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CWE-379: Creation of Temporary File in Directory with Incorrect Permissions

Creation of Temporary File in Directory with Incorrect Permissions
Weakness ID: 379 (Weakness Base)Status: Incomplete
+ Description

Description Summary

The software creates a temporary file in a directory whose permissions allow unintended actors to determine the file's existence or otherwise access that file.

Extended Description

On some operating systems, the fact that the temporary file exists may be apparent to any user with sufficient privileges to access that directory. Since the file is visible, the application that is using the temporary file could be known. If one has access to list the processes on the system, the attacker has gained information about what the user is doing at that time. By correlating this with the applications the user is running, an attacker could potentially discover what a user's actions are. From this, higher levels of security could be breached.

+ Time of Introduction
  • Architecture and Design
  • Implementation
+ Applicable Platforms



+ Common Consequences

Technical Impact: Read application data

Since the file is visible and the application which is using the temp file could be known, the attacker has gained information about what the user is doing at that time.

+ Likelihood of Exploit


+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

In the following code examples a temporary file is created and written to and after using the temporary file the file is closed and deleted from the file system.

(Bad Code)
Example Languages: C and C++ 
FILE *stream;
if( (stream = tmpfile()) == NULL ) {

perror("Could not open new temporary file\n");
return (-1);
// write data to tmp file
// remove tmp file

However, within this C/C++ code the method tmpfile() is used to create and open the temp file. The tmpfile() method works the same way as the fopen() method would with read/write permission, allowing attackers to read potentially sensitive information contained in the temp file or modify the contents of the file.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: Java 
try {
File temp = File.createTempFile("pattern", ".suffix");
BufferedWriter out = new BufferedWriter(new FileWriter(temp));
catch (IOException e) {

Similarly, the createTempFile() method used in the Java code creates a temp file that may be readable and writable to all users.

Additionally both methods used above place the file into a default directory. On UNIX systems the default directory is usually "/tmp" or "/var/tmp" and on Windows systems the default directory is usually "C:\\Windows\\Temp", which may be easily accessible to attackers, possibly enabling them to read and modify the contents of the temp file.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Requirements

Many contemporary languages have functions which properly handle this condition. Older C temp file functions are especially susceptible.

Phase: Implementation

Try to store sensitive tempfiles in a directory which is not world readable -- i.e., per-user directories.

Phase: Implementation

Avoid using vulnerable temp file functions.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfCategoryCategory376Temporary File Issues
Development Concepts (primary)699
ChildOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base377Insecure Temporary File
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory743CERT C Secure Coding Section 09 - Input Output (FIO)
Weaknesses Addressed by the CERT C Secure Coding Standard (primary)734
ChildOfCategoryCategory877CERT C++ Secure Coding Section 09 - Input Output (FIO)
Weaknesses Addressed by the CERT C++ Secure Coding Standard (primary)868
ChildOfCategoryCategory895SFP Cluster: Information Leak
Software Fault Pattern (SFP) Clusters (primary)888
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CLASPGuessed or visible temporary file
CERT C Secure CodingFIO15-CEnsure that file operations are performed in a secure directory
CERT C Secure CodingFIO43-CDo not create temporary files in shared directories
CERT C++ Secure CodingFIO15-CPPEnsure that file operations are performed in a secure directory
CERT C++ Secure CodingFIO43-CPPDo not create temporary files in shared directories
+ References
[REF-7] Mark Dowd, John McDonald and Justin Schuh. "The Art of Software Security Assessment". Chapter 9, "Temporary Files", Page 538.. 1st Edition. Addison Wesley. 2006.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
Externally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
updated Time_of_Introduction
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
updated Description, Name
updated Description, Other_Notes, Potential_Mitigations
updated Common_Consequences
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
updated References, Relationships
updated Demonstrative_Examples
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Guessed or Visible Temporary File
2009-05-27Creation of Temporary File in Directory with Insecure Permissions
Page Last Updated: June 23, 2014