Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-484: Omitted Break Statement in Switch

Weakness ID: 484
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The program omits a break statement within a switch or similar construct, causing code associated with multiple conditions to execute. This can cause problems when the programmer only intended to execute code associated with one condition.
+ Extended Description
This can lead to critical code executing in situations where it should not.
+ 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)
ChildOfClassClass - a weakness that is described in a very abstract fashion, typically independent of any specific language or technology. More general than a Base weakness.710Improper Adherence to Coding Standards
ChildOfClassClass - a weakness that is described in a very abstract fashion, typically independent of any specific language or technology. More general than a Base weakness.670Always-Incorrect Control Flow Implementation
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1006Bad Coding Practices
+ 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.

+ 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.


C (Undetermined Prevalence)

C++ (Undetermined Prevalence)

Java (Undetermined Prevalence)

C# (Undetermined Prevalence)

PHP (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: Alter Execution Logic

This weakness can cause unintended logic to be executed and other unexpected application behavior.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

In both of these examples, a message is printed based on the month passed into the function:

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
public void printMessage(int month){
switch (month) {

case 1: print("January");
case 2: print("February");
case 3: print("March");
case 4: print("April");
case 5: print("May");
case 6: print("June");
case 7: print("July");
case 8: print("August");
case 9: print("September");
case 10: print("October");
case 11: print("November");
case 12: print("December");
println(" is a great month");
(bad code)
Example Language:
void printMessage(int month){
switch (month) {

case 1: printf("January");
case 2: printf("February");
case 3: printf("March");
case 4: printf("April");
case 5: printff("May");
case 6: printf("June");
case 7: printf("July");
case 8: printf("August");
case 9: printf("September");
case 10: printf("October");
case 11: printf("November");
case 12: printf("December");
printf(" is a great month");

Both examples do not use a break statement after each case, which leads to unintended fall-through behavior. For example, calling "printMessage(10)" will result in the text "OctoberNovemberDecember is a great month" being printed.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Implementation

Omitting a break statement so that one may fall through is often indistinguishable from an error, and therefore should be avoided. If you need to use fall-through capabilities, make sure that you have clearly documented this within the switch statement, and ensure that you have examined all the logical possibilities.

Phase: Implementation

The functionality of omitting a break statement could be clarified with an if statement. This method is much safer.
+ Weakness Ordinalities
(where the weakness exists independent of other weaknesses)
+ Detection Methods

White Box

Omission of a break statement might be intentional, in order to support fallthrough. Automated detection methods might therefore be erroneous. Semantic understanding of expected program behavior is required to interpret whether the code is correct.

Black Box

Since this weakness is associated with a code construct, it would be indistinguishable from other errors that produce the same behavior.
+ 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.
MemberOfViewView - a subset of CWE entries that provides a way of examining CWE content. The two main view structures are Slices (flat lists) and Graphs (containing relationships between entries).884CWE Cross-section
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.962SFP Secondary Cluster: Unchecked Status Condition
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CLASPOmitted break statement
Software Fault PatternsSFP4Unchecked Status Condition
+ References
[REF-62] Mark Dowd, John McDonald and Justin Schuh. "The Art of Software Security Assessment". Chapter 7, "Switch Statements", Page 337. 1st Edition. Addison Wesley. 2006.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Description, Detection_Factors, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Detection_Factors, Name, Other_Notes, Potential_Mitigations, Weakness_Ordinalities
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, References, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-11-24Omitted Break Statement

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Page Last Updated: March 29, 2018