Definition

privilege escalation attack

A privilege escalation attack is a type of network intrusion that takes advantage of programming errors or design flaws to grant the attacker elevated access to the network and its associated data and applications.

Not every system hack will initially provide an unauthorized user with full access to the targeted system. In those circumstances privilege escalation is required. There are two kinds of privilege escalation: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical privilege escalation requires the attacker to grant himself higher privileges. This is typically achieved by performing kernel-level operations that allow the attacker to run unauthorized code.

Horizontal privilege escalation requires the attacker to use the same level of privileges he already has been granted, but assume the identity of another user with similar privileges. For example, someone gaining access to another person's online banking account would constitute horizontal privilege escalation.

Related glossary terms: engine-level encryption
This was last updated in November 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Email Alerts

Register now to receive SearchSecurity.com-related news, tips and more, delivered to your inbox.
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

More News and Tutorials

Do you have something to add to this definition? Let us know.

Send your comments to techterms@whatis.com

There are Comments. Add yours.

 
TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: