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-497: Exposure of Sensitive System Information to an Unauthorized Control Sphere

Weakness ID: 497
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The application does not properly prevent sensitive system-level information from being accessed by unauthorized actors who do not have the same level of access to the underlying system as the application does.
+ Extended Description

Network-based software, such as web applications, often runs on top of an operating system or similar environment. When the application communicates with outside parties, details about the underlying system are expected to remain hidden, such as path names for data files, other OS users, installed packages, the application environment, etc. This system information may be provided by the application itself, or buried within diagnostic or debugging messages. Debugging information helps an adversary learn about the system and form an attack plan.

An information exposure occurs when system data or debugging information leaves the program through an output stream or logging function that makes it accessible to unauthorized parties. Using other weaknesses, an attacker could cause errors to occur; the response to these errors can reveal detailed system information, along with other impacts. An attacker can use messages that reveal technologies, operating systems, and product versions to tune the attack against known vulnerabilities in these technologies. An application may use diagnostic methods that provide significant implementation details such as stack traces as part of its error handling mechanism.

+ Relationships

The table(s) below 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
ChildOfClassClass - 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.200Exposure of Sensitive Information to an Unauthorized Actor
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.214Invocation of Process Using Visible Sensitive Information
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.526Exposure of Sensitive Information Through Environmental Variables
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.548Exposure of Information Through Directory Listing
+ 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.199Information Management Errors
+ Modes Of Introduction

The 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
Implementation
+ Applicable Platforms
The listings below show 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

The table below 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

Technical Impact: Read Application Data

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following code prints the path environment variable to the standard error stream:

(bad code)
Example Language:
char* path = getenv("PATH");
...
sprintf(stderr, "cannot find exe on path %s\n", path);

Example 2

The following code prints an exception to the standard error stream:

(bad code)
Example Language: Java 
try {
...
} catch (Exception e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
(bad code)
 
try {
...
} catch (Exception e) {
Console.Writeline(e);
}

Depending upon the system configuration, this information can be dumped to a console, written to a log file, or exposed to a remote user. In some cases the error message tells the attacker precisely what sort of an attack the system will be vulnerable to. For example, a database error message can reveal that the application is vulnerable to a SQL injection attack. Other error messages can reveal more oblique clues about the system. In the example above, the search path could imply information about the type of operating system, the applications installed on the system, and the amount of care that the administrators have put into configuring the program.

Example 3

The following code constructs a database connection string, uses it to create a new connection to the database, and prints it to the console.

(bad code)
Example Language: C# 
string cs="database=northwind; server=mySQLServer...";
SqlConnection conn=new SqlConnection(cs);
...
Console.Writeline(cs);

Depending on the system configuration, this information can be dumped to a console, written to a log file, or exposed to a remote user. In some cases the error message tells the attacker precisely what sort of an attack the system is vulnerable to. For example, a database error message can reveal that the application is vulnerable to a SQL injection attack. Other error messages can reveal more oblique clues about the system. In the example above, the search path could imply information about the type of operating system, the applications installed on the system, and the amount of care that the administrators have put into configuring the program.

+ Potential Mitigations

Phases: Architecture and Design; Implementation

Production applications should never use methods that generate internal details such as stack traces and error messages unless that information is directly committed to a log that is not viewable by the end user. All error message text should be HTML entity encoded before being written to the log file to protect against potential cross-site scripting attacks against the viewer of the logs
+ Memberships
This 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.851The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (2011) Chapter 8 - Exceptional Behavior (ERR)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.880CERT C++ Secure Coding Section 12 - Exceptions and Error Handling (ERR)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.963SFP Secondary Cluster: Exposed Data
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
7 Pernicious KingdomsSystem Information Leak
The CERT Oracle Secure Coding Standard for Java (2011)ERR01-JDo not allow exceptions to expose sensitive information
Software Fault PatternsSFP23Exposed Data
+ 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 Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings, Type
2009-03-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Other_Notes
2009-12-28CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Name
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2011-09-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Related_Attack_Patterns, Relationships
2012-10-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Potential_Mitigations
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-05-03CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Taxonomy_Mappings
2019-01-03CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Taxonomy_Mappings
2019-06-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Related_Attack_Patterns
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description, Name, References, Relationships, Type
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11System Information Leak
2009-12-28Information Leak of System Data
2020-02-24Exposure of System Data to an Unauthorized Control Sphere
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Page Last Updated: June 25, 2020