Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software & Hardware Weakness Types

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CWE-1277: Firmware Not Updateable

Weakness ID: 1277
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
A product's firmware cannot be updated or patched, leaving weaknesses present with no means of repair and the product vulnerable to attack.
+ Extended Description
The inability to patch the product's firmware means that any weaknesses therein cannot be mitigated through an update. This leaves the system/device open to potential exploitation of the inherent weaknesses. External protective measures and mitigations can be employed to aid in preventing malicious behavior, but the root weakness cannot be corrected.
+ 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)
ChildOfBaseBase - 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.1329Reliance on Component That is Not Updateable
PeerOfBaseBase - 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.1310Missing Ability to Patch ROM Code
+ Relevant to the view "Hardware Design" (CWE-1194)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1208Cross-Cutting Problems
+ 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.

RequirementsThe weakness can appear through oversight during requirements development.
Architecture and DesignThe weakness can appear due to lack of planning during architecture development and design.
ImplementationThe weakness can appear through oversight during implementation.
+ 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: Gain Privileges or Assume Identity; Bypass Protection Mechanism; Execute Unauthorized Code or Commands; DoS: Crash, Exit, or Restart

If an attacker can identify an exploitable vulnerability in one device which has no means of patching, the attack may be used against an entire class of devices.
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

A refrigerator has an Internet interface for the official purpose of alerting the manufacturer when that refrigerator detects a fault. Because the device is attached to the Internet, the refrigerator is a target for hackers who may wish to use the device other potentially more nefarious purposes.

(bad code)
Example Language: Other 
The refrigerator has no means of patching and is hacked becoming a spewer of email spam.
(good code)
Example Language: Other 
The device automatically patches itself and provides considerable more protection against being hacked.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Requirements

Specify requirements to provide the ability to update the firmware.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Design the device to allow for updating the firmware.

Phase: Implementation

Implement the necessary functionality to allow the firmware to be updated.
+ Notes


As of CWE 4.3, CWE-1310 and CWE-1277 are being investigated for potential duplication or overlap, since they are both related to the inability to patch a product due to hardware architecture design choices.


This entry is still under development and will continue to see updates and content improvements.
+ References
[REF-1095] Matthew Hughes. "Bad news: KeyWe Smart Lock is easily bypassed and can't be fixed". <>.
[REF-1096] Alex Scroxton. "Alarm bells ring, the IoT is listening". <>.
[REF-1097] Brian Krebs. "Zyxel Flaw Powers New Mirai IoT Botnet Strain". <>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2020-05-13Paul A. WortmanWells Fargo
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2020-08-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Potential_Mitigations
2020-12-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Relationships
2021-03-15CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Maintenance_Notes
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Page Last Updated: March 15, 2021