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ID

CWE-328: Use of Weak Hash

Weakness ID: 328
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The product uses an algorithm that produces a digest (output value) that does not meet security expectations for a hash function that allows an adversary to reasonably determine the original input (preimage attack), find another input that can produce the same hash (2nd preimage attack), or find multiple inputs that evaluate to the same hash (birthday attack).
+ Extended Description

A hash function is defined as an algorithm that maps arbitrarily sized data into a fixed-sized digest (output) such that the following properties hold:

  • 1. The algorithm is not invertible (also called "one-way" or "not reversible")
  • 2. The algorithm is deterministic; the same input produces the same digest every time

Building on this definition, a cryptographic hash function must also ensure that a malicious actor cannot leverage the hash function to have a reasonable chance of success at determining any of the following:

  • 1. the original input (preimage attack), given only the digest
  • 2. another input that can produce the same digest (2nd preimage attack), given the original input
  • 3. a set of two or more inputs that evaluate to the same digest (birthday attack), given the actor can arbitrarily choose the inputs to be hashed and can do so a reasonable amount of times

What is regarded as "reasonable" varies by context and threat model, but in general, "reasonable" could cover any attack that is more efficient than brute force (i.e., on average, attempting half of all possible combinations). Note that some attacks might be more efficient than brute force but are still not regarded as achievable in the real world.

Any algorithm does not meet the above conditions will generally be considered weak for general use in hashing.

In addition to algorithmic weaknesses, a hash function can be made weak by using the hash in a security context that breaks its security guarantees. For example, using a hash function without a salt for storing passwords (that are sufficiently short) could enable an adversary to create a "rainbow table" [REF-637] to recover the password under certain conditions; this attack works against such hash functions as MD5, SHA-1, and SHA-2.

+ 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)
NatureTypeIDName
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.326Inadequate Encryption Strength
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.327Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm
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 "Software Development" (CWE-699)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.310Cryptographic Issues
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 "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
NatureTypeIDName
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1013Encrypt Data
+ 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.
PhaseNote
Architecture and DesignCOMMISSION: This weakness refers to an incorrect design related to an architectural security tactic.
+ 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.

Languages

Class: Language-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.
ScopeImpactLikelihood
Access Control

Technical Impact: Bypass Protection Mechanism

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

In both of these examples, a user is logged in if their given password matches a stored password:

(bad code)
Example Language:
unsigned char *check_passwd(char *plaintext) {
ctext = simple_digest("sha1",plaintext,strlen(plaintext), ... );
//Login if hash matches stored hash
if (equal(ctext, secret_password())) {
login_user();
}
}
(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
String plainText = new String(plainTextIn);
MessageDigest encer = MessageDigest.getInstance("SHA");
encer.update(plainTextIn);
byte[] digest = password.digest();
//Login if hash matches stored hash
if (equal(digest,secret_password())) {
login_user();
}

This code relies exclusively on a password mechanism (CWE-309) using only one factor of authentication (CWE-308). If an attacker can steal or guess a user's password, they are given full access to their account. Note this code also uses SHA-1, which is a weak hash (CWE-328). It also does not use a salt (CWE-759).

+ Observed Examples
ReferenceDescription
SHA-1 algorithm is not collision-resistant.
DNS product uses a weak hash (CRC32 or SHA-1) of the query name, allowing attacker to forge responses by computing domain names with the same hash.
blogging product uses MD5-based algorithm for passwords.
forging of certificate signatures using SHA-1 collisions.
mobile app for backup sends SHA-1 hash of password in cleartext.
Hard-coded hashed values for username and password contained in client-side script, allowing brute-force offline attacks.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Use an adaptive hash function that can be configured to change the amount of computational effort needed to compute the hash, such as the number of iterations ("stretching") or the amount of memory required. Some hash functions perform salting automatically. These functions can significantly increase the overhead for a brute force attack compared to intentionally-fast functions such as MD5. For example, rainbow table attacks can become infeasible due to the high computing overhead. Finally, since computing power gets faster and cheaper over time, the technique can be reconfigured to increase the workload without forcing an entire replacement of the algorithm in use.

Some hash functions that have one or more of these desired properties include bcrypt [REF-291], scrypt [REF-292], and PBKDF2 [REF-293]. While there is active debate about which of these is the most effective, they are all stronger than using salts with hash functions with very little computing overhead.

Note that using these functions can have an impact on performance, so they require special consideration to avoid denial-of-service attacks. However, their configurability provides finer control over how much CPU and memory is used, so it could be adjusted to suit the environment's needs.

Effectiveness: High

+ Memberships
Section HelpThis 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.934OWASP Top Ten 2013 Category A6 - Sensitive Data Exposure
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.958SFP Secondary Cluster: Broken Cryptography
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1029OWASP Top Ten 2017 Category A3 - Sensitive Data Exposure
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1346OWASP Top Ten 2021 Category A02:2021 - Cryptographic Failures
+ Notes

Maintenance

Since CWE 4.4, various cryptography-related entries including CWE-328 have been slated for extensive research, analysis, and community consultation to define consistent terminology, improve relationships, and reduce overlap or duplication. As of CWE 4.6, this work is still ongoing.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERReversible One-Way Hash
+ References
[REF-289] Alexander Sotirov et al.. "MD5 considered harmful today". <http://www.phreedom.org/research/rogue-ca/>.
[REF-62] Mark Dowd, John McDonald and Justin Schuh. "The Art of Software Security Assessment". Chapter 2, "Common Vulnerabilities of Integrity", Page 47. 1st Edition. Addison Wesley. 2006.
[REF-291] Johnny Shelley. "bcrypt". <http://bcrypt.sourceforge.net/>.
[REF-292] Colin Percival. "Tarsnap - The scrypt key derivation function and encryption utility". <http://www.tarsnap.com/scrypt.html>.
[REF-293] B. Kaliski. "RFC2898 - PKCS #5: Password-Based Cryptography Specification Version 2.0". 5.2 PBKDF2. 2000. <http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2898>.
[REF-294] Coda Hale. "How To Safely Store A Password". 2010-01-31. <http://codahale.com/how-to-safely-store-a-password/>.
[REF-295] Brian Krebs. "How Companies Can Beef Up Password Security (interview with Thomas H. Ptacek)". 2012-06-11. <http://krebsonsecurity.com/2012/06/how-companies-can-beef-up-password-security/>.
[REF-296] Solar Designer. "Password security: past, present, future". 2012. <http://www.openwall.com/presentations/PHDays2012-Password-Security/>.
[REF-297] Troy Hunt. "Our password hashing has no clothes". 2012-06-26. <http://www.troyhunt.com/2012/06/our-password-hashing-has-no-clothes.html>.
[REF-298] Joshbw. "Should we really use bcrypt/scrypt?". 2012-06-08. <http://www.analyticalengine.net/2012/06/should-we-really-use-bcryptscrypt/>.
[REF-637] "Rainbow table". Wikipedia. 2009-03-03. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_table>.
[REF-1243] Bruce Schneier. "Cryptanalysis of SHA-1". 2021-10-25. 2005-02-18. <https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/02/cryptanalysis_o.html>.
[REF-1244] Dan Goodin. "At death's door for years, widely used SHA1 function is now dead". Ars Technica. 2021-10-25. 2017-02-23. <https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/02/at-deaths-door-for-years-widely-used-sha1-function-is-now-dead/>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2006-07-19PLOVER
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Observed_Example, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2009-01-12CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, References
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated References, Related_Attack_Patterns, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Potential_Mitigations, References
2014-02-18CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations, References
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Modes_of_Introduction, References, Relationships
2018-03-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2021-03-15CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
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Page Last Updated: October 26, 2021