CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors
Home > CWE List > CWE- Individual Dictionary Definition (3.0)  
ID

CWE-261: Weak Cryptography for Passwords

Weakness ID: 261
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
Obscuring a password with a trivial encoding does not protect the password.
+ 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)
NatureTypeIDName
ChildOfClassClass326Inadequate Encryption Strength
ChildOfClassClass287Improper Authentication
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory1013Encrypt Data
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory255Credentials Management
ChildOfClassClass326Inadequate Encryption Strength
+ 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.

PhaseNote
Architecture and DesignCOMMISSION: This weakness refers to an incorrect design related to 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.

Languages

(Language-Independent classes): (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.

ScopeImpactLikelihood
Access Control

Technical Impact: Gain Privileges or Assume Identity

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following code reads a password from a properties file and uses the password to connect to a database.

(bad)
Example Language: Java 
...
Properties prop = new Properties();
prop.load(new FileInputStream("config.properties"));
String password = Base64.decode(prop.getProperty("password"));
DriverManager.getConnection(url, usr, password);
...

This code will run successfully, but anyone with access to config.properties can read the value of password and easily determine that the value has been base 64 encoded. If a devious employee has access to this information, they can use it to break into the system.

Example 2

The following code reads a password from the registry and uses the password to create a new network credential.

(bad)
Example Language: C# 
...
string value = regKey.GetValue(passKey).ToString();
byte[] decVal = Convert.FromBase64String(value);
NetworkCredential netCred = newNetworkCredential(username,decVal.toString(),domain);
...

This code will run successfully, but anyone who has access to the registry key used to store the password can read the value of password. If a devious employee has access to this information, they can use it to break into the system.

+ Potential Mitigations
Passwords should be encrypted with keys that are at least 128 bits in length for adequate security.
+ 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.
+ Notes

Other

Password management issues occur when a password is stored in plaintext in an application's properties or configuration file. A programmer can attempt to remedy the password management problem by obscuring the password with an encoding function, such as base 64 encoding, but this effort does not adequately protect the password.

The "crypt" family of functions uses weak cryptographic algorithms and should be avoided. It may be present in some projects for compatibility.

+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
7 Pernicious KingdomsPassword Management: Weak Cryptography
OWASP Top Ten 2004A8CWE More SpecificInsecure Storage
+ References
[REF-207] John Viega and Gary McGraw. "Building Secure Software: How to Avoid Security Problems the Right Way". 1st Edition. Addison-Wesley. 2002.
[REF-44] Michael Howard, David LeBlanc and John Viega. "24 Deadly Sins of Software Security". "Sin 19: Use of Weak Password-Based Systems." Page 279. McGraw-Hill. 2010.
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
7 Pernicious Kingdoms
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-08-15Veracode
Suggested OWASP Top Ten 2004 mapping
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2011-03-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated References, Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2015-12-07CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships

More information is available — Please select a different filter.
Page Last Updated: November 14, 2017