Attack Pattern ID: 103 (Standard Attack Pattern Completeness: Complete)Typical Severity: HighStatus: Draft
+ Description


In a clickjacking attack the victim is tricked into unknowingly initiating some action in one system while interacting with the UI from seemingly completely different system. While being logged in to some target system, the victim visits the attacker's malicious site which displays a UI that the victim wishes to interact with. In reality, the clickjacked page has a transparent layer above the visible UI with action controls that the attacker wishes the victim to execute. The victim clicks on buttons or other UI elements they see on the page which actually triggers the action controls in the transparent overlaying layer. Depending on what that action control is, the attacker may have just tricked the victim into executing some potentially privileged (and most certainly undesired) functionality in the target system to which the victim is authenticated. The basic problem here is that there is a dichotomy between what the victim thinks he's clicking on versus what he or she is actually clicking on.

Attack Execution Flow

  1. Craft a clickjacking page:

    The attacker utilizes web page layering techniques to try to craft a malicious clickjacking page

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments

    The attacker leveraged iFrame overlay capabilities to craft a malicious clickjacking page


    The attacker leveraged Flash file overlay capabilities to craft a malicious clickjacking page


    The attacker leveraged Silverlight overlay capabilities to craft a malicious clickjacking page


    The attacker leveraged cross-frame scripting to craft a malicious clickjacking page



    IDtypeIndicator DescriptionEnvironments

    Overlay capabilities are enabled in the browser



    IDtypeOutcome Description
    A page is created that performs unseen actions when the user interacts with the visible UI

    Security Controls

    IDtypeSecurity Control Description
    Disable overlay functionality in the browser. This can have obvious impact on the utility of the browser with some sites and web applications.
  1. Attacker lures victim to clickjacking page:

    Attacker utilizes some form of temptation, misdirection or coercion to lure the victim to loading and interacting with the clickjacking pagen a way that increases the chances that the victim will click in the right areas.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments

    Lure the victim to the malicious site by sending the victim an e-mail with a URL to the site.


    Lure the victim to the malicious site by manipulating URLs on a site trusted by the victim.


    Lure the victim to the malicious site through a cross-site scripting attack.



    IDtypeOutcome Description
    The victim loads the clickjacking page.
  2. Trick victim into interacting with the clickjacking page in the desired manner:

    The attacker tricks the victim into clicking on the areas of the UI which contain the hidden action controls and thereby interacts with the target system maliciously with the victim's level of privilege.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments

    Hide action controls over very commonly used functionality.


    Hide action controls over very psychologically tempting content.

+ Attack Prerequisites

The victim is communicating with the target application via a web based UI and not a thick client

The victim's browser security policies allow at least one of the following JavaScript, Flash, iFrames, ActiveX, or CSS.

The victim uses a modern browser that supports UI elements like clickable buttons (i.e. not using an old text only browser)

The victim has an active session with the target system.

The target system's interaction window is open in the victim's browser and supports the ability for initiating sensitive actions on behalf of the user in the target system

+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: Medium

+ Methods of Attack
  • Spoofing
  • Social Engineering
+ Examples-Instances


A victim has an authenticated session with a site that provides an electronic payment service to transfer funds between subscribing members. At the same time, the victim receives an e-mail that appears to come from an online publication to which he or she subscribes with links to today's news articles. The victim clicks on one of these links and is taken to a page with the news story. There is a screen with an advertisement that appears on top of the news article with the 'skip this ad' button. Eager to read the news article, the user clicks on this button. Nothing happens. The user clicks on the button one more time and still nothing happens.

In reality, the victim activated a hidden action control located in a transparent layer above the 'skip this ad' button. The ad screen blocking the news article made it likely that the victim would click on the 'skip this ad' button. Clicking on the button, actually initiated the transfer of $1000 from the victim's account with an electronic payment service to an attacker's account. Clicking on the 'skip this ad' button the second time (after nothing seemingly happened the first time) confirmed the transfer of funds to the elctronic payment service.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: High

Crafting the proper malicious site and luring the victim to this site are not trivial tasks.

+ Resources Required

Low: A computer connected to the internet.

+ Solutions and Mitigations

If using the Firefox browser, use the NoScript plug-in that will help forbid iFrames.

Turn off JavaScript, Flash and disable CSS.

When maintaining an authenticated session with a privileged target system, do not use the same browser to navigate to unfamiliar sites to perform other activities. Finish working with the target system and logout first before proceeding to other tasks.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
  • Privilege Escalation
  • Data Modification
  • Information Leakage
  • Denial of Service
+ Related Weaknesses
CWE-IDWeakness NameWeakness Relationship Type
693Protection Mechanism FailureTargeted
+ Related Attack Patterns
NatureTypeIDNameDescriptionView(s) this relationship pertains toView\(s\)
ChildOfAttack PatternAttack Pattern173Action Spoofing 
Mechanism of Attack (primary)1000
ParentOfAttack PatternAttack Pattern181Flash File Overlay 
Mechanism of Attack (primary)1000
ParentOfAttack PatternAttack Pattern222iFrame Overlay 
Mechanism of Attack (primary)1000
+ Relevant Security Requirements

Enforce maximum security restrictions in the browser: JavaScript disabled, Flash disabled, CSS disabled, iFrames forbidden

+ Related Security Principles
  • Shed elevated privileges as soon as possible (i.e. log out of the target application once finished with it and before doing other things in the browser)

+ Purposes
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: HighIntegrity Impact: HighAvailability Impact: Low
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
+ Content History
Evgeny LebanidzeCigital, Inc2009-01-14Initial core pattern content
Sean BarnumCigital Federal, Inc.2009-04-20Refinement of pattern content