CWE-760: Use of a One-Way Hash with a Predictable Salt
Weakness ID: 760
Abstraction: Base Structure: Simple
The software uses a one-way cryptographic hash against an input that should not be reversible, such as a password, but the software uses a predictable salt as part of the input.
This makes it easier for attackers to pre-compute the hash value using dictionary attack techniques such as rainbow tables, effectively disabling the protection that an unpredictable salt would provide.
It should be noted that, despite common perceptions, the use of a good salt with a hash does not sufficiently increase the effort for an attacker who is targeting an individual password, or who has a large amount of computing resources available, such as with cloud-based services or specialized, inexpensive hardware. Offline password cracking can still be effective if the hash function is not expensive to compute; many cryptographic functions are designed to be efficient and can be vulnerable to attacks using massive computing resources, even if the hash is cryptographically strong. The use of a salt only slightly increases the computing requirements for an attacker compared to other strategies such as adaptive hash functions. See CWE-916 for more details.
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)
In cryptography, salt refers to some random addition of data to an input before hashing to make dictionary attacks more difficult.
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 software life cycle at which introduction may occur, while the Note provides a typical scenario related to introduction during the given phase.
REALIZATION: This weakness is caused during implementation of an architectural security tactic.
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.
chain: product generates predictable MD5 hashes using a constant value combined with username, allowing authentication bypass.
Phase: Architecture and Design
Use an adaptive hash function that can be configured to change the amount of computational effort needed to compute the hash, such as the number of iterations ("stretching") or the amount of memory required. Some hash functions perform salting automatically. These functions can significantly increase the overhead for a brute force attack compared to intentionally-fast functions such as MD5. For example, rainbow table attacks can become infeasible due to the high computing overhead. Finally, since computing power gets faster and cheaper over time, the technique can be reconfigured to increase the workload without forcing an entire replacement of the algorithm in use.
Some hash functions that have one or more of these desired properties include bcrypt [REF-291], scrypt [REF-292], and PBKDF2 [REF-293]. While there is active debate about which of these is the most effective, they are all stronger than using salts with hash functions with very little computing overhead.
Note that using these functions can have an impact on performance, so they require special consideration to avoid denial-of-service attacks. However, their configurability provides finer control over how much CPU and memory is used, so it could be adjusted to suit the environment's needs.
If a technique that requires extra computational effort can not be implemented, then for each password that is processed, generate a new random salt using a strong random number generator with unpredictable seeds. Add the salt to the plaintext password before hashing it. When storing the hash, also store the salt. Do not use the same salt for every password.
Note: Be aware that salts will not reduce the workload of a targeted attack against an individual hash (such as the password for a critical person), and in general they are less effective than other hashing techniques such as increasing the computation time or memory overhead. Without a built-in workload, modern attacks can compute large numbers of hashes, or even exhaust the entire space of all possible passwords, within a very short amount of time, using massively-parallel computing and GPU, ASIC, or FPGA hardware.
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.