trail instead of the target file.
  2. CVE-2003-0844 : Web server plugin allows local users to overwrite arbitrary files via a symlink attack on predictable temporary filenames.

For more examples, refer to CVE relations in the bottom box.

White Box Definitions

Black Box Definitions

Taxynomy Mappings

PLOVER  Windows hard link
CERT C Secure Coding FIO05-C
Identify files using multiple file attributes
CERT C++ Secure Coding FIO05-CPP
Identify files using multiple file attributes


  1. Mark Dowd John McDonald Justin Schuh .The Art of Software Security Assessment 1st Edition. Addison Wesley. Section:'Chapter 11, "Links", Page 676.'. Published on 2006.

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