CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors
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ID

CWE-561: Dead Code

Weakness ID: 561
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The software contains dead code, which can never be executed.
+ Extended Description
Dead code is source code that can never be executed in a running program. The surrounding code makes it impossible for a section of code to ever be executed.
+ 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
ChildOfClassClass710Improper Adherence to Coding Standards
CanFollowVariantVariant570Expression is Always False
CanFollowVariantVariant571Expression is Always True
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory1006Bad Coding Practices
CanFollowVariantVariant570Expression is Always False
CanFollowVariantVariant571Expression is Always True
+ 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
Other

Technical Impact: Quality Degradation

Dead code that results from code that can never be executed is an indication of problems with the source code that needs to be fixed and is an indication of poor quality.
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The condition for the second if statement is impossible to satisfy. It requires that the variables be non-null, while on the only path where s can be assigned a non-null value there is a return statement.

(bad code)
Example Language: C++ 
String s = null;
if (b) {
s = "Yes";
return;

}

if (s != null) {
Dead();

}

Example 2

In the following class, two private methods call each other, but since neither one is ever invoked from anywhere else, they are both dead code.

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
public class DoubleDead {
private void doTweedledee() {
doTweedledumb();

}
private void doTweedledumb() {
doTweedledee();

}
public static void main(String[] args) {
System.out.println("running DoubleDead");

}

}

(In this case it is a good thing that the methods are dead: invoking either one would cause an infinite loop.)

Example 3

The field named glue is not used in the following class. The author of the class has accidentally put quotes around the field name, transforming it into a string constant.

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
public class Dead {
String glue;

public String getGlue() {
return "glue";

}

}
+ Observed Examples
ReferenceDescription
chain: incorrect "goto" in Apple SSL product bypasses certificate validation, allowing man-in-the-middle attack (Apple "goto fail" bug). CWE-705 (Incorrect Control Flow Scoping) -> CWE-561 (Dead Code) -> CWE-295 (Improper Certificate Validation) -> CWE-393 (Return of Wrong Status Code) -> CWE-300 (Channel Accessible by Non-Endpoint ('Man-in-the-Middle')).
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Implementation

Remove dead code before deploying the application.

Phase: Testing

Use a static analysis tool to spot dead code.
+ Detection Methods

Architecture or Design Review

According to SOAR, the following detection techniques may be useful:

Highly cost effective:
  • Inspection (IEEE 1028 standard) (can apply to requirements, design, source code, etc.)
  • Formal Methods / Correct-By-Construction
Cost effective for partial coverage:
  • Attack Modeling

Effectiveness: High

Automated Static Analysis - Binary or Bytecode

According to SOAR, the following detection techniques may be useful:

Highly cost effective:
  • Binary / Bytecode Quality Analysis
  • Compare binary / bytecode to application permission manifest

Effectiveness: High

Dynamic Analysis with Manual Results Interpretation

According to SOAR, the following detection techniques may be useful:

Cost effective for partial coverage:
  • Automated Monitored Execution

Effectiveness: SOAR Partial

Automated Static Analysis

According to SOAR, the following detection techniques may be useful:

Cost effective for partial coverage:
  • Permission Manifest Analysis

Effectiveness: SOAR Partial

Automated Static Analysis - Source Code

According to SOAR, the following detection techniques may be useful:

Highly cost effective:
  • Source Code Quality Analyzer
Cost effective for partial coverage:
  • Warning Flags
  • Source code Weakness Analyzer
  • Context-configured Source Code Weakness Analyzer

Effectiveness: High

Dynamic Analysis with Automated Results Interpretation

According to SOAR, the following detection techniques may be useful:

Cost effective for partial coverage:
  • Web Application Scanner
  • Web Services Scanner
  • Database Scanners

Effectiveness: SOAR Partial

Manual Static Analysis - Source Code

According to SOAR, the following detection techniques may be useful:

Highly cost effective:
  • Manual Source Code Review (not inspections)
Cost effective for partial coverage:
  • Focused Manual Spotcheck - Focused manual analysis of source

Effectiveness: High

+ 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
CERT C Secure CodingMSC07-CDetect and remove dead code
CERT Perl Secure CodingMSC00-PLExactDetect and remove dead code
Software Fault PatternsSFP2Unused Entities
+ Content History
Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
Anonymous Tool Vendor (under NDA)
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Potential_Mitigations, Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Other_Notes
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2011-09-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Detection_Factors, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018