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-562: Return of Stack Variable Address

Weakness ID: 562
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Draft
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
A function returns the address of a stack variable, which will cause unintended program behavior, typically in the form of a crash.
+ Extended Description
Because local variables are allocated on the stack, when a program returns a pointer to a local variable, it is returning a stack address. A subsequent function call is likely to re-use this same stack address, thereby overwriting the value of the pointer, which no longer corresponds to the same variable since a function's stack frame is invalidated when it returns. At best this will cause the value of the pointer to change unexpectedly. In many cases it causes the program to crash the next time the pointer is dereferenced.
+ 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
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.758Reliance on Undefined, Unspecified, or Implementation-Defined Behavior
CanPrecedeClassClass - 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.672Operation on a Resource after Expiration or Release
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.825Expired Pointer Dereference
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
Implementation
+ 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

C (Undetermined Prevalence)

C++ (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
Integrity
Confidentiality

Technical Impact: Read Memory; Modify Memory; Execute Unauthorized Code or Commands; DoS: Crash, Exit, or Restart

If the returned stack buffer address is dereferenced after the return, then an attacker may be able to modify or read memory, depending on how the address is used. If the address is used for reading, then the address itself may be exposed, or the contents that the address points to. If the address is used for writing, this can lead to a crash and possibly code execution.
+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

The following function returns a stack address.

(bad code)
Example Language:
char* getName() {
char name[STR_MAX];
fillInName(name);
return name;
}
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Testing

Use static analysis tools to spot return of the address of a stack variable.
+ 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.748CERT C Secure Coding Standard (2008) Appendix - POSIX (POS)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.998SFP Secondary Cluster: Glitch in Computation
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1156SEI CERT C Coding Standard - Guidelines 02. Declarations and Initialization (DCL)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1306CISQ Quality Measures - Reliability
MemberOfViewView - a subset of CWE entries that provides a way of examining CWE content. The two main view structures are Slices (flat lists) and Graphs (containing relationships between entries).1340CISQ Data Protection Measures
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CERT C Secure CodingDCL30-CCWE More SpecificDeclare objects with appropriate storage durations
CERT C Secure CodingPOS34-CDo not call putenv() with a pointer to an automatic variable as the argument
Software Fault PatternsSFP1Glitch in computation
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2006-07-19Anonymous Tool Vendor (under NDA)
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigital
updated Potential_Mitigations, Time_of_Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Relationships, Other_Notes, Taxonomy_Mappings
2008-11-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2009-05-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Demonstrative_Examples
2010-09-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2011-06-01CWE 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, Other_Notes
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings
2019-01-03CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships, Weakness_Ordinalities
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2020-06-25CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2020-08-20CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2020-12-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Stack Address Returned
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Page Last Updated: July 20, 2021