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ID

CWE-301: Reflection Attack in an Authentication Protocol

Weakness ID: 301
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
Simple authentication protocols are subject to reflection attacks if a malicious user can use the target machine to impersonate a trusted user.
+ Extended Description
A mutual authentication protocol requires each party to respond to a random challenge by the other party by encrypting it with a pre-shared key. Often, however, such protocols employ the same pre-shared key for communication with a number of different entities. A malicious user or an attacker can easily compromise this protocol without possessing the correct key by employing a reflection attack on the protocol.
+ 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)
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory1010Authenticate Actors
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
ChildOfClassClass287Improper Authentication
+ 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

The primary result of reflection attacks is successful authentication with a target machine -- as an impersonated user.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
Medium
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following example demonstrates the weakness.

(bad)
Example Language:
unsigned char *simple_digest(char *alg,char *buf,unsigned int len, int *olen) {
const EVP_MD *m;
EVP_MD_CTX ctx;
unsigned char *ret;
OpenSSL_add_all_digests();
if (!(m = EVP_get_digestbyname(alg))) return NULL;
if (!(ret = (unsigned char*)malloc(EVP_MAX_MD_SIZE))) return NULL;
EVP_DigestInit(&ctx, m);
EVP_DigestUpdate(&ctx,buf,len);
EVP_DigestFinal(&ctx,ret,olen);
return ret;

}
unsigned char *generate_password_and_cmd(char *password_and_cmd) {
simple_digest("sha1",password,strlen(password_and_cmd)
...
);

}
(bad)
Example Language: Java 
String command = new String("some cmd to execute & the password") MessageDigest encer = MessageDigest.getInstance("SHA");
encer.update(command.getBytes("UTF-8"));
byte[] digest = encer.digest();
+ Observed Examples
ReferenceDescription
product authentication succeeds if user-provided MD5 hash matches the hash in its database; this can be subjected to replay attacks.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Use different keys for the initiator and responder or of a different type of challenge for the initiator and responder.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Let the initiator prove its identity before proceeding.
+ 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

Maintenance

The term "reflection" is used in multiple ways within CWE and the community, so its usage should be reviewed.

Other

Reflection attacks capitalize on mutual authentication schemes in order to trick the target into revealing the secret shared between it and another valid user. In a basic mutual-authentication scheme, a secret is known to both the valid user and the server; this allows them to authenticate. In order that they may verify this shared secret without sending it plainly over the wire, they utilize a Diffie-Hellman-style scheme in which they each pick a value, then request the hash of that value as keyed by the shared secret. In a reflection attack, the attacker claims to be a valid user and requests the hash of a random value from the server. When the server returns this value and requests its own value to be hashed, the attacker opens another connection to the server. This time, the hash requested by the attacker is the value which the server requested in the first connection. When the server returns this hashed value, it is used in the first connection, authenticating the attacker successfully as the impersonated valid user.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CLASPReflection attack in an auth protocol
OWASP Top Ten 2007A7CWE More SpecificBroken Authentication and Session Management
+ References
[REF-62] Mark Dowd, John McDonald and Justin Schuh. "The Art of Software Security Assessment". Chapter 2, "Insufficient Validation", Page 38.. 1st Edition. Addison Wesley. 2006.
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
CLASP
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Description, Maintenance_Notes, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples, References, Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Demonstrative_Examples, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships

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Page Last Updated: November 14, 2017