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CWE-1232: Improper Lock Behavior After Power State Transition

Weakness ID: 1232
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
Register lock bit protection disables changes to system configuration once the bit is set. Some of the protected registers or lock bits become programmable after power state transitions (e.g., Entry and wake from low power sleep modes) causing the system configuration to be changeable.
+ Extended Description

Devices may allow device configuration controls which need to be programmed after device power reset via a trusted firmware or software module (commonly set by BIOS/bootloader) and then locked from any further modification. This action is commonly implemented using a programmable lock bit, which, when set, disables writes to a protected set of registers or address regions.

After a power state transition, the lock bit is set to unlocked. Some common weaknesses that can exist in such a protection scheme are that the lock gets cleared, the values of the protected registers get reset, or the lock become programmable.

+ 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)
ChildOfClassClass - a weakness that is described in a very abstract fashion, typically independent of any specific language or technology. More specific than a Pillar Weakness, but more general than a Base Weakness. Class level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 1 or 2 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, and resource.667Improper Locking
+ Relevant to the view "Hardware Design" (CWE-1194)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1199General Circuit and Logic Design Concerns
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1206Power, Clock, and Reset Concerns
+ 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 life cycle at which introduction may occur, while the Note provides a typical scenario related to introduction during the given phase.

Architecture and Design
+ 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)

Operating Systems

Class: OS-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Class: Architecture-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Class: Technology-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: Modify Memory

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

Consider the memory configuration settings of a system that uses DDR3 DRAM memory. Protecting the DRAM memory configuration from modification by software is required to ensure that system memory access control protections cannot be bypassed. This can be done by using lock bit protection that locks all of the memory configuration registers. The memory configuration lock can be set by the BIOS during the boot process.

If such a system also supports a rapid power on mode like hibernate, the DRAM data must be saved to a disk before power is removed and restored back to the DRAM once the system powers back up and before the OS resumes operation after returning from hibernate.

To support the hibernate transition back to the operating state, the DRAM memory configuration must be reprogrammed even though it was locked previously. As the hibernate resume does a partial reboot, the memory configuration could be altered before the memory lock is set. Functionally the hibernate resume flow requires a bypass of the lock-based protection. The memory configuration must be securely stored and restored by trusted system firmware. Lock settings and system configuration must be restored to the same state it was in before the device entered into the hibernate mode.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Architecture and Design; Implementation; Testing

  • Security Lock bit protections should be reviewed for behavior across supported power state transitions.
  • Security lock programming flow and lock properties should be tested in pre-silicon and post-silicon testing including testing across power transitions.

Effectiveness: High

+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2020-01-15Arun Kanuparthi, Hareesh Khattri, Parbati Kumar Manna, Narasimha Kumar V MangipudiIntel Corporation
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2020-08-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Modes_of_Introduction, Potential_Mitigations, Related_Attack_Patterns
2021-03-15CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
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Page Last Updated: March 15, 2021