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You are here: UMWiki>CBI_ComputerSecurity Web>Mechanisms>MechanismsTrapdoor (25 Feb 2014, norqu036)

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A trapdoor is a hidden piece of code within a larger program that that allows the user to perform normally unauthorized actions. The trapdoor code allows the user to bypass any security mechanisms that have been put in place to protect the program. Some trapdoors are planted for legitimate use in testing or maintenance of the program. These trapdoors allow programmers to more easily sort out bugs as the program is developed. Examples include pieces of code that allow the programmer to halt the program and force it to display its internal calculations for examination. Other trapdoors are purposefully hidden by malicious programmers in order to allow them unauthorized access. An example would be a coded trapdoor in the software for an Automated Teller Machine that allows the user to access the money in the machine when the right series of numbers or commands are entered by the user. Diagnostic trapdoors that programmers forget to remove are serious vulnerabilities for any system, and may be discovered and exploited by malicious users. Intentionally hidden trapdoors are purposefully designed to be exploited. Either kind can be found if the program is properly reviewed, but often modern programs are large enough for their development to be distributed amongst may different individuals, resulting in a greater risk of both kinds of trapdoor.(1)


1 : C. E. Landwehr et al. "A Taxonomy of Computer Program Security Flaws, with Examples" DTIC Document, Naval Research Laboratory, 1994.

Topic revision: r3 - 25 Feb 2014 - 10:02:10 - norqu036
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