HawkScan Test Info for Path Traversal

Path Traversal


Plugin Id: 6 | CWE: 22


To prevent Path Traversal vulnerabilities, follow these steps:

  1. Use framework specific path canonicalization functions: When dynamically loading files or when the files are known, use framework specific path canonicalization functions to ensure that the file paths are properly sanitized and resolved. This helps prevent any malicious attempts to traverse the file system.

    Example in PHP using the realpath function:

    $file = $_GET['file'];
    $path = realpath('/path/to/files/' . $file);
    if ($path !== false && strpos($path, '/path/to/files/') === 0) {
        // File path is valid and within the expected directory
        // Proceed with loading the file
    } else {
        // Invalid file path, handle error
  2. Create a mapping of ID to filename: If the files that need to be loaded are known and have a fixed set of options, create a mapping of ID to filename. Accept the ID as the input and load the specified file based on the mapping. This ensures that only the intended files can be accessed.

    Example in Python using a dictionary mapping:

    file_mapping = {
        '1': 'file1.txt',
        '2': 'file2.txt',
        '3': 'file3.txt'
    file_id = request.GET.get('file_id')
    if file_id in file_mapping:
        file_path = '/path/to/files/' + file_mapping[file_id]
        # Proceed with loading the file
        # Invalid file ID, handle error
  3. Restrict file access to webserver directory: Ensure that the files being loaded are not accessed from outside the webserver directory. This can be achieved by properly configuring the web server to restrict access to files outside the intended directory.

    Example in Apache configuration:

    <Directory /var/www/html>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride None
        Require all granted


The vulnerability known as “Path Traversal” occurs when an attacker is able to exploit a vulnerability in an application and trick it into delivering files from the filesystem that are outside of the application’s intended directory. This can happen when the application does not properly sanitize user input or validate file paths, allowing an attacker to manipulate the file path and access sensitive files on the server.


The risks associated with a Path Traversal vulnerability include:

  • Information disclosure: An attacker can access and retrieve sensitive information contained within files on the server, such as configuration files, user data, or other confidential information.

  • Username and password exposure: If the application stores usernames and passwords in files on the server, an attacker can potentially retrieve these credentials and gain unauthorized access to user accounts or other systems.

  • Execution of arbitrary code: In some cases, an attacker may be able to manipulate the file path to execute arbitrary code on the server, leading to further compromise of the system.

It is important to address Path Traversal vulnerabilities to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and protect the integrity of the application and server.