CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software & Hardware Weakness Types

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ID

CWE-405: Asymmetric Resource Consumption (Amplification)

Weakness ID: 405
Abstraction: Class
Structure: Simple
View customized information:
+ Description
The product does not properly control situations in which an adversary can cause the product to consume or produce excessive resources without requiring the adversary to invest equivalent work or otherwise prove authorization, i.e., the adversary's influence is "asymmetric."
+ Extended Description
This can lead to poor performance due to "amplification" of resource consumption, typically in a non-linear fashion. This situation is worsened if the product allows malicious users or attackers to consume more resources than their access level permits.
+ 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
ChildOfPillarPillar - a weakness that is the most abstract type of weakness and represents a theme for all class/base/variant weaknesses related to it. A Pillar is different from a Category as a Pillar is still technically a type of weakness that describes a mistake, while a Category represents a common characteristic used to group related things.664Improper Control of a Resource Through its Lifetime
ParentOfClassClass - 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.406Insufficient Control of Network Message Volume (Network Amplification)
ParentOfClassClass - 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.407Inefficient Algorithmic Complexity
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.408Incorrect Behavior Order: Early Amplification
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.409Improper Handling of Highly Compressed Data (Data Amplification)
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.1050Excessive Platform Resource Consumption within a Loop
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.1072Data Resource Access without Use of Connection Pooling
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.1073Non-SQL Invokable Control Element with Excessive Number of Data Resource Accesses
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.1084Invokable Control Element with Excessive File or Data Access Operations
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.1089Large Data Table with Excessive Number of Indices
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.1094Excessive Index Range Scan for a Data Resource
ParentOfClassClass - 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.1176Inefficient CPU Computation
PeerOfClassClass - 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.404Improper Resource Shutdown or Release
+ 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
Implementation
Operation
+ 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: Not Language-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

Operating Systems

Class: Not OS-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

Architectures

Class: Not Architecture-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

Technologies

Class: Not Technology-Specific (Undetermined Prevalence)

Class: Client Server (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
Availability

Technical Impact: DoS: Amplification; DoS: Resource Consumption (CPU); DoS: Resource Consumption (Memory); DoS: Resource Consumption (Other)

Sometimes this is a factor in "flood" attacks, but other types of amplification exist.
High
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

This code listens on a port for DNS requests and sends the result to the requesting address.

(bad code)
Example Language: Python 
sock = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_DGRAM)
sock.bind( (UDP_IP,UDP_PORT) )
while true:
data = sock.recvfrom(1024)
if not data:
break

(requestIP, nameToResolve) = parseUDPpacket(data)
record = resolveName(nameToResolve)
sendResponse(requestIP,record)

This code sends a DNS record to a requesting IP address. UDP allows the source IP address to be easily changed ('spoofed'), thus allowing an attacker to redirect responses to a target, which may be then be overwhelmed by the network traffic.

Example 2

This data prints the contents of a specified file requested by a user.

(bad code)
Example Language: PHP 
function printFile($username,$filename){

//read file into string
$file = file_get_contents($filename);
if ($file && isOwnerOf($username,$filename)){
echo $file;
return true;
}
else{
echo 'You are not authorized to view this file';
}
return false;
}

This code first reads a specified file into memory, then prints the file if the user is authorized to see its contents. The read of the file into memory may be resource intensive and is unnecessary if the user is not allowed to see the file anyway.

Example 3

The DTD and the very brief XML below illustrate what is meant by an XML bomb. The ZERO entity contains one character, the letter A. The choice of entity name ZERO is being used to indicate length equivalent to that exponent on two, that is, the length of ZERO is 2^0. Similarly, ONE refers to ZERO twice, therefore the XML parser will expand ONE to a length of 2, or 2^1. Ultimately, we reach entity THIRTYTWO, which will expand to 2^32 characters in length, or 4 GB, probably consuming far more data than expected.

(attack code)
Example Language: XML 
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE MaliciousDTD [
<!ENTITY ZERO "A">
<!ENTITY ONE "&ZERO;&ZERO;">
<!ENTITY TWO "&ONE;&ONE;">
...
<!ENTITY THIRTYTWO "&THIRTYONE;&THIRTYONE;">
]>
<data>&THIRTYTWO;</data>

Example 4

This example attempts to check if an input string is a "sentence" [REF-1164].

(bad code)
Example Language: JavaScript 
var test_string = "Bad characters: $@#";
var bad_pattern = /^(\w+\s?)*$/i;
var result = test_string.search(bad_pattern);

The regular expression has a vulnerable backtracking clause inside (\w+\s?)*$ which can be triggered to cause a Denial of Service by processing particular phrases.

To fix the backtracking problem, backtracking is removed with the ?= portion of the expression which changes it to a lookahead and the \2 which prevents the backtracking. The modified example is:

(good code)
Example Language: JavaScript 
var test_string = "Bad characters: $@#";
var good_pattern = /^((?=(\w+))\2\s?)*$/i;
var result = test_string.search(good_pattern);

Note that [REF-1164] has a more thorough (and lengthy) explanation of everything going on within the RegEx.

Example 5

An adversary can cause significant resource consumption on a server by filtering the cryptographic algorithms offered by the client to the ones that are the most resource-intensive on the server side. After discovering which cryptographic algorithms are supported by the server, a malicious client can send the initial cryptographic handshake messages that contains only the resource-intensive algorithms. For some cryptographic protocols, these messages can be completely prefabricated, as the resource-intensive part of the handshake happens on the server-side first (such as TLS), rather than on the client side. In the case of cryptographic protocols where the resource-intensive part should happen on the client-side first (such as SSH), a malicious client can send a forged/precalculated computation result, which seems correct to the server, so the resource-intensive part of the handshake is going to happen on the server side. A malicious client is required to send only the initial messages of a cryptographic handshake to initiate the resource-consuming part of the cryptographic handshake. These messages are usually small, and generating them requires minimal computational effort, enabling a denial-of-service attack. An additional risk is the fact that higher key size increases the effectiveness of the attack. Cryptographic protocols where the clients have influence over the size of the used key (such as TLS 1.3 or SSH) are most at risk, as the client can enforce the highest key size supported by the server.

+ Observed Examples
ReferenceDescription
Classic "Smurf" attack, using spoofed ICMP packets to broadcast addresses.
Parsing library allows XML bomb
Tool creates directories before authenticating user.
Python has "quadratic complexity" issue when converting string to int with many digits in unexpected bases
server allows ReDOS with crafted User-Agent strings, due to overlapping capture groups that cause excessive backtracking.
composite: NTP feature generates large responses (high amplification factor) with spoofed UDP source addresses.
Diffie-Hellman (DHE) Key Agreement Protocol allows attackers to send arbitrary numbers that are not public keys, which causes the server to perform expensive, unnecessary computation of modular exponentiation.
The Diffie-Hellman Key Agreement Protocol allows use of long exponents, which are more computationally expensive than using certain "short exponents" with particular properties.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

An application must make resources available to a client commensurate with the client's access level.

Phase: Architecture and Design

An application must, at all times, keep track of allocated resources and meter their usage appropriately.

Phase: System Configuration

Consider disabling resource-intensive algorithms on the server side, such as Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

Effectiveness: High

Note: Business requirements may prevent disabling resource-intensive algorithms.
+ 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.730OWASP Top Ten 2004 Category A9 - Denial of Service
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.855The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (2011) Chapter 12 - Thread Pools (TPS)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.857The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (2011) Chapter 14 - Input Output (FIO)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.977SFP Secondary Cluster: Design
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1145SEI CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java - Guidelines 11. Thread Pools (TPS)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1147SEI CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java - Guidelines 13. Input Output (FIO)
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERAsymmetric resource consumption (amplification)
OWASP Top Ten 2004A9CWE More SpecificDenial of Service
WASC41XML Attribute Blowup
The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (2011)TPS00-JUse thread pools to enable graceful degradation of service during traffic bursts
The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (2011)FIO04-JRelease resources when they are no longer needed
+ References
[REF-1164] Ilya Kantor. "Catastrophic backtracking". 2020-12-13. <https://javascript.info/regexp-catastrophic-backtracking>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2006-07-19PLOVER
+ Contributions
Contribution DateContributorOrganization
2021-11-11Szilɕrd PfeifferBalasys IT Security
Submitted content that led to modifications in applicable platforms, common consequences, potential mitigations, demonstrative examples, observed examples.
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Other_Notes
2010-02-16CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Taxonomy_Mappings
2010-12-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2011-06-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2015-12-07CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Functional_Areas
2019-01-03CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2019-06-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2023-01-31CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Common_Consequences, Demonstrative_Examples, Description, Observed_Examples, Potential_Mitigations, References, Time_of_Introduction
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Page Last Updated: January 31, 2023