Debug Messages Revealing Unnecessary Information

The product fails to adequately prevent the revealing of unnecessary and potentially sensitive system information within debugging messages.


Debug messages are messages that help troubleshoot an issue by revealing the internal state of the system. For example, debug data in design can be exposed through internal memory array dumps or boot logs through interfaces like UART via TAP commands, scan chain, etc. Thus, the more information contained in a debug message, the easier it is to debug. However, there is also the risk of revealing information that could help an attacker either decipher a vulnerability, and/or gain a better understanding of the system. Thus, this extra information could lower the "security by obscurity" factor. While "security by obscurity" alone is insufficient, it can help as a part of "Defense-in-depth".


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 example here shows how an attacker can take advantage of unnecessary information in debug messages.

Example 1: Suppose in response to a Test Access Port (TAP) chaining request the debug message also reveals the current TAP hierarchy (the full topology) in addition to the success/failure message.

Example 2: In response to a password-filling request, the debug message, instead of a simple Granted/Denied response, prints an elaborate message, "The user-entered password does not match the actual password stored in <directory name>."

The result of the above examples is that the user is able to gather additional unauthorized information about the system from the debug messages.

The solution is to ensure that Debug messages do not reveal additional details.

See Also

Comprehensive Categorization: Sensitive Information Exposure

Weaknesses in this category are related to sensitive information exposure.

Debug and Test Problems

Weaknesses in this category are related to hardware debug and test interfaces such as JTAG and scan chain.

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.

Weakness Base Elements

This view (slice) displays only weakness base elements.

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