CWE-1220: Insufficient Granularity of Access Control
The product implements access controls via a policy or other feature with the intention to disable or restrict accesses (reads and/or writes) to assets in a system from untrusted agents. However, implemented access controls lack required granularity, which renders the control policy too broad because it allows accesses from unauthorized agents to the security-sensitive assets.
Integrated circuits and hardware engines can expose accesses to assets (device configuration, keys, etc.) to trusted firmware or a software module (commonly set by BIOS/bootloader). This access is typically access-controlled. Upon a power reset, the hardware or system usually starts with default values in registers, and the trusted firmware (Boot firmware) configures the necessary access-control protection.
A common weakness that can exist in such protection schemes is that access controls or policies are not granular enough. This condition allows agents beyond trusted agents to access assets and could lead to a loss of functionality or the ability to set up the device securely. This further results in security risks from leaked, sensitive, key material to modification of device configuration.
The table(s) below shows the weaknesses and high level categories that are related to this weakness. These relationships are defined as ChildOf, ParentOf, MemberOf and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as PeerOf and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar weaknesses that the user may want to explore.
Relevant to the view "Research Concepts" (CWE-1000)
Relevant to the view "Software Development" (CWE-699)
Relevant to the view "Hardware Design" (CWE-1194)
The different Modes of Introduction provide information about how and when this weakness may be introduced. The Phase identifies a point in the life cycle at which introduction may occur, while the Note provides a typical scenario related to introduction during the given phase.
The listings below show possible areas for which the given weakness could appear. These may be for specific named Languages, Operating Systems, Architectures, Paradigms, Technologies, or a class of such platforms. The platform is listed along with how frequently the given weakness appears for that instance.
Class: Language-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
Class: OS-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
Class: Architecture-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
Class: Technology-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
The table below specifies different individual consequences associated with the weakness. The Scope identifies the application security area that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in exploiting this weakness. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a weakness will be exploited to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
Consider a system with a register for storing AES key for encryption or decryption. The key is 128 bits, implemented as a set of four 32-bit registers. The key registers are assets and registers, AES_KEY_READ_POLICY and AES_KEY_WRITE_POLICY, and are defined to provide necessary access controls.
The read-policy register defines which agents can read the AES-key registers, and write-policy register defines which agents can program or write to those registers. Each register is a 32-bit register, and it can support access control for a maximum of 32 agents. The number of the bit when set (i.e., "1") allows respective action from an agent whose identity matches the number of the bit and, if "0" (i.e., Clear), disallows the respective action to that corresponding agent.
Example Language: Other
In the above example, there is only one policy register that controls access to both read and write accesses to the AES-key registers, and thus the design is not granular enough to separate read and writes access for different agents. Here, agent with identities "1" and "2" can both read and write.
A good design should be granular enough to provide separate access controls to separate actions. Access control for reads should be separate from writes. Below is an example of such implementation where two policy registers are defined for each of these actions. The policy is defined such that: the AES-key registers can only be read or used by a crypto agent with identity "1" when bit #1 is set. The AES-key registers can only be programmed by a trusted firmware with identity "2" when bit #2 is set.
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