Fabric-Address Map Allows Programming of Unwarranted Overlaps of Protected and Unprotected Ranges

The address map of the on-chip fabric has protected and unprotected regions overlapping, allowing an attacker to bypass access control to the overlapping portion of the protected region.


Various ranges can be defined in the system-address map, either in the memory or in Memory-Mapped-IO (MMIO) space. These ranges are usually defined using special range registers that contain information, such as base address and size. Address decoding is the process of determining for which range the incoming transaction is destined. To ensure isolation, ranges containing secret data are access-control protected.

Occasionally, these ranges could overlap. The overlap could either be intentional (e.g. due to a limited number of range registers or limited choice in choosing size of the range) or unintentional (e.g. introduced by errors). Some hardware designs allow dynamic remapping of address ranges assigned to peripheral MMIO ranges. In such designs, intentional address overlaps can be created through misconfiguration by malicious software. When protected and unprotected ranges overlap, an attacker could send a transaction and potentially compromise the protections in place, violating the principle of least privilege.


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

An on-chip fabric supports a 64KB address space that is memory-mapped. The fabric has two range registers that support creation of two protected ranges with specific size constraints--4KB, 8KB, 16KB or 32KB. Assets that belong to user A require 4KB, and those of user B require 20KB. Registers and other assets that are not security-sensitive require 40KB. One range register is configured to program 4KB to protect user A’s assets. Since a 20KB range cannot be created with the given size constraints, the range register for user B’s assets is configured as 32KB. The rest of the address space is left as open. As a result, some part of untrusted and open-address space overlaps with user B range.

The fabric does not support least privilege, and an attacker can send a transaction to the overlapping region to tamper with user B data.

Since range B only requires 20KB but is allotted 32KB, there is 12KB of reserved space. Overlapping this region of user B data, where there are no assets, with the untrusted space will prevent an attacker from tampering with user B data.

See Also

Peripherals, On-chip Fabric, and Interface/IO Problems

Weaknesses in this category are related to hardware security problems that apply to peripheral devices, IO interfaces, on-chip interconnects, network-o...

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.

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.