CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software & Hardware Weakness Types

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Home > CWE List > CWE- Individual Dictionary Definition (4.1)  
ID

CWE-208: Observable Timing Discrepancy

Weakness ID: 208
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
Two separate operations in a product require different amounts of time to complete, in a way that is observable to an actor and reveals security-relevant information about the state of the product, such as whether a particular operation was successful or not.
+ Extended Description
In security-relevant contexts, even small variations in timing can be exploited by attackers to indirectly infer certain details about the product's internal operations. For example, in some cryptographic algorithms, attackers can use timing differences to infer certain properties about a private key, making the key easier to guess. Timing discrepancies effectively form a timing side channel.
+ 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)
NatureTypeIDName
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.203Observable Discrepancy
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.1254Incorrect Comparison Logic Granularity
CanPrecedeClassClass - 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.327Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm
CanPrecedeBaseBase - 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.385Covert Timing Channel
+ Relevant to the view "Software Development" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.199Information Management Errors
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1012Cross Cutting
+ 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.

PhaseNote
Architecture and DesignCOMMISSION: This weakness refers to an incorrect design related to an architectural security tactic.
Implementation
Operation
+ 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.

Languages

Class: Language-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.

ScopeImpactLikelihood
Confidentiality
Access Control

Technical Impact: Read Application Data; Bypass Protection Mechanism

+ Observed Examples
ReferenceDescription
SSL implementation does not perform a MAC computation if an incorrect block cipher padding is used, which causes an information leak (timing discrepancy) that may make it easier to launch cryptographic attacks that rely on distinguishing between padding and MAC verification errors, possibly leading to extraction of the original plaintext, aka the "Vaudenay timing attack."
Virtual machine allows malicious web site operators to determine the existence of files on the client by measuring delays in the execution of the getSystemResource method.
Product uses a shorter timeout for a non-existent user than a valid user, which makes it easier for remote attackers to guess usernames and conduct brute force password guessing.
Product immediately sends an error message when a user does not exist, which allows remote attackers to determine valid usernames via a timing attack.
FTP server responds in a different amount of time when a given username exists, which allows remote attackers to identify valid usernames by timing the server response.
Browser allows remote attackers to determine the existence of arbitrary files by setting the src property to the target filename and using Javascript to determine if the web page immediately stops loading, which indicates whether the file exists or not.
+ Functional Areas
  • Cryptography
  • Authentication
+ Memberships
This MemberOf Relationships table shows additional CWE Categories and Views that reference this weakness as a member. This information is often useful in understanding where a weakness fits within the context of external information sources.
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.967SFP Secondary Cluster: State Disclosure
+ Notes

Relationship

Often primary in cryptographic applications and algorithms.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERTiming discrepancy infoleak
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2006-07-19PLOVER
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Other_Notes, Relationship_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2010-09-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2011-03-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Name
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples, Relationships
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Other_Notes, Related_Attack_Patterns
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-05-03CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Modes_of_Introduction, Relationships
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Name, Relationships
2020-06-25CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2011-03-29Timing Discrepancy Information Leak
2020-02-24Information Exposure Through Timing Discrepancy
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Page Last Updated: June 25, 2020