Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-211: Information Exposure Through Externally-Generated Error Message

Weakness ID: 211
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The software performs an operation that triggers an external diagnostic or error message that is not directly generated by the software, such as an error generated by the programming language interpreter that the software uses. The error can contain sensitive system information.
+ 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)
ChildOfBaseBase209Information Exposure Through an Error Message
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
MemberOfCategoryCategory1016Limit Exposure
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
ChildOfBaseBase209Information Exposure Through an Error Message
+ 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 software life cycle at which introduction may occur, while the Note provides a typical scenario related to introduction during the given phase.

Architecture and DesignPHP applications are often targeted for having this issue when the PHP interpreter generates the error outside of the application's control. However, other languages/environments exhibit the same issue.
ImplementationREALIZATION: This weakness is caused during implementation of an architectural security tactic.
+ 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.


PHP (Often Prevalent)

Class: Language-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.


Technical Impact: Read Application Data

+ Observed Examples
chain: product does not protect against direct request of an include file, leading to resultant path disclosure when the include file does not successfully execute.
Single "'" inserted into SQL query leads to invalid SQL query execution, triggering full path disclosure. Possibly resultant from more general SQL injection issue.
chain: product does not protect against direct request of a library file, leading to resultant path disclosure when the file does not successfully execute.
invalid parameter triggers a failure to find an include file, leading to infoleak in error message.
Various invalid requests lead to information leak in verbose error messages describing the failure to instantiate a class, open a configuration file, or execute an undefined function.
Improper handling of filename request with trailing "/" causes multiple consequences, including information leak in Visual Basic error message.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: System Configuration

Configure the application's environment in a way that prevents errors from being generated. For example, in PHP, disable display_errors.

Phases: Implementation; Build and Compilation

Strategy: Compilation or Build Hardening

Debugging information should not make its way into a production release.

Phases: Implementation; Build and Compilation

Strategy: Environment Hardening

Debugging information should not make its way into a production release.

Phase: Implementation

Handle exceptions internally and do not display errors containing potentially sensitive information to a user. Create default error pages if necessary.

Phase: Implementation

The best way to prevent this weakness during implementation is to avoid any bugs that could trigger the external error message. This typically happens when the program encounters fatal errors, such as a divide-by-zero. You will not always be able to control the use of error pages, and you might not be using a language that handles exceptions.
+ Weakness Ordinalities
(where the weakness is typically related to the presence of some other weaknesses)
+ Functional Areas
  • Error Handling
+ Memberships
This MemberOf Relationships table shows additional CWE Categories and Views that reference this weakness as a member. This information is often useful in understanding where a weakness fits within the context of external information sources.
MemberOfCategoryCategory963SFP Secondary Cluster: Exposed Data
+ Notes


This is inherently a resultant vulnerability from a weakness within the product or an interaction error.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERProduct-External Error Message Infoleak
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Enabling_Factors_for_Exploitation, Functional_Areas, Observed_Examples, Other_Notes, Potential_Mitigations, Relationship_Notes, Weakness_Ordinalities
2010-06-21CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2010-12-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples
2011-03-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Name
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Name
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Enabling_Factors_for_Exploitation, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2011-03-29Product-External Error Message Information Leak
2012-10-30Information Exposure Through External Error Message

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018