Common Weakness Enumeration

A Community-Developed List of Software Weakness Types

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CWE-765: Multiple Unlocks of a Critical Resource

Weakness ID: 765
Abstraction: Variant
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description

Description Summary

The software unlocks a critical resource more times than intended, leading to an unexpected state in the system.

Extended Description

When software is operating in a concurrent environment and repeatedly unlocks a critical resource, the consequences will vary based on the type of lock, the lock's implementation, and the resource being protected. In some situations such as with semaphores, the resources are pooled and extra calls to unlock will increase the count for the number of available resources, likely resulting in a crash or unpredictable behavior when the system nears capacity.

+ Time of Introduction
  • Implementation
+ Common Consequences

Technical Impact: DoS: crash / exit / restart; Modify memory; Unexpected state

+ Observed Examples
Attacker provides invalid address to a memory-reading function, causing a mutex to be unlocked twice
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Implementation

When locking and unlocking a resource, try to be sure that all control paths through the code in which the resource is locked one or more times correspond to exactly as many unlocks. If the software acquires a lock and then determines it is not able to perform its intended behavior, be sure to release the lock(s) before waiting for conditions to improve. Reacquire the lock(s) before trying again.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base667Improper Locking
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class675Duplicate Operations on Resource
Research Concepts1000
ChildOfCategoryCategory987SFP Secondary Cluster: Multiple Locks/Unlocks
Software Fault Pattern (SFP) Clusters (primary)888
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
Software Fault PatternsSFP21Multiple locks/unlocks
+ Maintenance Notes

An alternate way to think about this weakness is as an imbalance between the number of locks / unlocks in the control flow. Over the course of execution, if each lock call is not followed by a subsequent call to unlock in a reasonable amount of time, then system performance may be degraded or at least operating at less than peak levels if there is competition for the locks. This entry may need to be modified to reflect these concepts in the future.

+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
2009-03-03Internal CWE Team
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2011-06-01CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2011-06-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common_Consequences
2012-05-11CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships
2014-07-30CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Taxonomy_Mappings

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Page Last Updated: May 05, 2017