CWE-591: Sensitive Data Storage in Improperly Locked Memory
Weakness ID: 591
Abstraction: Variant Structure: Simple
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The product stores sensitive data in memory that is not locked, or that has been incorrectly locked, which might cause the memory to be written to swap files on disk by the virtual memory manager. This can make the data more accessible to external actors.
On Windows systems the VirtualLock function can lock a page of memory to ensure that it will remain present in memory and not be swapped to disk. However, on older versions of Windows, such as 95, 98, or Me, the VirtualLock() function is only a stub and provides no protection. On POSIX systems the mlock() call ensures that a page will stay resident in memory but does not guarantee that the page will not appear in the swap. Therefore, it is unsuitable for use as a protection mechanism for sensitive data. Some platforms, in particular Linux, do make the guarantee that the page will not be swapped, but this is non-standard and is not portable. Calls to mlock() also require supervisor privilege. Return values for both of these calls must be checked to ensure that the lock operation was actually successful.
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Relevant to the view "Research Concepts" (CWE-1000)
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Sensitive data that is written to a swap file may be exposed.
Phase: Architecture and Design
Identify data that needs to be protected from swapping and choose platform-appropriate protection mechanisms.
Check return values to ensure locking operations are successful.
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Mapped Taxonomy Name
Mapped Node Name
OWASP Top Ten 2004
CWE More Specific
CERT C Secure Coding
Ensure that sensitive data is not written out to disk
Software Fault Patterns
2006-12-15 (CWE Draft 5, 2006-12-15)
Submitted by members of the CWE community to extend early CWE versions