Use of Cryptographically Weak Pseudo-Random Number Generator (PRNG)

The product uses a Pseudo-Random Number Generator (PRNG) in a security context, but the PRNG's algorithm is not cryptographically strong.


Description

When a non-cryptographic PRNG is used in a cryptographic context, it can expose the cryptography to certain types of attacks.

Often a pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) is not designed for cryptography. Sometimes a mediocre source of randomness is sufficient or preferable for algorithms that use random numbers. Weak generators generally take less processing power and/or do not use the precious, finite, entropy sources on a system. While such PRNGs might have very useful features, these same features could be used to break the cryptography.

Demonstrations

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

Both of these examples use a statistical PRNG seeded with the current value of the system clock to generate a random number:

Random random = new Random(System.currentTimeMillis());
int accountID = random.nextInt();
srand(time());
int randNum = rand();

The random number functions used in these examples, rand() and Random.nextInt(), are not considered cryptographically strong. An attacker may be able to predict the random numbers generated by these functions. Note that these example also exhibit CWE-337 (Predictable Seed in PRNG).

See Also

OWASP Top Ten 2021 Category A02:2021 - Cryptographic Failures

Weaknesses in this category are related to the A02 category "Cryptographic Failures" in the OWASP Top Ten 2021.

Random Number Issues

Weaknesses in this category are related to a software system's random number generation.

SEI CERT C Coding Standard - Guidelines 48. Miscellaneous (MSC)

Weaknesses in this category are related to the rules and recommendations in the Miscellaneous (MSC) section of the SEI CERT C Coding Standard.

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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