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Summary of security impact levels for Apache Tomcat

The Apache Tomcat Security Team rates the impact of each security flaw that affects Tomcat. We've chosen a rating scale quite similar to those used by other major vendors in order to be consistent. Basically the goal of the rating system is to answer the question "How worried should I be about this vulnerability?".

Note that the rating chosen for each flaw is the worst possible case across all architectures. To determine the exact impact of a particular vulnerability on your own systems you will still need to read the security advisories to find out more about the flaw.

We use the following descriptions to decide on the impact rating to give each vulnerability:

Critical

A vulnerability rated with a Critical impact is one which could potentially be exploited by a remote attacker to get Tomcat to execute arbitrary code (either as the user the server is running as, or root). These are the sorts of vulnerabilities that could be exploited automatically by worms.

Important

A vulnerability rated as Important impact is one which could result in the compromise of data or availability of the server. For Tomcat this includes issues that allow an easy remote denial of service (something that is out of proportion to the attack or with a lasting consequence), access to arbitrary files outside of the context root, or access to files that should be otherwise prevented by limits or authentication.

Moderate

A vulnerability is likely to be rated as Moderate if there is significant mitigation to make the issue less of an impact. This might be because the flaw does not affect likely configurations, or it is a configuration that isn't widely used, or where a remote user must be authenticated in order to exploit the issue. Flaws that allow Tomcat to serve directory listings instead of index files and cross-site scripting issues are included here.

Low

All other security flaws are classed as a Low impact. This rating is used for issues that are believed to be extremely hard to exploit, or where an exploit gives minimal consequences.