Context Switching Race Condition
Weakness ID: 368 (Weakness Base)Status: Draft
+ Description

Description Summary

A product performs a series of non-atomic actions to switch between contexts that cross privilege or other security boundaries, but a race condition allows an attacker to modify or misrepresent the product's behavior during the switch.

Extended Description

This is commonly seen in web browser vulnerabilities in which the attacker can perform certain actions while the browser is transitioning from a trusted to an untrusted domain, or vice versa, and the browser performs the actions on one domain using the trust level and resources of the other domain.

+ Time of Introduction
  • Architecture and Design
  • Implementation
+ Applicable Platforms



+ Observed Examples
CVE-2004-2260Browser updates address bar as soon as user clicks on a link instead of when the page has loaded, allowing spoofing by redirecting to another page using onUnload method. ** this is one example of the role of "hooks" and context switches, and should be captured somehow - also a race condition of sorts **
CVE-2004-0191XSS when web browser executes Javascript events in the context of a new page while it's being loaded, allowing interaction with previous page in different domain.
CVE-2004-2491Web browser fills in address bar of clicked-on link before page has been loaded, and doesn't update afterward.
+ Weakness Ordinalities

This weakness can be primary to almost anything, depending on the context of the race condition.


This weakness can be resultant from insufficient compartmentalization (CWE-653), incorrect locking, improper initialization or shutdown, or a number of other weaknesses.

+ Relationships
NatureTypeIDNameView(s) this relationship pertains toView(s)
ChildOfWeakness ClassWeakness Class362Race Condition
Development Concepts (primary)699
Research Concepts (primary)1000
CanAlsoBeWeakness BaseWeakness Base364Signal Handler Race Condition
Research Concepts1000
+ Relationship Notes

Can overlap signal handler race conditions.

+ Research Gaps

Under-studied as a concept. Frequency unknown; few vulnerability reports give enough detail to know when a context switching race condition is a factor.

+ Taxonomy Mappings
Mapped Taxonomy NameNode IDFitMapped Node Name
PLOVERContext Switching Race Condition
+ Related Attack Patterns
CAPEC-IDAttack Pattern Name
(CAPEC Version: 1.4)
26Leveraging Race Conditions
29Leveraging Time-of-Check and Time-of-Use (TOCTOU) Race Conditions
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganizationSource
PLOVERExternally Mined
Modification DateModifierOrganizationSource
2008-07-01Eric DalciCigitalExternal
updated Time of Introduction
2008-09-08CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Relationships, Other Notes, Taxonomy Mappings
2009-07-27CWE Content TeamMITREInternal
updated Description, Other Notes, Relationship Notes, Weakness Ordinalities