Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-620: Unverified Password Change

Weakness ID: 620
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
When setting a new password for a user, the product does not require knowledge of the original password, or using another form of authentication.
+ Extended Description
This could be used by an attacker to change passwords for another user, thus gaining the privileges associated with that user.
+ 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)
ChildOfClassClass287Improper Authentication
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
MemberOfCategoryCategory1010Authenticate Actors
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
MemberOfCategoryCategory255Credentials Management
ChildOfClassClass287Improper Authentication
+ 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.

Architecture and Design
ImplementationREALIZATION: This weakness is caused during implementation of an architectural security tactic.
+ 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.


Class: Language-Independent (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.

Access Control

Technical Impact: Bypass Protection Mechanism; Gain Privileges or Assume Identity

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

This code changes a user's password.

(bad code)
Example Language: PHP 
$user = $_GET['user'];
$pass = $_GET['pass'];
$checkpass = $_GET['checkpass'];
if ($pass == $checkpass) {
SetUserPassword($user, $pass);


While the code confirms that the requesting user typed the same new password twice, it does not confirm that the user requesting the password change is the same user whose password will be changed. An attacker can request a change of another user's password and gain control of the victim's account.

+ Observed Examples
Web app allows remote attackers to change the passwords of arbitrary users without providing the original password, and possibly perform other unauthorized actions.
Web application password change utility doesn't check the original password.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

When prompting for a password change, force the user to provide the original password in addition to the new password.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Do not use "forgotten password" functionality. But if you must, ensure that you are only providing information to the actual user, e.g. by using an email address or challenge question that the legitimate user already provided in the past; do not allow the current user to change this identity information until the correct password has been provided.
+ Weakness Ordinalities
(where the weakness exists independent of other weaknesses)
(where the weakness is typically related to the presence of some other weaknesses)
+ 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
OWASP Top Ten 2004A3CWE More SpecificBroken Authentication and Session Management
Software Fault PatternsSFP31Missing authentication
+ References
[REF-44] Michael Howard, David LeBlanc and John Viega. "24 Deadly Sins of Software Security". "Sin 19: Use of Weak Password-Based Systems." Page 279. McGraw-Hill. 2010.
+ Content History
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
Suggested OWASP Top Ten 2004 mapping
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Relationships, Observed_Example, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-12-28CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Other_Notes, Weakness_Ordinalities
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Observed_Examples, References, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018