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ID

CWE-339: Small Seed Space in PRNG

Weakness ID: 339
Abstraction: Variant
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
A Pseudo-Random Number Generator (PRNG) uses a relatively small seed space, which makes it more susceptible to brute force attacks.
+ Extended Description
PRNGs are entirely deterministic once seeded, so it should be extremely difficult to guess the seed. If an attacker can collect the outputs of a PRNG and then brute force the seed by trying every possibility to see which seed matches the observed output, then the attacker will know the output of any subsequent calls to the PRNG. A small seed space implies that the attacker will have far fewer possible values to try to exhaust all possibilities.
+ 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
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.335Incorrect Usage of Seeds in Pseudo-Random Number Generator (PRNG)
PeerOfBaseBase - 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.341Predictable from Observable State
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 Design
ImplementationREALIZATION: This weakness is caused during implementation of 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
Other

Technical Impact: Varies by Context

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

This code grabs some random bytes and uses them for a seed in a PRNG, in order to generate a new cryptographic key.

(bad code)
Example Language: Python 
# getting 2 bytes of randomness for the seeding the PRNG
seed = os.urandom(2)
random.seed(a=seed)
key = random.getrandbits(128)

Since only 2 bytes is used as a seed, an attacker will only need to guess 2^16 (65,536) values before being able to replicate the state of the PRNG.

+ Observed Examples
ReferenceDescription
product generates passwords via org.apache.commons.lang.RandomStringUtils, which uses java.util.Random internally. This PRNG has only a 48-bit seed.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Use well vetted pseudo-random number generating algorithms with adequate length seeds. Pseudo-random number generators can produce predictable numbers if the generator is known and the seed can be guessed. A 256-bit seed is a good starting point for producing a "random enough" number.

Phases: Architecture and Design; Requirements

Strategy: Libraries or Frameworks

Use products or modules that conform to FIPS 140-2 [REF-267] to avoid obvious entropy problems, or use the more recent FIPS 140-3 [REF-1192] if possible.
+ 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.905SFP Primary Cluster: Predictability
+ Notes

Maintenance

This entry may have a chaining relationship with predictable from observable state (CWE-341).

Maintenance

As of CWE 4.5, terminology related to randomness, entropy, and predictability can vary widely. Within the developer and other communities, "randomness" is used heavily. However, within cryptography, "entropy" is distinct, typically implied as a measurement. There are no commonly-used definitions, even within standards documents and cryptography papers. Future versions of CWE will attempt to define these terms and, if necessary, distinguish between them in ways that are appropriate for different communities but do not reduce the usability of CWE for mapping, understanding, or other scenarios.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERSmall Seed Space in PRNG
+ References
[REF-267] Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology. "SECURITY REQUIREMENTS FOR CRYPTOGRAPHIC MODULES". Annex C, Approved Random Number Generators. 2001-05-25. <http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/fips/fips140-2/fips1402.pdf>.
[REF-1192] Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology. "FIPS PUB 140-3: SECURITY REQUIREMENTS FOR CRYPTOGRAPHIC MODULES". 2019-03-22. <https://csrc.nist.gov/publications/detail/fips/140/3/final>.
+ 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 Maintenance_Notes, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-03-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2009-12-28CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2010-06-21CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples, Potential_Mitigations
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2011-06-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2011-09-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations, References
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Modes_of_Introduction, References, Relationships
2019-06-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Type
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2021-03-15CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Maintenance_Notes
2021-07-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Maintenance_Notes, Observed_Examples, Potential_Mitigations, References
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Page Last Updated: July 20, 2021