CWE-640: Weak Password Recovery Mechanism for Forgotten Password
The software contains a mechanism for users to recover or change their passwords without knowing the original password, but the mechanism is weak.
It is common for an application to have a mechanism that provides a means for a user to gain access to their account in the event they forget their password. Very often the password recovery mechanism is weak, which has the effect of making it more likely that it would be possible for a person other than the legitimate system user to gain access to that user's account. Weak password recovery schemes completely undermine a strong password authentication scheme.
This weakness may be that the security question is too easy to guess or find an answer to (e.g. because the question is too common, or the answers can be found using social media). Or there might be an implementation weakness in the password recovery mechanism code that may for instance trick the system into e-mailing the new password to an e-mail account other than that of the user. There might be no throttling done on the rate of password resets so that a legitimate user can be denied service by an attacker if an attacker tries to recover their password in a rapid succession. The system may send the original password to the user rather than generating a new temporary password. In summary, password recovery functionality, if not carefully designed and implemented can often become the system's weakest link that can be misused in a way that would allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access to the system.
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)
Relevant to the view "Software Development" (CWE-699)
Relevant to the view "Weaknesses for Simplified Mapping of Published Vulnerabilities" (CWE-1003)
Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
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.
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.
Class: Language-Independent (Undetermined Prevalence)
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.
A famous example of this type of weakness being exploited is the eBay attack. eBay always displays the user id of the highest bidder. In the final minutes of the auction, one of the bidders could try to log in as the highest bidder three times. After three incorrect log in attempts, eBay password throttling would kick in and lock out the highest bidder's account for some time. An attacker could then make their own bid and their victim would not have a chance to place the counter bid because they would be locked out. Thus an attacker could win the auction.
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.
This entry might be reclassified as a category or "loose composite," since it lists multiple specific errors that can make the mechanism weak. However, under view 1000, it could be a weakness under protection mechanism failure, although it is different from most PMF issues since it is related to a feature that is designed to bypass a protection mechanism (specifically, the lack of knowledge of a password).
This entry probably needs to be split; see extended description.
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