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CWE-943: Improper Neutralization of Special Elements in Data Query Logic

Weakness ID: 943
Abstraction: Class
Structure: Simple
Status: Incomplete
Presentation Filter:
+ Description
The application generates a query intended to access or manipulate data in a data store such as a database, but it does not neutralize or incorrectly neutralizes special elements that can modify the intended logic of the query.
+ Extended Description

Depending on the capabilities of the query language, an attacker could inject additional logic into the query to:

  • Modify the intended selection criteria, thus changing which data entities (e.g., records) are returned, modified, or otherwise manipulated
  • Append additional commands to the query
  • Return more entities than intended
  • Return fewer entities than intended
  • Cause entities to be sorted in an unexpected way

The ability to execute additional commands or change which entities are returned has obvious risks. But when the application logic depends on the order or number of entities, this can also lead to vulnerabilities. For example, if the application query expects to return only one entity that specifies an administrative user, but an attacker can change which entities are returned, this could cause the logic to return information for a regular user and incorrectly assume that the user has administrative privileges.

While this weakness is most commonly associated with SQL injection, there are many other query languages that are also subject to injection attacks, including HTSQL, LDAP, DQL, XQuery, Xpath, and "NoSQL" languages.

+ 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 "Architectural Concepts" (CWE-1008)
MemberOfCategoryCategory1019Validate Inputs
+ 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.

ImplementationREALIZATION: This weakness is caused during implementation of an architectural security tactic.
+ 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.

Access Control

Technical Impact: Bypass Protection Mechanism; Read Application Data; Modify Application Data; Varies by Context

+ Observed Examples
Injection using Documentum Query Language (DQL)
Injection using Documentum Query Language (DQL)
+ Notes


This entry will be made more comprehensive in future CWE versions.


It could be argued that data query languages are effectively a command language - albeit with a limited set of commands - and thus any query-language injection issue could be treated as a child of CWE-74. However, CWE-943 is intended to better organize query-oriented issues to separate them from fully-functioning programming languages, and also to provide a more precise identifier for the many query languages that do not have their own CWE identifier.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2014-06-19CWE Content TeamMITRE
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2015-12-07CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Relationships
2017-11-08CWE Content TeamMITRE
updated Modes_of_Introduction, Observed_Examples, Relationships

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Page Last Updated: January 18, 2018