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CWE-1279: Cryptographic Operations are run Before Supporting Units are Ready

Weakness ID: 1279
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
Performing cryptographic operations without ensuring that the supporting inputs are ready to supply valid data may compromise the cryptographic result.
+ Extended Description
Many cryptographic hardware units depend upon other hardware units to supply information to them to produce a securely encrypted result. For example, a cryptographic unit that depends on an external random-number-generator (RNG) unit for entropy must wait until the RNG unit is producing random numbers. If a cryptographic unit retrieves a private encryption key from a fuse unit, the fuse unit must be up and running before a key may be supplied.
+ 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.665Improper Initialization
+ Relevant to the view "Hardware Design" (CWE-1194)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1205Security Primitives and Cryptography Issues
+ 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
ImplementationThe decision to continue using a cryptographic unit even though the input units to it are not producing valid data will compromise the encrypted result.
+ 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.


Verilog (Undetermined Prevalence)

VHDL (Undetermined Prevalence)

Class: Language-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)

Operating Systems

Class: OS-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Class: Architecture-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Processor IP (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: Varies by Context

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following pseudocode illustrates the weak encryption resulting from the use of a pseudo-random-number generator output.

(bad code)
Example Language: Other 

If random_number_generator_self_test_passed() == TRUE

then Seed = get_random_number_from_RNG()

else Seed = hardcoded_number

In the example above, first a check of RNG ready is performed. If the check fails, the RNG is ignored and a hard coded value is used instead. The hard coded value severely weakens the encrypted output.

(good code)
Example Language: Other 

If random_number_generator_self_test_passed() == TRUE

then Seed = get_random_number_from_RNG()

else enter_error_state()

+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Best practices should be used to design cryptographic systems.

Phase: Implementation

Continuously ensuring that cryptographic inputs are supplying valid information is necessary to ensure that the encrypted output is secure.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2020-02-12Arun 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, Maintenance_Notes, Modes_of_Introduction, Name, Potential_Mitigations, Related_Attack_Patterns
2021-03-15CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Maintenance_Notes
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2020-08-20Cryptographic Primitives used without Successful Self-Test
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Page Last Updated: March 15, 2021