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Jan 15 2009   9:31PM GMT

Most Dangerous Programming Errors from SANS/MITRE



Posted by: Arian Eigen Heald
Tags:
programming
Security

Appropro of A previous post on poor software programming practices, a “Top 25 Programming Errors” was released THIS WEEK by SANS and MITRE.

The main goal for the Top 25 list is to stop vulnerabilities at the source by educating programmers on how to eliminate all-too-common mistakes before software is even shipped. The list will be a tool for education and awareness that will help programmers to prevent the kinds of vulnerabilities that plague the software industry. Software consumers could use the same list to help them to ask for more secure software. Finally, software managers and CIOs can use the Top 25 list as a measuring stick of progress in their efforts to secure their software to “stop vulnerabilities at the source by educating programmers on how to eliminate all-too-common mistakes software is even shipped.”

In a nutshell:

The Top 25 is organized into three high-level categories that contain multiple CWE entries.
Insecure Interaction Between Components
These weaknesses are related to insecure ways in which data is sent and received between separate components, modules, programs, processes, threads, or systems.

* CWE-20: Improper Input Validation
* CWE-116: Improper Encoding or Escaping of Output
* CWE-89: Failure to Preserve SQL Query Structure (aka ‘SQL Injection’)
* CWE-79: Failure to Preserve Web Page Structure (aka ‘Cross-site Scripting’)
* CWE-78: Failure to Preserve OS Command Structure (aka ‘OS Command Injection’)
* CWE-319: Cleartext Transmission of Sensitive Information
* CWE-352: Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
* CWE-362: Race Condition
* CWE-209: Error Message Information Leak

Risky Resource Management
The weaknesses in this category are related to ways in which software does not properly manage the creation, usage, transfer, or destruction of important system resources.

* CWE-119: Failure to Constrain Operations within the Bounds of a Memory Buffer
* CWE-642: External Control of Critical State Data
* CWE-73: External Control of File Name or Path
* CWE-426: Untrusted Search Path
* CWE-94: Failure to Control Generation of Code (aka ‘Code Injection’)
* CWE-494: Download of Code Without Integrity Check
* CWE-404: Improper Resource Shutdown or Release
* CWE-665: Improper Initialization
* CWE-682: Incorrect Calculation

Porous Defenses
The weaknesses in this category are related to defensive techniques that are often misused, abused, or just plain ignored.

* CWE-285: Improper Access Control (Authorization)
* CWE-327: Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm
* CWE-259: Hard-Coded Password
* CWE-732: Insecure Permission Assignment for Critical Resource
* CWE-330: Use of Insufficiently Random Values
* CWE-250: Execution with Unnecessary Privileges
* CWE-602: Client-Side Enforcement of Server-Side Security

You can read the entire document from the SANS website or at MITRE. Also on that page they have correlated related attack patterns for each error. It’s a sobering read, and considering how elemental some of these errors are, it’s dismaying to see them still so high on the list.

I’ve seen at least five of these errors in audit exams this year, and more than once. The most common one I see is CWE-250 – Execution with Unnecessary Privileges.

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