Weak Encoding for Password

Obscuring a password with a trivial encoding does not protect the password.


Description

Password management issues occur when a password is stored in plaintext in an application's properties or configuration file. A programmer can attempt to remedy the password management problem by obscuring the password with an encoding function, such as base 64 encoding, but this effort does not adequately protect the password.

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

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 = Base64.decode(prop.getProperty("password"));
DriverManager.getConnection(url, usr, password);
...

This code will run successfully, but anyone with access to config.properties can read the value of password and easily determine that the value has been base 64 encoded. If a devious employee has access to this information, they can use it to break into the system.

Example Two

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

...
string value = regKey.GetValue(passKey).ToString();
byte[] decVal = Convert.FromBase64String(value);
NetworkCredential netCred = newNetworkCredential(username,decVal.toString(),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.

See Also

Encrypt Data

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SFP Secondary Cluster: Weak Cryptography

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Weak Cryptography cluster.

Cryptographic Issues

Weaknesses in this category are related to the design and implementation of data confidentiality and integrity. Frequently these deal with the use of encoding techniqu...

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 Design

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


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