In an Information Security context, fabrication is one of the four broad-based categories used to classify attacks and threats. A fabrication attack creates illegitimate information, processes, communications or other data within a system.

Often, fabricated data is inserted right alongside authentic data. When a known system is compromised, attackers may use fabrication techniques to gain trust, create a false trail, collect data for illicit use, spawn malicious or extraneous processes. In addition, fabricated data may reduce confidence in genuine data with the affected system.

Diagram showing data flow in normal conditions versus during a fabrication attack. In normal conditions, data is shown moving from authorized users into the systems. In the fabrication scenario, data is shown moving from a malicious actor into the system.
Diagram: Fabrication Attack


In Pop Culture

Although they are often silly and unrealistic examples, action movies and TV shows are full of examples of fabrication attacks. Does a secret agent need to “get through security” to travel or get into a secure area? No problem. The agent’s crack team almost always includes an impossibly fast and effective hacker, who inserts false identity information into the relevant databases with just a few quick keystrokes.

Fabricated credential showing on a screen in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Fabricated ID data on a computer screen in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

These fictional scenarios are usually be the work of state-sanctioned “good guys” in these spy movies. But make no mistake, the act of pushing bogus records into public and private databases, without the knowledge or permission of their owners, is definitely an attack.

In The Real Word

While getting a secret agent through a security checkpoint might be a goal in the movies, real-world fabrication attacks are often much less glamorous and require the attacker to discover and utilize specific vulnerabilities. The range of goals and targets that may drive attackers in a fabrication attack are very broad. Fabrication could be used for general disruption, for financial gain or to set up for a future, even more elaborate, malicious operation.

Real-world examples of fabrication attack patterns include:

  • SQL Injection
  • Route Injection
  • User / Credential Counterfeiting
  • Log / Audit Trail Falsification
  • Email Spoofing
  • SPIT Attacks

Related Concepts

Major Attack Classifications

In common IT security parlance, fabrication is one of the four major categories that classify attacks. The three others are:

  1. Interception
  2. Interruption
  3. Modification

Within The Security Models

Mapping the CIA Triad: this diagram shows the confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity sphere of the CIA Triad security model. Fabrication is mapped with a target in the Authenticity sphere.

Fabrication targets the Integrity pillar of the CIA Triad security model and Integrity and Authenticity pillars of the Parkerian Hexad security model.

Additional References

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