Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-771: Missing Reference to Active Allocated Resource

Weakness ID: 771
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The software does not properly maintain a reference to a resource that has been allocated, which prevents the resource from being reclaimed.
+ Extended Description
This does not necessarily apply in languages or frameworks that automatically perform garbage collection, since the removal of all references may act as a signal that the resource is ready to be reclaimed.
+ 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)
+ Relevant to the view "Development Concepts" (CWE-699)
+ 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
+ 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: DoS: Resource Consumption (Other)

When allocating resources without limits, an attacker could prevent all other processes from accessing the same type of resource.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Operation; Architecture and Design

Strategy: Resource Limitation

Use resource-limiting settings provided by the operating system or environment. For example, when managing system resources in POSIX, setrlimit() can be used to set limits for certain types of resources, and getrlimit() can determine how many resources are available. However, these functions are not available on all operating systems.

When the current levels get close to the maximum that is defined for the application (see CWE-770), then limit the allocation of further resources to privileged users; alternately, begin releasing resources for less-privileged users. While this mitigation may protect the system from attack, it will not necessarily stop attackers from adversely impacting other users.

Ensure that the application performs the appropriate error checks and error handling in case resources become unavailable (CWE-703).

+ 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.
MemberOfCategoryCategory982SFP Secondary Cluster: Failure to Release Resource
+ Notes


"Resource exhaustion" (CWE-400) is currently treated as a weakness, although it is more like a category of weaknesses that all have the same type of consequence. While this entry treats CWE-400 as a parent in view 1000, the relationship is probably more appropriately described as a chain.


Vulnerability theory is largely about how behaviors and resources interact. "Resource exhaustion" can be regarded as either a consequence or an attack, depending on the perspective. This entry is an attempt to reflect one of the underlying weaknesses that enable these attacks (or consequences) to take place.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
Software Fault PatternsSFP14Failure to release resource
CERT C Secure CodingFIO42-CCWE More AbstractClose files when they are no longer needed
CERT C Secure CodingMEM31-CCWE More AbstractFree dynamically allocated memory when no longer needed
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2009-05-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2010-04-05CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-01-19CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Likelihood_of_Exploit, Taxonomy_Mappings

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018