Active Debug Code

The application is deployed to unauthorized actors with debugging code still enabled or active, which can create unintended entry points or expose sensitive information.


A common development practice is to add "back door" code specifically designed for debugging or testing purposes that is not intended to be shipped or deployed with the application. These back door entry points create security risks because they are not considered during design or testing and fall outside of the expected operating conditions of the application.


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

Debug code can be used to bypass authentication. For example, suppose an application has a login script that receives a username and a password. Assume also that a third, optional, parameter, called "debug", is interpreted by the script as requesting a switch to debug mode, and that when this parameter is given the username and password are not checked. In such a case, it is very simple to bypass the authentication process if the special behavior of the application regarding the debug parameter is known. In a case where the form is:

<FORM ACTION="/authenticate_login.cgi">
  <INPUT TYPE=TEXT name=username>
  <INPUT TYPE=PASSWORD name=password>

Then a conforming link will look like:


An attacker can change this to:


Which will grant the attacker access to the site, bypassing the authentication process.

See Also

Bad Coding Practices

Weaknesses in this category are related to coding practices that are deemed unsafe and increase the chances that an exploitable vulnerability will be present in the ap...

SFP Secondary Cluster: Unexpected Entry Points

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Unexpected Entry Points cluster.

7PK - Encapsulation

This category represents one of the phyla in the Seven Pernicious Kingdoms vulnerability classification. It includes weaknesses that occur when the product does not su...

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

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

Quality Weaknesses with Indirect Security Impacts

CWE identifiers in this view (slice) are quality issues that only indirectly make it easier to introduce a vulnerability and/or make the vulnerability more difficult t...

Weaknesses Introduced During Implementation

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

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