Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-1277: Firmware Not Updateable

Weakness ID: 1277
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The product's firmware cannot be updated, which leaves persistent weaknesses with no means of patching them.
+ Extended Description

The inability to patch the product's firmware means that any weaknesses therein cannot be mitigated through an update. This leaves the system/device open to potential exploitation of the inherent weaknesses present. External protective measures and mitigations can be employed to aid in preventing malicious behavior, but the root weakness cannot be corrected.

+ Relationships

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)
ChildOfPillarPillar - a weakness that is the most abstract type of weakness and represents a theme for all class/base/variant weaknesses related to it. A Pillar is different from a Category as a Pillar is still technically a type of weakness that describes a mistake, while a Category represents a common characteristic used to group related things.664Improper Control of a Resource Through its Lifetime
+ Relevant to the view "Hardware Design" (CWE-1194)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1208Cross-Cutting Problems
+ Modes Of Introduction

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.

RequirementsThe weakness can appear through oversight during requirements development.
Architecture and DesignThe weakness can appear due to lack of planning during architecture development and design.
ImplementationThe weakness can appear through oversight during implementation.
+ Applicable Platforms
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)

Operating Systems

Class: OS-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Class: Architecture-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Class: Technology-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)

+ Common Consequences

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.

Access Control

Technical Impact: Gain Privileges or Assume Identity; Bypass Protection Mechanism; Execute Unauthorized Code or Commands; DoS: Crash, Exit, or Restart

An attacker can leverage access to (or mapping of) the firmware to gain unauthorized access to the system's operation and configuration information. This knowledge can be used to determine the most effective method of exploiting the present weakness(es). If an attacker can identify a flaw in a device that can be exploited, this attack may apply across the entire class of devices since they cannot be updated. Likelihood of negative impact will depend on the prevalence and accessibility of the devices. If they are commodity (home) use devices, they are highly likely to be experimented on. If limited use commercial devices (low accessibility) then the likelihood is lower.
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

An employee’s mobile device is decommissioned due to end of life but sensitive user information, network certificates, and encryption keys are left in device memory/storage.

(bad code)
Example Language: Other 
This device is obtained by a malicious individual; either through re-seller or nefarious means. System forensics (e.g. chip decapping) is used to reveal system memory and storage data. Examination of these leads to acquisition of critical and/or sensitive data which can be used to bypass access control, impersonate individuals, or otherwise access potentially proprietary information.
(good code)
Example Language: Other 
Device is scrubbed of sensitive/critical information prior to decommissioning (e.g. resell or disposal). Once obtained by another individual, they are unable to extract any critical or sensitive data since it is not present on the device.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Requirements

Specify requirements to provide the ability to update firmware.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Design the device to allow for updating the firmware.

Phase: Implementation

Implement necessary functionality to allow for updating the firmware.
+ Notes


This entry is still under development and will continue to see updates and content improvements.
+ References
[REF-1095] Matthew Hughes. "Bad news: KeyWe Smart Lock is easily bypassed and can't be fixed". <>.
[REF-1096] Alex Scroxton. "Alarm bells ring, the IoT is listening". <>.
[REF-1097] Brian Krebs. "Zyxel Flaw Powers New Mirai IoT Botnet Strain". <>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2020-05-13Paul A. WortmanWells Fargo
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Page Last Updated: June 25, 2020