Self-generated Error Message Containing Sensitive Information

The product identifies an error condition and creates its own diagnostic or error messages that contain sensitive information.


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

The following code uses custom configuration files for each user in the application. It checks to see if the file exists on the system before attempting to open and use the file. If the configuration file does not exist, then an error is generated, and the application exits.

$uname = GetUserInput("username");

# avoid CWE-22, CWE-78, others.
if ($uname !~ /^\w+$/)
  ExitError("Bad hacker!") ;

$filename = "/home/myprog/config/" . $uname . ".txt";
if (!(-e $filename))
  ExitError("Error: $filename does not exist");

If this code is running on a server, such as a web application, then the person making the request should not know what the full pathname of the configuration directory is. By submitting a username that is not associated with a configuration file, an attacker could get this pathname from the error message. It could then be used to exploit path traversal, symbolic link following, or other problems that may exist elsewhere in the application.

See Also

Comprehensive Categorization: Sensitive Information Exposure

Weaknesses in this category are related to sensitive information exposure.

Limit Exposure

Weaknesses in this category are related to the design and architecture of the entry points to a system. Frequently these deal with minimizing the attack surface throug...

SFP Secondary Cluster: Exposed Data

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Exposed Data cluster (SFP23).

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

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

Weaknesses Introduced During Implementation

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

Weaknesses Introduced During Design

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

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