Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors
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CWE-459: Incomplete Cleanup

Weakness ID: 459
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The software does not properly "clean up" and remove temporary or supporting resources after they have been used.
+ Alternate Terms
Insufficient Cleanup
+ 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 "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
MemberOfCategoryCategory452Initialization and Cleanup Errors
+ 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.

Architecture and Design
+ 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.


Class: Language-Independent (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.


Technical Impact: Other; Read Application Data; Modify Application Data; DoS: Resource Consumption (Other)

It is possible to overflow the number of temporary files because directories typically have limits on the number of files allowed. This could create a denial of service problem.
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

Stream resources in a Java application should be released in a finally block, otherwise an exception thrown before the call to close() would result in an unreleased I/O resource. In the example below, the close() method is called in the try block (incorrect).

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
try {
InputStream is = new FileInputStream(path);
byte b[] = new byte[is.available()];;

} catch (Throwable t) {
log.error("Something bad happened: " + t.getMessage());

+ Observed Examples
World-readable temporary file not deleted after use.
Temporary file not deleted after use, leaking database usernames and passwords.
Interaction error creates a temporary file that can not be deleted due to strong permissions.
Alternate data streams for NTFS files are not cleared when files are wiped (alternate channel / infoleak).
Alternate data streams for NTFS files are not cleared when files are wiped (alternate channel / infoleak).
Alternate data streams for NTFS files are not cleared when files are wiped (alternate channel / infoleak).
Alternate data streams for NTFS files are not cleared when files are wiped (alternate channel / infoleak).
Alternate data streams for NTFS files are not cleared when files are wiped (alternate channel / infoleak).
Users not logged out when application is restarted after security-relevant changes were made.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Architecture and Design; Implementation

Temporary files and other supporting resources should be deleted/released immediately after they are no longer needed.
+ Functional Areas
  • File Processing
+ 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


CWE-459 is a child of CWE-404 because, while CWE-404 covers any type of improper shutdown or release of a resource, CWE-459 deals specifically with a multi-step shutdown process in which a crucial step for "proper" cleanup is omitted or impossible. That is, CWE-459 deals specifically with a cleanup or shutdown process that does not successfully remove all potentially sensitive data.


Overlaps other categories such as permissions and containment. Concept needs further development. This could be primary (e.g. leading to infoleak) or resultant (e.g. resulting from unhandled error conditions or early termination).
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERIncomplete Cleanup
OWASP Top Ten 2004A10CWE More SpecificInsecure Configuration Management
CERT C Secure CodingFIO42-CCWE More AbstractClose files when they are no longer needed
CERT C Secure CodingMEM31-CCWE More AbstractFree dynamically allocated memory when no longer needed
CERT Java Secure CodingFIO04-JRelease resources when they are no longer needed
CERT Java Secure CodingFIO00-JDo not operate on files in shared directories
Software Fault PatternsSFP14Failure to release resource
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Sean EidemillerCigital
added/updated demonstrative examples
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationship_Notes, Relationships
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Other_Notes, Relationship_Notes
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Taxonomy_Mappings

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018