This site is the archived OWASP Foundation Wiki and is no longer accepting Account Requests.
To view the new OWASP Foundation website, please visit

Category:Path Traversal Attack

Jump to: navigation, search


This category of attacks exploit various path vulnerabilities to access files or directories that are not intended to be accessed. This attack works on applications that take user input and use it in a "path" that is used to access a filesystem. If the attacker includes special characters that modify the meaning of the path, the application will misbehave and may allow the attacker to access unauthorized resources. This type of attack has been successful on web servers, application servers, and custom code.


The most basic Path Traversal attack uses the '../' special character sequence to alter the location of the request. In an Operating System, this special character combination notes to move down one directory. An example of such an attack could look like the following:

While the web server may stand up well to such an attack, another approach is to target the application itself. Most commonly the use of parameters being passed by the application can be exploited. Such data can come from user input or application data being passed between pages. Let's take for the following example into account:

We can observe from the above that bar.cgi takes a parameter to navigate through the application; in this case, the store location is mystore.html. We can use this knowledge to attempt the retrieval of bar.cgi's source code by submitting:

This can be taken a step further. By combining the two methods above one may be able to retrieve server resident content using the application as a means of accessing it. Keep in mind, the web server daemon (process) runs as a user on the machine and as such the application has read access to certain areas. Using the foobar store example URL above, let's look at how we can grab a file from another location of the server:


Pages in category "Path Traversal Attack"

This category contains only the following page.