Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-365: Race Condition in Switch

Weakness ID: 365
Abstraction: Base
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description

Description Summary

The code contains a switch statement in which the switched variable can be modified while the switch is still executing, resulting in unexpected behavior.

Extended Description

This issue is particularly important in the case of switch statements that involve fall-through style case statements - ie., those which do not end with break. If the variable being tested by the switch changes in the course of execution, this could change the intended logic of the switch so much that it places the process in a contradictory state and in some cases could even result in memory corruption.

+ Time of Introduction
  • Implementation
+ Applicable Platforms






+ Common Consequences

Technical Impact: Alter execution logic; Unexpected state

This weakness may lead to unexpected system state, resulting in unpredictable behavior.

+ Likelihood of Exploit


+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

This example has a switch statement that executes different code depending on the current time.

(Bad Code)
Example Languages: C and C++ 
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
int main(argc,argv){
struct stat *sb;
time_t timer;
switch(sb->st_ctime % 2){
case 0: printf("One option\n");
case 1: printf("another option\n");
default: printf("huh\n");
return 0;

It seems that the default case of the switch statement should never be reached, as st_ctime % 2 should always be 0 or 1. However, if st_ctime % 2 is 1 when the first case is evaluated, the time may change and st_ctime % 2 may be equal to 0 when the second case is evaluated. The result is that neither case 1 or case 2 execute, and the default option is chosen.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Implementation

Variables that may be subject to race conditions should be locked before the switch statement starts and only unlocked after the statement ends.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base367Time-of-check Time-of-use (TOCTOU) Race Condition
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory748CERT C Secure Coding Section 50 - POSIX (POS)
Weaknesses Addressed by the CERT C Secure Coding Standard (primary)734
ChildOfCategoryCategory986SFP Secondary Cluster: Missing Lock
Software Fault Pattern (SFP) Clusters (primary)888
PeerOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base364Signal Handler Race Condition
Research Concepts1000
PeerOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base366Race Condition within a Thread
Research Concepts1000
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CLASPRace condition in switch
CERT C Secure CodingPOS35-CAvoid race conditions while checking for the existence of a symbolic link
Software Fault PatternsSFP19Missing Lock
+ References
[REF-17] Michael Howard, David LeBlanc and John Viega. "24 Deadly Sins of Software Security". "Sin 13: Race Conditions." Page 205. McGraw-Hill. 2010.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
CLASPExternally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigitalExternal
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Applicable_Platforms, Common_Consequences, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2010-09-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2011-06-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Demonstrative_Examples, References, Relationships
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences, Description, Other_Notes, Potential_Mitigations
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings

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Page Last Updated: May 05, 2017