Not Using a Random IV with CBC Mode

Not using a random initialization Vector (IV) with Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) Mode causes algorithms to be susceptible to dictionary attacks.


CBC is the most commonly used mode of operation for a block cipher. It solves electronic code book's dictionary problems by XORing the ciphertext with plaintext. If it used to encrypt multiple data streams, dictionary attacks are possible, provided that the streams have a common beginning sequence.


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

In the following examples, CBC mode is used when encrypting data:

RAND_bytes(key, b);
EVP_EncryptInit(&ctx,EVP_bf_cbc(), key,iv);
public class SymmetricCipherTest {

  public static void main() {

    byte[] text ="Secret".getBytes();
    byte[] iv ={
    KeyGenerator kg = KeyGenerator.getInstance("DES");
    SecretKey key = kg.generateKey();
    Cipher cipher = Cipher.getInstance("DES/CBC/PKCS5Padding");
    IvParameterSpec ips = new IvParameterSpec(iv);
    cipher.init(Cipher.ENCRYPT_MODE, key, ips);
    return cipher.doFinal(inpBytes);



In both of these examples, the initialization vector (IV) is always a block of zeros. This makes the resulting cipher text much more predictable and susceptible to a dictionary attack.

See Also

SFP Secondary Cluster: Weak Cryptography

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

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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