Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-1329: Reliance on Component That is Not Updateable

Weakness ID: 1329
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The product contains a component that cannot be updated or patched in order to remove vulnerabilities or significant bugs.
+ Extended Description

If the component is discovered to contain a vulnerability or critical bug, but the issue cannot be fixed using an update or patch, then the product's owner will not be able to protect against the issue. The only option might be replacement of the product, which could be too financially or operationally expensive for the product owner. As a result, the inability to patch or update can leave the product open to attacker exploitation or critical operation failures. This weakness can be especially difficult to manage when using ROM, firmware, or similar components that traditionally have had limited or no update capabilities.

In industries such as healthcare, "legacy" devices can be operated for decades. As a US task force report [REF-1197] notes, "the inability to update or replace equipment has both large and small health care delivery organizations struggle with numerous unsupported legacy systems that cannot easily be replaced (hardware, software and operating systems) with large numbers of vulnerabilities and few modern countermeasures."

While hardware can be prone to this weakness, software systems can also be affected, such as when a third-party driver or library is no longer actively maintained or supported but is still critical for the required functionality.

+ 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)
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.664Improper Control of a Resource Through its Lifetime
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.1357Reliance on Uncontrolled Component
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.1277Firmware Not Updateable
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.1310Missing Ability to Patch ROM Code
+ 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.
RequirementsRequirements development might not consider the importance of updates over the lifetime of the product or might intentionally exclude this capability due to concerns such as expense or speed to market.
Architecture and DesignLack of planning during architecture development and design, or external pressures such as speed to market, could ignore the capability to update.
Architecture and DesignDesigners might omit capabilities for updating a component due to time pressures to release the product or assumptions about the stability of the component.
ImplementationThe weakness can appear through oversight during implementation.
+ 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.


Class: Language-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)

Operating Systems

Class: OS-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Class: Architecture-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)


Class: Technology-Independent (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.
Access Control

Technical Impact: Gain Privileges or Assume Identity; Bypass Protection Mechanism; Execute Unauthorized Code or Commands; DoS: Crash, Exit, or Restart; Quality Degradation; Reduce Maintainability

If an attacker can identify an exploitable vulnerability in one product that has no means of patching, the attack may be used against all affected versions of that product.
+ 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.

Example 2

A System-on-Chip (SOC) implements a Root-of-Trust (RoT) in ROM to boot secure code. However, at times this ROM code might have security vulnerabilities and need to be patched. Since ROM is immutable, it can be impossible to patch.

ROM does not have built-in application-programming interfaces (APIs) to patch if the code is vulnerable. Implement mechanisms to patch the vulnerable ROM code.

+ Observed Examples
Chain: network-attached storage (NAS) device has a critical OS command injection (CWE-78) vulnerability that is actively exploited to place IoT devices into a botnet, but some products are "end-of-support" and cannot be patched (CWE-1277). [REF-1097]
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Requirements

Specify requirements that each component should be updateable, including ROM, firmware, etc.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Design the product to allow for updating of its components. Include the external infrastructure that might be necessary to support updates, such as distribution servers.

Phases: Architecture and Design; Implementation

With hardware, support patches that can be programmed in-field or during manufacturing through hardware fuses. This feature can be used for limited patching of devices after shipping, or for the next batch of silicon devices manufactured, without changing the full device ROM.

Effectiveness: Moderate

Note: Some parts of the hardware initialization or signature verification done to authenticate patches will always be "not patchable." Hardware-fuse-based patches will also have limitations in terms of size and the number of patches that can be supported.

Phase: Implementation

Implement the necessary functionality to allow each component to be updated.
+ Weakness Ordinalities
(where the weakness exists independent of other weaknesses)
+ Detection Methods

Architecture or Design Review

Check the consumer or maintainer documentation, the architecture/design documentation, or the original requirements to ensure that the documentation includes details for how to update the firmware.

Effectiveness: Moderate

+ References
[REF-1197] Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force. "Report on Improving Cybersecurity in the Health Care Industry". Executive Summary. 2017-06. <>.
[REF-1097] Brian Krebs. "Zyxel Flaw Powers New Mirai IoT Botnet Strain". 2020-03-20. <>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2020-12-03CWE Content TeamMITRE
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2021-07-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Description, References
2022-04-28CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Description, Detection_Factors, Maintenance_Notes, Modes_of_Introduction, Observed_Examples, Potential_Mitigations, References, Relationships, Time_of_Introduction, Weakness_Ordinalities
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Page Last Updated: April 28, 2022