Use of Weak Credentials

The product uses weak credentials (such as a default key or hard-coded password) that can be calculated, derived, reused, or guessed by an attacker.


By design, authentication protocols try to ensure that attackers must perform brute force attacks if they do not know the credentials such as a key or password. However, when these credentials are easily predictable or even fixed (as with default or hard-coded passwords and keys), then the attacker can defeat the mechanism without relying on brute force.

Credentials may be weak for different reasons, such as:

Hard-coded (i.e., static and unchangeable by the administrator)

Default (i.e., the same static value across different deployments/installations, but able to be changed by the administrator)

Predictable (i.e., generated in a way that produces unique credentials across deployments/installations, but can still be guessed with reasonable efficiency)

Even if a new, unique credential is intended to be generated for each product installation, if the generation is predictable, then that may also simplify guessing attacks.


The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.

Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.

Example One

In 2022, the OT:ICEFALL study examined products by 10 different Operational Technology (OT) vendors. The researchers reported 56 vulnerabilities and said that the products were "insecure by design" [REF-1283]. If exploited, these vulnerabilities often allowed adversaries to change how the products operated, ranging from denial of service to changing the code that the products executed. Since these products were often used in industries such as power, electrical, water, and others, there could even be safety implications.

Multiple OT products used weak credentials.

See Also

Comprehensive Categorization: Access Control

Weaknesses in this category are related to access control.

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

This view (slice) covers all the elements in CWE.

Weaknesses Addressed by ISA/IEC 62443 Requirements

This view (slice) covers weaknesses that are addressed by following requirements in the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards for industrial automation and control systems...

Weaknesses Introduced During Design

This view (slice) lists weaknesses that can be introduced during design.

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