CWE-1259: Improper Restriction of Security Token Assignment
The System-On-A-Chip (SoC) implements a Security Token mechanism to differentiate what actions are allowed or disallowed when a transaction originates from an entity. However, the Security Tokens are improperly protected.
Systems-On-A-Chip (Integrated circuits and hardware engines) implement Security Tokens to differentiate and identify which actions originated from which agent. These actions may be one of the directives: 'read', 'write', 'program', 'reset', 'fetch', 'compute', etc. Security Tokens are assigned to every agent in the System that is capable of generating an action or receiving an action from another agent. Multiple Security Tokens may be assigned to an agent and may be unique based on the agent's trust level or allowed privileges. Since the Security Tokens are integral for the maintanence of security in an SoC, they need to be protected properly. A common weakness afflicting Security Tokens is improperly restricting the assignment to trusted components. Consequently, an improperly protected Security Token may be able to be programmed by a malicious agent (i.e., the Security Token is mutable) to spoof the action as if it originated from a trusted agent.
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 "Hardware Design" (CWE-1194)
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.
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)
Class: OS-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
Class: Architecture-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
Processor IP Class: Technology-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
Class: System on Chip (Undetermined Prevalence)
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.
For example, consider a system with a register for storing an AES key for encryption and decryption. The key is of 128 bits implemented as a set of four 32-bit registers. The key register assets have an associated control register, AES_KEY_ACCESS_POLICY, which provides the necessary access controls. This access-policy register defines which agents may engage in a transaction, and the type of transaction, with the AES-key registers. Each bit in this 32-bit register defines a security Token. There could be a maximum of 32 security Tokens that are allowed access to the AES-key registers. The number of the bit when set (i.e., “1”) allows respective action from an agent whose identity matches the number of the bit and, if “0” (i.e., Clear), disallows the respective action to that corresponding agent.
Let’s assume the system has two agents: a Main-controller and an Aux-controller. The respective Security Tokens are “1” and “2”.
An agent with Security Token “1” has access to AES_ENC_DEC_KEY_0 through AES_ENC_DEC_KEY_3 registers. As per the above access policy, the AES-Key-access policy allows access to the AES-key registers if the security Token is “1”.
Example Language: Other
The Aux-controller could program its Security Token to “1” from “2”.
The SoC does not properly protect the Security Token of the agents, and, hence, the Aux-controller in the above example can spoof the transaction (i.e., send the transaction as if it is coming from the Main-controller to access the AES-Key registers)
Example Language: Other
The SoC needs to protect the Security Tokens. None of the agents in the SoC should have the ability to change the Security Token.
This entry is still under development and will continue to see updates and content improvements. Currently it is expressed as a general absence of a protection mechanism as opposed to a specific mistake, and the entry's name and description could be interpreted as applying to software.
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