Storing Passwords in a Recoverable Format
Weakness ID: 257 (Weakness Base)Status: Incomplete
+ Description

Description Summary

The storage of passwords in a recoverable format makes them subject to password reuse attacks by malicious users. If a system administrator can recover a password directly, or use a brute force search on the available information, the administrator can use the password on other accounts.
+ Time of Introduction
  • Architecture and Design
+ Applicable Platforms



+ Common Consequences

User's passwords may be revealed.


Revealed passwords may be reused elsewhere to impersonate the users in question.

+ Likelihood of Exploit

Very High

+ Demonstrative Examples

Example 1

(Bad Code)
Example Languages: C and C++ 
int VerifyAdmin(char *password) {
if (strcmp(compress(password), compressed_password)) {
printf("Incorrect Password!\n");
printf("Entering Diagnostic Mode...\n");
(Bad Code)
Example Language: Java 
int VerifyAdmin(String password) {
if (passwd.Equals(compress(password), compressed_password)) {
//Diagnostic Mode
+ Potential Mitigations

Phase: Architecture and Design

Use strong, non-reversible encryption to protect stored passwords.

+ Other Notes

The use of recoverable passwords significantly increases the chance that passwords will be used maliciously. In fact, it should be noted that recoverable encrypted passwords provide no significant benefit over plain-text passwords since they are subject not only to reuse by malicious attackers but also by malicious insiders.

+ Weakness Ordinalities
(where the weakness exists independent of other weaknesses)
+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base522Insufficiently Protected Credentials
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
PeerOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base259Use of Hard-coded Password
Research Concepts1000
PeerOfWeakness BaseWeakness Base798Use of Hard-coded Credentials
Research Concepts1000
+ Causal Nature


+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
CLASPStoring passwords in a recoverable format
+ Related Attack Patterns
CAPEC-IDAttack Pattern Name
(CAPEC Version: 1.4)
49Password Brute Forcing
+ Maintenance Notes

The meaning of this node needs to be investigated more closely, especially with respect to what is meant by "recoverable."

+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
CLASPExternally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Common Consequences, Relationships, Other Notes, Taxonomy Mappings, Weakness Ordinalities
2008-10-14CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Demonstrative Examples, Description, Maintenance Notes, Potential Mitigations