DataStructures / System Design
What is Privilege Escalation?
Privilege escalation is a type of network attack used to gain unauthorized access to systems within a security perimeter.
Attackers start by finding weak points in an organization's defenses and gaining access to a system. In many cases, the first point of penetration will not grant attackers the level of access or data they need. They will then attempt privilege escalation to gain more permissions or obtain access to the additional, more sensitive systems.
There are two types of privilege escalation:Horizontal privilege escalation, an attacker expands their privileges by taking over another account and misusing the legitimate privileges granted to the other user. To learn more about horizontal privilege escalation see our guide on lateral movement.
Vertical privilege escalation, an attacker attempts to gain more permissions or access with an existing account they have compromised. For example, an attacker takes over a regular user account on a network and attempts to gain administrative permissions or root access. This requires more sophistication and may take the shape of an Advanced Persistent Threat.
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