Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

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CWE-313: Cleartext Storage in a File or on Disk

Weakness ID: 313
Abstraction: Variant
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description

Description Summary

The application stores sensitive information in cleartext in a file, or on disk.

Extended Description

The sensitive information could be read by attackers with access to the file, or with physical or administrator access to the raw disk. Even if the information is encoded in a way that is not human-readable, certain techniques could determine which encoding is being used, then decode the information.

+ Terminology Notes

Different people use "cleartext" and "plaintext" to mean the same thing: the lack of encryption. However, within cryptography, these have more precise meanings. Plaintext is the information just before it is fed into a cryptographic algorithm, including already-encrypted text. Cleartext is any information that is unencrypted, although it might be in an encoded form that is not easily human-readable (such as base64 encoding).

+ Time of Introduction
  • Architecture and Design
+ Applicable Platforms



+ Common Consequences

Technical Impact: Read application data

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following examples show a portion of properties and configuration files for Java and ASP.NET applications. The files include username and password information but they are stored in cleartext.

This Java example shows a properties file with a cleartext username / password pair.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: Java 
# Java Web App ResourceBundle properties file

The following example shows a portion of a configuration file for an ASP.Net application. This configuration file includes username and password information for a connection to a database but the pair is stored in cleartext.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: ASP.NET 
<add name="ud_DEV" connectionString="connectDB=uDB; uid=db2admin; pwd=password; dbalias=uDB;" providerName="System.Data.Odbc" />

Username and password information should not be included in a configuration file or a properties file in cleartext as this will allow anyone who can read the file access to the resource. If possible, encrypt this information and avoid CWE-260 and CWE-13

+ Observed Examples
Cleartext credentials in world-readable file.
Password in cleartext in config file.
Password in cleartext in config file.
Decrypted copy of a message written to disk given a combination of options and when user replies to an encrypted message.
Cleartext storage of private key and passphrase in log file when user imports the key.
+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base312Cleartext Storage of Sensitive Information
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory963SFP Secondary Cluster: Exposed Data
Software Fault Pattern (SFP) Clusters (primary)888
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERPlaintext Storage in File or on Disk
Software Fault PatternsSFP23Exposed Data
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
PLOVERExternally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigitalExternal
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2010-12-13CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships
2013-07-17CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Applicable_Platforms, Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Name, Observed_Examples, Potential_Mitigations, Terminology_Notes
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Plaintext Storage in File or on Disk
2013-07-17Plaintext Storage in a File or on Disk

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2017