Insufficiently Protected Credentials

The product transmits or stores authentication credentials, but it uses an insecure method that is susceptible to unauthorized interception and/or retrieval.


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

This code changes a user's password.

$user = $_GET['user'];
$pass = $_GET['pass'];
$checkpass = $_GET['checkpass'];
if ($pass == $checkpass) {
  SetUserPassword($user, $pass);
}

While the code confirms that the requesting user typed the same new password twice, it does not confirm that the user requesting the password change is the same user whose password will be changed. An attacker can request a change of another user's password and gain control of the victim's account.

Example Two

The following code reads a password from a properties file and uses the password to connect to a database.

...
Properties prop = new Properties();
prop.load(new FileInputStream("config.properties"));
String password = prop.getProperty("password");
DriverManager.getConnection(url, usr, password);
...

This code will run successfully, but anyone who has access to config.properties can read the value of password. If a devious employee has access to this information, they can use it to break into the system.

Example Three

The following code reads a password from the registry and uses the password to create a new network credential.

...
String password = regKey.GetValue(passKey).toString();
NetworkCredential netCred = new NetworkCredential(username,password,domain);
...

This code will run successfully, but anyone who has access to the registry key used to store the password can read the value of password. If a devious employee has access to this information, they can use it to break into the system

Example Four

Both of these examples verify a password by comparing it to a stored compressed version.

int VerifyAdmin(char *password) {
  if (strcmp(compress(password), compressed_password)) {
    printf("Incorrect Password!\n");
    return(0);
  }
  printf("Entering Diagnostic Mode...\n");
  return(1);
}
int VerifyAdmin(String password) {
  if (passwd.Equals(compress(password), compressed_password)) {
    return(0);
  }
  //Diagnostic Mode
  return(1);
}

Because a compression algorithm is used instead of a one way hashing algorithm, an attacker can recover compressed passwords stored in the database.

Example Five

The following examples show a portion of properties and configuration files for Java and ASP.NET applications. The files include username and password information but they are stored in cleartext.

This Java example shows a properties file with a cleartext username / password pair.

# Java Web App ResourceBundle properties file
...
webapp.ldap.username=secretUsername
webapp.ldap.password=secretPassword
...

The following example shows a portion of a configuration file for an ASP.Net application. This configuration file includes username and password information for a connection to a database but the pair is stored in cleartext.

...
<connectionStrings>
  <add name="ud_DEV" connectionString="connectDB=uDB; uid=db2admin; pwd=password; dbalias=uDB;" providerName="System.Data.Odbc" />
</connectionStrings>
...

Username and password information should not be included in a configuration file or a properties file in cleartext as this will allow anyone who can read the file access to the resource. If possible, encrypt this information.

See Also

OWASP Top Ten 2017 Category A2 - Broken Authentication

Weaknesses in this category are related to the A2 category in the OWASP Top Ten 2017.

Encrypt Data

Weaknesses in this category are related to the design and architecture of data confidentiality in a system. Frequently these deal with the use of encryption libraries....

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 in the 2020 CWE Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Weaknesses

CWE entries in this view are listed in the 2020 CWE Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Weaknesses.

Weaknesses in the 2021 CWE Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Weaknesses

CWE entries in this view are listed in the 2021 CWE Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Weaknesses.


Common Weakness Enumeration content on this website is copyright of The MITRE Corporation unless otherwise specified. Use of the Common Weakness Enumeration and the associated references on this website are subject to the Terms of Use as specified by The MITRE Corporation.