Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-486: Comparison of Classes by Name

Weakness ID: 486
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The program compares classes by name, which can cause it to use the wrong class when multiple classes can have the same name.
+ Extended Description
If the decision to trust the methods and data of an object is based on the name of a class, it is possible for malicious users to send objects of the same name as trusted classes and thereby gain the trust afforded to known classes and types.
+ 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)
ChildOfClassClass697Insufficient Comparison
PeerOfBaseBase386Symbolic Name not Mapping to Correct Object
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
MemberOfCategoryCategory171Cleansing, Canonicalization, and Comparison 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.

+ 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.


Java (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: Execute Unauthorized Code or Commands

If a program relies solely on the name of an object to determine identity, it may execute the incorrect or unintended code.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

In this example, the expression in the if statement compares the class of the inputClass object to a trusted class by comparing the class names.

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
if (inputClass.getClass().getName().equals("TrustedClassName")) {
// Do something assuming you trust inputClass
// ...


However, multiple classes can have the same name therefore comparing an object's class by name can allow untrusted classes of the same name as the trusted class to be use to execute unintended or incorrect code. To compare the class of an object to the intended class the getClass() method and the comparison operator "==" should be used to ensure the correct trusted class is used, as shown in the following example.

(good code)
Example Language: Java 
if (inputClass.getClass() == TrustedClass.class) {
// Do something assuming you trust inputClass
// ...


Example 2

In this example, the Java class, TrustedClass, overrides the equals method of the parent class Object to determine equivalence of objects of the class. The overridden equals method first determines if the object, obj, is the same class as the TrustedClass object and then compares the object's fields to determine if the objects are equivalent.

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
public class TrustedClass {

public boolean equals(Object obj) {
boolean isEquals = false;
// first check to see if the object is of the same class

if (obj.getClass().getName().equals(this.getClass().getName())) {
// then compare object fields

if (...) {
isEquals = true;



return isEquals;




However, the equals method compares the class names of the object, obj, and the TrustedClass object to determine if they are the same class. As with the previous example using the name of the class to compare the class of objects can lead to the execution of unintended or incorrect code if the object passed to the equals method is of another class with the same name. To compare the class of an object to the intended class, the getClass() method and the comparison operator "==" should be used to ensure the correct trusted class is used, as shown in the following example.

(good code)
Example Language: Java 
public boolean equals(Object obj) {
// first check to see if the object is of the same class

if (obj.getClass() == this.getClass()) {



+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Implementation

Use class equivalency to determine type. Rather than use the class name to determine if an object is of a given type, use the getClass() method, and == operator.
+ 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.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
7 Pernicious KingdomsComparing Classes by Name
CLASPComparing classes by name
CERT Java Secure CodingOBJ09-JCompare classes and not class names
Software Fault PatternsSFP1Glitch in computation
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
7 Pernicious Kingdoms
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Description, Relationships, Other_Notes, Relevant_Properties, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-03-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Other_Notes
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Relevant_Properties
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Comparing Classes by Name

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018