Generation of Predictable IV with CBC Mode

The product generates and uses a predictable initialization Vector (IV) with Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) Mode, which causes algorithms to be susceptible to dictionary attacks when they are encrypted under the same key.


CBC mode eliminates a weakness of Electronic Code Book (ECB) mode by allowing identical plaintext blocks to be encrypted to different ciphertext blocks. This is possible by the XOR-ing of an IV with the initial plaintext block so that every plaintext block in the chain is XOR'd with a different value before encryption. If IVs are reused, then identical plaintexts would be encrypted to identical ciphertexts. However, even if IVs are not identical but are predictable, then they still break the security of CBC mode against Chosen Plaintext Attacks (CPA).


CBC mode is a commonly used mode of operation for a block cipher. It works by XOR-ing an IV with the initial block of a plaintext prior to encryption and then XOR-ing each successive block of plaintext with the previous block of ciphertext before encryption.

C_0 = IV

C_i = E_k{M_i XOR C_{i-1}}

When used properly, CBC mode provides security against chosen plaintext attacks. Having an unpredictable IV is a crucial underpinning of this. See [REF-1171].


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 the following examples, CBC mode is used when encrypting data:

RAND_bytes(key, b);
EVP_EncryptInit(&ctx,EVP_bf_cbc(), key,iv);
public class SymmetricCipherTest {

  public static void main() {

    byte[] text ="Secret".getBytes();
    byte[] iv ={
    KeyGenerator kg = KeyGenerator.getInstance("DES");
    SecretKey key = kg.generateKey();
    Cipher cipher = Cipher.getInstance("DES/CBC/PKCS5Padding");
    IvParameterSpec ips = new IvParameterSpec(iv);
    cipher.init(Cipher.ENCRYPT_MODE, key, ips);
    return cipher.doFinal(inpBytes);



In both of these examples, the initialization vector (IV) is always a block of zeros. This makes the resulting cipher text much more predictable and susceptible to a dictionary attack.

See Also

SFP Secondary Cluster: Weak Cryptography

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Weak Cryptography cluster.

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

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

Entries with Maintenance Notes

CWE entries in this view have maintenance notes. Maintenance notes are an indicator that an entry might change significantly in future versions. This view was created...

Weaknesses without Software Fault Patterns

CWE identifiers in this view are weaknesses that do not have associated Software Fault Patterns (SFPs), as covered by the CWE-888 view. As such, they represent gaps in...

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