What is a Remote Code Execution Vulnerability?

【RCE Attack】Defintion, Examples, and Prevention

Jun 23, 2022

9 min read

Ivona Simic

In this article:

Remote Code Execution (RCE) allows attackers to execute malicious code on systems and devices, regardless of their location. Here’s what you need to know about this attack, how it works, and how to prevent it.

RCE meaning

Also known as remote code evaluation, RCE is part of the broader group of arbitrary code execution (ACE) attacks. It is a way to remotely inject and execute code in a target machine or system using the internet, local (LAN), or wide area networks (WAN). This code can gain access to a web server or application, take complete control over it or compromise it, open backdoors, seize, modify or destroy data, install ransomware, etc.

This attack exploits the possibility of executable code being injected into a string or file and executed or evaluated. This can be due to user input not being validated and allowed to pass through the parser of the programming language – a situation often not intended by developers. Injected code is usually in the programming language of the targeted application. Such languages may include PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, etc.

Depending on the flaw that attackers exploit, they will typically acquire those privileges granted by the process they are targeting upon executing the code. For example, if attackers inject code

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