CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

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ID

CWE-515: Covert Storage Channel

Weakness ID: 515
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
A covert storage channel transfers information through the setting of bits by one program and the reading of those bits by another. What distinguishes this case from that of ordinary operation is that the bits are used to convey encoded information.
+ Extended Description
Covert storage channels occur when out-of-band data is stored in messages for the purpose of memory reuse. Covert channels are frequently classified as either storage or timing channels. Examples would include using a file intended to hold only audit information to convey user passwords--using the name of a file or perhaps status bits associated with it that can be read by all users to signal the contents of the file. Steganography, concealing information in such a manner that no one but the intended recipient knows of the existence of the message, is a good example of a covert storage channel.
+ 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)
NatureTypeIDName
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.514Covert Channel
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
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.514Covert Channel
+ 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
Implementation
+ 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
Confidentiality

Technical Impact: Read Application Data

Covert storage channels may provide attackers with important information about the system in question.
Integrity
Confidentiality

Technical Impact: Read Application Data

If these messages or packets are sent with unnecessary data contained within, it may tip off malicious listeners as to the process that created the message. With this information, attackers may learn any number of things, including the hardware platform, operating system, or algorithms used by the sender. This information can be of significant value to the user in launching further attacks.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
High
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

An excellent example of covert storage channels in a well known application is the ICMP error message echoing functionality. Due to ambiguities in the ICMP RFC, many IP implementations use the memory within the packet for storage or calculation. For this reason, certain fields of certain packets -- such as ICMP error packets which echo back parts of received messages -- may contain flaws or extra information which betrays information about the identity of the target operating system. This information is then used to build up evidence to decide the environment of the target. This is the first crucial step in determining if a given system is vulnerable to a particular flaw and what changes must be made to malicious code to mount a successful attack.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Implementation

Ensure that all reserved fields are set to zero before messages are sent and that no unnecessary information is included.
+ 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.
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.968SFP Secondary Cluster: Covert Channel
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
LandwehrStorage
CLASPCovert storage channel
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
Landwehr
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Description
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Other_Notes
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships

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Page Last Updated: March 29, 2018