CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

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ID

CWE-591: Sensitive Data Storage in Improperly Locked Memory

Weakness ID: 591
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The application stores sensitive data in memory that is not locked, or that has been incorrectly locked, which might cause the memory to be written to swap files on disk by the virtual memory manager. This can make the data more accessible to external actors.
+ Extended Description
On Windows systems the VirtualLock function can lock a page of memory to ensure that it will remain present in memory and not be swapped to disk. However, on older versions of Windows, such as 95, 98, or Me, the VirtualLock() function is only a stub and provides no protection. On POSIX systems the mlock() call ensures that a page will stay resident in memory but does not guarantee that the page will not appear in the swap. Therefore, it is unsuitable for use as a protection mechanism for sensitive data. Some platforms, in particular Linux, do make the guarantee that the page will not be swapped, but this is non-standard and is not portable. Calls to mlock() also require supervisor privilege. Return values for both of these calls must be checked to ensure that the lock operation was actually successful.
+ 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
ChildOfBaseBase - a weakness that is described in an abstract fashion, but with sufficient details to infer specific methods for detection and prevention. More general than a Variant weakness, but more specific than a Class weakness.413Improper Resource Locking
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
ChildOfBaseBase - a weakness that is described in an abstract fashion, but with sufficient details to infer specific methods for detection and prevention. More general than a Variant weakness, but more specific than a Class weakness.413Improper Resource Locking
+ 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; Read Memory

Sensitive data that is written to a swap file may be exposed.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Identify data that needs to be protected from swapping and choose platform-appropriate protection mechanisms.

Phase: Implementation

Check return values to ensure locking operations are successful.
+ Affected Resources
  • Memory
+ 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.729OWASP Top Ten 2004 Category A8 - Insecure Storage
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.742CERT C Secure Coding (2008 Version) Section 08 - Memory Management (MEM)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.876CERT C++ Secure Coding Section 08 - Memory Management (MEM)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.963SFP Secondary Cluster: Exposed Data
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
OWASP Top Ten 2004A8CWE More SpecificInsecure Storage
CERT C Secure CodingMEM06-CEnsure that sensitive data is not written out to disk
Software Fault PatternsSFP23Exposed Data
+ Content History
Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, 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 Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Memory Locking

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Page Last Updated: March 29, 2018