Sensitive Data Storage in Improperly Locked Memory

The application stores sensitive data in memory that is not locked, or that has been incorrectly locked, which might cause the memory to be written to swap files on disk by the virtual memory manager. This can make the data more accessible to external actors.


On Windows systems the VirtualLock function can lock a page of memory to ensure that it will remain present in memory and not be swapped to disk. However, on older versions of Windows, such as 95, 98, or Me, the VirtualLock() function is only a stub and provides no protection. On POSIX systems the mlock() call ensures that a page will stay resident in memory but does not guarantee that the page will not appear in the swap. Therefore, it is unsuitable for use as a protection mechanism for sensitive data. Some platforms, in particular Linux, do make the guarantee that the page will not be swapped, but this is non-standard and is not portable. Calls to mlock() also require supervisor privilege. Return values for both of these calls must be checked to ensure that the lock operation was actually successful.

See Also

SFP Secondary Cluster: Exposed Data

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Exposed Data cluster (SFP23).

CERT C++ Secure Coding Section 08 - Memory Management (MEM)

Weaknesses in this category are related to rules in the Memory Management (MEM) section of the CERT C++ Secure Coding Standard. Since not all rules map to specific wea...

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.

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