CWE-244: Improper Clearing of Heap Memory Before Release ('Heap Inspection')
Using realloc() to resize buffers that store sensitive information can leave the sensitive information exposed to attack, because it is not removed from memory.
When sensitive data such as a password or an encryption key is not removed from memory, it could be exposed to an attacker using a "heap inspection" attack that reads the sensitive data using memory dumps or other methods. The realloc() function is commonly used to increase the size of a block of allocated memory. This operation often requires copying the contents of the old memory block into a new and larger block. This operation leaves the contents of the original block intact but inaccessible to the program, preventing the program from being able to scrub sensitive data from memory. If an attacker can later examine the contents of a memory dump, the sensitive data could be exposed.
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)
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.
C (Undetermined Prevalence)
C++ (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.
The following code calls realloc() on a buffer containing sensitive data:
Example Language: C
cleartext_buffer = get_secret();...
cleartext_buffer = realloc(cleartext_buffer, 1024);
There is an attempt to scrub the sensitive data from memory, but realloc() is used, so a copy of the data can still be exposed in the memory originally allocated for cleartext_buffer.
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.
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