Access Control Check Implemented After Asset is Accessed

A product's hardware-based access control check occurs after the asset has been accessed.


Description

The product implements a hardware-based access control check. The asset should be accessible only after the check is successful. If, however, this operation is not atomic and the asset is accessed before the check is complete, the security of the system may be compromised.

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

Assume that the module foo_bar implements a protected register. The register content is the asset. Only transactions made by user id (indicated by signal usr_id) 0x4 are allowed to modify the register contents. The signal grant_access is used to provide access.

module foo_bar(data_out, usr_id, data_in, clk, rst_n);output reg [7:0] data_out;;input wire [2:0] usr_id;input wire [7:0] data_in;input wire clk, rst_n;wire grant_access;always @ (posedge clk or negedge rst_n)begin
  if (!rst_n)

    data_out = 0;
  else
    data_out = (grant_access) ? data_in : data_out;
    assign grant_access = (usr_id == 3h4) ? 1b1 : 1b0;
  end
endmodule

This code uses Verilog blocking assignments for data_out and grant_access. Therefore, these assignments happen sequentially (i.e., data_out is updated to new value first, and grant_access is updated the next cycle) and not in parallel. Therefore, the asset data_out is allowed to be modified even before the access control check is complete and grant_access signal is set. Since grant_access does not have a reset value, it will be meta-stable and will randomly go to either 0 or 1.

Flipping the order of the assignment of data_out and grant_access should solve the problem. The correct snippet of code is shown below.
always @ (posedge clk or negedge rst_n)

begin

  if (!rst_n)
    data_out = 0;
  else
    assign grant_access = (usr_id == 3h4) ? 1b1 : 1b0;
    data_out = (grant_access) ? data_in : data_out;
  end

endmodule

See Also

Privilege Separation and Access Control Issues

Weaknesses in this category are related to features and mechanisms providing hardware-based isolation and access control (e.g., identity, policy, locking control) of s...

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

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

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...

Weaknesses Introduced During Implementation

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


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