CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software & Hardware Weakness Types

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Home > CWE List > CWE- Individual Dictionary Definition (4.9)  
ID

CWE-1059: Insufficient Technical Documentation

Weakness ID: 1059
Abstraction: Class
Structure: Simple
View customized information:
+ Description
The product does not contain sufficient technical or engineering documentation (whether on paper or in electronic form) that contains descriptions of all the relevant software/hardware elements of the product, such as its usage, structure, architectural components, interfaces, design, implementation, configuration, operation, etc.
+ Extended Description

When technical documentation is limited or lacking, products are more difficult to maintain. This indirectly affects security by making it more difficult or time-consuming to find and/or fix vulnerabilities.

When using time-limited or labor-limited third-party/in-house security consulting services (such as threat modeling, vulnerability discovery, or pentesting), insufficient documentation can force those consultants to invest unnecessary time in learning how the product is organized, instead of focusing their expertise on finding the flaws or suggesting effective mitigations.

With respect to hardware design, the lack of a formal, final manufacturer reference can make it difficult or impossible to evaluate the final product, including post-manufacture verification. One cannot ensure that design functionality or operation is within acceptable tolerances, conforms to specifications, and is free from unexpected behavior. Hardware-related documentation may include engineering artifacts such as hardware description language (HDLs), netlists, Gerber files, Bills of Materials, EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tool files, etc.

+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table 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
ChildOfPillarPillar - a weakness that is the most abstract type of weakness and represents a theme for all class/base/variant weaknesses related to it. A Pillar is different from a Category as a Pillar is still technically a type of weakness that describes a mistake, while a Category represents a common characteristic used to group related things.710Improper Adherence to Coding Standards
ParentOfBaseBase - a weakness that is still mostly independent of a resource or technology, but with sufficient details to provide specific methods for detection and prevention. Base level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 2 or 3 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.1053Missing Documentation for Design
ParentOfBaseBase - a weakness that is still mostly independent of a resource or technology, but with sufficient details to provide specific methods for detection and prevention. Base level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 2 or 3 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.1110Incomplete Design Documentation
ParentOfBaseBase - a weakness that is still mostly independent of a resource or technology, but with sufficient details to provide specific methods for detection and prevention. Base level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 2 or 3 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.1111Incomplete I/O Documentation
ParentOfBaseBase - a weakness that is still mostly independent of a resource or technology, but with sufficient details to provide specific methods for detection and prevention. Base level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 2 or 3 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.1112Incomplete Documentation of Program Execution
ParentOfBaseBase - a weakness that is still mostly independent of a resource or technology, but with sufficient details to provide specific methods for detection and prevention. Base level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 2 or 3 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.1118Insufficient Documentation of Error Handling Techniques
Section HelpThis table 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 "Hardware Design" (CWE-1194)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1195Manufacturing and Life Cycle Management Concerns
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1208Cross-Cutting Problems
+ Modes Of Introduction
Section HelpThe different Modes of Introduction provide information about how and when this weakness may be introduced. The Phase identifies a point in the life cycle at which introduction may occur, while the Note provides a typical scenario related to introduction during the given phase.
PhaseNote
Architecture and Design
Documentation
+ Applicable Platforms
Section HelpThis listing shows 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.

Languages

Class: Not Language-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

Operating Systems

Class: Not OS-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

Architectures

Class: Not Architecture-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

Technologies

Class: Not Technology-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

+ Common Consequences
Section HelpThis table 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: Varies by Context; Hide Activities; Reduce Reliability; Quality Degradation; Reduce Maintainability

Without a method of verification, one cannot be sure that everything only functions as expected.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Documentation; Architecture and Design

Ensure that design documentation is detailed enough to allow for post-manufacturing verification.
+ Weakness Ordinalities
OrdinalityDescription
Indirect
(where the weakness is a quality issue that might indirectly make it easier to introduce security-relevant weaknesses or make them more difficult to detect)
+ Memberships
Section HelpThis 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.1371ICS Supply Chain: Poorly Documented or Undocumented Features
+ References
[REF-1248] Securing Energy Infrastructure Executive Task Force (SEI ETF). "Categories of Security Vulnerabilities in ICS". Poorly Documented or Undocumented Features. 2022-03-09. <https://inl.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/SEI-ETF-NCSV-TPT-Categories-of-Security-Vulnerabilities-ICS-v1_03-09-22.pdf>.
[REF-1254] FDA. "Cybersecurity in Medical Devices: Quality System Considerations and Content of Premarket Submissions Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff (DRAFT GUIDANCE)". 2022-04-08. <https://www.fda.gov/media/119933/download>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2018-07-02CWE Content TeamMITRE
Entry derived from Common Quality Enumeration (CQE) Draft 0.9.
+ Contributions
Contribution DateContributorOrganization
2021-06-11Paul A. WortmanWells Fargo
Submitted hardware-specific information about a "golden standard" that was integrated into this entry
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2022-04-28CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Common_Consequences, Description, Name, Potential_Mitigations, References, Relationships, Time_of_Introduction
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2022-04-28Incomplete Documentation
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Page Last Updated: October 13, 2022