Common Weakness Enumeration

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CWE-649: Reliance on Obfuscation or Encryption of Security-Relevant Inputs without Integrity Checking

Weakness ID: 649
Abstraction: Base
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The software uses obfuscation or encryption of inputs that should not be mutable by an external actor, but the software does not use integrity checks to detect if those inputs have been modified.
+ Extended Description
When an application relies on obfuscation or incorrectly applied / weak encryption to protect client-controllable tokens or parameters, that may have an effect on the user state, system state, or some decision made on the server. Without protecting the tokens/parameters for integrity, the application is vulnerable to an attack where an adversary traverses the space of possible values of the said token/parameter in order to attempt to gain an advantage. The goal of the attacker is to find another admissible value that will somehow elevate their privileges in the system, disclose information or change the behavior of the system in some way beneficial to the attacker. If the application does not protect these critical tokens/parameters for integrity, it will not be able to determine that these values have been tampered with. Measures that are used to protect data for confidentiality should not be relied upon to provide the integrity service.
+ 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)
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.345Insufficient Verification of Data Authenticity
+ Relevant to the view "Software Development" (CWE-699)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1214Data Integrity Issues
+ Relevant to the view "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.1020Verify Message Integrity
+ 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.

Architecture and DesignOMISSION: This weakness is caused by missing a security tactic during the architecture and design phase.
+ 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.


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.


Technical Impact: Unexpected State

The inputs could be modified without detection, causing the software to have unexpected system state or make incorrect security decisions.
+ Likelihood Of Exploit
+ Observed Examples
An IPSec configuration does not perform integrity checking of the IPSec packet as the result of either not configuring ESP properly to support the integrity service or using AH improperly. In either case, the security gateway receiving the IPSec packet would not validate the integrity of the packet to ensure that it was not changed. Thus if the packets were intercepted the attacker could undetectably change some of the bits in the packets. The meaningful bit flipping was possible due to the known weaknesses in the CBC encryption mode. Since the attacker knew the structure of the packet, they were able (in one variation of the attack) to use bit flipping to change the destination IP of the packet to the destination machine controlled by the attacker. And so the destination security gateway would decrypt the packet and then forward the plaintext to the machine controlled by the attacker. The attacker could then read the original message. For instance if VPN was used with the vulnerable IPSec configuration the attacker could read the victim's e-mail. This vulnerability demonstrates the need to enforce the integrity service properly when critical data could be modified by an attacker. This problem might have also been mitigated by using an encryption mode that is not susceptible to bit flipping attacks, but the preferred mechanism to address this problem still remains message verification for integrity. While this attack focuses on the network layer and requires an entity that controls part of the communication path such as a router, the situation is not much different at the software level, where an attacker can modify tokens/parameters used by the application.
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Protect important client controllable tokens/parameters for integrity using PKI methods (i.e. digital signatures) or other means, and checks for integrity on the server side.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Repeated requests from a particular user that include invalid values of tokens/parameters (those that should not be changed manually by users) should result in the user account lockout.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Client side tokens/parameters should not be such that it would be easy/predictable to guess another valid state.

Phase: Architecture and Design

Obfuscation should not be relied upon. If encryption is used, it needs to be properly applied (i.e. proven algorithm and implementation, use padding, use random initialization vector, user proper encryption mode). Even with proper encryption where the ciphertext does not leak information about the plaintext or reveal its structure, compromising integrity is possible (although less likely) without the provision of the integrity service.
+ 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.
MemberOfCategoryCategory - a CWE entry that contains a set of other entries that share a common characteristic.975SFP Secondary Cluster: Architecture
+ Content History
+ Submissions
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2008-01-30Evgeny LebanidzeCigital
+ Modifications
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Relationships, Observed_Example
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
2009-10-29CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2010-12-13CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences, Description, Enabling_Factors_for_Exploitation, Observed_Examples
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
2011-06-27CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Common_Consequences
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
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Applicable_Platforms, Description, Enabling_Factors_for_Exploitation, Modes_of_Introduction, Observed_Examples, Relationships
2020-02-24CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Observed_Examples, Relationships
2020-12-10CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Description
+ Previous Entry Names
Change DatePrevious Entry Name
2008-04-11Relying on Obfuscation or Encryption with no Integrity Checking to Protect User Controllable Parameters that are Used to Determine User or System State
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Page Last Updated: March 15, 2021