CWE

Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software & Hardware Weakness Types

CWE Top 25 Most Dangerous Weaknesses
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ID

CWE-489: Active Debug Code

Weakness ID: 489
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The application is deployed to unauthorized actors with debugging code still enabled or active, which can create unintended entry points or expose sensitive information.
+ Extended Description
A common development practice is to add "back door" code specifically designed for debugging or testing purposes that is not intended to be shipped or deployed with the application. These back door entry points create security risks because they are not considered during design or testing and fall outside of the expected operating conditions of the application.
+ Alternate Terms
Leftover debug code:
This term originates from Seven Pernicious Kingdoms
+ 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.710Improper Adherence to Coding Standards
ParentOfVariantVariant - a weakness that is linked to a certain type of product, typically involving a specific language or technology. More specific than a Base weakness. Variant level weaknesses typically describe issues in terms of 3 to 5 of the following dimensions: behavior, property, technology, language, and resource.11ASP.NET Misconfiguration: Creating Debug Binary
CanPrecedeBaseBase - 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.215Insertion of Sensitive Information Into Debugging Code
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.1006Bad Coding Practices
+ 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
ImplementationIn web-based applications, debug code is used to test and modify web application properties, configuration information, and functions. If a debug application is left on a production server, this oversight during the "software process" allows attackers access to debug functionality.
Build and Compilation
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: 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
Confidentiality
Integrity
Availability
Access Control
Other

Technical Impact: Bypass Protection Mechanism; Read Application Data; Gain Privileges or Assume Identity; Varies by Context

The severity of the exposed debug application will depend on the particular instance. At the least, it will give an attacker sensitive information about the settings and mechanics of web applications on the server. At worst, as is often the case, the debug application will allow an attacker complete control over the web application and server, as well as confidential information that either of these access.
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

Debug code can be used to bypass authentication. For example, suppose an application has a login script that receives a username and a password. Assume also that a third, optional, parameter, called "debug", is interpreted by the script as requesting a switch to debug mode, and that when this parameter is given the username and password are not checked. In such a case, it is very simple to bypass the authentication process if the special behavior of the application regarding the debug parameter is known. In a case where the form is:

(bad code)
Example Language: HTML 
<FORM ACTION="/authenticate_login.cgi">
<INPUT TYPE=TEXT name=username>
<INPUT TYPE=PASSWORD name=password>
<INPUT TYPE=SUBMIT>
</FORM>

Then a conforming link will look like:

(informative)
 
http://TARGET/authenticate_login.cgi?username=...&password=...

An attacker can change this to:

(attack code)
 
http://TARGET/authenticate_login.cgi?username=&password=&debug=1

Which will grant the attacker access to the site, bypassing the authentication process.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Build and Compilation; Distribution

Remove debug code before deploying the application.
+ Weakness Ordinalities
OrdinalityDescription
Indirect
(where the weakness is a quality issue that might indirectly make it easier to introduce security-relevant weaknesses or make them more difficult to detect)
Primary
(where the weakness exists independent of other weaknesses)
+ 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.4857PK - Encapsulation
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.731OWASP Top Ten 2004 Category A10 - Insecure Configuration Management
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1002SFP Secondary Cluster: Unexpected Entry Points
+ Notes

Other

In J2EE a main method may be a good indicator that debug code has been left in the application, although there may not be any direct security impact.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
7 Pernicious KingdomsLeftover Debug Code
OWASP Top Ten 2004A10CWE More SpecificInsecure Configuration Management
Software Fault PatternsSFP28Unexpected access points
+ References
[REF-6] Katrina Tsipenyuk, Brian Chess and Gary McGraw. "Seven Pernicious Kingdoms: A Taxonomy of Software Security Errors". NIST Workshop on Software Security Assurance Tools Techniques and Metrics. NIST. 2005-11-07. <https://samate.nist.gov/SSATTM_Content/papers/Seven%20Pernicious%20Kingdoms%20-%20Taxonomy%20of%20Sw%20Security%20Errors%20-%20Tsipenyuk%20-%20Chess%20-%20McGraw.pdf>.
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2006-07-197 Pernicious Kingdoms
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Potential_Mitigations, Time_of_Introduction
2008-08-01KDM Analytics
added/updated white box definitions
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2011-06-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-06-23CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Modes_of_Introduction, Other_Notes, Time_of_Introduction
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Relationships, White_Box_Definitions
2019-01-03CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Weakness_Ordinalities
2019-06-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Name, References, Relationships
2021-03-15CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2021-07-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Alternate_Terms
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2020-02-24Leftover Debug Code
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Page Last Updated: July 20, 2021