Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

CWE/SANS Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors
Home > CWE List > CWE- Individual Dictionary Definition (2.11)  

CWE-471: Modification of Assumed-Immutable Data (MAID)

Weakness ID: 471
Abstraction: Base
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description

Description Summary

The software does not properly protect an assumed-immutable element from being modified by an attacker.

Extended Description

This occurs when a particular input is critical enough to the functioning of the application that it should not be modifiable at all, but it is. Certain resources are often assumed to be immutable when they are not, such as hidden form fields in web applications, cookies, and reverse DNS lookups.

+ Time of Introduction
  • Implementation
  • Architecture and Design
+ Applicable Platforms



+ Common Consequences

Technical Impact: Modify application data

Common data types that are attacked are environment variables, web application parameters, and HTTP headers.


Technical Impact: Unexpected state

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

In the code excerpt below, an array returned by a Java method is modified despite the fact that arrays are mutable.

(Bad Code)
Example Language: Java 
String[] colors = car.getAllPossibleColors();
colors[0] = "Red";
+ Observed Examples
Relies on $PHP_SELF variable for authentication.
Gain privileges by modifying assumed-immutable code addresses that are accessed by a driver.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Architecture and Design; Operation; Implementation

When the data is stored or transmitted through untrusted sources that could modify the data, implement integrity checks to detect unauthorized modification, or store/transmit the data in a trusted location that is free from external influence.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfCategoryCategory19Data Processing Errors
Development Concepts (primary)699
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class664Improper Control of a Resource Through its Lifetime
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory991SFP Secondary Cluster: Tainted Input to Environment
Software Fault Pattern (SFP) Clusters (primary)888
RequiredByCompound Element: CompositeCompound Element: Composite426Untrusted Search Path
Research Concepts1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant291Reliance on IP Address for Authentication
Research Concepts1000
ParentOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base472External Control of Assumed-Immutable Web Parameter
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant473PHP External Variable Modification
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ParentOfWeakness VariantWeakness Variant607Public Static Final Field References Mutable Object
Development Concepts699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
CanFollowWeakness BaseWeakness Base425Direct Request ('Forced Browsing')
Research Concepts1000
CanFollowWeakness BaseWeakness Base602Client-Side Enforcement of Server-Side Security
Research Concepts1000
CanFollowWeakness BaseWeakness Base621Variable Extraction Error
Research Concepts1000
+ Relationship Notes

MAID issues can be primary to many other weaknesses, and they are a major factor in languages that provide easy access to internal program constructs, such as PHP's register_globals and similar features. However, MAID issues can also be resultant from weaknesses that modify internal state; for example, a program might validate some data and store it in memory, but a buffer overflow could overwrite that validated data, leading to a change in program logic.

+ Theoretical Notes

There are many examples where the MUTABILITY property is a major factor in a vulnerability.

+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERModification of Assumed-Immutable Data
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
PLOVERExternally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Sean EidemillerCigitalExternal
added/updated demonstrative examples
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigitalExternal
updated Potential_Mitigations, Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Other_Notes
2010-02-16CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Potential_Mitigations
2010-04-05CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2010-12-13CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2013-02-21CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2013-07-17CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2014-02-18CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Applicable_Platforms, Common_Consequences, Description, Other_Notes, Potential_Mitigations, Relationship_Notes, Theoretical_Notes, Time_of_Introduction
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2017-05-03CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Related_Attack_Patterns

More information is available — Please select a different filter.
Page Last Updated: May 05, 2017