CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

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ID

CWE-321: Use of Hard-coded Cryptographic Key

Weakness ID: 321
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The use of a hard-coded cryptographic key significantly increases the possibility that encrypted data may be recovered.
+ 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
MemberOfCategoryCategory1013Encrypt Data
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory320Key Management Errors
ChildOfBaseBase798Use of Hard-coded Credentials
+ 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 DesignREALIZATION: 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.

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: Bypass Protection Mechanism; Gain Privileges or Assume Identity

If hard-coded cryptographic keys are used, it is almost certain that malicious users will gain access through the account in question.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
High
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following code examples attempt to verify a password using a hard-coded cryptographic key.

(bad)
Example Language:
int VerifyAdmin(char *password) {
if (strcmp(password,"68af404b513073584c4b6f22b6c63e6b")) {

printf("Incorrect Password!\n");
return(0);

}
printf("Entering Diagnostic Mode...\n");
return(1);

}
(bad)
Example Language: Java 
public boolean VerifyAdmin(String password) {
if (password.equals("68af404b513073584c4b6f22b6c63e6b")) {
System.out.println("Entering Diagnostic Mode...");
return true;

}
System.out.println("Incorrect Password!");
return false;
(bad)
Example Language: C# 
int VerifyAdmin(String password) {
if (password.Equals("68af404b513073584c4b6f22b6c63e6b")) {
Console.WriteLine("Entering Diagnostic Mode...");
return(1);

}
Console.WriteLine("Incorrect Password!");
return(0);

}

The cryptographic key is within a hard-coded string value that is compared to the password. It is likely that an attacker will be able to read the key and compromise the system.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Prevention schemes mirror that of hard-coded password storage.
+ 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

The main difference between the use of hard-coded passwords and the use of hard-coded cryptographic keys is the false sense of security that the former conveys. Many people believe that simply hashing a hard-coded password before storage will protect the information from malicious users. However, many hashes are reversible (or at least vulnerable to brute force attacks) -- and further, many authentication protocols simply request the hash itself, making it no better than a password.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CLASPUse of hard-coded cryptographic key
OWASP Top Ten 2007A8CWE More SpecificInsecure Cryptographic Storage
OWASP Top Ten 2007A9CWE More SpecificInsecure Communications
OWASP Top Ten 2004A8CWE More SpecificInsecure Storage
Software Fault PatternsSFP33Hardcoded sensitive data
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
CLASP
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-08-15Veracode
Suggested OWASP Top Ten 2004 mapping
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2010-02-16CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2010-09-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2010-12-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Demonstrative_Examples, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships

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Page Last Updated: November 14, 2017